Lions Gate presents
The Devil's Rejects (Blu-Ray) (2005)
ďDying is not an option. Now you stick that back in that gray matter of yours and you make that stick, 'cause any other thought is gonna get you cold slabbed, toe tagged and mailed home to your mamma in a plastic bag. Are we crystal?Ē- Sheriff John Quincy Wydell (William Forsythe)
Stars: Bill Moseley, Sid Haig, Sheri Moon Zombie, William Forsythe
Other Stars: Michael Berryman, Ken Foree, E.G. Daily, Priscilla Barnes
Director: Rob Zombie
MPAA Rating: Not Rated for Strong violence, gore, language, rape
Run Time: 01h:49m:23s
Release Date: 2006-08-22
DVD ReviewIn many ways, The Devilís Rejects is the movie that Iíve always wanted to see made, only I never knew it. I know how that sounds, but this film, Rob Zombieís second feature as a writer/director is more than just a follow-up to his previous hit,House of 1000 Corpses. Itís a brilliant piece of filmmaking, and hands down one of the very best films of the year.
Picking up a short while after the events in House, Sheriff John Quincy Wydell (the inimitable William Forsythe in one of his best performances of all time) and an army of police launch a violent raid on the Firefly residence. In the opening scene, a violent shootout occurs leaving some of the family members dead, others captured and Otis (Bill Moseley), Baby (Sheri Moon-Zombie) and Captain Spaulding (Sid Haig) on the run. Wydell, haunted by the memory of his deceased brother (Tom Towels from the first film), has become obsessed with bringing his brotherís killers to justice and sets out to find the remaining members of the clan to do just that.
Just as it sounds, The Devilís Rejects is a very different film from its predecessor. Some have argued that this one isnít really a horror film, but that's a moot point, really. This is a down and dirty, violent and depraved film. Itís loaded to the brim with torture, sexual degradation, brutal killings, beatings and gunfights. There isnít a major character in here with any sort of moral compass. Its heroes and villains are pretty much interchangeable. In short, this is the sort of movie they donít make anymore, havenít made for a very long time and the type that we just assumed would never be made again!
Thatís precisely what makes Zombieís second film so special. Technically, itís amazingly well done. Many filmmakers have claimed to make Ďthrowbackí films to a particular era, but this one is almost a vintage piece from the 1970s (only a few brief CGI blood spurts prevent this from being almost interchangeable). Zombie has clearly learned a lot in between his two films and of the two, this is the one that glistens with a sheen of professionalism. This sequel is entirely devoid of the MTV-style that plagued the first film. Using several techniques that were in common use throughout the 70s such as freeze frames and wipes and executed in an extremely gritty manner, this is as close to a Ďthrowbackí as weíre ever likely to get.
To further ensure said authenticity, the soundtrack is peppered not with Zombieís music and driving metal, but music from the 70s. The decision to do so lends this film even more authenticity. Naturally it takes more than music to produce a 70s-style film, but it definitely doesnít hurt it. Itís another necessary ingredient in this concoction of inspired filmmaking.
Zombieís writing skills were fairly efficient throughout his first film but this time around, he manages to write a surprisingly compelling movie. The three members of the Firefly family that take center stage in this sequel are given ample room to develop and we see them as far more believable persons this time out. Bill Moseley is a particular standout as Otis because heís terribly intimidating but can also be hilarious with his choice line delivery and attitude. What really impresses with Moseley in Devilís Rejects however is his ability to say a lot with little more than his eyes (pay close attention to the climax). Otis is an evil man, but not incapable of feeling sadness and grief, arguably even revulsion for some of the things that heís done.
Another strong part is William Forsytheís starring role as the tortured and psychotic Sheriff Wydell. The script approaches this character with far more depth than I was expecting and Forsythe captures the anguish of the character perfectly. Wydell is a man whose need for revenge grows so great that heís eventually consumed by that need. Forsythe, like Moseley, can go from likable hero to terrifying villain at the stop of a dime. I credit Zombieís casting choice for giving this underrated actor a beautiful and meaty role for him to sink his teeth into.
The other members of the Firefly family are also handled by good actors who give the film their all. Leslie Easterbook (you remember her from the Police Academy films) replaces Karen Black as Mother Firefly and for my money, delivers a somewhat more menacing performance than Black from the first film. Sheri Moon-Zombieís second turn as Baby is just as sexually charged and menacing as before (a lot more ass shots including one ass double) and Sid Haig is always a pleasure as Spaulding. The casting was very strong in the first film, but is pitch perfect in every way here.
