The Devil's Rejects
house of 1000 copses | the devil's rejects | rob zombie | sequel | sid haig | sheri moon zombie | bill moseley | germany | united states | exploitation | road horror | william forsythe | ken foree | matthew mcgrory | leslie easterbrook | geoffrey lewis | lew temple
Film: The Devil’s Rejects
Director: Rob Zombie
Writer: Rob Zombie
Starring: Sid Haig, Sheri Moon Zombie and Bill Moseley
This is a movie that I saw in the theater with a couple of friends at the end of high school. If you know my thoughts on House of 1000 Corpses, I was leery to see the follow-up. I ended up loving this movie immediately. I’m pretty sure I had only seen it that one time until now, so it is like 15 years between watches. This would be the first time watching it with a critical eye as well. The reason for the rewatch was to watch all the films from the Summer Challenge Series for the Podcast Under the Stairs of the 2000s. The synopsis here is the murderous; backwoods Firefly family take to the road to escape the vengeful Sheriff Wydell (William Forsythe), who is not afraid of being as ruthless as his target.
We start this off with crime scene footage as well as text that are getting us up to speed. This is after the events of House of the 1000 Corpses. There is a Sheriff Wydell is hot on their trail and we also learn that this family is dubbed, The Devil’s Reject for their depravity and brutality.
The movie then shows us Tiny (Matthew McGrory). He’s dragging a dead woman when he sees a bunch of cop cars coming up their long driveway. They have the house surrounded and led by Sheriff Wydell. He announces their presence outside while the family inside the house spring up to defensive positions. This is Otis (Bill Moseley), Baby (Sheri Moon Zombie), Mother Firefly (Leslie Easterbrook) and Rufus (Tyler Mane). A shoot out commences when they don’t give up, which results in Rufus dying and Mother Firefly being arrested. Otis and Baby get away. Once free, they call Captain Spaulding (Sid Haig) to alert them for the back-up plan. They all hit the road.
In the process, they do what they do best to make it to their rendezvous. It is first to a motel where they encounter the Sullivan & Banjo group. This consists of Roy Sullivan (Geoffrey Lewis), his wife Gloria (Priscilla Barnes), Wendy Banjo (Kate Norby), her husband Adam (Lew Temple) and a roadie of Jimmy (Brian Posehn). This group is taken hostage and many of them killed as Otis goes to get guns and Baby watches the room waiting for Captain Spaulding.
They’re trying to make it to Charlie Altamont’s (Ken Foree) whorehouse he runs along with Clevon (Michael Berryman) and a slew of women. The Devil’s Rejects journey won’t be easy though. Sheriff Wydell won’t give up for what happened to his brother, George (Tom Towles), from the previous movie. He is willing to go as savage as they are and he also hires a couple of ex-cons to find them, Rondo (Danny Trejo) and Billy Ray Snapper (Dallas Page). The go by the name, the Unholy Two, and they’re the best at what they do. It becomes a race of survival where the lines of good and bad become blurred.
That’s where I want to leave my recap of the movie as I’m going to assume most people have already seen this one to be honest. This was definitely the movie that I saw and made me become a Rob Zombie fan. Him and his films hold an interesting place for me since I know he can make really good films, but for whatever reason, he really just has fallen off.
To really get into this one, we’re paying homage to exploitation films here. I’d say that it really does start off like Texas Chain Saw Massacre, which House of 1000 Corpses pays homage there as well. This is really more of a road horror movie though as the Devil’s Rejects are fighting for their survival here and it forces them away from their homestead. We really don’t get enough movies like this and it is a subgenre I dig.
What I like here though is the evolution of our characters. Zombie does a good job in fleshing them out. Captain Spaulding was such a minor character in the first one where this really fleshes him out and I’m so glad they did. Haig does a great job as this dirty clown and has a great line that he delivers to Susan (P.J. Soles) and her son. I like that they took Otis from being this weird, albino character to the badass that he is here. Moseley just embodies this role as well. Then there is Baby and I think Zombie did good in making her less annoying in this one. Sheri Moon Zombie is the weakest of the three, but she fits in well. I love that she uses her sexuality as a weapon and men fall for it. I mean I would as well.
Now we continue to see how vicious the rejects are. What really makes this movie interesting though is the blurring of the lines with our protagonist of Sheriff Wydell. It is a good touch with the revenge angle of getting them back to what they did to his brother. He gives a speech later in the movie about his ancestors and how they used to delve out vigilante justice when it was the Wild West. This works for me and with how well Forsythe plays it. In the end, we don’t know who is really good and who is really bad here since both sides are mirrors. The sheriff would be the lesser of two evils as he’s trying to kill criminals, but the lengths he has to go to do so makes him lose any sort of humanity.
If I have any issue here, it is again how Zombie writes the dialogue to his characters. I liked for the most part better what he did in House of 1000 Corpses with our group. He has the Sullivans and the Banjos talking pretty vulgar and it just doesn’t feel natural. He really seems to want to make a dirty and gritty film, but I think it works better to provide them with innocence. I’m even fine with everyone talking vulgar at Charlie’s place as that is fitting. There is also a line of dialogue about chickens that is just cringe as well. What I will say is that I’m glad they didn’t include Dr. Satan in this movie. I liked the character, it just won’t fit here.
I’ve already delved into this a bit, but if you couldn’t tell I really like the acting here. I’ve gone over the 4 main stars of the movie. Foree is good as this pimp character. Having seen this and the original film, I prefer Easterbrook as Mother Firefly. Lewis, Barnes, Norby and Temple are fine in their performances. My issues there of course are with how their dialogue is written. I love the cameos by the likes of Trejo, Page, Posehn, Elizabeth Daily, Towles, Berryman, Soles, Deborah Van Valkenburgh, Ginger Lynn, Mary Woronov, Daniel Roebuck and Duane Whitaker. I love that Zombie went to get actors and actresses from the past and giving them a role here.
Moving this over to the effects of the movie, I didn’t realize that Robert Kurtzman did the effects. He’s a name that I’ve seen before and it doesn’t surprise me that the effects here were good. They decided to go practical with pretty much everything that I could see. The only thing that didn’t was some fire near the end that used green-screen. I can forgive that for how small that is. The cinematography was well done here and it was elected to go more traditional which I like.
The last thing to go over would be the soundtrack. If there is one thing that I can count on, it would be the music selections to be good. I like that Zombie took music from the era. He really likes the syncing up and the dichotomy with songs that are more upbeat or sound happier while we’re getting things that are horrific playing out. This is especially seen at the climax of the movie and the ending. The latter is truly iconic with the playing of ‘Free Bird’ by Lynyrd Skynyrd.
Now with that said, this is up there as my favorite film from Rob Zombie. It is by far for me the best in this Firefly trilogy. I really like taking what they did in the first with making this a road horror film that is paying homage to the exploitation films of the 1970s. The duality of our characters that are horrible criminals and them dealing with a sheriff that is blurring the lines of the law. The acting is good across the board. No major issue with any of the effects and the soundtrack really adds an element to this movie. My only real gripe is the dialogue of some of the characters; it just doesn’t work for me. Regardless, I rate this as great movie. It just comes up short as being an all time for me.
My Rating: 9 out of 10