Devil’s Rejects (18)
Written and Directed by Rob Zombie
Screening at Odeon and UGC from 5th August 2005
In the 1990s, Robert Cummings achieved a certain kind of infamy with
his alter-ego Rob Zombie's comedy horror techno metal band. Though demons
and monsters were his stock in trade, all but the most moralising listeners
knew that tongue was firmly in cheek. After contributing countless songs
to film soundtracks, Zombie decided to branch out in making movies of
The Devil’s Rejects is a follow-up to Zombie’s debut (House
Of 1000 Corpses), although it stands up on its own undead feet. The
Fireflys - who are a bit like the Manson family without the 'politics'
- are holed-up in their rickety compound. The police, lead by Sheriff
Wydell (William Forsythe) instigate a shoot-out, but almost all the family
escape to wreak more mayhem. There follows an unrelentingly pessimistic
but bizarrely sunny chase around the Texas badlands to an appropriately
inappropirate southern rock soundtrack.
In a sense this is a brave film, since it simultaneously tips its blood-spattered
top hat at seventies horror while refusing to add two of the genre's most
important ingredients, namely humour and some semblance of psychology.
Though there are a couple of funny scenes, Zombie seems to have abandoned
the joyful cartoonish pastiche that made his music so listenable. Instead,
we are pummelled by sadistic scene after sadistic scene. OK, the grotesque
characters are given the odd human moment, but we are left waiting for
the big revelation when we find out why the wonderfully horrible clown
'Captain Spaulding' (Sid Haig) is a serial-killing Marx brothers obsessive,
or why his poisonous daughter 'Baby' (the director's wife Sheri Moon Zombie)
gets off on it all so much. And where she gets her hair done, come to
Maybe it says something about the black-and-white nature of most box
office fodder, but it is also very difficult to watch a film where there
is no-one you are obviously meant to root for, where the unspeakable are
pursued by the equally unspeakable. Pistol-raping Otis Firefly (Bill Moseley)
might glibly announce that "I am the devil and I am here to the devil's
work", but an unfortunate misreading of the Bible has apparently
led the sheriff to believe he is "the Lord's arm of justice"
- a role he undertakes with hideous glee. So who do you pick? None of
the above? Then you are condemned to a nasty passivity.
I can’t exactly advise you to watch this, since doing so may severely
damage your health. But that doesn’t mean it’s a bad film.
The Devil's Rejects may be the most gratuitously violent film to get a
major release since The Passion Of The Christ, but if you think
that sounds like a recommendation then go for it. Otherwise it’s
probably best to run away screaming for your life.