Published Jul 01, 2005Rob Zombie's vision has always been a twisted and horrifying one depicted through many artistic mediums (music, comics, film). While his music has lost its edge over the years, the scales have definitely shifted in Zombie's creative favour with his second film.
House of 1000 Corpses was an interesting and shocking debut for the rocker, borrowing ideas from classic sadistic slashers, but it was also a flawed film that received as much abuse as praise. The Devil's Rejects will likely repel those who couldn't appreciate Zombie's first film, even though the two films couldn't be any different, but it's not only a far better film, it's a great one that never loses its exhilarating rush.
Where House was a dark homage to '70s horror that got a little too carried away, Devil's shies away from the horror canon for a wild ride through the Texan countryside that toys with gritty '70s crime/action films and spaghetti westerns, and utilises mercilessly brutal violence.
As Zombie has stated, the films are connected but this one's not a sequel. Featuring the same sadistic roughneck murderers from the first film, the director has started afresh, allowing the viewer to enjoy the film as a whole without relying on knowledge of House as a guide. Devil's begins at the damned house of the homicidal Fireflys, with cops surrounding the place. As the shootout begins, so does the film's bloody killing spree, as Otis (Bill Moseley), Baby (Sheri Moon Zombie) and Captain Spaulding (the priceless Sid Haig) take off across the state with only carnage and survival from the revenge-seeking Sheriff Wydell (William Forsythe) on their minds.
The story isn't nearly as complex as House's; it's a straightforward, torturous shoot/cut-'em-up flick with nary a conscience and is so effective in its ability to turn tables you nearly begin to feel compassion for the killers as they're being hunted down and tortured by the enraged sheriff - the character you empathise with at the start.
Making up for House's brutishly hopeless and rather disoriented finish, Zombie has constructed a glorious finale this time around that guarantees satisfaction. Fans of spotting cameos will have a field day as well, with everyone from Ken Foree (Dawn of the Dead) and Priscilla Barnes (Three's Company) to P.J. Soles (Rock 'n' Roll High School) and the unmistakable Michael Berryman (The Hills Have Eyes) receiving screen time. But where Devil's succeeds most is in its genuine '70s feel, which is accomplished with a fantastic soundtrack (Lynyrd Skynyrd, Terry Reid, Allman Brothers Band), authentic setting (including some clever television updates on the killers' whereabouts) and an unmistakable coarse sheen that gives the film a 30-year-old quality.
Zombie's second film should silence the cynics who condemned his debut, and if not, they simply don't understand the man, because The Devil's Rejects is one delicious piece of outrageously violent eye candy. Check your scruples at the door and enjoy. (Maple)