THE DEVIL’S REJECTS (DVD)

3 Stars
Year Released: 2005
MPAA Rating: R
Running Time: 100 minutes
Click to Expand Credits:

I have to confess to something before I even start this review. I’ve never seen House of 1000 Corpses. Yeah, I know… I know… but can you blame me? I had this not entirely irrational fear that it would be a vanity project from a musician trying to “branch out”. So I had as much interest in Zombie’s movie as I did in Russell Crowe’s band. It wasn’t anything personal, I just didn’t want my eyes to bleed.

Another thing that worried me was that he was a fan of this stuff, and when you’re too much of a fan you focus on the “cool” rather than the “good”. These movies were based on a formula and if you don’t understand why the formula worked you’ll end up with Wrong Turn instead of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974 version, of course).

So does Zombie know his stuff? Was I wrong to avoid “House of 1000 Corpses?” Well, I hate to admit it, but I’m gonna have to take a look at the first movie because Rob knows his shit. He’s got a great eye and ear for the look and sound of the genre. From the over-saturated yellow desert to the sound of a newscast. He’s got it down perfect. Whether or not he understands the formula is a moot point because he never really deviates from it. If it wasn’t for the fact that I recognized the actors, it could have fooled me as being a period piece.

The story starts off about a year after the events of the first film, with the police raiding the murderous Firefly clan’s house. Only Otis and Baby manage to escape, stopping to call Captain Spaulding so he can join them before he’s chased down and arrested too. Heading the dragnet is Sheriff John Quincy Wydell, the brother of the other Sheriff Wydell from the first film, who’s willing to do just about anything to exterminate the Firefly family right off the face of the earth and avenge his brother.

If “House of 1000 Corpses” was channeling “Texas Chainsaw Massacre” then Devil’s Rejects owes a lot to “Last House on The Left”. When Otis and Baby kidnap two couples and have a little fun with them, I was reminded many times of Krug and company.

Zombie is pretty decent when it comes to getting good performances out of his leads. Sid Haig in particular is having a hell of a lot of fun with Captain Spaulding. The only downside is that, like the movies it’s based on, “The Devil’s Rejects” has a limited scope about where it’s going. It’s pretty inventive for the first hour and Zombie knows how to play his audience, but once Sheriff Wydell gets an opportunity for revenge it completely runs out of steam and imagination and just kind of stumbles and stutters for the next half hour until the credits roll.

I can now say with certainty that despite the so-so bits, Rob Zombie is a real filmmaker and not some ego driven musician pretending to be one. I fully expected this to play like one of Rob’s music videos, but nope. It’s a pretty exacting re-creation of a 70’s Drive-in movie. I think the best compliment I can give it is that if Rob had spliced in one of those “Let’s all go to the lobby” commercials before the movie began, it wouldn’t have been anachronistic in the least.

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Posted on October 29, 2005 in Reviews by
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