House of 1000 Corpses is a 2003 American exploitation horror film written and directed by Rob Zombie; it is his directorial debut. It was released in the United States on April 11, 2003 by Lions Gate Entertainment.


The film is set in late 1977, where Jerry, Bill, Mary, and Denise are two couples out on the road in hopes of writing a book on offbeat roadside attractions. When the four meet Captain Spaulding, the vulgar but friendly owner of a gas station and "museum of the strange", they learn the local legend of Dr. Satan. As the four take off in search of finding the tree from which Dr. Satan was hanged, they pick up a young hitchhiker named Baby Firefly, who claims to live only miles away. Shortly after, the vehicle's tires burst in what is later seen to be a trap, and Baby walks to her family's house along with Bill. Only moments later, Baby's half-brother, Rufus, picks up the stranded passengers and takes them to the Firefly family house.

Soon following, the four friends meet Mother Firefly, Baby's mother, Otis B. Driftwood, Baby's adopted brother, Hugo Firefly, Baby's grandfather, and Baby's deformed giant half-brother, Tiny, while being treated to dinner and discover that the family lives on weird Halloween traditions. Mother Firefly then explains that her ex-husband Earl had previously tried to burn Tiny alive along with the Firefly house. After the dinner is over, the family puts on a Halloween show for their guests, where Baby offends the four friends by acting flirtatiously. After Baby is threatened, Mother Firefly tells the friends to leave, and that their car is repaired. As they try to leave, though, they are attacked by the other members of the Firefly family and become captured. Not long after, Otis creates a work of art out of Bill's body, Mary is tied up in a barn, Denise is dressed as a doll, and Jerry is scalped.

After Denise does not return home, her father calls the police to search for her. Two police officers find the friends' abandoned car in a field with a tortured victim in the trunk. Denise's father is called and arrives at the scene to go with the two police officers to search for information. They arrive at the Firefly house, and upon finding bodies, the three are quickly killed. Later that night, the three friends are taken to an underground well, and Mary manages to escape, only to be killed by Baby moments later. Meanwhile, Jerry and Denise are lowered into the underground chamber, where a number of undead figures pull Jerry away, and leave Denise to find her way through the underground lair. As she journeys through the mysterious chambers, she encounters Dr. Satan and a multitude of mentally handicapped patients. Dr. Satan has Jerry on his operating table, horribly torturing and skinning him alive. As Dr. Satan yells for his mutated assistant, revealed to be Mother Firefly's ex-husband, to capture Denise, she outwits the monstrous figure and escapes the underground chambers. Moments later, she is picked up by Captain Spaulding, only for Otis to appear in the backseat, which is revealed to be a dream when she wakes up, still strapped to Dr. Satan's operating table, where she meets her doom.

List of deaths Edit

Name Cause of Death Killer On Screen Notes
Richard Wick Shot in head with revolver Captain Spaulding Yes
Killer Karl Shot in cheek with revolver Ravelli, Captain Spaulding No
Bill Hudley Cheek slit with straight razor, hand cut off with hatchet, mutilated(off-screen), made into "Fishboy" Otis Driftwood, Baby Firefly Yes
Karen Murphy Mutilated Firefly Family No Found in car trunk
Lt. George Wydell Shot through neck with revolver Mama Firefly Yes
Don Willis Shot in back/once through back with handgun Otis Driftwood Yes
Officer Steve Naish Shot in forehead with handgun Otis Driftwood Yes
Mary Knowles Knifed 5 times in chest Baby Firefly Yes
Jerry Goldsmith Skinned via experimentation Dr. Satan Yes
Earl Firefly Ceiling collapsed/crushed under rocks Denise Willis Yes
Denise Willis Killed, mutilation Dr. Satan No Seen on operating table


The names of the villains were taken from the names of Groucho Marx characters (Animal Crackers "Captain Spaulding", A Night at the Operas "Otis B. Driftwood", Duck Soups "Rufus T. Firefly" and A Day at the Races "Hugo Z. Hackenbush", among others). While this was left as a subtle allusion in the first movie, the sequel The Devil's Rejects brought it out into the open, with the names becoming integral to the plot. Dr. Satan was inspired by a 1950s billboard-sized poster advertising a "live spook show starring a magician called Dr. Satan" that Rob Zombie has in his house.

