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DEVIL’S REJECTS, THE (director/writer: Rob Zombie; cinematographer: Phil Parmet; editor: Glenn Garland; music: Tyler Bates; cast: Sid Haig (Captain Spaulding), Bill Moseley (Otis), Sheri Moon Zombie (Baby), Ken Foree (Charlie Altamont), Leslie Easterbrook (Mother Firefly), William Forsythe (Sheriff Wydell), Danny Trejo (Rondo); Runtime: 109; MPAA Rating: R; producers: Andy Gould/Mike Elliott/Rob Zombie/Michael Ohoven/Marco Mehlitz; Lions Gate; 2005)
“It makes for one sicko spectacle.”

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

Heavy metal lead singer turned filmmaker Rob Zombie’s (“Halloween”) graphically violent trash film is a follow up to his 2003 “House of 1000 Corpses.” All the characters are revolting human rejects. It makes for one sicko spectacle, with no redeeming social value and questionable entertainment value (unless you are angelic enough to give the Devil his due!). Not being an admirer of such “torture porn” exploitation film-making, I found it refreshing only in that it at least wasn’t one of those studio formulaic slasher/horror flicks. This “bad boy” made the film he wanted to, but he didn’t make the kind of a film I cared one lick about.

It opens with a shootout in 1978 at a farm in a backwater Southern town called Ruggsville between Texas Rangers and a psycho satanic cult group, where the crime scene shows a mass grave of a 1,000 victims, torture chambers, human skulls, and body parts strewn all over. One of the members from the Firefly family, Mother Firefly (Leslie Easterbrook), is arrested, but two of the cult members escape, Otis (Bill Moseley) and his sister Baby (Sheri Moon Zombie, director’s wife). The others were killed by the Texas Rangers conducting the raid. The group is depicted as being somewhat similar to Charles Manson’s murderous clan. Sheriff Wydell (William Forsythe), who is in charge of the hunt for the escapees, has gone over the line and is filled with hatred and revenge in an ‘eye for an eye’ Old Testament way because his good-guy policeman brother George was one of the early victims of the satanists.

It’s soon determined the satanist family take their names from secondary characters in the Marx Brothers movies.

Otis and Baby seek shelter in a desert motel, where they await their insanely evil clown father, Captain Spaulding (Sid Haig). While waiting, the deranged siblings torture and massacre a traveling family country band onscreen and offscreen massacre the rest of the occupants in the motel. The clown then arranges for them to hideout at his old friend Charlie Altamont’s (Ken Foree) amusement park whorehouse. The unhinged sicko sheriff hires two ruthless ex-con bounty hunters to track the cult group down, and he arrives at the whorehouse to take the clown, Otis and Baby back to their farmhouse for further torture.

It’sfilled with Southern rock tunes (from the likes of Joe Walsh, the Allman Brothers and Lynyrd Skynyrd), there’s plenty of shocks, its stylistically shot with multiple freeze frames, slow-mo carnage shots and close-ups, it sets a grizzly mood that serves as its setup for its one big sick joke, and in the end it tries vainly to let the glorified wannabe fun-loving monstrous Devil worshipers off the hook as merely products of our warped society. There’s most likely a right audience for such unadulterated giddy sadism, just don’t include me as someone who gets his jollies watching such gore, pretensions to art and empty film-making.


Dennis Schwartz: “Ozus’ World Movie Reviews”