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A SIERRA NEVADA
(MICHAEL MADSEN & JOHN SAVAGE).
Pulling an adult body across the ground is no easy task if you're Tiny Firefly. And things aren't getting any better if, while you're busy with your task of dragging said body, the county mounties come tearing past you toward your house. It's not the best way to start the day, but that's the way Rob Zombie's newest flick, THE DEVIL'S REJECTS, begins.
Rob Zombie's, THE DEVIL'S REJECTS picks up pretty much where HOUSE OF 1000 CORPSES left off.
This is a picture that begins with images of cruelty, death, necrophilia, brutality, and a gunfight between the forces of law & order and the family Firefly.
The forces of law & order are led by Sheriff Wydell (William Forsythe: RELENTLESS 3, VIRTUOSITY, THRILLER ZONE, THE ROCK, FIRESTORM, THE PASS, LARVA), whose brother, Lieutenant George Wydell, ate it in the first movie, courtesy of Mother Firefly. Wydell is a man who is torn between his own family culture of lawless vengeance and his personal desire to find order in his life by "Walking the line" in obedience to the rule of law. He fully understands that without the rule of law there can be no society and everything will crumble to the level of folks like the Fireflys.
Otis (Bill Moseley: THE BLOB , ARMY OF DARKNESS, EVIL ED, HOUSE OF 1000 CORPSES) and Baby (Sherri Moon Zombie: HOUSE OF 1000 CORPSES) get away, nobody knows where Tiny (Matt McGrory: MEN IN BLACK II, HOUSE OF 1000 CORPSES) is, Dr. Satan is awol on this outing and so is his creature, likewise Captain Spaulding's henchman, Ravelli (Irwin Keyes).
It takes a while for Sheriff Wydell to realize "that roadside clown", Captain Spaulding (Sid Haig: THX 1138, HOUSE OF 1000 CORPSES), is part of this vicious gang, and our favorite chicken foister barely escapes the arms of his latest one night stand to hit the road and meet up with Otis and Baby.
Otis and Baby, meanwhile, have found some more victims to torment and the hotel scene is one of the most brutal and gruesome to ever hit U.S. chain theater screens.
Wydell, meanwhile, gets nowhere matching wits with Mother Firefly, this time played with sinister humor by Leslie Easterbrook (DISMEMBERED). So he pores over the scrapbooks and photo albums and other decrepit treasures once possessed by the family Firefly. Soon his nightmares are haunted with dreams of ghosts and revenge. Wydell finds his faith in the law shaken after staring into the abyss for too long.
I've never seen a more powerful example of brutal horror in a major movie theater before. Perhaps this is what it was like for people who saw the original THE TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE back in the early 1970s. Except Writer/Director Rob Zombie refuses to allow the audience to be numbed by the brutal inhumanity of Otis and Baby. Every scene is suffused with grim humor, keeping the audience on a stumbling verge of laughter and horror.
And I do mean Horror. This is Horror done right. THE DEVIL'S REJECTS is what a Horror movie is supposed to be. In fact, its what a Horror movie should be. The victims in this movie are human beings, not mere body counts, and during the atrocities, Zombie never allows the audience to put themselves in anyone's shoes except the victims. You can nearly smell the fear and revulsion. Torture brings pain, and Zombie wallows in it, peppering it with Otis and Baby's vile spoiled humor and ego. The only thing missing is, it isn't scary. Of course, there is a difference between something scary and something horrifying. Rollercoasters are scary, but only rarely does something horrifying happen on them, and that's only when things go horribly wrong.
Mention must also be made of Danny Trejo (FROM DUSK TIL DAWN, ANACONDA) as bounty hunter Rondo and Ken Foree (DAWN OF THE DEAD, FROM BEYOND, DAWN OF THE DEAD ). Foree especially, as Captain Spaulding's brother, Charlie Altamont, is a side story in the film that is particularly interesting, and little is done with it. For one thing, Spaulding is white and Altamont is black. How did this happen and what are the dynamics? Why have the two been apart for so long? I would have rather watched this area develop instead of the throwaway joke, injected halfway into the movie, concerning a mouthy movie critic. That scene went on for way too long before the punchline blessedly put it out of its misery.
Even so, Zombie gets the most out of all of his actors. Chances are, you've never seen them in better performances anywhere else. For sheer Horror, THE DEVIL'S REJECTS blows away all the competition of 2005.
4 Shriek Girls.
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