Article written by: Fister Roboto (Twitter)
Turn the lights of and take your Xanax, kids, because I’m going to be reviewing the best horror movies I can find all through the month of October. I’m a veteran horror fan and I’m going to be shedding some light on the best of the genre, and possibly the worst or silliest of the genre as well. Grab a stout out of the fridge, cuddle up with your honey, and watch the blood flow…
“The Devil’s Rejects”
Theatrical release: 7.22.05
Written and directed by Rob Zombie
The opening scene of this film shows a grotesque giant dragging the nude body of a dead girl through the woods. The giant, “Tiny”, (Matthew McGrory) pauses when he notices the rows of police cars descending upon the Firefly family’s home. The police assault led by Sheriff Wydell, (William Forsythe) a bitter, vengeful Texas lawman, isn’t really there to bring the family to justice, but rather to deliver God’s punishment.
We learn that that the Firefly Family is responsible for at least 75 grisly murders that took place in or around their isolated Texas farmhouse. Set in 1978, Zombie gives us an accurate portrayal of the hot and dry countryside. The gritty look of the film is perfect and has a very retro feel to it. So many of the classic horror movies of our time were filmed in the 1970’s and the homage feels genuine as the movie unfolds.
The family is slumbering peacefully inside the home, some of them lying in bed with dead bodies for companions. Love him or hate him, Zombie delivers the most disgusting family since The Texas Chainsaw Massacre. Now aware of the army of police officers outside their home, the family quickly dons armored masks and vests and has an old fashioned Texas shoot out. Blood does flow.
Rufus T. Firefly (Tyler Mane, uncredited) dies in the shoot out. While Otis T. Driftwood (Bill Mosley) and Baby Firefly (Sheri Moon Zombie) escape the fight, Mother Firefly (Leslie Easterbrook) is captured. Sheriff Wydell makes his feelings for the unremorseful Mother Firefly known after she puts her gun to her head and declares that she will never surrender. The hammer falls on the empty chamber and Wydell has a prisoner. Easterbrook is excellent as her venomous character, making you wonder why God gave her children in the first place.
Our first glimpse of Captain Spaulding (Sid Haig), the murderous matriarch of this twisted family, is from underneath a hooker portrayed by infamous porn legend, Ginger Lynn Allen. I think it’s safe to assume the crowd at oldgamereviewer.com is familiar with her work. I can personally vouch that I saw many of her films with oldgamereviewer himself.
Spaulding wakes up to reality and there is no Ginger Lynn Allen, but a slovenly girlfriend who expresses her fondness for “ass banging”. Zombie also loves to stamp his films with excessive nudity, swearing, and a general pervasive nature to create a realistic quality. He can go overboard sometimes. While it never really offends me, I can see how it does many a filmgoer. Then again, if you find yourself at a Zombie film by accident, you probably deserve the shock. Just sayin’.
Spaulding finds out about the raid on the family home and sets out to meet Otis and Baby. I urge you to google Sid Haig just to prove to yourself that he can be viewed as an actual human being. His clown makeup is truly disgusting on so many levels. Those blackened teeth alone make my stomach turn.
The family is on the run at this point and needs to commandeer a car as well as a room full of country musicians at a seedy hotel room. The innocents are physically and mentally tortured before meeting their eventual ends. I love that Zombie chose veteran actor, Geoffrey Lewis, as one of the musicians. Weird “night digger”, Brian Posehn, and Priscilla Barnes round out the country bunch holed up at the hotel. I can’t stress how much I love the actors he carefully chooses for his films. Some acting of note here comes from Bill Mosley as the satanic psychopath, Otis.
Adam Banjo: Please, mister. This is insane.
Otis B. Driftwood: Boy, the next word that comes out of your mouth better be some brilliant fuckin’ Mark Twain shit. ‘Cause it’s definitely getting chiseled on your tombstone.
Eventually Wydell catches up with Spaulding, Otis, and Baby at their safe haven, which is a rundown whore house owned by Spaulding’s brother. He tracks the trio after he enlists two characters known as “The Unholy Two”, both seasoned bounty hunters portrayed by Danny Trejo and Diamond Dallas Page.
The killers have temporally forgotten their troubles and take solace in drugs and liquor. The brutal murderers are helpless when Wydell finds them and returns them to their home. Not lacking fury or motivation, the sheriff reminds the group of some of their past victims and staples photos of the victims onto the family with an industrial stapler. One part that hit a nerve with me is when Spaulding sees Baby suffering at the hands of the sheriff and tries to direct the punishment onto him so his darling, Baby, won’t have to suffer further. A family that kills together, stays together? Creepy as hell.
Wydell continues to deliver his wrath by driving six inch nails through the hands of Otis, and then torches the place. Convinced he’s won and avenged the dead, he lets Baby escape so he can relentlessly pursue her like a deranged hunter. Otis and Spaulding surely face the hell they deserve back at the flaming house until Tiny comes to their rescue. Spaulding’s brother attempts to derail Wydell only to be brutally chopped to death with an axe.
Wydell has Baby injured and in his sights. Just when you think her time is up, a huge pair of hands grabs the sheriff around his throat and Tiny shatters Wydell’s neck. The family takes off for the open road and to their escape? No, Zombie plans on ending this film with absolute certainty.
Otis, Spaulding, and Baby travel down the highway to a blockade of armed officers. Wounded and exhausted, the trio do what we expect – drive full speed towards certain death. They never begged for the lives or pleaded for mercy, they simply race to face death head on. Before the bullets start to fly we get to see black and white images of the family in “happier” times. The slow motion scenes show them arm in arm, smiling, laughing, and acting like a normal family who love each other. These scenes of total juxtaposition really drew me into this film. While Rob Zombie’s world may be undeniably dark and twisted, he paints a picture of normalcy for just a moment in this film. No matter how sinister or evil the Firefly family was, they genuinely cared for one another. Again, creepy as hell.
The bullets begin to fly with Freebird playing over the scene, and now 75 victims have their final peace and justice. Zombie freeze frames each of their deaths as Freebird nears its climax.
The cast in TDR shines like the sun. Following a script that bounces from satire to ultra-violence, to the darkest of dark comedy, the cast delivers it with authority and veracity. Bill Mosley is my MVP. The guy can act. So well in fact, that you need to see him in other roles and interviews if only to prove to yourself that the only Otis T. Driftwood in the world is character from a Groucho Marx film.
Zombie knows his audience and we know what we like as well. This film is in my top 10 all time horror favorites for so many reasons. Keep reading my horror reviews and we’ll eventually get to Zombie’s take on John Carpenter’s Halloween.