Movie Poster
The Devil's Rejects
Rob Zombie
Ken Foree, Sid Haig, Bill Moseley, Sheri Moon, William Forsythe, Matthew McGrory, Leslie Easterbrook, Priscilla Barnes, Danny Trejo, Diamond Dallas Page, Michael Berryman
109 min.


There are certain movies that have no right to be any good. This is one of them. Rob Zombie? This should be Saw bad. But it isn't. I went solely for the opportunity to see Ken Foree. I was surprised to enjoy it as thoroughly as I did.

Like Kill Bill this is essentially a series of homages to the director's favorite movies of the last forty years. Unlike Kill Bill, The Devil's Rejects stands up as a whole in its own right. This can partly be attributed to the infectious sense of joy that runs like blood through the whole film. Everyone seems to be having the time of their lives making this movie: Ken Foree practically bounces off the screen pimped out in his purple suit while goofing around with Sid Haig and the guy from The Hills Have Eyes (Michael Berryman); William Forsythe gets to play the vigilante cop he's been waiting his whole career to play like the accumulation of the sweat and the fury from every other vigilante cop in every other schlock-horror film since Dennis Hopper chewed the scenery in Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2; Sid Haig gets to dress up in clown makeup and swear a lot and act crazy; and there, front and center, is Rob Zombie giggling like a little kid at every gory twist of the knife.

You know, hang on, something's dawning on me: I think, looking at the evidence, this makes Rob Zombie a better director than Quentin Tarantino. How about that? Kind of seems like that should mean the world is ending or something.

Heck, Gordon Liu and Sonny Chiba notwithstanding, The Devil's Rejects even has a cooler cast than Kill Bill. Basically, Rob Zombie does everything that Tarantino does, only he doesn't have to try so hard.

The primary reference, the overriding central homage, is of course to Texas Chainsaw Massacre. Only, and here's where Rob had a little stroke of genius or something, the second primary reference is to Thelma and Louise. It's a coming-together road-comedy, only its about serial killers.

There were numerous scenes which ended with the teenagers in the back of the theater muttering, "what the fuck?" Like Texas Chainsaw Massacre, The Devil's Rejects has a healthy sense of the bizarre. Unlike Massacre, which used it to heighten the discomfort with a surrealistic edge of perversion, Rejects uses it for comedy. Only it's good comedy. It doesn't ruin the mood, because it is the mood. Essentially, the movie is about these little arguments the Rejects have about ice cream, and William Forsythe has about Groucho Marx.

There are plentiful tertiary references sprinkled liberally throughout the film, sort of as a reward for liking low-budget '70s horror as much as Rob Zombie does. The style of the film seems to be an amphetamine-driven mash-up of Massacre and Kinji Fukasaku. Granted, Zombie is probably not making direct reference to the Battles Without Honor and Humanity freeze-frames; more likely it is a second generation appropriation of the american films that copied Fukasaku. But, then, you never know, maybe it was. It wouldn't be the first time Devil's Rejects surprised me.

Pat Jackson