House Of 1000 Corpses served as the starting point for the Firefly family and their love for torture, but it also introduced Dr. Satan, a mythical figure known for his extreme experiments on other humans. House Of 1000 Corpses was Rob Zombie’s directorial debut and the beginning of what would become a trilogy focused on the Fireflies, set to culminate with 3 From Hell.
House of 1000 Corpses followed a group of teenagers traveling across the country who unfortunately come across with the Firefly family, and quickly find themselves living a real nightmare. The film also presented the legend of Dr. Satan, an intern at the Willows County Mental Hospital who believed he could create a race of “super-humans” out of the mentally ill through brain surgery. This legend was used by Captain Spaulding to catch potential victims, but Dr. Satan wasn’t just a myth.
Dr. Satan was hanged when the locals learned about his experiments, but his body was missing the next day and never found. He had been living in the catacombs under the Firefly’s house ever since, where he continued with his experiments. Dr. Satan doesn’t appear until near the end of House of 1000 Corpses, when Denise (Erin Daniels) is trying to escape and ends up wandering through the tunnels at the Firefly’s house. There she comes across Dr. Satan himself (played by Walter Phelan), a man with a very grotesque appearance, wearing an oxygen mask, and with his mouth sewn shut. He’s shown operating on Jerry (Chris Hardwick), proving that the legend about creating “super-humans” was very real. Denise escapes but is later captured again, and wakes up strapped to Dr. Satan’s operating table – and this is what has made some viewers believe that he’s not real.
Rob Zombie himself has suggested the Dr. Satan encounter was a hallucination of the last surviving members, and with an earlier cut of the film showing Grandpa Hugo was actually him and was all a made-up story to attract victims, it’s fairly possible Dr. Satan was not real. However, a deleted scene from The Devil’s Rejects showed him wounded during the opening shootout and taken to the hospital, where he suddenly awakes and attacks a nurse (played by Rosario Dawson), tearing her throat open and collapsing back onto the bed. Outside of that, Dr. Satan wasn’t included at all in The Devil’s Rejects.
It’s yet to be seen if he appears or is mentioned in 3 From Hell, but until then, Dr. Satan’s legend has gone beyond the screen with his existence being left as a mystery, although if the deleted scene from The Devil’s Rejects is taken into account, Dr. Satan was 100% real, but his time in the trilogy came to an end very early on as he didn’t fit the tone of the following films.