Forgotten Frights is back! To celebrate the second anniversary of our annual horror movie roundup, every weekday for the next month we’re going to sound off on a scary good sequel (or, if we want some cheese with our corn syrup, a schlocky second), ruminating on the returns of our favourite monsters, murderers, heroes (or heroines), creepies, crawlies, chills and thrills.
Whatcame before it: House of 1000 Corpses. The brutal, yet campy 2003 Rob Zombie flick about the psychotic Firefly family, who get their kicks from maiming, torturing and killing any and every innocent traveler they can get their perpetually dirty hands on.
What remains: The focus is on the most compelling members of the criminally insane clan – Captain Spalding (Sid Haig), Baby (Sheri Moon Zombie), Otis (Bill Mosley) – and the hellbent sheriff (William Forsythe) tracking them after raiding their carnage-laden home in search of his missing brother. Mother Firefly (Leslie Easterbrook), Tiny (Matthew McGrory) and Rufus (Tyler Mane) also appear, but Spalding, Baby and Otis are the ones we watch run for their lives while still dementedly taking others.
Why it deserves a second (or third, or fourth) chance:
- While the original was just straight up, balls-to-the-walls gross-out horror, this is more of disturbing character study. Zombie has said he was influenced by classic crime dramas like Bonnie and Clyde, The Wild Bunch and Badlands, and you can definitely tell.
- We spend more time with each family member, getting to know their individual kinks and coming to understand that while they hate everyone else with an insatiable, sadistic fire, they love each other to death.
- By chipping away at the personalities of Baby, Spalding and Otis, Zombie achieves the incredibly awful: he makes you root for them. Even though you know that they’ve offed countless people in despicable ways, you’d rather see the sheriff die than see them get caught.
- I’m still not sold on Sheri Moon Zombie’s acting skills, but Haig and Mosley are superb. Particularly Mosley. He glides smoothly between pissy hilarious (don’t you dare ask him to make an ice cream pit stop!) and relentlessly revolting.
- The tone of the film is like the open road: slow and winding. This makes the death scenes both easier and harder to take. On the one hand, since they are less over-the-top and frantic, you feel a definite sense of relief. On the other, they almost become more horrifying because they are not sensationalized and thus, appear uncomfortably real.
- Zombie throws in some great meta background stuff. Like having a movie critic pretentiously explain how each Firefly is named after a character from a Groucho Marx movie.
- The soundtrack is beyond brilliant. I mean, the bullet-laden finale is set to the entirety of “Free Bird.” We don’t even hear the shots get fired. We just hear that epic guitar solo go down.
- Danny Trejo has a small role as a bounty hunter.
- There’s a fun side-plot involving Spalding’s pimp buddy Charlie (Dawn of the Dead’s Ken Foree). The scene where the two reunite is filthy, awkward and hysterical
- So you can finally understand why Zombie is this modern horror icon. Cause we all know those Halloween remakes are all kinds of blasphemous.