THE DEVIL'S REJECTS
Directed by Rob Zombie
Produced by Andy Gould, Mike Elliot & Rob Zombie
Written by Rob Zombie
Director of Photograpy Phil Parmet
Music by Tyler Bates
Cast: Bill Moseley, Shari Moon Zombie, Sid Haig, William Forsythe & Ken Foree
2005/109 mins/Color/DTS 6.1
1.85:1 Anamorphic/English/USA/NTSC Region 1
Review from the Lions Gate Home Entertainment DVD
It's no secret that many people don't like the idea of sequels. This is probably linked to the fact that sequels are derivative by nature (some would argue by definition) and in most cases simply re-hash the story and actions of the original film. Yet, we occasionally get a sequel which is quite different from its predecessor, either in direction or tone. (This theory discounts sequels which are simply "Roman numeral spawn" and have nothing at all to do with the other films in the series.) A good example this would be ALIEN and ALIENS. The two films share characters and ideas, but one is a claustrophobic suspense film, while the other concentrates on action and hair-raising thrills. A more recent entry into this rare category is THE DEVIL'S REJECTS, the sequel to Rob Zombie's 2003 film HOUSE OF 1000 CORPSES. The two films have some similarities, but their tones are incredibly different.
THE DEVIL'S REJECTS opens not long after the conclusion of HOUSE OF 1000 CORPSES. The film begins as a cadre of police officers invade the Firefly household, surprising wanted murderers Otis (Bill Moseley), Baby (Sheri Moon Zombie), Mother Firefly (Leslie Easterbrook), Tiny (Matthew McGrory) and Rufus (Tyler Mane). The law enforcement officials are led by Sheriff Wydell (William Forsythe), whose brother had been killed by the clan in the first film. Following an intense firefight, Otis and Baby escape, while Mother is captured by Wydell. During their flight, Otis and Baby contact Captain Spaulding (Sid Haig), an accomplice of the family. Once they team up (after an intense scene at a roadside motel), this motley group seeks assistance from Spaulding's brother (?!), Charlie Altamont (Ken Foree), as Wydell continues his pursuit. The meeting between a cop on a mission and a band of homicidal maniacs promises a violent clash will few will survive.
From the outset, it's clear that THE DEVIL'S REJECTS is going to be very different from its predecessor. While HOUSE OF 1000 CORPSES may have been about psychopathic killers preying on a group of innocent travelers, it also had a very colorful cartoony look which created an interesting juxtaposition. The film's overall design and costumes suggested that writer/director Rob Zombie was mining his love for drive-in movies of the 60s and obviously, TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE. The movie featured characters which were over-the-top and were more comically insane than overtly evil.
These elements have disappeared in THE DEVIL'S REJECTS. This movie goes straight for the jugular and never lets go. Zombie probably still loves kitschy Russ Meyer-type movies, but with THE DEVIL'S REJECTS, he’s attempting to resurrect the nihilistic films of the 1970s, such as LAST HOUSE ON THE LEFT, DIRTY MARY CRAZY LARRY, and any number of Clint Eastwood films. There may be one or two blips of humor in the movie, but for the most part, THE DEVIL'S REJECTS is bleak, nasty, and violent.
And while that description may be a turn-off to some, it’s hard to argue with the fact that Zombie has created an effective film. It has long been argued that American films glamorize violence by not depicting the ugly outcome of violent acts. This is not a problem with THE DEVIL'S REJECTS, as the movie portrays every minute detail of the violent acts. (This is done either through on-screen violence or through a creative use of sound effects.) The movie contains many intense scenes, with the hotel standoff and the finale being the two which are the most difficult to watch. In these scenes, Zombie creates an air of evil which is almost palpable. Whereas Otis is simply loopy in HOUSE OF 1000 CORPSES, he’s pure evil in the second film and becomes a force to be reckoned with. The movie sets up many moral questions, as Wydell’s lust for vengeance gives the film a true lack of heroes. Without giving too much away, I will say that I appreciated the ending, as Zombie took the film to its logical conclusion and didn’t give in to the presumable whims of the studio or the mentally dangerous fans.
