29th Oct2019

Which is Better? #5 – House of 1000 Corpses vs. The Devil’s Rejects

by Chris Cummings

Which is Better is a new column here on Nerdly where we’ll pick two related movies and discuss each of them, and then conclude which we think is the best one. It might be about sequels in comparison to the first film, or the original film and its eventual remake, we might even do it for full film franchises. It could be about TV shows or movies that have similar themes or stories. It will be a way to talk about which, in my view, is the better. This time I’ll be putting Rob Zombie’s 2003 film House of 1000 Corpses against his 2005 film, The Devil’s Rejects.


Now, I know Rob Zombie often gets a lot of crap about his films, sometimes deserved, sometimes not, but I do like these two movies and feel like they’re his best to date. 3 From Hell just recently came out, and follows on from The Devil’s Rejects, so what better time to put what I feel are Zombie’s best two flicks against each other?

2003’s House of 1000 Corpses is a homage to dirty-horror as southern rock, with Zombie’s obvious love of 70s horror like Texas Chainsaw Massacre being the coat of paint over the top of the entire movie. It feels like the gory slasher horror of the 70s in many ways, with that modern twist on top (or, modern back in 2003 anyway). We’re introduced to characters that will become Zombie’s best, as Captain Spaulding, played by the late great Sid Haig, Baby, played by Zombie’s real-life wifey Sherri Moon Zombie and Otis, played by the awesome Bill Moseley. These guys would go on to The Devil’s Rejects in 2005 and 3 From Hell this year, too. The story itself see’s a couple of couples travelling across the backwoods of Texas, because… why not? They’re searching for the urban legend of “Dr. Satan” and stumble across a house, after they’re stranded, because of course they get stranded. The house belongs to the Firefly family, a family of psychotic serial killers who’s idea of a good night involve cannibalism, disembowelment and satanic rituals. WOO HOO! Party on! We also get Rainn Wilson (The Office) here as one of the victims of the Firefly’s. Pretty neat.

The Devil’s Rejects keeps hold of that dirty redneck horror vibe that was brought in with House, and it works. We’re re-introduced to Baby, Captain Spaulding and Otis, as well as Mother Firefly, who was played by Karen Black in House of 1000 Corpses, but is played by Leslie Easterbrook here. Tiny, played by the late Matthew McGory is also back. It’s a family reunion! Yay! The story is basically about the Firefly family being on the run from a ruthless and violent police force, led by Sheriff Wydell, played brilliantly by William Forsythe. The cast also gets names like Ken Foree (Dawn of the Dead), Danny Trejo (Machete) and others, and it’s a blast. This, for me, is one of those absurd, violent horror films I enjoy going back to, and the cast all give hugely energetic performances, especially Sherri Moon Zombie, Sid Haig and Bill Moseley, who carry the entire thing with a chemistry that shines every time they’re on screen together.

Really, it’s a hard one, because both of these movies, if you’re a fan of this gritty horror-homage type of thing, are excellent. Rob Zombie, who has done some other good stuff (Lords of Chaos) and some not-so-good stuff (Halloween 2) is on form here, and this is obviously a place he is comfortable, with these characters and this world he’s created. I mean, House of 1000 Corpses is almost like a metal music video in some ways, visually. So, which is the better movie?

House of 1000 Corpses is fun, full of energy and visually looks very cool. The Devil’s Rejects is more vicious and perhaps a darker film. I do think, however, that The Devil’s Rejects is the film with a more clear aim and better performances. It feels more complete and bigger. It feels like there’s more going on. I do enjoy both of these, but when it comes to choosing a favourite, I’d always go with The Devil’s Rejects. The soundtrack is even better, and I’d say at this point, the Freebird shoot-out scene is pretty damn iconic when it comes to horror films over the past few decades. Zombie may or may not create magic in horror again, we’ll have to see, but with these two movies he did. They might not be everybody’s cup of tea, but they’re a blast if you let yourself in. The best one though? The Devil’s Rejects. Tutti-fuckin’-fruity!


The Devil’s Rejects!

So, what do you think? Are you in agreement? Do you think House of 1000 Corpses is the better of the two? Let us know below and thanks for reading!


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