Monday, August 01, 2005
The Devil's Rejects
I didn't have high hopes for this film. I saw it's predecessor, House of 1000 Corpses, a couple of years ago at "Butt-Numb-A-Thon" in Austin and it was truly horrible - and not in a good way. The Devil's Rejects is, um, the "good kind" of horrible.
The Devil's Rejects is a sequel - of sorts - to Corpses. It's a sequel in much the same way that Evil Dead 2 is a sequel to Evil Dead. It takes the same characters and tells a totally new story with them - as if the events in the first film never happened. The characters from Corpses are taken out of the modern context of that movie and have now been plopped into the late 1970s.
This film is obviously a nod to classic grindhouse or "snuff"-style films of the 1970s, most notably The Texas Chainsaw Massacre. Instead of the seizure-inducing, music video style of Corpses, director Rob Zombie (that still feels a bit weird to say) has made a much more natural - and hence, much more disturbing - film with The Devil's Rejects.
It follows a family of homicidal maniacs - from the police raid on their home that yields the arrest of the matriarch through the series of grisly murders they commit to the Bonnie-and-Clyde-esque conclusion. It seems a bit perverse to have the killers be the protagonists. You almost feel like you're supposed to root for them. Almost.
But I think the cop who's hunting the killers down is as much a villain as the killers themselves are. It's a little confusing, but perhaps that's by design. I mean, yes, these people deserve what comes to them, but the lawman takes a little too much sadistic pleasure in the elaborate punishment he's carved out for them.
This is a depraved, disturbing, and downright evil film. But for what it is, it's actually very good. I was surprised that I didn't have my usual sense of fear while watching this. It's not particularly scary, nor is it really all that gory until about halfway through. But it's terribly unsettling, especially during one segment where the killer trio terrorizes a country band. Oh, and another scene where Sid Haig tells a mother and her son he needs to comandeer their car for "Secret Clown Business" - a scene that would be laugh-out-loud funny if Haig wasn't so flippin' scary.
The movie makes good use of late 1970s music as well. Great, classic songs that don't hit you over the head with how scared your supposed to be. There's a really cool sequence at the end that has "Free Bird" playing underneath it that makes for a nice little emotional moment before the bullets start flying.
I'm pretty sure I'm not going to see this movie again - I can only take the terrifying Sid Haig in small doses (he is the scariest clown ever, and that is saying something). But the movie is definitely not without artistic merit, and if you're into the sick and the twisted, this will be right up your alley.
Side note: There are lots of horror movie icons in bit parts in this film. Most recognizable is probably Michael Berryman, the creepy bald guy from The Hills Have Eyes.