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Monday, September 25, 2017

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The Devil’s Rejects

The Devil's Rejects

All In The Bloody Family

You probably missed it in the theatre. I know I did. Done with a budget of about seven million dollars US, Rob Zombie’s follow up to his 2003 camp horror film, House of 1000 Corpses, did manage to recoup its money, but should make a bundle now that it’s out on DVD. The Devil’s Rejects is one of the most vile, twisted and captivating serial killer movies to come out in years.
Known for his fascination with people like Charles Manson, Zombie’s film plays more like a maniacal thrill ride than manipulative shocker. It somehow manages to be an homage to all things horror and at the same time be totally fresh, smart and equally disturbing. Using documentary filmmaker Phil Parmet as the cinematographer, The Devil’s Rejects captures the look, style and feeling of the 1970’s; a time before cell phones and connective technology, it’s a world that seems a little wilder and a little more dangerous. It follows the Firefly family as they go on the run from a revenge seeking, self-righteous, God-inspired sheriff and right from the opening “shoot out” sequence it’s obvious that Zombie has learned a lot since House of 1000 Corpses.

With the law on to the family’s twisted lifestyle, the authorities, led by Sheriff Wydell (William Forsythe), arrive one morning to either arrest them or kill them. Armed with automatic rifles and dressed in homemade armour, the family comes out blazing with brother Otis (Bill Moseley) and sister Baby (Sheri Moon Zombie) ultimately escaping through an underground passage. On the run they stop to make a quick call to the family patriarch, clown faced Captain Spaulding (Sid Haig). From here the threesome converge to go on a rampage, taking and killing anyone and anything that gets in their way. But the vengeful Sheriff keeps coming, and bit-by-bit the lawman’s noose tightens around the family’s neck.

There’s no need to go into any kind of detailed plot synopsis here. That would ruin the ride, but complete with smart editing (seventies style push wipes included) and an inspired use of classic southern rock for the soundtrack, the film never stalls or becomes indulgently grotesque. Devil’s Rejects forgoes over-the-top action sequences you might expect and Zombie constantly denies the impulse to glorify the violence of the family. With the characters playing it straight, the result is a strange and delicate balancing act, successfully realized through sharp dialogue and wonderfully disturbing performances. Sure, there’s a fair share of killing, rape, mutilation and humiliation, but beneath this there’s humour in a jugular vein.

But the film’s greatest achievement is how Zombie manages to position this depraved bunch as likeable anti-heroes. Truly, the Firefly clan marks a complete and utter inversion and bastardization of the concept of Family Values. Cannibalistic mutilators who eat, degrade and fuck the living and the dead, they are about the most frightening collection of perverts and psychos ever to call themselves a family. They find fun in torture, and decorate their home with body parts, so it is both surprising and a little unsettling to see them as the heroes in this film. But strangely, we do. There’s a bizarre sense of purity at work here. These characters are spared any kind or moralizing justification for what they do and unlike Natural Born Killers’ Mickey and Mallory, they are not a product of a broken society. Unlike Bonnie and Clyde they are not rebelling. They are just simply doing the Devil’s work.

  1. fred penner

    wow i never thought i’d ever read anything good about rob zombie in only magazine. - Nov 21, 07:11 PM

  2. fat shawn

    Shocking! - Nov 21, 09:28 PM

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