Sunday, October 12, 2008

11. The Devil's Rejects

The sequel to Rob Zombie's House of 1000 Corpses, just about the only memorable thing in this is a finale set to "Free Bird." The Firefly family are on the run, and the most scary member, Dr. Satan, has been forgotten in his underground lair. Instead of a horror film, this is more of thriller, with the outlaw Firefly family on the run from Sheriff Wydell- whose brother was murdered in the first film- who's bent on cruel revenge.
Hypocritical religious cop- wow, that's a new one.

The problem is that while Zombie tries to make his shrill and annoying wife and her fellow band of sadists sympathetic, they make Mickey & Mallory from Natural Born Killers seem like lovable anti-heroes. The film opens with the Sheriff (William Forsythe, Things to Do in Denver When You're Dead) staging a raid on the Firefly compound. Zombie gets a lot of credit for making a decent film because he's a musician, but the shootout is only memorable because the villains wear huge iron masks and armor. They escape, but Mother Firefly is captured.

Once again Sid Haig as Captain Spaulding is the only villain you give a shit about. He's got that sleazy charisma going for him, and his grimy teeth and gums are the only improvement in special effects. The blood is all CG, which continues to look like shit to this day. Just use squibs. I'd rather see cheapo '70s bright red fake blood than obviously fake CG bloodspray. Otis Driftwood and Baby Firefly are once again the stars, with Bill Moseley and Sheri Moon Zombie returning. Otis has a new dirtbag beard and loses the white haired creep look, but he's still whiny and aggravating.
Tom Goes to the Graveyard

This time they're on the road and kidnap a country bluegrass band, including Geoffrey Lewis (from the Clint Eastwood orangutan movies) and comic neckbeard Brian Posehn. It's your typical torment and kill scene, and we've seen it before. It's nothing really surprising and you don't feel much empathy. Driftwood skins one of the men and wears his face as a mask to torment his wife, and they leave her tied up with his face on hers. Pretty sick, but in a movie full of dark humor it just comes off as a joke. She runs into the highway and gets hit by a truck.

Rob Zombie tries to make us wonder who is worse, the vengeful Sheriff or the murderous family; he even makes Wydell a Jesus freak in a cowboy hat so we won't like him. When Mother Firefly torments him with photos of his dead brother, he is finally driven over the edge and kills her, but he chews the scenery from his first appearance, so it's no surprise. It's not like seeing Dustin Hoffman turn killer in Straw Dogs; we wonder why he didn't just kill her in the first place. Comparing cops and criminals is nothing new and this isn't a fresh look unless you've never seen the movies Rob Zombie grew up on. So maybe it's just good to introduce his legions of fans to classic horror.

I liked Ken Foree as the club owner, and I really liked one scene where Tiny returns to save their bacon. I saw a sort of history of American horror films in that; Otis and Baby are the Manson family thrill killers, who were popular villains in the late 60's. They get saved by Tiny, who is an amalgam of Leatherface and the mutants from The Hills Have Eyes, two movies that upped the ante in horror films and sort of "saved" the genre. But overall, I liked the first film better- which puts me in the minority. The Devil's Rejects is more polished and self-referential, and shows Zombie's growth as a filmmaker but not as a storyteller. I found this one more formulaic but still sloppy. Equal parts enjoyment and annoyance, seeing this twice is one time too many. If the first movie reminded me of Texas Chainsaw Massacre this one reminded me of Nightbreed, which was pretty silly.


Anonymous said...

you had to love the girl getting hit by the truck though, never saw that coming...

elgringo said...

I've never seen this before but I have seen the finale. Wow. It makes you think of Lynyrd Skynyrd a little differently, doesn't it. Glad to see you opened with this awesome scene.

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