Reed Alexander's Horror Review of 'House of 1000 Corpses' (2003)
A memory of Sid Haig
I haven't watched this movie recently, but I watched it so many damn times that I know it intimately. This movie is the first time I really identified Sid Haig as an actor and paragon of horror. I'd likely seen him before, maybe first in Planet Terror, but Captain Spaulding firmly cemented Sid into my memory. I'd see him along the way in things like Creature (2011), and of course every fucking thing that Rob Zombie ever does. We have to give Rob that. He rescues forgotten actors from the dust bin. Sid was the best find, I think.
I have to be honest. This review is going to be more about Sid than House of 1000 Corpses (HO1kC). He was actually the best damn actor in the movie. Go back and watch it, you'll notice pretty quickly. Sherry Moon was just getting her start and went for full camp. Bill Mosley is another paragon, of course, but he's got nothing on Sid. This movie even had Rainn Wilson, (The Office, USA) a stellar actor, but even he had nothing on Sid. Sid just came through so damn naturally. The character Cpt. Spaulding seems almost completely inseparable from Sid. But that was the case with all of his characters. Even as ridiculous as his character was from Planet Terror, he fully committed. He made the dullest idea fucking bad-ass.
But it goes beyond that. Cpt. Spaulding became synonymous with horror. If you ask anyone to name the scariest clowns in horror, Cpt. Spaulding is on that list among Art and Pennywise, AND HE WAS BARELY IN THE DAMN MOVIE!!! Seriously! He got the opening scene, he introduces the protagonists to the Firefly Family, then he shows up for a second at the end. Sid got ten damn minutes of screen time TOPS, and he was the most memorable character in the whole fucking movie. That includes Tiny Firefly, played by Matthew McGrory, and that motherfucker was 7'6." If you can upstage every actor in the movie in less than 10 minutes, including a literal giant, you've got a strut.
If you mention HO1kC to anyone, Sid's the first thing they remember. He's a mascot of the whole damn franchise, he can never be replaced, and he literally died in a part of it.
It was more than that. I never had the pleasure of meeting Sid personally, but everyone who did, remembers him as a kind soul, and a great guy. When he passed, joining Tiny across the rainbow bridge, my newsfeed filled up with pictures of his legacy at levels I haven't seen since the death of David Bowie. Sid might have never know how much of a star he really was, and his loss leaves a void that cannot be filled.
HO1kC? It's required horror viewing for all Horror Heads. It was Rob's break into horror and it gave horror Cpt. Spaulding. The story was thin, the acting campy as hell, the whole damn movie was almost a bullshit excuse for a new Zombie album, and the plot was so full of fucking holes you could use the DVD to strain pasta. BUT GOD DAMN the setting, costuming, AND the fucking particle FX. Sure, a lot of it was a huge rip off of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, but that was kind of the idea. Rob grabbed hold of what worked and reproduced it, giving the proper nod to the originals.
HO1kC is pretty much grindhouse horror as it was just a gore spectacle, but its achieved legendary status instantaneously. I remember when I saw it in the theaters, opening day. When the credits rolled, the whole damn theater stood up and applauded. That's the first damn time I'd ever seen that in my life. I mean, who the fuck where we applauding? It's not like Rob Zombie was getting reports from select theaters. It's not like the actors were there. People just stood up and started to clap, at no one.
People may have forgotten Sid's other works, but HO1kC and Cpt. Spaulding will never be forgotten.