Bad seeds in Rob Zombie's "Devil's Rejects"
Special to The Seattle Times
"The Devil's Rejects," with Sid Haig, Bill Moseley, Sheri Moon Zombie and William Forsythe. Directed and written by Rob Zombie. 101 minutes. Rated R for sadistic violence, strong sexual content, language and drug use. Several theaters.
Say this much for gonzo-rocker-turned-horror-director Rob Zombie: The guy wouldn't know shame if it kicked him in the groin with steel-toed boots.
There's something refreshingly brazen about Zombie's embrace of the '70s horror aesthetic. He honors "The Texas Chainsaw Massacre" and other films with an unapologetic pursuit of gruesome extremes. With his cult-hit debut, "House of 1,000 Corpses," and now his spinoff second film, "The Devil's Rejects," Zombie has established brand-name credentials as a connoisseur of carnage.
Both films suffer from paper-thin plots and cardboard characters, but there's no denying Zombie's Tarantino-like zeal for grindhouse depravity. With its '70s B-movie title credits, "The Devil's Rejects" is freak-show fodder for the drive-in from hell, best appreciated by hardcore horror buffs and criminal outcasts.
The aptly named title characters are the fiendish Firefly family (they take their names from Marx Brothers comedies), a band of serial killers led by Captain Spaulding (Sid Haig), the maniacal clown from "House of 1,000 Corpses." His daughter Baby (Sheri Moon Zombie, the director's wife) and son Otis (Bill Moseley) have taken hostages in a fleabag motel after police ambushed their isolated desert homestead and hauled Mother Firefly (Leslie Easterbrook) away for interrogation. Sheriff Wydell (William Forsythe, all sneers and sotto voce sarcasm) seeks revenge for the death of his brother, and the body count rises exponentially.
Zombie has an obvious fetish for shocking death and torture — including a nearly naked woman splattered by a speeding tractor-trailer ("Scoop up some o' that skull matter for the coroner," orders the sheriff) — and that makes "The Devil's Rejects" a morbid ordeal, like a white-trash episode of "Cops" gone horribly awry. Despite some giddy humor and a soundtrack of '70s Top-40 hits, this is "entertainment" for sociopaths, occasionally effective but impossible to recommend with a clear conscience.
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