- Written, Produced and Directed by Rob Zombie
- July 22, 2005
Following the events of House of 1000 Corpses, the psychopathic family of killers goes on the run as a vengeful sheriff follows hot on their trail.
Call Rob Zombie an acquired taste. Call him polarizing. Whatever you call him, it’s clear he has a clear vision when it comes to whatever he does in a film. I will say The Devil’s Rejects is a little more polished than House of 1000 Corpses. I think it’s still a little rough but Zombie definitely learned things from the predecessor to this.
The Devil’s Rejects is a blood-soaked violent film. It is much more of a shockfest than it is a horror comedy like the last one was. Not that there were any sidesplitting one-liners in House of 1000 Corpses, but the humor was definitely dark humor.
Captain Spaulding (Sid Haig), Otis Driftwood (Bill Moseley), and Baby (Sheri Moon Zombie) start out as villains and human monstrosities, by the end they are re-framed as destructive antiheroes. They are depraved and hyperviolent but by the closing few minutes of this movie they take a fatalistic and almost heroic attitude and stand against the authorities who have come to slaughter them.
This transformation is accomplished in large part because the assumed good guys of the story turn out to be just as terrible in their own way as the people they are hunting. Sheriff John Quincey Wydell (William Forsythe) makes a deal with Rondo (Danny Trejo) and Billy Ray Snapper (Diamond Dallas Page), a pair of amoral bounty hunters, to find and kill the trio called The Devil’s Rejects as revenge for the death of his brother George (Tom Towles) in the first movie.
Wydell starts as a dark yet heroic (maybe not the right word) character. You can see his point of view and you are actually cheering for him because he’s the default hero. As the movie progresses on he becomes more violent and driven by anger while the trio seem to shed that and come off almost as victims of overzealous law enforcement. It’s a weird transition. It’s difficult to explain in words but easy to perceive on screen.
The Devil’s Rejects is much closer to a 70s slasher film than the last one. It is done in the way they actually were and not in the way you remember them. I remember most slasher films from that era as much more gory and violent than they actually were. And I saw many of them as videocassette rentals so my experience wasn’t far removed from the era in which they were released. My point is watching them today they are not as bloody or violent as I remember.
We got a little more into the background of the murderous family. Mother Firefly (Leslie Easterbrook) was a prostitute. Captain Spaulding was the dad of them all. That latter development was a little bit of a surprise but not out of left field. He had a connection with them but what it was other than getting them victims was not obvious to the audience. It came about naturally.
To those of you that don’t know Captain Spaulding is the name of a character from the Marx Brothers film Animal Crackers. I bring this up because the names of Marx Brothers characters play a role in this film. Turns out they are some of the aliases that get used. Zombie draws from an eclectic mix for not only what is used in this film but also in the casting as well. At least in my opinion. He is tossing in actors and random bits he feels are cool or he wants to meet and making a movie. If I was a director/director I might do the same.
The Devil’s Rejects takes on a little bit more of a realistic tone (if I can use that) than it’s predecessor. The involvement of law-enforcement isn’t necessarily there to get slaughtered but rather to hunt down the bad guys even though law enforcement eventually turns into the bad guys.
Baby is a little better of a character here than she was in the last one. She’s less of a whiny brat and more of a lethal threat. Otis Driftwood is much more deranged. The great Sid Haig as Captain Spaulding is absolutely terrifying rather than icky or creepy.
And the soundtrack here is just amazing. Songs like “Midnight Rider” by the Allman Brothers Band, “Shambala” by Three Dog Night, “Brave Awakening” by Terry Reid, “Rock On” by David Essex, “Free Bird” by Lynyrd Skynyrd, and many more populate this movie in one form or another. The soundtrack is just perfect on its own.
The pace of the film is steady and the end comes about logically. Everything builds to the finale. It’s not as if Zombie decided that he needed to wrap things up in this and bullets started flying. Rather the story progressed in that direction which is becoming more and more of a lost art in filmmaking.
The Devil’s Rejects is an entertaining entry by Rob Zombie. It’s an improvement over the last film and if you enjoy 70s slasher films this is most definitely a must see!