THE DEVIL'S REJECTS IS BEAUTIFUL SLEAZE

The Devil's Rejects is a wonderful piece of exploitation that has been long absent from the world of cinema.  With a glut of style of substance remakes of Japanese horror films, new versions of horror classics that seem to use little but the title of the original film as their inspiration, and uninspired sequels, the blood-soaked depravity of Rob Zombie's latest film is a great return to trash film glory days when movies like The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, 2000 Maniacs, and Dawn of the Dead purely aimed to scare the crap out of audiences, and succeeded.

I totally hated Zombie's first film, House of a Thousand Corpses.  Aside from the brilliant performance by Sid Haig as the scuzzy killer clown, Captain Spaulding, I thought the entire affair was amateurish and hard to enjoy, but I loved Haig in it so much I was willing to give his follow up film another try.  I'm glad that I did.  I don't know what happened to Mr. Zombie in the last couple years, but The Devil's Rejects is the work of an incredibly skilled writer/director.  I loved it so much I paid to see it twice in one day.  It's a brilliant sleazy nightmare that is shocking, scary, funny, thrilling, and horrifying all at the same time.

This is not a movie for everyone.  If you're easily squeamish, and hate movies with excessive killing and clown sex, you're probably better off going to see March of The Penguins.  For what it is, The Devil's Rejects is one of the best exploitation films ever made. 

The film opens with a ton of cops ready to fire on the ranch house of a family of notorious serial killers called The Fireflys who've already killed at least 80 people. Sheriff Wydell (played by William Forsythe) has a particular mission to get rid of the whole family because his own brother fell victim to their murderous ways some time ago.  He's a cop who's become so crooked and sadistic that his methods are as shocking as the Firefly's.

At the core, the movie works so well because of it's incredible cast.  As Captain Spaulding, the father of the killer family, Sid Haig is incredible.  With his volcanic complexion, rotten teeth, and pasty clown makeup, Haig has a mixture of repulsiveness and charm that is almost unexplainable.  He can switch gears from  menacing to hilarious before he finishes a sentence.  His dialogue is priceless, and spoiling it here within this review would be doing the viewer a great disservice.

Spaulding's adult son and daughter join him on the run, and are played with equal amazing skill by Bill Moseley as Otis, and Zombie's wife Sheri Moon as the sexy and lethal "Baby". 

Mosely is creepy as hell as a Charles Manson meets Greg Allman hybrid who we first see waking up with a dead naked lady in his bed as cops shoot out his window.  He can deliver funny lines like, "I'm Willie fucking Wonka, and this is MY FUCKING CHOCOLATE FACTORY!" and still come off as scary.   

The lovely Mrs. Zombie is hypnotically crazy and beautiful throughout the film.  A mixture of Elizabeth Shue and vintage Farrah Fawcett with a dash of Squeaky Fromme, she owns every bit of the screen she's on, which is a particularly great feat with this charismatic cast.  Using her sexuality to ensare her victims one second, and shaking her brilliant ass while singing "Chinese, Japanense, Dirty Knees, Look at THESE" the next, she's an unpredictable and crazy killer that is alluring, complex, and shocking at the same time.  Her casting is hardly the result of nepotism.

Zombie's direction and editing skills are brilliant throughout the film, throwing in dashes of humor just when things get too revolting.  Then smacking you upside the head with an incredibly violent scene when you let your guard down.

The supporting cast is a virtual "Who's Who" of shock cinema.  Perfectly suited cameos by Eating Raoul's Mary Woronov, Michael Berryman from The Hills Have Eyes, and #1 zombie asskicker Ken Foree will delight genre fanboys yet entertain folks who've never even heard of them.

The soundtrack is incredible as well, full of enough Lynrd Skynyrd, Allman Brothers, and Joe Walsh music to have your own Redneck Woodstock.  Each song perfectly compliments the scenes in this late 70s based film.

Hats off to Rob Zombie for having both the vision and the clout to get a movie made like this in today's overly commercial and safe film world.  I hope to see more of his work in the future.  Go out and buy a ticket to see this today, so Hollywood will get the message that this kind of film has a small but loyal audience that likes to spend money on a quality product.  I've seen it twice already, and am seriously considering going back for thirds.

-Robert Berry
rberry@retrocrush.com

 

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