Whenever I am asked a question like “what is your favorite horror movie?” my mind goes blank. Sure, I know which movies I like and don’t like, which ones are more enjoyable than others, but I don’t think I could ever really rank my favorite or the “best of all time.” With that said, if someone really pushes for a concrete answer, one of my go-to responses always seems to be Rob Zombie’s The Devil’s Rejects. Needless to say, I was extremely excited when a long-awaited sequel was announced and finally released to the world as 3 from Hell.
After being riddled with a record setting amount of bullet holes by state police, members of the Firefly family, notoriously known as The Devil’s Rejects, have become martyrs, supporters urging authorities to “free the three.” With the help of their half-brother, The Midnight Wolfman, Baby Firefly and Otis Driftwood are ready once again to unleash murder, mayhem, and Hell on whoever crosses their unfortunate paths.
I was never the biggest fan of House of 1000 Corpses. After watching The Devil’s Rejects for the first time, however, I was instantly hooked. Maybe it was because I was at an impressionable age or perhaps it was some other unknown factor of the circumstances, but that 2005 film was magical to me.
To this day, I must have watched that film nearly 30 times, each time as if it was the first all over again. Naturally, I always wanted a sequel, but understood that writer-director Rob Zombie needed to make other films to satiate his creativity.
Zombie moved on to a write and direct a couple of new entries in the Halloween series, rebooting the fan favorite franchise to overall poor reception. Then came an animated film, The Haunted World of El Superbeasto, and 2012’s The Lords of Salem.
I watched as these films were released, rushing to catch them as soon as I could, hoping and praying that the man had once again struck gold. Sadly, I was always disappointed. None of these could ever compare to the greatness that, to me, was and forever will be Rejects.
After a few years and numerous rumors of what Zombie would create next, a film entitled 31 was released. In all honestly, I quite enjoyed that film for what it was and felt as though this was the closest we’d ever get to ever seeing another film even remotely close to the tone and overall feel of the 2005 film that I heralded as a masterpiece. I had accepted this and moved on… until 3 from Hell was officially announced!
3 from Hell begins with news reports of the brutal shooting that was believed to be the end of the Firefly family. This immediately brings those who may not be familiar with the film’s predecessor up-to-date and ready to follow the action ahead.
Longtime fans of the existing duology will be happy to see the returning faces of Baby, Otis, and of course, Captain Spaulding, even if they are on the mend and behind bars. While Spaulding aka Cutter aka Johnnie Lee Johns is only in the film briefly, due to the very real deteriorating condition of actor Sid Haig, he steals the show while on screen.
Watching the stories of Baby and Otis continue is something that I honestly thought I’d never see happen. Watching the two of them continue on their brutal ways was like visiting with long-lost family members. They are twisted as all Hell, but they were deeply missed for all of these years.
With Sid Haig’s health effecting the story that Zombie had in mind rather significantly, last minute changes needed to be made. This is where Robert Brake (Rob Zombie’s 31) comes in. As half-brother to Otis and Baby, Brake’s Winslow Foxworthy Coltrane fits right in with the debauchery that comes with the savage siblings. He does a wonderful job throughout the film’s 115 minutes, making for some pretty memorable scenes along the way.
Joining the returning Bill Moseley and Sheri Moon Zombie, and new family member Robert Brake, are a whole slew of familiar faces. Series alumni Danny Trejo (Machete) returns, as well as horror and genre film legends Dee Wallace (The Howling, Cujo), Clint Howard (Ice Cream Man, Ticks), and Bill Oberst Jr. (DIS, Circus of the Dead) in one capacity or another.
Part of the magic that was The Devil’s Rejects was the soundtrack. I loved hearing classic rock tunes throughout the film. It is a very atypical score for a film of this violent nature and luckily the same type of soundtrack returns for 3 from Hell.
Tunes by Terry Reid and Iron Butterfly’s “In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida” are grossly mismatched with the violence unfolding on screen, yet somehow, the tracks manage to be a perfect fit for the overall tone and aesthetic meticulously created by Zombie.
Shot digitally, Zombie still wanted to achieve the unpolished look that all of his past films possessed being shot on film. 3 from Hell features the same grainy film imperfections fans have come to expect from these films without being overly obnoxious or even all that obvious. There are no real deep scratches or other grindhouse-esque filters applied here. Instead, just enough ‘filth’ is applied to keep the studio shimmer and shine as far away from this picture as possible.
3 from Hell at Home
3 from Hell will be available on 4K Ultra HD combo pack, Blu-ray combo pack, DVD, Digital, and On Demand tomorrow, Tuesday, October 15, from Lionsgate. The 4K Ultra HD home release is presented in 2160p Ultra High Definition with a 16×9 (1.85:1) aspect ratio, while the Blu-ray release features 1080p HD picture in the same 16×9 (1.85:1) ratio. Audio options include 7.1 Dolby TrueHD for both 4K and Blu-ray versions, while the DVD features an English 5.2 Dolby Digital track.
The film is accompanied by a feature-length behind-the-scenes documentary on the filming of the picture, broken up into four parts. This provides fans with an intimate look at every step of the filming process, from inception to birth. In addition, we are also gifted with an audio commentary from Rob Zombie, himself.
While excited to finally see the sequel I had waited 14 years for, I was trepidatious heading into it. I was lucky enough to have seen 3 from Hell during its limited theatrical run, only a few shorts weeks ago. Then, I was extremely pleased with the final product and finally received the closure I had been fiending for.
After a second viewing, from the comfort of my own home this time, anything that I found irritating or too on-the-nose, completely went to the wayside and I enjoyed 3 from Hell that much more.
3 from Hell reunites us with our favorites from past Rob Zombie efforts, House of 1000 Corpses and The Devil’s Rejects — Baby Firefly, Captain Spaulding, and Otis Driftwood — while also introducing new family member, W. F. Coltrane aka Foxy, the Midnight Wolfman.
The members of this family are put into familiar situations, on the run from the law, terrorizing and butchering everyone who they come across. The situations are the same, just as bloody as before, if not more, but the setting is a bit different. Baby is even more twisted than in the past, if you can imagine that, hardened by being in prison and on death row for so long, while it’s possible Otis has lost a bit of his edge in his old age. Don’t worry though, he still loves cutting off people’s faces and every other form of torture you might be able to stir up in that imagination of yours.
Rob Zombie has never been accused of being a wordsmith. His characters utter more F-bombs than any one human can keep track of. Still, this is much more fitting in a 1980’s barrio in Mexico with the Firefly Family than it is in Haddonfield with the Myers one.
This film is not for everyone. Viewers who did not watch the previous two entries in the trilogy may not enjoy it as much as someone like myself, someone who has been wanting to see the story continue for way too long. Nostalgia and affection for these characters plays a big role in the enjoyment of this film, but anyone who likes violence and gratuity can still have fun with it.
Watch 3 from Hell and judge for yourself, while I give it 4.5 sister wives’ titties out of 5.