And on the subject of casting,Devilís Rejects often reads like a whoís who as far as horror films of the 70ís goes. Ken Foree has a small but memorable part as one of Spauldingís old friends, Charlie Altamont. His scene with the chicken salesman could be one of the funniest things ever committed to film. Michael Berryman is another inspired choice and plays one of Charlieís assistants. The script even finds time for Berryman to shine, playing off Foree in some truly priceless moments. Danny Trejo and Diamond Dallas Page turn up as a duo of unscrupulous bounty hunters and porno icon Ginger Lynn shows up for a cameo as well. Rounding out the supporting cast are P.J. Soles (Halloween) and Steven Railsback (The Stunt Man). Nearly every role consists of quality fan favorites, just another one of the joys of watching this film.
Thereís a lot going on in this sequel and it gets high marks for featuring one of the most unsettling and genuinely disturbing moments the genre has seen recently. The humiliation and degradation of Priscilla Barnesí character at the hands of Otis isnít easy to take, nor should it be. Thereís enough happening in this one to ensure that the viewer will find their laughs elsewhere, but none is intended for the hotel scene. Barnes deserves a lot of credit for taking this part and doing a great job with it. Probably best know as Terri on Threeís Company, here sheís little more than a victim but she makes a lasting impression.
Rating for Style: A+
Rating for Substance: A+
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Image Transfer Review: Arriving on Blu-Ray fairly early in the formatís existence, The Devilís Rejects has been a source of controversy on many a message board since its release in 2006, presumably because of the grainy nature of the film that has more to do with Zombieís style than any real fault of the disc. I happened to see the film four times during its theatrical run and this Blu Ray release is a more than accurate representation of said image. Zombie shot this film as if it were an unearthed relic from the 1970s, complete with itís washed-out colors and dry pallate. That said, this Blu Ray disc offers a nicely detailed picture, complete with solid blacks without any sign of compressionóa true sign of a nice transfer.
My only qualm with the image comes from some occasionally soft and blurry shots that fail to retain the sharp detail of the overall presentation. These are few and far between, but mange to mar an otherwise solid and respectable transfer.
Image Transfer Grade: B+
Audio Transfer Review: Both tracks included on this disc, the Dolby EX and the DTS ES, offer solid performances. I canít discern much of a difference between the two; both offer clear and aggressive audio from each speaker. The music is loud and effective, but it never overpowers the dialog or action. This is a very busy soundtrack and both of these audio tracks promise a fantastic viewing experience.
Audio Transfer Grade: A
Disc ExtrasAnimated menu with music
Scene Access with 14 cues and remote access
Subtitles/Captions in English & Spanish with remote access
11 Deleted Scenes
2 Feature/Episode commentaries by 1: Writer/Director Rob Zombie2: Cast: Sheri Moon, Sid Haig, Bill Moseley
Packaging: standard Blu-ray packaging
Extras Review: Unfortunately, Lionsgate did not port over the excellent 30 Days in Hell documentary that was on the SD release of this film. This Blu-Ray ports over both commentary tracks and the collection of deleted scenes, and unlike those on Zombieís Halloween, I wouldíve liked to have seen a number of these scenes put back into the film. The real highlight would be the Dr. Satan scene featuring a cameo by Rosario Dawson, but almost every scene included in these excised bits add a little bit to the characters and story. Maybe they didnít drive the narrative forward in any significant way, but they sure are fun to watch!
The commentary tracks are both worthy as well. The Zombie track is fun and informative, providing amusing anecdotes regarding his cast (I especially enjoyed the stuff about Ginger Lynn and her commitment to her cameo) and the filming process. The cast track is a howl as well. Haig, Moon and Moseley have fantastic chemistry together and is further evidenced by their lively discussion about the filming of this sequel.
Extras Grade: A-
Final CommentsThe Devilís Rejects leaves a lasting impression. Itís everything that the hardcore horror fans have been dying for. Rob Zombie got things 100% right with this one. Having made what in my opinion is an instant classic here, I can only anxiously await his future projects because, unlike many recent films, this one fulfills everything it promises and then some.
Matt Serafini 2008-05-23