Review Of The Devils Rejects

Review of​ The Devil's Rejects
The Devil’s Rejects (2018)
Tagline: a​ Tale of​ Murder, Mayhem, and Revenge .​
Sequels are a​ tricky proposition for most filmmakers .​
Often, whatever magic existed in​ the first film is​ lost by the time the second hits the screen .​
This is​ not the case with The Devil’s Rejects, a​ follow-up to​ the 2018 low-budget House of​ 1000 Corpses .​
Instead of​ simply regurgitating his first film, director Rob Zombie (of White Zombie fame) takes the legend of​ the Firefly clan in​ a​ whole new direction, and, in​ the process, he turns out a​ film which is​ actually superior to​ the original .​
And in​ case you missed it, here’s a​ quick summary of​ House of​ 1000 Corpses: Four teens stop off at​ the clown-faced Captain Spaulding’s gas station and museum of​ terror .​
They become fascinated with the local legend of​ Dr .​
Satan and set out to​ find the tree from which he was hung, but they quickly run afoul of​ the insane Firefly family .​
After that, it’s not a​ case of​ will they die, but rather how they’ll die .​
Rejects picks up sometime after the events in​ House, as​ an​ early morning raid on the Firefly family compound is​ led by a​ vengeful Sheriff Wydell (William Forsythe), the brother of​ a​ law officer murdered in​ the first film .​
In the ensuing shootout, Rufus Firefly (Tyler Mane) is​ killed and Mother Firefly (Leslie Easterbrook) is​ captured .​
Baby Firefly (Sheri Moon) and Otis Driftwood (Bill Moseley) escape and contact their father, Captain Spaulding (Sid Haig) .​
As the trio cut a​ bloody swath across Texas, Sheriff Wydell becomes increasingly obsessed with their capture and resorts to​ more and more questionable methods .​
The movie culminates in​ a​ shootout that is​ equal parts Thelma and Louise, The Wild Bunch, and Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, not to​ mention the fact that it’s all in​ slow-motion and set to​ Lynrd Skynrd’s Freebird .​
The first film was more of​ a​ monster movie with the strange Dr .​
Satan and his hoard of​ traumatized zombies, not to​ mention an​ albino Otis, subterranean caverns, and satanic Halloween ceremonies .​
For the sequel, Zombie sets much of​ the film in​ the light of​ day and transforms it​ into something closer resembling an​ on-the-road crime movie .​
Think Natural Born Killers but with more madmen to​ choose from (and that’s saying something) .​
Dr .​
Satan is​ gone from the film, and Otis is​ strangely no longer an​ albino .​
This time our killers are more sadist and less supernatural .​
But don’t think for a​ moment that this franchise has lost its bite .​
It’s every bit as​ horrifying as​ the original, mainly due to​ the unsettling events which occur when Otis and Baby run across the members of​ the musical act Banjo and Sullivan at​ an​ out-of-the-way motel .​
If watching Three’s Company vet Priscilla Barnes get raped with a​ pistol or​ Eastwood favorite Geoffrey Lewis get beaten to​ a​ bloody pulp doesn’t bother you, then you’re obviously made of​ sterner stuff than the majority of​ the American viewing audience .​
This is​ not a​ film for the squeamish, as​ evidenced by the fact that many theaters simply refused to​ show the movie .​
Of course, the fact that they managed to​ work in​ the F-word over 500 times in​ 100 minutes probably didn’t help their cause either .​
But fans of​ the genre will not be disappointed .​
From a​ killer soundtrack by such southern rock icons as​ Greg Allman and Lynrd Skynrd, to​ cameos by such notables as​ Michael Berryman, Ginger Lynn Allen, and Mary Woronov, Rejects has a​ lot to​ offer beyond gore and cursing .​
And Zombie continues to​ demonstrate a​ real eye for casting--getting excellent character actors instead of​ high-priced talent .​
In the hands of​ lesser actors, many of​ the roles would seem just plain absurd, but this cast is​ able make it​ work and even make us feel a​ degree of​ empathy in​ the process .​
And that’s Zombie’s most impressive accomplishment in​ Rejects--his ability to​ make us recoil in​ horror at​ the deeds of​ the Firefly family one moment and then laugh along with them the next .​
There are several moments when you can’t help but like the characters despite the horrors that they’ve inflicted on others .​
a​ few standout moments are an​ argument over ice cream between Otis, Baby, and Spaulding, and several scenes involving the trio hiding out at​ a​ brothel owned by Spaulding’s brother, Charlie Altamount (Ken Foree) .​
It also helps that Bill Moseley and Sid Haig give excellent, nuanced performances .​
Sheri Moon also does an​ adequate job, although Zombie (her real-life husband) often spends more time getting close-ups of​ her attractive backside .​
One can only hope that this movie leads to​ even bigger opportunities for this deserving threesome .​
On the flipside, Sheriff Wydell goes from sympathetic to​ demonic and back again .​
While seeking revenge for his brother’s death, he is​ driven to​ fight as​ dirty as​ the Firefly family, even going so far as​ to​ disembowel a​ prisoner, hire bounty hunters (wonderfully portrayed by Danny Trejo and Diamond Dallas Page), and torture his prisoners with a​ staple gu​n and hammer and nails .​
William Forsythe portrays Wydell as​ a​ star-wearing force of​ nature, and there are many similarities with Detective Scagnetti from Natural Born Killers .​
Both men slowly become what they pursue until it​ consumes them .​
But while Scagnetti could be playful one moment and lethal the next, Wydell is​ portrayed as​ constantly intense .​
The performance, while perfectly enjoyable, might have been a​ bit better if​ Forsythe had backed off from time to​ time .​
But that’s just nit-picking on my part .​
The one performance I​ didn’t care for was Leslie Easterbrook as​ Mother Firefly .​
Karen Black portrayed the character in​ the first film, but reportedly wanted more money for the sequel and was dropped (like she’s got people beating down her door) .​
In the hands of​ Black, Mother Firefly was a​ wily old hag who used her fading looks to​ ensnare men .​
Easterbrook gives her an​ outrageous southern accent and plays her as​ a​ screaming madwoman .​
Personally, I​ was overjoyed when she finally....(OOPS, don’t want to​ give anything away) .​
I imagine we’ve seen the last of​ the Firefly clan, but Rob Zombie has certainly carved out a​ niche for himself in​ the horror landscape .​
Whether he moves on to​ more commercially appealing projects or​ continues to​ make daring low-budget films, audiences can be certain that his imagery and stories will stick with them long after they leave the theater .​
And, in​ the end, what more could you ask for?

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