The Devil's Rejects (2005)
By: Trist Jones on June 1, 2006  |  Comments  |  Bookmark and Share
DVD
Sony (Australia). Region 4, PAL. 1.78:1 (16:9 enhanced). English DD 2.0. 106 minutes
The Movie
Credits
Director: Rob Zombie
Starring: Sid Haig, Bill Moseley, Sheri Moon, William Forsythe, Ken Foree, Matthew McGrory, Leslie Easterbrook, Geoffrey Lewis, Priscilla Barnes, Dave Sheridan, Kate Norby, Lew Temple, Danny Trejo, Michael Berryman
Screenplay: Rob Zombie
Country: USA
Now, before the masses turn, wide-eyed and fingers pointed, screaming "Heresy!" at the top of their lungs and preparing the torches for a good, old fashioned burning at the stake, let me just say that I got a real kick out of House of 1000 Corpses. It was a fun little jab at the great horrors of decades gone by, and at the time of release, was a breath of fresh air amidst what was a fog of stagnant horror films, spewed forth by the Hollywood Cookie Cutter. That said, I really feel Rob Zombie should have left it there and gone on to something else.

The Devil's Rejects is another homage (or rip-off depending on which side of the fence you sit) filled romp through the American horror genre, though this time, the macabre horror element of House of 1000 Corpses has been replaced simply with more violence. The Devil's Rejects, for those here at the site who for some confounding reason may not already know, is a direct sequel to House of 1000 Corpses. After the events of the first film, Sheriff Wydell's (an unfortunate victim of House's notorious Firefly family) brother is out for revenge, and the film opens with an in your face raid on the Firefly home. Captain Spaulding (Sid Haig), Otis (Bill Mosely) and Baby (Sheri Moon, also Zombie's wife) Firefly manage to escape and hit the road, Mother Firefly (Leslie Easterbrook) however, is not so fortunate and is captured by the authorities. Basically what follows is a film where the concept of good guys and bad guys is deliberately blurred as the Firefly family move violently across the U.S. bumping into a veritable who's who of classic modern horror stars, all the while being pursued by the unstable Wydell.

The Devil's Rejects has its fans, and they stand by it defiantly. I respect that, and can see why they would take such a liking to this film. It goes for the balls the same way the old fashioned violensploitation (I think I may have just invented a word, but you all know what I mean) horror films did throughout the Seventies and early Eighties, and delivers the same kind of carnage so many films lack these days and so many hunger for. It's violent and sadistic, some may argue it's sick, but when you can see the hand Zombie is playing, you can see everything and it becomes predictable. Not to sound like an arse, but when I saw this film in the cinemas, I pretty much pegged exactly what was going to happen throughout the film fairly early on in the piece. Also, and I hate to say it, but it honestly became boring, so much so I actually found myself fighting off sleep in a serious way towards the end of the film. Now, I've only fallen asleep during two films before (in cinemas at least), and those films were Aliens Vs Predator and Ghosts of Mars. None of these had anything to do with fatigue or physical well being, the films were just so terrible I disconnected to a point where I actually found sleep being a better option than further watching of the film on screen. The Devil's Rejects certainly isn't down with the two aforementioned cinematic abortions, but it's predictability and eventual repetition made me disconnect. Essentially what you have here is a film that just wants to shock with violence and unlikable characters, which, once you're desensitised to the violence or gratuity of it all, isn't really enough to keep a film going.

So, I thought, I'll give it a second chance, check out the Director's Cut (as it's so clearly labelled on the cover) on DVD. I made it through without the urge to nap, but I still couldn't like this film. The added footage is barely noticeable when compared to the original, essentially just dishing out more gore and violence, which only really added to the reason I couldn't come at it. Basically, it's gratuity for the sake of trying to shock the masses. I know it worked, and (as I said) I know there's an audience for it, but when we've had recent efforts such as The Texas Chainsaw Massacre Redux, the remake of The Hills Have Eyes, and more importantly Wolf Creek, The Devil's Rejects really doesn't compare. When The Devil's Rejects hit the cinema, Wolf Creek was out as well, and what you had there was a case of one being genuinely intense and equally disturbing without really trying too hard, and another that tried too hard and damaged itself in doing so.

I can't really dish out too much dirt on The Devil's Rejects. There are a lot of great little moments tucked away in there, such as Sid Haig's Captain Spaulding stealing a car (though that too becomes a moment that tries to shock with vulgarity) and for the most part, William Forsythe's Wydell is a damn cool character, but the rest feels forced. I may be shot for this, but the hostage situation at the hotel was one of the most forced and ineffectively written sequences I've seen in a long time. "Chinese, Japanese, dirty knees, look at these"? Come on! Aside from all this, the biggest detractor from this film is the fact that it tries to make the audience conflicted by lulling them into empathising with the murderous Firefly gang, but the problem with that is that the lines between who's good and who's bad are so blurred that in the end everyone's as bad as each other and you don't really care!

The Devil's Rejects does have a kick arse soundtrack though! Filled to the brim with Seventies rock classics from the likes of Lynyrd Skynyrd, Joe Walsh and more, over what is a pretty standard score by Rob Zombie.
Video
1.78:1 aspect ratio and 16:9 Enhanced. Purists can't ask for much more. The picture quality is pretty close to perfect. Zombie has deliberately played with the film in post to make it look and feel like one of it's Seventies forefathers, but the print is so clean you end up forgetting anyway!
Audio
Here's a bummer: the sound is simple stereo (Dolby Digital 2.0). It's clear enough but it strikes me as odd that the U.S. AND U.K. runs both came out with 5.1 sound, even 6.1 DTS in some cases, and we get shafted. Speaking of shafted…
Extra Features
For some reason we cop out in the extras department as well. The U.S. and U.K. DVD's both came with a second disc, containing a 144 minute making of documentary, which I've heard is really quite good. We get other extras, but for some reason miss out on what everyone was likely hanging out for most. The rest of the extras are kinda insubstantial. You'll watch them once, even if you're a diehard fan and probably not check them out again, especially the novelty extras (The Morris Green Show excerpt). The bloopers are kind of disappointing as well. I had expected hilarity, but now expect the only people who do find it hilarious are cast and crew. Speaking of expected hilarity, Brian Posehn's stand-up routine is flat out awful.
The Verdict
Fans with the cash are better off investing in the overseas editions (otherwise, wait until the Aussie version has dropped price substantially). It really is surprising that we came off with this second rate DVD, when you consider that most of our horrors come from either the U.S. or the U.K. I've also voiced my reservations about this film, but I know there's an audience. If you're still not sure after reading the review and a bit on the fence because you're not sure where you sit with this particular horror sub-genre, rent it. If you're expecting a straight up sequel to House of 1000 Corpses, guess again. In this viewers opinion, thumbs down, both in terms of the film and DVD. I will now begin my wait to have those thumbs broken and removed…
Movie Score
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