Rob Zombie makes another 1970s Drive-in Movie sleezy horror film, while being at the same time almost cutting edge in modernity, with The Devil's Rejects (2005)
Some of the psycho cannibal family from House of 1,000 Corpses (2003) survived the first movie, including Captain Spaulding (Sid Haig).
Spaulding is not this time shown at his fried chicken & horror-carnival roadside attraction, though we do see some hysterically funny advertisements for his business on motel televisions. Spaulding & what remains of his family are on the lam, still killing up a storm.
After a grisly shoot-out at the gothic house of horrors, between borderline-psychotic cops & the cannibal Firefly family clad in eerie home-made armor, we get to know sherrif John Wydell (William Forsythe) out to avenge his brother, a victim of the family.
Wydell captures the family matriarch who he proceeds to torture for information about those of her family who escaped.
The scenes between psycho cop & psycho Mother Firefly (Leslie Easterbrook) are tremendously cool in the so-sleezy-it's-sexy-art category.
Easterbrook seems to be having great fun with her performance, & it's the whole element of fun that makes the relentless gore of the thing effectively satiric rather than merely stomach-churning. Although I suppose viewers new to gore films might find it way too visceral for noviciate appeal.
Sheri Moon Zombie as Baby provides the "mainstream" sex appeal with her great bod, but she does not fail to be over-the-top insane in her performance.
Bill Mosley as Otis looking like Charlie Mansion had more appeal in 1,000 Corpses but he's pretty damned good here too, being sadistic as all hell.
The Fireflies are disgusting & the ease with which they torture & kill innocuous people makes them very bad people indeed.
But the sheriff is himself a madman & when he finally captures the Fireflies with the help of Danny Trejo as Rondo, & begins torturing them at least as horridly as they have tortured others, sympathy erupts. It's easy to hope they survive in order to insure a "Captain Spaulding Trilogy."
It's hard to say which of Rob Zombie's first two films is better. He's more in control of Devil's Rejects & I'd assess it as a more masterfully done film.
But 1,000 Corpses was full of truly grotesque & baroque fantasy, & for all its chaos I think I loved it more.
The contrast between the first film's supernatural horror fest, & the second film's more down to earth sadism, makes them an interesting pair for comparison, & keeps Devil's Rejects from being just a second go at the same material.
These are both brilliant films in their own individual ways, with the presence of Sid Hague as the horror clown to beat all horror clowns holding the films together as a set.
Rob Zombie invests real art in this abject sleeze. When I watch the usual movie about sadistic psychos I often get bored. Shock value without anything to go with it isn't so shocking after a while.
I find myself wondering why the characters can't have more, well, "character." I wonder why the gore-gags can't have a more convincing context. I don't invariably mind bad acting but does it have to be that bad?
What Rob Zombie does is make the most radically exploitative gore film but then add marvelously demented characterization & real verve & even a kind of sick, sick, sick beauty to it all. Thank you Rob Zombie. May you make many more movies!
copyright © by Paghat the Ratgirl