Actor Role
Erin Daniels Denise Willis
Chris Hardwick Jerry Goldsmith
Jennifer Jostyn Mary Knowles
Rainn Wilson Bill Hudley
Sid Haig Captain Spaulding
Bill Moseley Otis B. Driftwood
Karen Black Mother Firefly
Sheri Moon Zombie Baby Firefly
Matthew McGrory Tiny Firefly
Robert Allen Mukes Rufus "R.J." Firefly, Jr.
Dennis Fimple Grandpa Hugo Firefly
Walter Phelan S. Quentin Quale/Dr. Satan
Jake McKinnon Earl Firefly/The Professor
Harrison Young Don Willis
Tom Towles Lieutenant George Wydell
Walton Goggins Deputy Steve Naish
William H. Basset Sheriff Frank Huston
Irwin Keyes Ravelli
Michael J. Pollard Stucky
Chad Bannon Killer Karl
David Reynolds Richard Wick
Joe Dobbs III Gerry Ober
Irvin Mosley, Jr. Lewis Dover
Gregg Gibbs Dr. Wolfenstein
Ken Johnson Skunk Ape Husband
Judith Drake Skunk Ape Wife


Pre-House of 1000 CorpsesEdit

Rob Zombie had a very small list of credits in film. He had done animation for the 1996 film, Beavis and Butthead Do America, tried to write a script for the 3rd "Crow" sequel, and directed some of his own music videos but little else. He had little directing experience but he wanted to get involved with film. Zombie designed a haunted maze attraction for Universal Studios which lead to a friendship with them. Bill Moseleypresented Zombie an award for his design in 1999. Moseley would later star in Zombie's film.


Zombie had discussed his idea for a film with his friends and they all seemed to like his idea. Zombie starting working on his idea after White Zombie disbanded and after his debut solo album. Zombie took his script for House of 1000 Corpses to Universal with his manager Andy Gould to pitch the project.


Universal loved Zombie's script and greenlighted the project. Zombie would serve as writer and director. The film was shot on a 25 day shooting schedule in 2000. The starting budget was $3–4 million, but finished at $7 million.


The film was completed in 2000. Stacey Snider, who was head of Universal at the time called Zombie up for a meeting. Zombie feared Snider would give him money and say "go re-shoot everything". Snider feared the film would receive an NC-17 rating. Snider told Zombie that they were not releasing the film. In a way Zombie was relieved. He would rather have them dump the film then having him going back and re-shooting his vision. The film hung out for a while but soon found a distributor. Lions Gate Entertainment picked up House of 1000 Corpses because they were interested in getting into the horror scene.

Box officeEdit

The film pulled in $3,460,666 on its limited opening weekend and $2,522,026 on its official opening weekend. The film grossed $12,634,962 domestically and $4,194,583 in foreign totals. Altogether the film made a worldwide gross of $16,829,545. It was successful compared to its $7 million budget.

Critical receptionEdit

The film opened on April 11, 2003 without being pre-screened for critics. Those who viewed it gave it generally negative reviews. Frank Schrek of The Hollywood Reporter wrote that the film "lives up to the spirit but not the quality of its inspirations" and is ultimately a "cheesy and ultra gory exploitation horror flick" and "strangely devoid of thrills, shocks or horror."

Clint Morris of Film Threat slammed the film as "an hour and a half of undecipherable plot" and found the film to be "sickening" overall. James Brundage of wrote that the film was simply "hick after hick, cheap scary image after cheap scary image, lots of southern accents and psychotic murders," and was "too highbrow to be a good cheap horror movie, too lowbrow to be satire, and too boring to bear the value of the ticket."

Though not popular by critics, the film has developed a rather large cult following. It was followed by a sequel, The Devil's Rejects


Main article: The Devil's Rejects Zombie produced a sequel in 2005, The Devil's Rejects. Many cast members returned from Corpses, except Karen Black. When Black demanded a higher salary — which Zombie could not afford — to reprise her role in Corpses, Leslie Easterbrook was approached and later cast as her replacement. The film received mixed reviews, but the critical reception was generally better than its predecessor.

The three Corpses leads (Sid Haig, Bill Moseley, and Sheri Moon Zombie) also appear as voices in Zombie's animated film The Haunted World of El Superbeasto. Haig and Moseley made cameos as their characters from both films, Captain Spaulding and Otis B. Driftwood, respectively, while Sheri Moon Zombie voiced one of the lead characters, Suzie X.

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