After last week’s foray into the romantic-comedy genre, I felt the need to return to my Neanderthal roots with a sick, twisted, no-holds-barred horror movie.
And there has not been anything quite as extreme as Rob Zombie’s white-trash slasher epic The Devil’s Rejects for many, many years (with the possible exception of Haute Tension).
Ostensibly a sequel to his 2003 directorial debut House of 1000 Corpses, Zombie takes all the parts from the first film that worked - location, characters, horrific violence - and ditches the parts that didn’t - ridiculous flashy camerawork, crazy editing, Dr Satan(?) - to create an altogether more satisfying, streamlined and professional job of hacking screaming victims into little bloody chunks. One could go so far as to say it is a far more “mature” movie.
The story continues on from “Corpses” (despite seemingly going back in time by two decades to the 70s) and follows our favourite family of redneck psychopaths, Mother Firefly, Otis B Driftwood, Captain Spaulding and daughter Baby Firefly.
Wanted for countless murders and disappearances, their house is surrounded by armed police, led by Sheriff John Wydell, whose brother was murdered by the gang in the first film and is crazed with his desire for revenge.
In the ensuing bloodbath, Mother Firefly is captured by the police but the others escape and begin a brutal rampage in search of sanctuary, closely followed by the increasingly unhinged Sheriff.
After a terrifyingly vicious massacre in a dingy motel, the fugitives take shelter in a frontier town brothel. Wydell hires two deranged bounty hunters to bring them in and, with the killers now at his mercy, the border between right and wrong starts to blur.
What sets this apart from most films in this genre is that there is no definable moral path for a viewer to walk along. Ordinarily, horror movies have the most clear-cut difference between good and evil - mad slasher kills young pretty teens who are trying to survive.
With The Devil’s Rejects, while the motel massacre intentionally fills the viewer with a hatred of Otis, Captain Spaulding and Baby, this hatred is casually whittled away as the forces of law and order become increasingly illegal and Old Testament.
And in the final scenes, despite our knowledge of the despicable acts they have committed over the two films, our sympathies start to nudge slightly back in the direction of the psychopaths.
The casting is fantastic with Ken “Dawn of the Dead” Foree, Leslie “Police Academy” Easterbrook, Geoffrey “Clint Eastwood’s mate” Lewis and William “scary and intense” Forsythe.
However, Bill Moseley steals the show as leader of the gang Otis B Driftwood, transforming from a generic albino psycho in the first film to a full-blooded, horrifyingly complex, raging Charles Manson-esque monster in this one. He controls every scene he appears in, and is a portrait of terrifying unpredictability.
So, if you believe that sick films are making society sicker and increasing violence is caused by what people put into their DVD players, please don’t ever watch this film. You won’t understand it, and it will just make you very, very unhappy and despairing of the human race.
However, if you like your violence brutal and bloody, your soundtrack the epitome of 70s cool (it has a magnificent use of “Free Bird") and your morality intelligently questioned then the Devil’s Rejects is the “gaudy vomitorium of a movie*” for you.
And, yes, the bad guys’ names are based on the Marx Brothers.
*Roger Ebert, who actually really liked the movie