The Devil's Rejects

Rob Zombie's pitch-perfect evocation of '70s horror films about monstrous families and the unfortunates who cross their path is one of a handful of sequels that both improve on their sources and play perfectly as stand-alones. Picking up immediately after HOUSE OF 1000 CORPSES (2001) ends, it begins as Texas Ranger John Wydell (William Forsythe) mounts a...read more

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Reviewed by Maitland McDonagh
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Rob Zombie's pitch-perfect evocation of '70s horror films about monstrous families and the unfortunates who cross their path is one of a handful of sequels that both improve on their sources and play perfectly as stand-alones. Picking up immediately after HOUSE OF 1000 CORPSES (2001) ends, it begins as Texas Ranger John Wydell (William Forsythe) mounts a raid on the ramshackle home of the Firefly family, serial murderers who somehow went unnoticed until their grotesque kidnapping and murder of two teenage couples. Three Fireflys escape the ensuing shootout: Mother Firefly (Leslie Easterbrook, replacing Karen Black) is arrested, while psycho siblings Otis and Baby (Bill Moseley and Sheri Moon Zombie, reprising their roles) duck out through a secret passageway, carjack a doomed nurse (Mary Woronov) and take to the way. Horribly scarred giant Tiny (Matthew McGrory) happens not to be in the house and is forgotten in the melee, while patriarch Captain Spaulding (Sid Haig), whose scary clown makeup masks the really scary face beneath, lives behind the macabre roadside attraction he runs down the road. It takes the police a while to realize he's part of the killer clan, and by the time they do he's flown the coop. While Baby and Otis kill time by torturing and terrorizing two couples in a godforsaken tiki motel in the middle of the desert, Wydell puts the screws to Mother Firefly. Her feral family murdered his brother, fellow lawman George Wydell (Tom Towles), and his determination to bring them to justice is more vendetta than professional obligation. Wydell eventually tracks them to the Western-style, back-road whorehouse where they've taken refuge, but the nastiness is far from over. Unlike major studio remakes that modernize '70s shockers with rapid-fire editing, trendy gray-on-green cinematography, CGI effects and contemporary grunge and thrash soundtracks, REJECTS is shot on slightly grainy Super 16mm film and driven by insidiously evocative '70s-era AM teen-trash rock, from the mood-ring piffle of Three Dog Night's "Shambala" to Elvin Bishop's smarmily saccharine "Fooled Around and Fell in Love" and David Essex's vaguely menacing "Rock On." The cast is peppered with faces familiar to a certain kind of fan, from all-around exploitation veterans Haig and Woronov to THE HILLS HAVE EYES' unmistakable Michael Berryman, DAWN OF THE DEAD's Ken Foree, HELTER SKELTER's Steve Railsback and HALLOWEEN's teen tramp P.J. Soles, now sufficiently mature to play a soccer mom. Future generations will be hard put to disentangle Lynyrd Skynyrd's "Freebird" from the film's take-no-prisoners climax.

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  • Released: 2005
  • Rating: R
  • Review: Rob Zombie's pitch-perfect evocation of '70s horror films about monstrous families and the unfortunates who cross their path is one of a handful of sequels that both improve on their sources and play perfectly as stand-alones. Picking up immediately after… (more)

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