THE DEVIL'S REJECTS is a difficult movie to watch and an even harder movie to like, as it takes the “murderous rampage” film to a new extreme. From an aesthetic viewpoint, Zombie has created a movie which is quite the opposite of the first film, as it’s full of brown, dusty scenes and disconcerting extreme close-ups. But, it is one of the few films which becomes a visceral experience and will at once draw the viewer in and repulse them. The only real problem with the movie is that the “funny” scenes really stand out and slow the movie down. I don’t know if I’ll even want to see THE DEVIL'S REJECTS again, but I certainly won’t forget it.
THE DEVIL'S REJECTS rampages onto DVD courtesy of Lions Gate Home Entertainment. The film appears on DVD in two separate releases, one the R-rated cut and the other unrated. For the purposes of this review, only the unrated version was viewed. The film has been letterboxed at 1.85:1 and the transfer is enhanced for 16 x 9 TVs. The image on this DVD is tough to judge at first, due to some stylistic choices by Rob Zombie. The picture is noticeably grainy, as Zombie is attempting to re-create the look of a low-budget 70s movie. The colors in the film are also muted, especially when compared to the cartoonish look of the first film. Given these pre-meditated decisions on the look of the film, the image looks pretty good. There is very little artifacting or issues from edge-enhancement. The colors, even when altered, look good. The DVD contains both a Dolby Digital 5.1 EX audio track, as well as DTS 6.1 ES track. Both tracks sound fantastic, as they offer clear dialogue and sound effects. The music in the film sounds very good, as the older songs feature stereo separation that has probably never been noticeable before. The surround sound effects are very good, as some of the scenes contain odd wails which fill the speakers. The sub-woofer effects aren't as prevalent, but are still effective. Overall, this is a solid transfer.
THE DEVIL'S REJECTS DVD contains many extra features, spread over two DVDs. The bulk of the extras appear on Disc 1. We start with an "Audio Commentary" from writer/director Rob Zombie. Zombie, whose speaking voice reminds me of George Clooney, talks at length throughout the film. He talks about locations, actors, and the look of the film. He doesn't talk much about the story or why certain changes were made with casting or the transition from the first film to the second. Despite these gaps, Zombie's chat is still informative. A second "Audio Commentary" features Sheri Moon Zombie, Sid Haig, and Bill Moseley. This talk is far less technical, as the trio simply shares their memories from the various scenes in the film. They share many anecdotes and are clearly having a good time during their commentary. The DVD contains a 5-minute "Blooper Reel", which, given the tone of the film, is just odd. "The Morris Green Show -- Ruggsville's #1 Talk Show" (13 minutes) is the full-length version of the talk show glimpsed in the film. Similarly, we get the full 1-minute "Mary the Monkey Girl Commercial" with Captain Spaulding, as well as the "Spaulding Christmas Commercial", which I don't remember seeing in the film. "Cheerleader Missing -- The Otis Home Movie" (1 minute) is grainy footage of Otis assaulting one of the cheerleaders that was murdered in HOUSE OF 1000 CORPSES. There's a music video by Buck Owens for the song "Satan's Got to Get Along Without Me" (2 minutes), which is seen in the film. The DVD features 13 "Deleted Scenes" which play out as a complete reel, with no menu. The most interesting scene features Rosario Dawson, M.C. Gainey, and Dr. Satan! Yes, the bizarre villain from the first movie had a cameo removed from THE DEVIL'S REJECTS. "Make-up Tests" is 13-minutes of footage without sound showing the various characters posing (with Dr. Satan!). "Matthew McGrory Tribute" (2 minutes) features interviews and behind-the-scenes footage. The extras are rounded out with a "Still Gallery", the "Theatrical Trailer" and 3 "TV Spots". Disc 2 features a 2-hour and 24-minute documentary entitled "30 Days in Hell: The Making of THE DEVIL'S REJECTS". This is a fascinating, incredibly detailed look as the making of the film, as it examines nearly every facet of the production. There are many nice moments showing how much Zombie worked on the film and how he was able to maintain control, for the most part. (I love the part where he groans over the price of the costumes.)
This Film Features:
Review by Mike Long. All Right Reserved. 2005. ©