Tuesday, October 15, 2019

Review: "3 From Hell" is a oddly structured, yet typical Zombie movie

3 From Hell Review
Rob Zombie is a filmmaker in the 21st Century working like he's still in the 1970's. He makes movies you used to be able to find at the crackjack theater on the wrong side of the tracks, back in the glory days of the grindhouse. They are shock value, through and through. "House of 1,000 Corpses," "The Devil's Rejects" his "Halloween" movies, they all take on the exact same anesthetic. They are extremely violent and gory, they are full of sex and sexual violence, they are vulgar, filled with cursing. The thing all of the movies above have in common is that they all seem to run out of steam before Rob Zombie crosses the finish line.

I thought he was turning a new league when he made "Lords of Salem" Watch all the movies I listed above then watch "Lords of Salem," I'd be hard-pressed for anybody to find similarities in style and tone in those examples. The only thing that connects "Lords of Salem" to Zombie's other work is hiring his wife as the lead. "Lords of Salem" is nothing like the rest of his filmography. I was hoping his movies moving forward would be more "Lords of Salem" in tone and style.

But when returning to the story of the Devil's Rejects killers, that is simply not the case. Baby Firefly (Sherri Moon Zombie), Captain Spaulding (Sid Haig) and Otis Driftwood (Bill Moseley) are all back, taking place some years after "The Devil's Rejects" and they are finally captured and been through the prison system. We learn Spaulding gets the lethal inejection (may Haig continue to rest in peace), we learn Baby Firefly is deep in a sentence, and Otis has...well...escaped custody. Because of course someone had to. Because of Haig's untimely death, Otis is now running around with his half-brother Fox (Richard Blake).

The movie seems to suggest that its going to be about how Fox and Otis plan to break Firefly free from prison. This being a Rob Zombie movie, Fox and Otis kidnap all the family and friends of the prison warden in order to get the warden to free Firefly. What ensues is an overly-long, explicit stretch of movie where there is plenty of gore and depravity onscreen. Sometimes, its shot in strict seriousness, which brings on a certain level of creep factor. Other times, its shot with some stylized cornball wit that only Zombie can muster. It's inconsistent work, and I have to say I was more repulsed than I was scared. Anybody who was too disturbed by "Joker" should try and sit through this.

After the three evil people are reunited, you'd think that would be the end of the movie. Unfortunately you have a whole other 40 or so minutes left. The movie feels like a drag and the last half feels like a completely different movie. The three retreat to Mexico to stay away from the police, and while they are South of the border, they get tangled with a drug cartel. The cartel wants revenge on Otis for killing their leader in prison (a tiny cameo by Danny Trejo). Rob Zombie tricks us now that we've seen the Devil's Rejects do some pretty appalling things to a group of innocent people, we now have to cheer for them because they are fighting drug dealers? Again, it all feels like we suddenly stumble into a completely different movie, and the transition is tone deaf.

Sherri and Bill have pretty much become these characters at this point, and these aren't the type of performances that get you nominated for awards. It's fine work acting wise, but nothing special. I think the appeal of these movies are equal to endurance tests. Zombie wants to see how much he can push the envelope. I am sure there is a certain audience for this movie and this series as a whole. I'm just not sure it's me. We've seen horror come a long way this past decade, and it seems to me what Zombie did here is a bit of a downgrade.

FINAL GRADE: C-

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