‘Rejects’ promises depravity, and oh man, does it deliver

  • By Robert Horton / Herald Movie Critic
  • Thursday, July 21, 2005 9:00pm
  • LifeGo-See-Do

Movies can be interesting to write about but difficult to recommend. I was intrigued by this week’s “Last Days” (see page 6), a meditation on Kurt Cobain by director Gus Van Sant, even though I can’t imagine what the audience would be for Van Sant’s experimental approach.

Vile: Rob Zombie directs this homage to violent 1970s exploitation movies, and achieves a fair approximation of the form. Having said that, the movie is utterly vile, which seems to be exactly what the director wants.

Rated: R rating is for violence, nudity, language.

Now showing: tk

In a completely different vein, but posing much the same dilemma, is “The Devil’s Rejects,” an utterly vile new film written and directed by Rob Zombie. I can’t possibly recommend this canker sore of a movie, yet I have to admit that it does exactly what it aims for and contains a few interesting wrinkles (and some hysterical dialogue).

Rob Zombie is a self-confessed horror-movie freak and formerly the leader of the band White Zombie. He directed his first film with 2003’s “House of 1000 Corpses,” a surprise hit, and his new one picks up some of the degraded characters from that film.

They’re the members of the Firefly clan (for some reason many of the characters have taken their names from roles played by Groucho Marx). They make the slice-happy family from “Texas Chainsaw Massacre” look like the Osmonds.

The blood-soaked Fireflys are rousted out of their home in the opening sequence, ambushed by a sheriff (William Forsythe). On the run, they still take time to brutally terrorize a family at a desert motel, a bit of unpleasantness that takes up the middle section of the film.

Mr. Zombie has made the film to conform to the look and feel of a certain kind of 1970s exploitation picture, and in this aspect he has been very successful indeed. The graininess of the image, the freezeframes of the credits, and the unrelenting nature of the violence put us squarely in the realm of “Last House on the Left” and “The Hills Have Eyes,” with a dollop of redneck drive-in pictures such as “Dirty Mary, Crazy Larry” thrown in.

The cast is a group of ’70s gargoyles, too: creepy Sid Haig, original “Dawn of the Dead” star Ken Foree, “Three’s Company” starlet Priscilla Barnes. The director’s wife, Sheri Moon Zombie, does duty as the demented leading lady.

Being a music guy, Rob Zombie also uses classic ’70s album cuts for maximum effect. There’s a climax choreographed in slow motion to “Free Bird” that instantly qualifies as a B-movie classic.

If this film had really been made in the 1970s and were re-discovered today, it would be pretty shocking. Because it’s an homage, however, it has quotation marks around it, and it just seems kind of curious and unpleasant.

As depraved as “Devil’s Rejects” is, one must admit that Zombie knows what he wants. This movie belongs on the old grindhouse and drive-in circuit, which doesn’t exist anymore; instead, it goes straight into the multiplex. Unsuspecting audiences may be traumatized for life.

The Firefly clan stars in “The Devil’s Rejects.”

Talk to us

More in Life

Daniella Beccaria / for The Herald

15-month-old Kantu attempts to climb a pumpkin at Stocker Farms in Snohomish on Sunday, September 20th, 2015. Stocker Farms offers a U-pick patch, farm animals and a corn maze.
Best pumpkin patch in Snohomish County

You voted, we tallied, here are the results.

Celebrity chef Gordon Ramsay walks into the Prohibition Grille along Hewitt Avenue in Everett Wednesday Dec. 5, 2012 while reportedly filming an episode of Kitchen Nightmares at the Everett restaurant. (Mark Mulligan / The Herald)
Even more films and TV shows filmed in Snohomish County

Readers point out projects previously missed in this series, from reality television to low-budget indie films.

Everett comedian Taylor Clark performs stand-up in 2023 at The Triple Door in Seattle, Washington. (Photo by Mike Bryk)
Comedian Taylor Clark to film first special Friday in Everett

The skateboarding funny-man will record an hour of his stand-up at the Historic Everett Theater.

Local musician Alex Johnston, whose newest album "Daylight Fooldream" pairs with short film he made with help from his partner Mikaela Henderson, sits with his morning coffee on Friday, Sept. 15, 2023, at Narrative Coffee in Everett, Washington. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)
Folktronica musician shoots 37-minute visual album on iPhone in Everett

Alex Johnston, 31, describes his music as ”if Coldplay and Bon Iver had a love child.”

Death of parent with child. Piece of paper with parents and children is torn in half.
Helping children cope with the hard realities of divorce

I’s important to set aside one’s feelings and find a way to make this challenging transition as comfortable for children as you can.

In Belgium, each type of beer has its own glass – whether wide, tall, or fluted – to show off its distinct qualities.
Rick Steves’ Europe: Bruges brews lift a weary traveler’s spirits

The Belgian city is a mecca for beer lovers from around the world.

Children’s author Barbara Herkert to lead Story Time at Edmonds Bookshop, Friday September 29th, 9:30-10:00 am!
Author to read her new kids book at Edmonds bookstore

Author Barbara Herkert will read “This Old Madrone Tree” Friday at Edmonds Bookshop.

Flowering knotweed Persicaria amplexicaulis firetail in the morning light.
Save for one infamous variety, fleece flowers are easy to fall in love with

This long-blooming, easy-to-grow perennial comes in many desirable varieties. But watch out: One is an invasive knotweed.

A view of King Street Station in Seattle, Washington from an Amtrak Cascades train to Portland, Oregon from Everett, Washington on Wednesday, May 24, 2023. (Annie Barker / The Herald)
Ride the rails on Amtrak Cascades from Everett to Portland

Make new friends and let Amtrak do the driving on this 5-hour trip past sea, city and forest.

Most Read