Top positive review
141 people found this helpful
Drive-in horror without the drive-in
on July 24, 2005
It's the 1970s all over again. If you're obsessed with the 1970s, like me, especially 70s drive-in classics, like me, The Devil's Rejects is a must-see. It's probably the closest thing to a 70s drive-in horror flick that's been made since the 70s. This is either a good or bad thing depending on your perspective. If you hate tasteless, gory, low-budget B-movies, then you would do well to skip The Devil's Rejects. If, however, you are passionate about Ford Administration-era low-budget flicks, then don't hesitate: see this movie.
The Devil's Rejects is Rob Zombie's spin-off/sequel to his 2003 directorial debut, House of 1000 Corpses. That film was famously dumped by its distributor, Universal Studios, and then picked up by Lion's Gate. Then upon release it was scathed by critics, but not surprisingly, managed to connect with a cult audience. Personally I found it to be the most sensational, joyous horror film I had seen in ages. It reveled in its depravity and had the ability to be both hilarious and disturbing at the same time. The Devil's Rejects is up the same alley. Not as much of a horror movie as its predecessor, The Devil's Rejects is more of an action-horror-road movie. It looks like a 30-year-old drive-in movie. If you didn't know any better, you could swear that it was filmed on a shoestring budget in the late '70s. It captures that feel extraordinarily well. The movie gets it down from the start and never strays from it, right down to the soundtrack. The first song that you hear in the movie is The Allman Brothers Band classic "Midnight Rider". The soundtrack also features Joe Walsh, Terry Reid, James Gang, Elvin Bishop, Otis Rush, etc. Not to mention a very memorable use of Lynyrd Skynyrd's "Free Bird".
If House of 1000 Corpses was Rob Zombie's homage to The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, The Devil's Rejects seems almost like an homage to Tobe Hooper's 1986 sequel, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2. The similarities are certainly there. William Forsythe's Sheriff Wydell is not far from Dennis Hopper's Lieutenant Lefty Enright, who maniacally pursues the family of killers to exact his revenge. The whole film reeks of Tobe Hooper worship (but not in a bad way).
The Tobe Hooper element is certainly there, but another director sprang to mind as I was watching the film. The Devil's Rejects is almost like the horror equivalent of Kill Bill, Quentin Tarantino's retro-martial arts-spaghetti western masterpiece. Upon seeing the film a second time, I was reminded of the work of yet another director: Sam Peckinpah. I don't know if Rob Zombie was directly influenced by Peckinpah (it's certainly likely), but all thoughout The Devil's Rejects I was reminded of films like The Wild Bunch, Straw Dogs and The Getaway. The first time I saw it, all I really thought of was Tobe Hooper, however I now see that The Devil's Rejects may be a bit of a Peckinpah homage as well. This certainly gives the film an element of style and class to contrast the otherwise trashy material.
Rob Zombie, just like Quentin Tarantino, is passionate about this genre of film and tries to make the ultimate drive-in homage. Just look at the roster of horror film veterans that Zombie assembled: Ken Foree, P.J. Soles, Mary Waronov, Michael Berryman, and Steve Railsback. If you know who any of these people are, then you are definitely part of the target audience for this film. Not to mention Sid Haig and Bill Moseley returning from House of 1000 Corpses.
Ahh, yes... Sid Haig and Bill Moseley. This movie absolutely belongs to them!! Haig and Moseley own the screen! These two actors alone make the film a must-see. They are awesome! If you liked Sid Haig's Captain Spaulding character from the first film, you will be delighted to know that he plays a much bigger part in this one. Sid Haig is a devilish delight as the mad clown, Captain Spaulding. Bill Moseley simply rules as Otis! He is a bad M.F. These two awesome performances carry the movie. Also worth mentioning is William Forsythe who is excellent as Sheriff Wydell, the obsessed lawman who is trying to track down Captain Spaulding and his cohorts. Next to Sid Haig and Bill Moseley, Forsythe gives one of the best performances in the movie. However, I really miss Karen Black as Mother Firefly. Not to say that Leslie Easterbrook isn't good in the role, but I think she goes a bit over the top. Karen Black would have brought a graceful sensuality to the character, and probably a bit of restraint.
So, is The Devil's Rejects a good movie? Well, that's not an easy question. The short answer is probably "no, it's not". By the conventional definition, it would probably not be labeled a cinematic triumph. However, Rob Zombie does a fine job directing and his dialog is deliciously profane. For those who like this sort of thing, the movie is a blast. Finally, allow me to state a blunt warning: If you are looking for a good, scary horror movie, The Devil's Rejects is probably not what you're looking for. If you like horror movies like The Ring and The Grudge, The Devil's Rejects is DEFINITELY not what you're looking for. Simply put, if you like modern horror movies a lot, you will probably not like The Devil's Rejects. On the other hand if you recognize Ken Foree from his roles in George Romero's Dawn of the Dead and Stuart Gordon's From Beyond, and you know Michael Berryman as the "freaky-looking guy" from The Hills Have Eyes, then yes, The Devil's Rejects is certainly for you. If you treasure your copy of VideoHound's "Cult Flicks and Trash Pics", then yes, this is for you. If you're not too squeamish, you'll probably have a bloody good time.