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Review: The Devil’s Rejects

It doesn’t so much play out as a sequel to House of 1000 Corpses but as a recapitulation.

The Devil’s Rejects
Photo: Lions Gate Films

If the glossy House of 1000 Corpses’ major point of reference was Tobe Hooper’s Funhouse, the much grungier The Devil’s Rejects thinks a little further back: not just to The Hills Have Eyes, but to bloody westerns like The Wild Bunch and lovers-on-the-lam movies like Bonnie and Clyde. In this way, Devil’s Rejects doesn’t so much play out as a sequel to House of 1000 Corpses but as a recapitulation—a faster, cheaper, more out-of-control grindhouse shout-out. Beginning with an impressive confrontation between cops and Mother Firefly’s clan and an even more striking title sequence—during which the murder of a woman is evoked almost entirely using still photographs—Rob Zombie’s latest follows Otis (Bill Mosely) and Baby (Sheri Moon Zombie) and their clown father Captain Spaulding (Sid Haig) as they take their lurid killing spree on the road. Hunting the trio is Sheriff Wydell (William Forsythe), who constantly talks about the “cleansing of the wicked” and instilling the wrath of the Lord into everyone’s asses. But Devil’s Rejects shouldn’t be confused for some kind of battle between the forces of good and evil, because in spite of everyone’s God-fearing or God-schmod invectives, Zombie isn’t seriously concerned with the spiritual and moral exasperation that plagues his milieu; like Bart Simpson wanting his “monkey man” (or Ozzy Osbourne biting the head off of a bat), Zombie’s routine, however earnest, is all bratty attitude. People are kidnapped, violated, and tortured in ways John Ritter couldn’t have imagined when he sprayed Pricilla Barnes with ink from a gag flower after she joined Three’s Company, and like the perpetually wagging tongue of the overzealous Leslie Easterbrook (replacing the great Karen Black as Firefly), Zombie works overtime to elicit cheap thrills. There are evocative moments (a cutaway to a pissy cup of coffee) and amusing non-sequiturs (the chicken-fucking scene is sure to be regarded as a classic in some circles) throughout, but the film’s disparate visual tone, IMDb-esque spewing of movie trivia, and incessant one-liners suggest Zombie has made a film not so much out of reverence for the images that shaped his youth but out of fear that he may never get to make another one ever again.

Cast: Sid Haig, Bill Moseley, Sheri Moon Zombi, Matthew McGrorey, William Forsythe, Leslie Easterbrook, Dave Sheridan, Lew Temple, Kate Norby, Geoffrey Lewis, Priscilla Barnes, Brian Posehn, Jossara Jinaro, Diamond Dallas Page, Danny Trejo, P.J. Soles Director: Rob Zombie Screenwriter: Rob Zombie Distributor: Lions Gate Films Running Time: 101 min Rating: R Year: 2005 Buy: Video, Soundtrack

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