Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Film Review: The Devils Rejects (2005)

Review by: Chris Ward
Written and Directed by: Rob Zombie
Released: July,2005

Ploughing a different furrow from his 2003 cult hit ‘House of 1000 Corpses’ – a movie that was basically ‘The Texas Chainsaw Massacre’ with added weirdness – Rob Zombie has revised his characters and held back on the spooky undertones for this more depraved sequel.

Set a few months after the events of ‘House'... ‘TDR’ begins with the local police force surrounding the home of the very dysfunctional Firefly ‘family’. Baby (Sheri Moon Zombie) and Otis (Bill Moseley) escape, but eldest son Rufus is shot and Mother Firefly (Leslie Easterbrook) is arrested by Sheriff Wydell (William Forsythe), brother of the Lieutenant murdered by Otis in ‘House'... who is desperate to bring the whole family to justice. Otis and Baby hook up with Captain Spaulding (Sid Haig), the clown-faced killer from the first movie, who also turns out to be Baby’s dad, and end up holing up in a hotel room with a country music band and their wives. After butchering their hostages, the fugitives head for a brothel owned by Spaulding’s brother Charlie Altamont (Ken Foree – don’t ask!), with a clearly insane Wydell in hot pursuit with a couple of bounty hunters for good measure ---Very different in tone and execution to ‘House'...

‘The Devil’s Rejects' is less of a ‘horror’ (in the conventional sense) movie and more of an exploitation movie; still very much in the vein of ...'Chainsaw’ and ‘The Hills Have Eyes’, but with the emphasis on realism rather than leaning towards the supernatural. The main characters are very different here, especially Otis, who was portrayed as a ghostly albino with a penchant for creating models out of the corpses in the first movie. Here he is seen a Charles Manson-type figure with a wickedly dry sense of humour, who just slaughters for the love of it. It is his character and the way he interacts with Spaulding (himself slightly different from his original incarnation) that forms the bulk of Zombie’s witty dialogue, and show Moseley and Haig to be a pretty good double act.

Elsewhere, Zombie’s indulgence for cameos comes to the fore, as there’s cult star after cult star appearing on-screen. Ken Foree and ‘The Hills Have Eyes’ actor Michael Berryman prove to be a great comedy duo as Charlie Altamont and his sidekick Clevon, and there are various appearances from Geoffrey Lewis, Brian Posehn, Danny Tejo, Priscilla Barnes and Tom Towels, to name but a few.
But the real issue as to whether you’ll enjoy this movie is the violence. Zombie has gone all out here and made a movie that can justifiably claim to be a genuine ‘nasty’. Otis and Baby inspire little sympathy; the scene in the motel room with their hostages is one of the most intense and uncomfortable in recent memory, and Spaulding, although given a little more humanity, isn’t much better. So when Wydell finally catches up with them, you would expect some relief, although what plays out may make you shift your allegiances.

Overall, ...'Rejects’ is a fantastic movie, and the movie that mixes together all of Rob Zombie’s trademarks to great effect – cult actors, great soundtrack (never has ‘Free Bird’ been put to better use than here!), OTT violence and gore, and a genuine feel for the seventies road movies that obviously inspired him. It is uncomfortable in places, and it could be said the script is a bit self-indulgent in places, but, unlike it’s messy and incoherent predecessor, it nods towards it’s influences rather than emulates them. Not for everyone, but what is?


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