THE DEVIL’S REJECTS (2005) Reviews and overview

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The Devil’s Rejects is a 2005 American horror-crime-thriller written and directed by Rob Zombie, and the sequel to his 2003 film House of 1000 Corpses.

The film’s plot is built around the pursuit of three members of the psychopathic antagonist family from the previous film, with Sid Haig, Bill Moseley and Zombie’s wife Sheri Moon Zombie reprising their roles.

The movie features Sid Haig, Bill Moseley, Sheri Moon Zombie, William Forsythe, Ken Foree, Matthew McGrory, Leslie Easterbrook, Geoffrey Lewis, Priscilla Barnes, Dave Sheridan, Kate Norby, Lew Temple, Danny Trejo, Dallas Page, Brian Posehn, Elizabeth Daily, Tom Towles, Michael Berryman, P.J. Soles, Deborah Van Valkenburgh, Ginger Lynn, Jossara Jinaro, Chris Ellis, Mary Woronov and Daniel Roebuck.

On May 18, 1978, Texas Sheriff John Quincey Wydell (William Forsythe), and a large posse of State Troopers arrive at the Firefly family to arrest them for over seventy-five homicides and disappearances over the past several years.

The next morning, Tiny (Matthew McGrory) notices the police arrive and warns the rest of the family, who arm themselves and fire on the officers. Rufus (Tyler Mane) is killed, and Mother Firefly (Leslie Easterbrook) is taken into custody, while Otis (Bill Moseley) and Baby (Sheri Moon Zombie) escape. They hijack a car, kill the driver, and escape to Kahiki Palms, a run-down motel.

While at the motel Baby seduces Roy, part of the Banjo and Sullivan singing group. Otis and Baby then take the band hostage in their room, and Otis shoots the roadie when he returns. Meanwhile, Baby’s father Captain Spaulding decides to rendezvous with Baby and Otis. On route, his car runs out of gas and he assaults a woman before stealing her car. Back at the motel, Otis sexually assaults Roy’s wife Gloria and demands Adam and Roy to come with him on an errand.

Otis drives his two prisoners to a place where he buried weapons. While walking to the location, the two prisoners attack Otis, but he bludgeons Roy and cuts Adam’s face off. Back at the motel, Adam’s wife Wendy tries to escape by going to the bathroom. Gloria attempts to rebel, and Baby kills her. Wendy runs out of the motel but is caught by Captain Spaulding, who knocks her unconscious. Otis returns, and all three leave the motel together in the band’s van…

Prominent US critic Roger Ebert enjoyed the film and gave it three out of a possible four stars. He wrote, “There is actually some good writing and acting going on here if you can step back from the [violent] material enough to see it”.

Later, in his review for The Hills Have Eyes, Ebert referenced The Devil’s Rejects, writing, “I received some appalled feedback when I praised Rob Zombie’s The Devil’s Rejects, but I admired two things about it [that were absent from The Hills Have Eyes]: (1) It desired to entertain and not merely to sicken, and (2) its depraved killers were individuals with personalities, histories and motives.”

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Horror author Stephen King voted The Devil’s Rejects the 9th best movie of 2005 and wrote, “No redeeming social merit, perfect ’70s C-grade picture cheesy glow; this must be what Quentin Tarantino meant when he did those silly Kill Bill pictures.”

The Devil’s Rejects does boast some vivid action and strong performances. Sid Haig is troubling and charismatic as clown-faced killer Captain Spaulding and Sheri Moon Zombie (the director’s wife) has a talent which suggests she’d do well in more worthy material (and an enthusiasm which suggests she wouldn’t particularly want to). The best turn, though, is from William Forsythe…’ Nev Pierce, BBC

‘Many have rightly called the film nihilistic. It hearkens back to a kind of free-fall nihilism, before the coked-up object fetishizing of the ‘80s, or the twinge of conscience that came up and fizzled out during the ‘90s. Considered alongside today’s dominant ideology, naked self-interest as the highest good, Zombie’s adolescent longing for good old days like these is almost subversive …’ Ryan Vu, Pop Matters

“Rob Zombie’s grindhouse throwback was a huge leap forward – a nod to the grit and grim of The Texas Chain Saw Massacre and 1970s drive-in sleaze that nonetheless speaks to contemporary worries about torture and revenge.” Rolling Stone

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