Those psycho-hillbillies with knives in their shoes, yeah don’t worry; they’re just serial killers on the run.
After their ranch gets raided by the police, Otis (Bill Moseley), Baby Firefly (Sheri Moon) and Baby’s father, Captain Spaulding (Sid Haig) escape and decide what better way to feel as if they have fought the law and that they won; then going around, and killing more people than they did before! However, it’s only a real matter of time until the law catches up with them, and eventually tries to win. But these three aren’t going down without a fight or a murder, that’s for damn sure!
Rob Zombie definitely has a lot going for him in terms of what he uses with his sick, twisted-mind that so many people thought was just good for yelling, “Draaagullaaaaaaa!“, but the guy wanted to prove us wrong and ended-up making his directorial-debut with House of a 1000 Corpses. Even though it’s been awhile since the last time I saw that movie, I do remember fondly being a tad scared but also thinking that it was pretty stupid, overall. That’s why the idea of a sequel to a movie I didn’t really care for in the first place, let alone a horror movie I didn’t care for, was not something on the top of my list to see. Somehow though, Zombie not only proved me, but everybody else wrong as well. Maybe people do like to see other human-beings mutilated and murdered on-screen. My mistake.
If Zombie does anything right here, it’s that nails the look and feel of this movie with a really cool, ultra-retro 70’s-vibe that plays throughout the whole run-time. You can just taste the sweat; you can just smell the dirt; and most of all, you can imagine you yourself being in a wrong place, at the wrong time, and not having any clue what to do, especially when these bag of psychos walk through the front door. That’s something that Zombie does well here, and that’s getting us right in the mood right from the start with a bunch of dark, but ironic scenes of murder, mutilation, torture, and psychological and physical-games that aren’t right for everybody to play. Trust me on that. Zombie may be a crazy/scary lead-singer of a metal band (a pretty bad-ass metal band, I have to say), but the guy has a fine taste in classic-rock and mixes a lot of choice-tunes from the likes of Allman Brothers Band, Muddy Waters, and the best usage of all, Lynyrd Skynyrd. I don’t want to give away where, why, and how the song finds it’s way into the movie, but once it kicks in; you have to trust me that you’re going to be stunned. I was and it may be awhile until I hear that song the same ever again.
However, this is a horror movie no matter how much funny, zany things Zombie throws in to lighten-up the mood and it’s not a typical horror movie where your shorts will be scared off. It’s more like one of those horror films that has a bunch of freaky people, that do bad, violent things to innocent people, but plays more on the unpredictable-factor of the whole story rather than the actual torturing of those said, innocent people. This idea for a horror movie is a lot different than what we are used to seeing in horror movies nowadays like Saw or Hostel, where everything is all about the torture, the pain, and exploitation of people being torn to shreds, as we all sit and watch with our popcorn in our laps and our extra-large sodas by our sides. This one is more about putting you on the edge of your seat and have you wondering just what the hell is going to happen next and in that regard, it does it’s job very nicely. Or should I say, Mr. Zombie does his job very nicely.
Mind you, I didn’t watch this movie in it’s infamous Unrated version and that kind of makes me curious just how freakin’ dirty and disgusting it may have been because with this rated-R version, Zombie over-stepped a shit-load of MPAA rules that was sure to make those old-timers keel-over in their fine, leather chairs. To an extent, all of the blood, guts, action, violence, bushes, boobs, asses, and murders all work in making this flick one hell of a ride from Zombie’s mind. But it can only go on so far until it becomes a bit repetitive. Let me just state this: I get that a horror film has to feature a bunch of crazy killers on the road, torturing people and not leaving anybody for granted, but after the third scene of human-torture, it got to a point of where I sort of had enough already. I mean I wasn’t tired of it because I couldn’t handle the sight of somebody getting emotionally and physically ‘effed with, but more of the fact that I just didn’t care for it much. After the hour-mark hits it’s, things just begin to feel like Zombie was pulling something out of his bag of tricks that he kept on using, mostly because it pleased the same damn people in the theater. Move on with the story, give me some plot, and most of all, show me more than just a bunch of acts of unneeded torture.
