I don’t know what you can chalk it up to. Maybe it was the unfortunate illness of the late great Sid Haig that caused Rob Zombie to re-write a lot of “3 From Hell.” Or maybe he just didn’t know where to take his characters next. For a movie that takes great pains to explaining in detail how and why the Firefly Clan survived, it’s disappointing when “3 From Hell” does absolutely nothing new with them. Rob Zombie has a lot of windows to basically re-invent his characters and present some kind of social commentary, but in the end it’s just Zombie treading water with middling results.
The first time I was exposed to Sid Haig was in “House of 1,000 Corpses.”
I regret to admit that it’s really the first time I’d ever seen Haig, and it was quite the introduction to such an enormous cinematic presence that was in over a hundred films and television projects. Say what you want about Rob Zombie’s cinematic outputs, but one of his crowning achievements is the creation of Captain Spaulding. Thanks in no small part to Sid Haig’s immense performance, Captain Spaulding is one of the banner modern horror villains that pretty much grabs the spotlight every single time he’s on screen in “House” and “The Devil’s Rejects” and yet it’s still never enough.
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.
It’s amazing how a man like Rob Zombie who fancies himself a hardcore horror fan has done little to evolve since his first film “House of 1,000 Corpses.” Every film he’s made since that initial movie has repeated the same beats over and over, just re-arranged in various ways to look new and original. He fills the screen with genre veterans again. He inexplicably sets his movie in a mid-seventies gritty trailer park landscape. The opening of his film is directed by a goofy music video, padding the run time, and he even includes something of a montage with our characters, set to classic rock music as we saw in the finale of “The Devil’s Rejects.” Worst of all, he writes some of the clunkiest dialogue I’ve ever heard, and he is still dead set on placing wife Sheri Moon Zombie front and center.
Danny Trejo has been in almost three hundred films, and at the age of sixty nine (turning seventy this year!), he is by no means slowing down. He has almost a dozen projects lined up in 2014, including a supporting role in the upcoming George Lopez series on FX in America. Trejo is a man who obviously loves to work and will be in almost anything. Whether you enjoy the movie or not, you have to admit the man has presence and a unique charisma that makes him stand out, whether he’s playing a bar tender, or a janitor. While Mr. Trejo has managed to amass a humongous list of films and television roles, here are five we especially enjoyed from his long and well earned career.
One thing about Rob Zombie as a director is that he’s tasked with finishing one of his many nonsensical horror films with Sheri Moon as the lead. Sheri Moon is not an actress by any definition. She’s mostly suited for silent supporting roles with someone else doing the heavy lifting. Hence why she’s so much fun in “The Devil’s Rejects.” Sid Haig and Bill Moseley are such excellent actors, Moon doesn’t have to do much but work off them. With “Lords of Salem,” Zombie seems to realize Moon can’t carry a movie on her own, so he once again gives Moon a great supporting cast to work off of. When that safety net is gone, Moon mostly plays her role without much dialogue or heavy emoting, as Zombie fills in her bad performance with a ton of surrealism.
No one will ever really accuse “H2″ or “Rob Zombie’s Halloween” of ever being a masterpiece. I mean, while they do have the vision of a man who has something to say in the horror genre, they’re not the indicators of someone who can firmly grasp what a remake is supposed to be. John Carpenter’s “The Thing” worked so well because he had source material to work off of, and re-imagined the Howard Hawks original in creative ways. Zombie’s “Halloween” movies felt like repackaged leftovers disguised as a meal. Heck, I don’t think Zombie ever grasped what filmmaking was supposed to be.
I’m one of those people who very much looked forward to “Pontypool,” and am not ashamed to admit that I was utterly disappointed with this production. It was dull as day old bread, lacked in sheer suspense and tension and sadly didn’t quite creep me out as much as its double “Dead Air” did. Not quite a zombie movie, people like to brand it as such and there aren’t even many zombies that pop up. What we get in the end is a practice in a cinematic dry humping that promises frights and never actually delivers. Seek out “Dead Air” for a nearly identical premise that works much better.