Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Movie Review: The Devil's Rejects

  Rob Zombie's The Devil's Rejects is the sequel to his debut as a director, House of 1000 Corpses.  Having seen all of Zombie's films, and being a fan, I would describe The Devil's Rejects as a stylistic prelude to Halloween, though the films have nothing to do with one another.  The cast from House of 1000 Corpses returns, with the exception of Karen Black, who played Mother Firefly, and Robert Mukes, who played Rufus.  Black is replaced by Leslie Eastbrook, who's more intense interpretation of the character is more appropriate for this film.  Also added are Ken Foree, playing Charlie Altamont, Danny Trejo as Rondo, and William Foresythe as Sheriff Wydell.  
 "Intense" would be the one-word describing this film.  The kitchy, carnival feel of House of 1000 Corpses is abandoned, bringing the characters out of their surrealistic portrayal and into stark focus.  Sheriff Wydell, brother of the Sheriff who was killed investigating the missing young adults from the first film, leads an assault on the Firefly compound.  Only Otis (Bill Mosely) and Baby (Sherri Moon Zombie) escape the firefight.  Mother Firefly is taken into custody, and Rufus (Tyler Mane) is killed.  Tiny (Matthew McGrory), who was dragging a victim through the woods when the Sheriff and his posse arrive, goes into hiding.

 Otis and Baby call Captain Spaulding (Sid Haig), who is living in another residence with his obese girlfriend (in House of 1000 Corpses, he mentions to the Sheriff's deputy that he likes large women).  Spaulding is introduced having sex with Ginger Lynn Allen, who pulls a gun and shoots him in the face after he cracks a joke about paying her for sex ("you should be paying me").  It was only a dream, and when his girlfriend asks him if his dream was good or bad, he responds "half-and-half".  When Baby tells him over the phone about the raid on the compound, he instructs them to meet at a preselected location.  He abandons his girlfriend, drives to a convenience store where he assaults a young mother and steals her car (all while wearing his clown make-up), traumatizing a young boy in the process.

 The scenes only get more intense as the film goes on.  The assault on the Banjo Family was so intense that the actors and even Zombie himself had difficulty getting through it.  Bill Mosely speaks in the extra material about how the character of Otis goes completely against his own nature, and how it was probably the most disturbing scene he had ever performed.  His "I am the Devil, and I am here to so the Devil's work" speech has become iconic.  Each of Foresythe's scenes are equally intense, though the Groucho Marx/Elvis scene is hilarious.  

 The Dr. Evil character and back story introduced in House of 1000 Corpses is dropped, although among the deleted scenes we are given an idea of what happened to the good doctor as a result of the raid.  The movie is scored with a great soundtrack, mostly classic tunes from the 1960's and 1970's.  Zombie shows an impressive maturation as a director and writer in comparison to his previous film, which goes on to serve him well in his remake of Halloween.  The characters are portrayed as monstrous and sympathetic at the same time, with the final scene bringing the film to a poignant and somehow beautiful close.  The horror is in the depth of depravity that human beings are capable of... on full display in The Devil's Rejects.

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