Monday, March 8, 2010

Review; 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 that was commercially successful enough to warrant the follow-up (Rob actually started penning it 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 with the 70's horror/action genre evident in every reel.

The start is a mishmash of what-went-before interlaced with news snippets regarding the current status of the sicko Firefly family. As stated before, Zombie's direction is full of reverence for the techniques of others, yet he does it to great effect, 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 we see the police find wind of their debauchery and lay siege to their property. Both Sherri and Otis escape while the mother is captured by the Sheriff with a score to settle. The family inevitably become small celebrities as the media picks up on their case and labels them 'The Devil's Rejects'.

An off the map motel is the scene for most of the films macabre moments. After a brief introduction to the current inhabitants , a traveling old-timers country band is among them , we're treated to their subsequent kidnapping by the Firefly's while they wait for their father (Captain Spaulding) to arrive. And this is where Zombie makes things more than a little - uncomfortable. Our captors have no mercy as they subject the couple's to torture and humiliation at its most primitive. Sid Haig as 'the clown' is genuinely repulsive, and he uses his comical caricature sparingly but well. During it all, we're fleetingly reminded of Natural Born Killers as we follow Sheriff (William Forsythe) exorcizing personal demons on his jaunt to catch the psychopaths. Later we encounter a black desert pimp who helps out the Firefly's when they escape again. The pimp offers us some much needed lighter moments as the film builds towards its climax.

House was regarded by fans of the genre twofold: it seemed to be loved or hated. One of the strong things about the sequel is a viewer can tell Zombie just doesn't seem to give a damn. This is his world, his characters, and his rules. I felt totally ensconced in the realm he creates: the dust, dirt and grit of life in
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 to the original.

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