Back in the ’70s there used to be a particularly vivid term
to describe certain types of theaters, usually old movie palaces
that had fallen into disrepair, and that played all types of exploitation
films to the delight of the weirdos, criminals, and perverts who
frequented them. This type of theater would be called a grindhouse.
They began to disappear as the family-friendly multiplexes started
to take over in the 1980s. The Devil’s Rejects can
be seen as Rob Zombie’s loving tribute to
More specifically The Devil’s Rejects is an homage
to that legendary grindhouse flick Texas Chainsaw Massacre,
dealing with a family of prolific backwoods killers who live in
rundown house of horrors. In the first scene a group of righteous
Texas lawmen shoot it out with the killers, who are forced to go
on the lam. A colorful bunch: There’s Haig’s
clown-faced Captain Spalding (from Zombie’s first film), daughter
Baby Firefly (played by Zombie’s wife), and brother Otis Driftwood
Far from keeping a low profile, the family, who go by the nickname
the Devil’s Rejects, simply take the horror show on the road,
viciously tormenting anyone unfortunate enough to cross their path.
The film seems sure to ruffle some feathers with its extreme, yet
gleeful sadism. Even the most desensitized horror fans may be shocked
by what Zombie manages to get away with.
A former art student before he found fame with his heavy metal
band White Zombie, Rob shows a keen eye for detail
and has dressed his film with plenty of ’70s accoutrements.
Shot on desaturated film stock to achieve a time-worn illusion,
the film also makes use of both the Allman Brothers’
“Midnight Rambler” and Lynard Skynyrd’s
“Free Bird” in its super-’70s soundtrack.
But the film isn’t completely true to its ’70s spirit.
Zombie’s modern sensibilities bubble up the film’s ironic
dark humor and in the dialogue. Profanity was fairly tame in the
’70s movies, even in the grindhouse fare. Yet Zombie seems
to be going for the record with this film. Typical dialogue: “Drive
fuckin’ faster.” “Fuck you.” “Fuck
you”. Unfortunately all of this sub-Tarantino
verbiage is either contrived or witless and makes the characters
more annoying than frightening. Zombie has some other failings as
a writer such as throwing in pointless dream sequences and creating
disposable one-note characters while the story itself is threadbare
and lacks thrust. He also can’t seem to decide if he’s
making a parody or the real deal.
I sympathize with what I think is Rob Zombie’s aim to create
a lean mean old school horror flick, yet while he may have the vision
he doesn’t seem to have the ability as a writer to pull it