- Written, Co-produced, and Directed by Rob Zombie
- September 16, 2019
Ten years after miraculously surviving a police shootout (the ending moments of The Devil’s Rejects), the Firefly Family escapes from jail and flees to Mexico to begin their violence again.
Baby (Sheri Moon Zombie) was an improved character in comparison to the first or second films. Baby is much crazier and more disturbing here. Previously her depictions were more annoying and that of a complainer than dangerous. The jump ten years forward allowed for an improvement to the character without the need for serious exposition.
Otis B. Driftwood (Bill Moseley) has also become more vicious and much more predatory. He is much more frightening here than he was previously. He also became more intelligent and the defacto leader I guess out of necessity since Captain Spaulding (the legendary late Sid Haig) was no longer part of the story.
Sid Haig was supposed to play a bigger part in 3 From Hell but according to Rob Zombie his declining health prevented significant participation so the new character of Foxy was introduced. You definitely feel the loss of Captain Spaulding in this movie universe. Then again Sid Haig is a tough actor to replace.
Richard Brake joins the pair as Winslow Foxworth “Foxy” Coltrane, a previously unmentioned uncle to Baby and half-brother to Otis. He is a welcome addition and good enough replacement for the late Sid Haig’s Captain Spalding. He is not as crazy as the other two are in this film though.
In real life often the public will rally around a criminal to some extent. Something about them will appeal to a certain segment of society. Charles Manson had his groupies. There were women that professed their love for Richard Ramirez. Some treated El Chapo as a folk hero. The list goes on and on. Zombie touches on that here. With their crimes getting national coverage, the Firefly Family gets a large group of fans that protest chanting “Free the three” and believe that their savage crimes are just them fighting the system. It is an interesting bit of commentary on his part.
Rob Zombie can be called an acquired taste. You either like his kinds of movies or you do not. Personally, I like most of his work but then again I do like those needlessly violent 70s slasher films as well that Rob Zombie models his movies on. He revels in the needless and occasionally campy gore that those movies contained. Every inch minute of this movie is soaked in blood. The Firefly Family is depicted as brutal animals. Killing is their solution to everything and they do it quite well in here.
Even though House of 1000 Corpses (2003) and The Devil’s Rejects (2005) were inspired by slasher films, 3 From Hell itself is not that close to a slasher film or even a horror film of any type though I will say that is the inspiration for the violence of the movie. The story here is more like a Western where two very bad guys face off against each other and you’re cheering for the least evil of the two. A very bloody Western but a Western nonetheless. The movie takes place largely in a small Mexican town which is eventually overrun by the modern equivalent of banditos in the form of Aquarius’s (Emilio Rivera) men. Aquarius is seeking revenge on Otis for having killed his father Rondo (Danny Trejo) earlier in the film.
3 From Hell is a bit thin on story but it is such a great ride of violence. You are cheering for the Firefly Family to kill as many people as they can. It does not matter if they are innocent bystanders or Mexican Wrestling mask wearing criminals. They have gone from the villains of the films to the heroes. How you rehab sadistic killers like this is one of the bigger mysteries of the movie, but Zombie does just that here. The Fireflys are the psychotic heroes of the story in the end.
Rob Zombie is best when he is handling material that is all his own as evidenced by his Halloween films. They were okay but when he is crafting something that springs entirely from his mind he creates a distinct and polarizing vision.
I know Rob Zombie is not everyone’s cup of tea, but 3 From Hell should satisfy fans of his work in particular and the series in general. It also in my opinion will satisfy fans of 70s low budget slasher films. This movie is wonderfully violent. Enjoy!