Image courtesy of www.impawards.com
Sid Haig……….Captain Spaulding
William Forsythe………Sheriff Wydell
Ken Foree……….Charlie Altamont
Leslie Easterbrook………..Mother Firefly
Geoffrey Lewis……….Roy Sullivan
Priscilla Barnes……….Gloria Sullivan
Dave Sheridan……….Officer Ray Dobson
Kate Norby……….Wendy Banjo
Lew Temple……….Adam Banjo
Diamond Dallas Page……….Billy Ray Snapper
Violence as a motif is hard to do. The more excessive it gets the lesser a movie can be, as death as an artistic medium is extremely difficult to pull off. The last movie to do it well was Sin City, and before that there are plenty of movies, including 2003’s House of 1000 Corpses, that tried to do it with less success both commercially and critically. Written and directed by heavy metal artist Rob Zombie, House of 1000 Corpses opened to mixed reviews and nearly doubled its meager $7 million budget during a limited release. Five years after the original was made comes its sequel, The Devil’s Rejects.
The Devil’s Rejects follows the tale of three members of the villains from House: Baby (Sheri Moon), Otis (Bill Moseley) and Captain Spaulding (Sid Haig). Sheriff Wydell (William Forsythe) leads a state police raid on the Firefly family house, his goal in mind to kill them all in a Deliverance inspired cleaning.
With the bulk of the clan killed and Mother Firefly (Leslie Easterbrook) in custody, the trio manages to escape and go on a road trip of murder and mayhem. There goal is to get to Charlie Altamont’s place; Altamont (Ken Foree) is Spaulding’s half brother and owns an amusement park. With state and federal authorities coming for them, the remnants of the Firefly family hit the road for some mayhem. Wydell’s brother was a victim of the clan; the sheriff is on a mission of vengeance, not justice. He walks that line that men like Buford Pusser and Tom Horn walked, but finds that crossing it might be the more satisfying option.
As a horror movie, The Devil’s Rejects is perhaps 2005’s best unintentional comedy after starting out with an opening scene that is breathtakingly good.
The attempts at scares and random murders that constitute Zombie’s latest opus are laughable to say the least. They may have come to do the “devil’s work” as they so articulately describe their rampage but it’s so bizarrely campy that any sort of drama escapes the situation. The violence is so prevalent and over the top that after the first 20 minutes it loses the sort of effect that Zombie is clearly going for. The anticipation of the next murder turns to dread quickly and stays there; there isn’t a feeling of terror or satisfaction after a Firefly family member kills someone. It becomes trite and clichÃƒÂ© fairly quickly and never stops.
What also does not stop is the poor production value. Zombie has shot his sequel as a tribute to the sort of cinematic horror that was prevalent in the 1970s in terms of look and feel but that seems more of an excuse for repetitive camera angles, excessive cuts and less than judicious editing. Zombie seems to have four or five camera angles he likes to use and doesn’t vary his camerawork from those.
Rob Zombie the director and Rob Zombie the writer are at odds with one another. Zombie the writer is going for a thrilling and horrifying look at a family of thrill-killers who are so unspeakably evil that the behavior of the man trying to bring them down is justified. Zombie the director puts them on an even playing field; Wydell’s actions are no more noteworthy than those of the people he’s hunting down. Zombie the director has tried to give a depth and sense of purpose to his characters; Zombie the writer gives them limited dialogue beyond the massive amount of profanity. There is no creativity in that either, as his script spews out massive amounts of vulgarity without abandon. It’s like Zombie wrote out every single curse word he wanted to use for his villains and then just wrote in other words around them to make them whole sentences.