Friday, November 11, 2005

There’s No Wrong: The Devil’s Rejects: Unrated Version (2005)

Spastic, ugly, brutal, and thoroughly entertaining if you like your horror movies void of any supernatural element, Rob Zombie’s follow-up to his equally delirious 2003 offering, House of a 1000 Corpses, is one mean boot to the head. Having said all that, I did enjoy most of it, though the film’s ludicrous final third stretched plausibility. Rejects again focuses on Captain Spaulding (Sid Haig) and his family of misfit serial killers (most named after Marx Brothers characters) as they butcher anyone unfortunate enough to wander in their path. Chock full of B-movie actors and has-beens (William Forsythe, Ken Foree, Michael Berryman, Geoffrey Lewis, Priscilla Barnes, Mary Woronov, Steve Railsback, P.J. Soles, Elizabeth Daily, and Deborah Van Valkenburgh, respectively), Zombie’s love of trash cinema is certainly infectious if you share the same peculiar admiration of grindhouse movies (I do) and in its own twisted fashion, the film is as inspired in spots as Tarantino’s brilliant (and much, much better) Kill Bill films. But underneath it all there’s the foulness of rot (something, I imagine, Mr. Zombie would take as a compliment). Unlike pervy grindhouse classics like Wes Craven’s The Last House on the Left or William Lustig’s Maniac, Rejects celebrates and honors his wolfish anti-heroes, even allowing them a glorious Bonnie and Clyde styled death while Lynyrd Skynyrd’s “Freebird” blasts away on the soundtrack no less. To be honest, it’s a little off-putting. But, then again, Hollywood has had a long love affair with glamorizing killers, whether it’s Sam Peckinpah’s noble gunslingers from The Wild Bunch, Arthur Penn’s fashionable hipsters Bonnie and Clyde, or Oliver Stone’s savage lovers Mickey and Mallory Knox in Natural Born Killers (all released by Warner Bros. Studios, by the way, and all films I like very much). So am I being hypocritical here? I don’t know. Certainly something I’ll have to think about some more. I should also add that Rejects would make a fine double-feature with Jim Van Bebber’s notorious (and good) film, The Manson Family, which after years of ups and downs, was finally released onto DVD earlier in the year.

The Devil’s Rejects is available on DVD from Lions Gate.

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