3 From Hell hits Blu-ray and DVD October 15 from The Devil’s Rejects director Rob Zombie! The highly anticipated film stars Sheri Moon Zombie, Bill Moseley, Richard Brake, Jeff Daniel Phillips, Dee Wallace, Emilio Rivera and Sid Haig in his final performance. Here is my review:
Crazed killers Baby Firefly, Captain Spaulding? and Otis Driftwood unleash bloody mayhem after escaping from prison.
It’s been 14 years since Rob Zombie shook me forever with The Devil’s Rejects, a film that was not only monumentally better than the first movie in this franchise – House of 1000 Corpses, but probably one of my very favorite cinematic romps of all time when the dust settles. In that second feature, the infamous Firefly family, a trio of redneck serial killers seemingly met their end after getting gunned down in a hail of gunfire to the sweet sweet sounds of Free Bird.
Turns out they didn’t die. In fact, each one of them wound up surviving over twenty gunshot wounds each and were imprisoned despite a Natural Born Killers-esque media obsession with the trio of psychopaths, with fans even starting a #FreeTheThree campaign. 3 From Hell picks up the story 10 years after the Firefly clan were arrested and we are treated to a final short scene with actor Sid Haig, as he gets one more speech to the press before his character is executed. Spoiler I know but look this is NOT a spoiler – … This all happens in the first 5-10 minutes of the film because it has now become very public knowledge that the iconic Mr. Haig was too sick with a lung infection while Rob Zombie was making the film and he was only able to film for half a day, causing major last-minute script rewrites that ultimately replaced his character with Foxy, played by the electric Richard Brake. (see him in 31 as Doomhead – this guy is a beast).
Now – even though Sid Haig isn’t in this film, at all really, his presence is felt throughout the entire thing and he gives one helluva final performance as fleeting as it may be. The actor recently passed away and although I’m super depressed that we’ll never see more of him on the bigscreen, I’m happy that he was able to complete his most famous character arc to date as Captain Spaulding, who fittingly goes out laughing. Bringing in Richard Brake was a clever move and the man steals every single scene he’s a part of. Although he may not have as much character development as Otis and Baby, the original members of the Firefly clan, his initiation as Spaulding’s replacement is a resounding victory. Every time he would crack a disgusting joke or threaten a hostage, the little laughs and chuckle’s that Moseley’s Otis would make in approval really showed this wonderful and menacing onscreen chemistry. They just love to kill people! And they’re having a great time doing it people!
Half of the film deals with the surviving Firefly members escaping prison, while the second half sees the trio of mass murderers venturing over the border to Mexico for a ferocious showdown with an unexpected masked foe played brilliantly by Mayans MC actor Emilio Rivera. The action was REALLY intense in these final sequences and I loved seeing Sheri Moon Zombie taking out fools with a bow and arrow. Yes – we are still rooting for the bad guys and if you find yourself disturbed that 3 From Hell glorifies its heroes for their gleeful torture-murder spree of the century, then you’ll probably be disgusted by Zombie’s flick. Strong chance this one simply isn’t for you – this is a horror western for serial killers and that’s a combo that may not resonate with every film fan.
Still present are Zombie’s perfect soundtrack choices, though I would have liked a few more as The Devil’s Rejects seemed to be more packed with 70’s rock, but I did appreciate the musical moments here as well, especially “In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida”. There may not be that ‘Free Bird’ moment, like there was in Devil’s Rejects, but 3 From Hell does a damn fine job nonetheless. The sequel really does feel like Zombie’s best work yet technically as a director and it’s a sequel that didn’t NEED to be made, ever. But the man still managed to pull this thing off and the final results are fucking awesome. Seriously – this movie kicks ass. It makes complete sense as a continuation of the franchise and even though it’s the third film of a trilogy, it opens the door for even MORE movies down the road, so go out and see this damn thing as soon as you can. If you liked The Devil’s Rejects, I don’t see how you could hate on 3 From Hell.
This could be the most bonkers sequel ever made. There are both familiar and unexpected elements of this film that callback to the other movies but never feel like a re-tread nor do any of the homages feel forced like some sequels tend to do with a wink and nod to the camera. 3 From Hell is a savage and uncompromising study of serial killers on the run. Do you find their conversations unsettling? Good. That would be the point – and also I ask you, what do you think these kind of people would be talking about at the end of their day? Rob Zombie’s dialog answers that question perfectly and although you may not like the Firefly Clan’s message, they don’t give a shit what you think, so strap in and enjoy the ride or get off the bus before you lose your face.
I will end my review as well by saying this – Sheri Moon Zombie delivers the best performance of her career here. She’s managed to embrace insanity in a way that few actresses have ever managed to do playing a killer onscreen. Even during her quiet moments where she hallucinates of dancing cats in the dark and cries as they fade away, Sheri is swinging for the fences hard. Baby Firefly is the hero of this film and Moon Zombie’s performance in 3 From Hell deserves heaps of praise from the horror community because there is not one scene where she isn’t acting like this could be the final film she ever does. She’s that good.
Holy shit this movie guys — I don’t know how he did it, but Rob Zombie made the sequel that we never knew we needed in our sick, twisted lives.