(2005) dir. Rob Zombie
I’d been curious about Rob Zombie’s gore films even though they had gotten mixed reviews because some of the comments about them suggested a sense that they strove to attain some visceral quality of 1970’s horror films, something more edgy than other current horror fare. I didn’t realize that The Devil’s Rejects was a sequel to Zombie’s House of 1000 Corpses (2003) or I probably would have watched that one first. I don’t know how watching this film would have been altered by that experience. I just note it.
There’s a lot of extraneous nudity. The violence itself is less graphic than other films I have seen lately. Ultimately, though, it’s a film where the crazed psychopathic killers/rapists/torturers are the explicit anti-heroes despite their brutatlity. There is an interesting twist when they are tortured by the cop that is seeking revenge for the murder of his brother. The cop is played as the bad guy largely, though it’s a bit of a blurry line. The viewer is meant to enjoy the band of killers called “The Devil’s Rejects”, a family of fightin’, feudin’, and feisty Ed Geins, mostly gruesome and filthy in their appearance, but perhaps idealized as well. It’s a family unit, so there is probably some social commentary there.
Baby Firefly, played by Sheri Moon Zombie, wife of director Rob Zombie, is a weird contrast to the pure trailer park creepy that the mother, father, and brothers are. She’s straight out of Playboy, blonde and cute like a girl-next-door. She’s the oddball, which one could liken to the character of Marilyn on TV’s The Munsters. Maybe that is part of how she is figured. Everyone else is gross, pretty much, though her brother Otis could be considered somewhat of a representation of the director, since he looks somewhat like him.
Ultimately, I am not sure what to make of it. It wasn’t utterly innovative or clever. The dialogue was often criminally bad. It’s hard to see what Zombie is making of his killers. They enact moments of torture and violence that are unprovoked and cruel. Are we meant to like them? Why are we meant to pity them when they go through the same things? It’s clear from the ending that they are being posed heroically, maybe like Bonnie and Clyde, or something poetic and idealized. It’s not a-morality in a rational sense, but maybe in a confused and contradictory way. Maybe if I’d seen the first film, I’d have a better sense of it. I don’t know.