The third installment in the Devil’s Reject trilogy (or the House of 1000 Corpses trilogy?), 3 From Hell picks up from where The Devil’s Rejects left off and makes sense of connecting that ending with making a third film. Here the Rejects escape jail and go on the run until bad people catch up with them. Who’s the worst bad guy and best killer? It’s up the audience to decide.
Written and directed by Rob Zombie, 3 From Hell is a bit of a more of the same with a few changes for those who have seen the first two films. The budget is clearly low while the ambitions are high. Here the story creates a way for the Rejects to have survived the ending of part 2 and make it to jail where they need to break out from. The film is violent, nasty, full of blood, boobs, and classic rock hits. This is right up the same alley as they others with a bit of evolution from everyone involved, but also a lot of the same stuff. This will not work for everyone by all accounts of the comments and reviews seen online. This reviewer greatly liked the film from many angles. The story here is nothing to break records or become a new genre, it’s something that feels tested and true while being violent, exploitive, and a total vehicle for Zombie’s wife, all of which worked great in the end. Of course, the story has a few moments that are not perfect and one can only wish for more Captain Spaulding, but decisions had to be made, certain limitations were imposed, and Zombie created what he wanted to here without much involvement from other parties. The story and direction are basically as expect from Zombie and his Rejects films.
Casting for this installment is as expected for some of the parts with Sid Haig returning as Captain Spaulding for a few minutes (something that has been explained online and in interviews, so not really a spoiler), Sherri Moon Zombie coming back as Baby Firefly, Bill Moseley reprising his Otis Firefly part, and the leads being rounded out by Richard Brake as the added half-brother to the Fireflies, Winslow Foxworth Coltrane. Brake is a great addition to the cast, bringing an extra little something to the part that makes him fit right in with the Firefly clan and makes it hold up against Moseley as they share a lot of scenes. Moseley is, as usual, fantastically maniacal in the part of Otis, here having gained a few years and some wisdom and having lost what he may have had left of fucks to give. Sherri Moon Zombie gives a great performance as Baby Firefly, something that was unexpected as her acting is usual ok to decent. Here she really goes for it when we see Baby in jail where she is losing her mind, rightly so, and once she’s out with how she tries to re-adapt to their life of mayhem and murder. As usual with Rob Zombie films, it’s full of cameos and great folks in parts you don’t expect them in. Dee Wallace as Greta was a great surprise and it took a little while to recognize her, showing that she does great work here. Also fun are Pancho Moler as Sebastian, Danny Trejo as Rondo, and a lot of others all over the place there. There are many people involved here that listed cast members Barry Bostwick and Noel G were not even recognize (Noel G is most likely one of the luchadores masked men, while Bostwick will require a second viewing just to find him).
As usual with these films, the filming style is reminiscent of 1970’s films and very much done as exploitation sub-genre. Here the images are faded, yet attractive, the fake damage is not as annoying as in other films, and the framing is great in many scenes. The cinematography by David Daniel is great in how it captures most scenes. However, there are a few scenes that are a hot mess. The extra close zoom in mixed with too much camera movement and cuts at the speed from hell create something that is hard to follow visually and a pain to watch for those with visual issues and sensitivities. These scenes are thankfully few and the rest of the film works great on the overall.
As usual with Rob Zombie films, the soundtrack is fantastic and filled with recognizable and a bit more rare tracks from classic rock and other artists that are perfect for the film and making it all come together. The score used between those songs is by Zeuss and works well at underlining the scenes and not taking them over.
3 From Hell is basically a love it or hate it with very few people falling in the middle, as a fan of half of Zombie’s work, this film was a lot of fun in great part due to the performances and the sheer violence of some of the kills. It’s a fun film with a few hiccups here and there with some scenes being edited to death and shot much too upclose or with movements that distract too much from the action being portrayed. Those are not the majority and not that big of a problem, so the film remains entertaining and fun. It’s violent, inappropriate, it’s exploitation done by a clear fan of the genre and it works for those reasons. It’s a great ending characters some of us has been wanting to see more of. Adding new family members and making it a wider in scope film also helped keep it interesting. It’s a fun ride perfect to watch in a nice comfy seat with a drink in hand, perhaps tequila, and some friends to enjoy it with.