Rob Zombie makes scary movies, not all of which fall in line with popular tastes. Sometimes he goes a bit too weird, like House Of 1000 Corpses. Other times he goes too far, such as the visceral brutality of his second Halloween film. But catch him somewhere in the middle and you have an absolute gem. You have The Devil’s Rejects.
Rejects is in a sense a sequel to House Of 1000 Corpses. But it can be treated as a standalone entry, using some of the same characters but departing from the style and formula of that film. In 1000 Corpses we met the Firefly family, a strange bunch of rural cannibals in cahoots with a local clown named Captain Spaulding. As Rejects starts, the Fireflies’ ticket is up – police are converging on the family farm, sniffing out the countless disappearances in the area. A firefight ensues and Otis, the family patriarch, escapes with his sister Baby and teams up with Spaulding. They go on a road trip of murder and mayhem – as Otis tells a suffering victim: “I am the devil and I am here to do the devil’s work.”
But that is only half the story. The Fireflies are nasty and a particular incident at a roadside motel cements their brutality for the audience. Yet coming from the other side is a William Forsythe firing on all cylinders. As the cop out to catch the remaining killers, he has a personal beef: they also killed his brother. And he knows no limits on what it will take to bring them down.
In a brilliant turn, Rejects plays heavily on the ‘he who fights monsters’ trope: can one truly fight evil without eventually descending into evil as well? Forsythe’s Sheriff Wydell doesn’t just descend: he buys a season ticket. And near the end you actually find yourself rooting for the Fireflies. Or you may just be disgusted by the whole lot of them. Regardless, The Devil’s Rejects is a rather unique horror journey with a lot more going on that simple shock-thrills for the audience. That makes it a gem among all the gorehound and tortureporn flics churned out in the past decade.
Cinophile is a weekly feature showcasing films that are strange, brilliant, bizarre and explains why we love the movies.
Last Updated: August 5, 2013