Then, something strange happened. I guess Zombie heard my complaints (I wish) and decided, “Hey, maybe it is time for a little bit of a story to get thrown in here!” Well, the story that I had in my-mind, was definitely a lot more entertaining and thought-provoking than the one Zombie had on-display. See, the first flick had these three pieces of shit look exactly like that: pieces of shit. They were essentially, a bunch of villains that you could only get in a sick, sadistic horror-movie straight from the mind of Rob Zombie and there was nothing else to it than that. Somehow though, Zombie got the bright idea in his ass and decided that maybe it was time to make these three pieces of shit, seem like they have souls, make it seem like they have lives that are worth living, make them seem like, well, dare I say it: human-beings. Well, sort of. Zombie tries to make us care for these characters that don’t do a single, good thing throughout the whole hour and fifty minute time-limit and because of the fact that they are able to tell witty jokes when they are about to off somebody is why we’re supposed to care for them? I don’t think so, and to be honest, I wasn’t buying it. They are pieces of shite that I wanted to see dead regardless of what they tried to make us think otherwise. Instead of standing behind their backs, the whole time I was cheering for the police officers, for the poor, defenseless people they tortured and messed-with, and even Zombie himself to actually grow a pair and not let these characters get all sentimental and have us care for them.
Even though their characters aren’t worth loving, the performances from the trio of leads may have you think otherwise. Sid Haig is a riot as Captain Spaulding and is weird, sick, twisted, and a bit believable as the old man of the group that seems to know the most, seems to have the most sense, and even seems to be the only one who doesn’t kill people right away. Bill Moseley is also good as Otis and has some funny-lines here and there that have us shocked by his character, but I felt like something was missing to really have this guy play with your mind and play with the conventions of the usual, horror-film bad-guy. He sort of just acts like a dick and does bad things, but there isn’t anything else more to him than that. Wish I eventually got that and didn’t just sit around and see him torture the hell out of people. Then again, it’s a horror movie so I can’t go too crazy asking for much. We all know why Sheri Moon Zombie is in this flick as Lady, (other than the fact that she is freakin’ smoking hot) and it’s kind of a sad reason too, because the girl kind of blows. She tries way too hard to be this witty, weird girl that can stand-up on her own, but also doesn’t take shit from anybody else, either. I didn’t really care for her, feel fear from her, and instead, just thought she was trying a bit too hard, just like her hubby who was sitting behind her probably slapping her as the whole way through. And holy hell, I do not blame him!
Consensus: The Devil’s Rejects definitely shows an improvement over House of a 1000 Corpses with a cool and fun direction from Rob Zombie that makes the guy seem like he has his head on the right shoulder this time around, but yet, it is a horror movie that feels a bit repetitive and doesn’t have us give a single-lick about our three leads, no matter how hard it tries to manipulate us into feeling that way.
6 / 10 = Rental!!
I really think this is one of the most underrated films of the last decade. It’s disgusting, it’s sick, it’s gory, it’s violent, and all in good fun. I was shocked when I saw Roger Ebert’s review on At the Movies and he and Richard Roeper gave it 2 thumbs up. The fact that Zombie got a praise from Ebert is just fuckin’ cool!
I’m really surprised that they liked it. Especially him!
Best use of that Lynyrd Skynyrd track, I won’t lie. Beauty. I must say though, I am a ridiculously huge Zombie fan, and I enjoyed the movies. I can see how they are definitely not for everyone. Great write up!
I don’t like them all, but this one was slightly better than I expected. Thanks Zoe!
Zombie can put together some killer songs but I’m not impressed with his movies yet. I think he gets too caught up in his own particular style that he bypasses good storytelling. At least for me that is.
He needs to keep on growing and growing. Hopefully this Flyers movie will make it work.
Don’t think I liked it too much, it seems all of Rob Zombie’s characters are so unlikeable.
They are. And what’s annoying is that he tried to make me care.
Personally I love this movie and find it really effective and interesting.
Just can’t agree, man.
Good review of one of my favourite films of all time. It’s a really underrated gem this one, can’t understand why it isn’t more of a cult classic.
Give it a couple more years. It will be.
Agreed that Devil’s Rejects is definitely an improvement upon House of a Thousand Corpses. You’re right that the most surprising part of this film is how Zombie manages to make these psycho-killers so damn likable despite all the horrendous, messed up shit that they do to people throughout. By the time Skynyrd’s song finally does make an appearance you really do feel for them. Sig Haig is great. So is Ken Foree’s character. I love to hate William Forsythe’s vengeful sheriff. Now there’s a truly sick individual.
Some of the characters I cared for, others I didn’t give two shits about. Just fucked up all the way.
This is a very good retro flick, yes, wearing its influences on its sleeve without shame (The Last House On The Left, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre and The Hills Have Eyes most immediately come to mind).
Definitely has that look and feel.
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