THE DEVIL’S REJECTS
***1/2 (out of 5)
July 22, 2005
Sid Haig as CAPTAIN SPAULDING
Bill Moseley as OTIS
Sheri Moon Zombie as BABY
William Forsythe as SHERIFF WYDELL
Ken Foree as CHARLEE ALTAMONT
Matthew McGrory as TINY
Leslie Easterbrook as MOTHER FIREPLY
Studio: Lion’s Gate Films
Directed by: Rob Zombie
BY KEVIN CARR
Listen to Kevin’s radio review…
I’ve always been a fan of horror movies. I’ve seen most of the classics, and I have a strong appreciation for the 1970s violence films like “Texas Chainsaw Massacre,” “The Last House on the Left” and “The Hills Have Eyes.”
Back when Rob Zombie was planning on releasing “House of 1000 Corpses” through Universal, I was quickly intrigued by the stories of how the studio worried that it would receive an NC-17 rating. When it was dropped from distribution and spent some time in limbo, I was more and more eager to see it. Then Lion’s Gate stepped in and saved the day. These were the days when Lion’s Gate was the Miramax sewer and not the quality independent distributor it is today.
I rented “House of 1000 Corpses” on video two years ago during a vacation. And when I watched it, I made sure to lock the doors so my kids didn’t wander in the room. After all, it was supposed to be the most intense horror film ever made.
I wasn’t impressed.
To me, “House of 1000 Corpses” was just a cheap knock-off of “Texas Chainsaw Massacre” with TV-movie grade cinematography and a lot of cheap vulgar gestures. So when I saw Zombie was making the sequel, I wasn’t really looking forward to it.
However, I was pleasantly surprised by “The Devil’s Rejects.” This movie was everything the original was supposed to be. The cinematography was impeccable. This film has a gritty, visceral look of “The Texas Chainsaw Massacre” without completely ripping it off. Unlike “1000 Corpses,” “The Devil’s Rejects” actually felt like a grainy 70s slice-and-dice flick.
This film picks up where “1000 Corpses” ended. The police are raiding the Firefly ranch after a series of not-so-subtle tourist murders. They incarcerate Mother Firefly, but the kids escape and raise hell on a path of carnage through the county.
It’s difficult to say the movie is good, ‘cause it’s a tough film to watch. If you get squeamish at the torture scenes, you might want to pass. But Zombie actually does a fine job showing needless violence without being overtly cruel or too intense. He gets to the killing with more prejudice than he ever did in “1000 Corpses,” and there’s a believability behind the actions.
The cast is pretty phenomenal for their C-list status. Sid Haig is given much more screen time, which is great, since he was grossly underused in “1000 Corpses.” Bill Moseley manages to give a better portrayal of Otis instead of just goofing on his old “Texas Chainsaw” character. Sure, Sheri Moon Zombie still delivers her lines like a bad porno actress, but you can’t expect perfection.
The real meat of this film comes from William Forsythe, who plays the vengeful sheriff seeking payback for the death of his brother. His character gives into a psychosis that gives the film more depth and interest than any standard slasher movie Zombie is paying homage to.
Zombie fixed some of the major flaws from the first film, including some laughable make-up effects and weak costume design. The gargantuan character of Tiny looks more than a basketball player in a rubber mask and Haig’s Captain Spaulding is creepier than ever.
Yes, the characters are screwed up, and they do a lot of screwed up thinks. And yes, I would warn anybody that this film isn’t for those with a weak constitution. However, if you like the violent films of the 1970s, “The Devil’s Rejects” is a great throwback to their style. Much better than the cinematic cesspool of substandard 70s horror remakes we’ve been seeing lately.