Friday, June 2, 2006

The Devil's Rejects (2005)

Joker-painted Captain Spaulding (a gleefully foul-mouthed Sid Haig) leads the murderous Firefly clan out of Rob Zombie's previous film, House of 1000 Corpses (2003), and into a wide-eyed multi-state serial-killing spree, dispatching the cops at every turn and along several straightaways just for good measure. The bloodflow begins with a grisly shootout at the Firefly ranch, providing beleaguered Sheriff Wydell leverage for his quest for vengeance, and is rarely staunched thereafter. With violence never in doubt, tension arises from the mystery of just how sick things will get, especially with the good guys so far in the distance (witness the excruciating kidnap/torture sequence at one of the gnarliest roadside motels ever put to celluloid). Spaulding & Co. eventually make a break for an abandoned amusement park-slash-brothel owned by Altamont (another great turn by the perpetually underused Ken Foree) where they regroup and reload. Mostly, they reload.

Any charm exhibited by Rejects comes from the joy with which the film embraces its genre. Latter-day exploitation (under the moniker "torture porn") tends to take itself too seriously, inspiring revulsion and contempt rather than ironic disturbance, much less any entertainment value; worse yet are films that play highbrow games with the audience, cartoons pretending to be above their own violence, with a "lesson" beneath the gore. Tossing such claptrap aside, Zombie delivers something mean and pure. Rejects is a gritty, witty road movie, an unrelenting examination of amoral death-dealers at every edge of a badge, and a snappy homage to the low-budget terror films of the early 1970s.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for your review of "The Devil's Rejects".

    I just can't wait to see it!

    Be sweet, lychee..