Monday, March 8, 2010

The Devil's Rejects

Writer/director (and rocker) Rob Zombie's sequel to 2003's House of 1000 Corpses finds us in familiar yet unique territory. House was a structured, homage ridden gore fest commercially successful enough to warrant a follow-up (Rob actually started penning a sequel the weekend House went to no 1 at the US box office), while The Devil's Reject's is attacked from an almost completely different angle. Here, the 70's horror/action milieu is evident in every reel.

The beginning is a mishmash of what-went-before interspersed with news snippets regarding the current status of the sicko Firefly family. As stated, Zombie's direction is full of reverence for the techniques of others, yet he does it effectively, mining a by-gone era with sallied stills-in-action of bloodshed and gore. You feel strapped in for a jolly ride, and want to know who to root for when the action cranks up a notch.

And crank up it does. Picking up almost immediately after the first film, the exploits of Baby (Sheri Moon Zombie), Captain Spaulding (Sid Haig), and Otis (Bill Moseley), come to a head as the police catch wind of their debauchery and lay siege to the property. Both Sherri and Otis escape while the mother is captured by a Sheriff with a score to settle. Perhaps inevitably, the Firefly's become small celebrities with the media label of 'The Devil's Rejects'.

An off the map motel is the scene for most of the film's macabre moments. After a brief introduction to the current lodgers (a traveling old-timers country band among them), we're then treated to their subsequent kidnapping while the Firefly's wait for their father (Captain Spaulding) to arrive. And this is where Zombie makes things more than a little ... uncomfortable - our captors displaying no mercy as they subject a couple to torture and humiliation. During it all, we're fleetingly reminded of Natural Born Killers as our Sheriff (William Forsythe) exorcises personal demons on a jaunt to catch the psychopaths. Later we encounter a black desert pimp who helps out the Firefly's when they escape again. Said pimp offers some much needed lighter moments as the film builds towards a climax.

House was regarded by fans of the genre twofold: loved or hated. One of the strong things about this sequel is we call tell Zombie just doesn't give a damn. This is his world, his characters, and his rules. You'll feel totally ensconced in the realm he creates: the dust, dirt, and grit of 
Texas during the 70's; the songs intertwined during action sequences that make them poetic and disturbing. Although not as tell-tale as House, The Devil's Rejects nonetheless acts as a worthy successor.