What to expect: Devil’s Rejects meets Once Upon a Time in Mexico on a low budget.
Some fourteen years after The Devils Rejects comes the third and, presumably final, instalment in Rob Zombie’s hell-billy maniac series which kicked off in 2003 with the quirky House of 1000 Corpses and continued with the not so eccentric, but stylish and well made Devil’s Rejects in 2005.
After miraculously surviving twenty bullets each at the end of the last film, Otis, Baby and Captain Spaulding (again played by Bill Mosely, Sheri Moon Zombie and Sid Haig, respectively) are on death row under the care of coked up warden Virgil Harper, played by Jeff Daniel Phillips (Westworld, The Lords of Salem).
During a work detail Otis is helped to escape by his previously unseen half brother, Winslow, played by Richard Brake (Doom, Kingsman, 31). After securing Baby’s release in a brutal bloodbath, the three head south of the border and unleash hell in Mexico, after a local drug lord targets them in an effort to avenge his brother (or his father, I’m not sure) who is Danny Trejo, briefly reprising his role from The Devil’s Rejects.
I’ve looked forward to every new Rob Zombie movie since Devil’s Rejects and every time I’ve been disappointed. His films are always well made and look great, but just feel kind of pointless for the most part. With his return to the series that made his name as a filmmaker I had hoped we’d also see a return to form and get something as good as The Devil’s Rejects and House of 1000 Corpses. Sadly, Three from Hell isn’t that good, but on a positive note, it is, in my opinion at least, his best film since Rejects.
Captain Spaulding is missing for the most part, as actor Sid Haig was too unwell to film more than a short cameo and in fact he sadly passed away after this one wrapped. The film undoubtedly suffers because of this. The wonderful Sid Haig played one of the most interesting characters so it would have been a better movie had he been fully involved. As it was, the script had to be changed and a new character introduced, the half brother played by Richard Brake. Although Brake is pretty good (his performance as Doomhead in Rob Zombie’s earlier film 31 was easily the best thing about that movie), Sid Haig is pretty much irreplaceable. While I don’t find her particularly objectionable like some people seem to, Sheri Moon Zombie can be kind of grating and too much of the film is given over to her character. Bill Moseley’s Otis Driftwood has more screen presence, but he tends to play second fiddle to Sheri, unfortunately.
The film is grimly humourous and brutal. No one shoots a ruthless home invasion like Rob Zombie, not these days anyway. It’s bloody and cruel. The film also packs a lot of action at the end and has an authentic grindhouse look, coming off like an old Spaghetti Western at times (not a Sergio Leone western, one of the much cheaper ones), probably because Zombie’s budgets seem to get slashed in half every time he makes another movie.
Whilst definitely the weakest in the series, Three from Hell is still worth a look. I enjoyed it on the whole and, depending on what special features are offered, I’d get the speial edition blu ray when I get chance, assuming there will be one. I well definitely watch this movie again if I get chance.
By the way, Zombie recently did the Joe Rogan podcast and was pretty interesting.