Continuing my tribute to Sid Haig/build up to 3 From Hell, here comes Rob Zombie’s sophomore feature. While most would consider it a sequel to House of 1000 Corpses, others would call it its own movie, only featuring characters from that flick, since the style and tone of the movies are radically different despite being helmed by the same writer-director.
5-15 months (I don’t know for sure, I didn’t write it down) following the events of House of 1000 Corpses, the Ruggsville, Texas police department has finally figured out who’s responsible for all of the dead and missing people that the area’s no doubt been rampant with for YEARS. Surrounding the Firefly compound, the pigs lay siege to the joint and spend a few hundreds rounds of ammo turning the place into the white trash ranch equivalent of Swiss cheese…that’s been shot at with an SMG. And I don’t mean Sarah-Michelle Gellar.
Otis and Baby evade capture thanks to an escape hatch (which they all could have used if they’d just run in the first fucking place!), leaving a wounded Mother behind to be arrested and titanic brother Rufus to be gunned down despite his potbelly stove-turned-Iron Monger Mark 0.5 battle armor. While mom is tortured by the vengeance-fueled Sheriff Wydell (self-appointed nemesis of the Fireflies whose brother was killed in the previous feature) in his crusade to find the escapees and bring them to holy bloody murder justice, O & B reconnect with Baby’s daddy, Captain Spaulding, and the trio go on the lamb. Well, after they exact acts of Master Sardu arousing sadism upon some unsuspecting victims.
Wydell’s campaign of retribution leaves a handful of dead hookers and a gutted Mother Firefly in its wake with the Sheriff himself Bond villaining himself to death when his overindulgence of revenge ends with the bad guys getting the upper hand. The grisly family vacation ends with these cast-offs of Satan’s service driving headlong into a lead curtain of tax payer gunfire, blasted into them by a roadblock of cops with various styles of ’70s facial hair, all to the tune of “Freebird”. It’s all a bit silly, as we’re supposed to feel bad for these violent psychopaths who finally give up and opt to go down guns blazing like anti-heroes when they’re literally some of the most terrible people burned to celluloid.
Devil’s Rejects set a standard for Rob Zombie movies that many feel he hasn’t come close to reaching again, with another amazing performance by Moseley as the charismatic demon in a man skin, Otis Driftwood, along with more over-the-top fun from Sid Haig and Sherri Moon-Zombie as Spaulding and Baby respectively. Even if you’re not a fan of the man, you can appreciate that his movies are always opportunities to put more money into the bank accounts of b-movie alumni like Ken Foree, Michael Berryman, Danny Trejo, William Forsythe, Moseley, and his own wife Sherri (whose teeth look irritating perfect for a white trash scumbag, like, “just finished using a Crest White Strip” perfect), and of course, Haig (RIP). Sadly, when she demanded a higher paycheck for Rejects, veteran queen b Karen Black (RIP also) was replaced by Leslie Easterbrook, best known as the blond jug-her-naut Callahan in the Police Academy series.
While 1000 Corpses has a cult following of its own, Rejects has found itself a more mainstream appeal, presenting itself as a down ‘n dirty crime thriller instead of “some trippy horror shit”. There are no colorful costumes, no teenage pothead victims, and no Dr. Satan camp. There were scenes of Dr. S shot for the movie (which included Rosario Dawson as a nurse *cartoon wolf freak out*), but Bobby made the right choice in trimming the proverbial fat on that one. Rejects benefits greatly from Zombie reining in the spastic camera work and manic storytelling in favor of a much grittier and grimier coating of realism, painting the titular trio in a much less clownish (no pun intended), more genuinely disturbing light. One thing Zombie doesn’t shy from is his almost signature usage of close-up shots of grainy news footage. I’m guessing Rob sat a little too close to the TV growing up…
Four Scoops of Tutti Fuckin’ Frutti out-of-Five
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