3 from Hell
Rob Zombie's 3 from Hell is a violent trip down memory road, rekindling the grizzly and gory moments of The Devil's Rejects and House of 1,000 Corpses, only with 1/4th the budget in look and feel. 3 from Hell meanders its talent on a story that's not really about much of anything.
3 from Hell is the long-awaited sequel to Rob Zombie‘s horror masterpiece, The Devil’s Rejects. Rob Zombie was once considered one of the most interesting up-and-coming horror directors in the field, captivating audiences with the visceral chills of House of 1,000 Corpses and the gritty and uncompromising The Devil’s Rejects.
Now, Zombie has mostly fallen off the deep end, occasionally churning out something of quality, but mostly over-indulging in his half-cooked ideas, with a fraction of the budget he once had. Is 3 from Hell the return to form for the auteur or has he truly lost his magic?
3 from Hell follows Baby Firefly (Sheri Moon Zombie), Otis Firefly (Bill Moseley) and Otis’ brother Winslow Foxworth Coltrane (Richard Brake) as they escape prison, avoid the cops and lay low down in Mexico, continuing to dish out their sick and twisted brand of “justice” on the world in the name of death and destruction.
The opening of 3 from Hell pretty much ruins the perfect conclusion to The Devil’s Rejects, but it doesn’t dwindle on the past too much and instead jumps right into its dirty and grimy world that looks and feels like a Grindhouse production.
I’m assuming Zombie shot the film this way to keep the cheapness from seeping through the lens as you can surely tell this is a step down from his bigger theatrical productions. But that doesn’t totally derail this film, because Sheri Moon Zombie, Bill Moseley and Richard Brake are gifted performers that lend to the film’s lack of point rather well. Moseley is especially engaging as Otis Firefly, the world’s scariest mass murderer that can’t stop spewing his righteous mindset onto everyone he comes in contact with.
Sheri Moon Zombie is still as unpredictable and terrifying as always, not exactly improving her acting skills since we last saw her, but at least staying true to her character’s roots.
Richard Brake fits in nicely as the new member of the gang, subbing for Sid Haig‘s Captain Spaulding, who makes a very brief and disappointing appearance. I get that Haig is getting older, but I really wish they would have left him out of the marketing altogether. I wish him the best, but can’t lie when I say that his absence was largely felt.
3 from Hell is definitely not as memorable as The Devil’s Rejects or even House of 1,000 Corpses, but it does hold up slightly better than some of Zombie’s more recent efforts. Still, it feels like Zombie is losing his grasp as a filmmaker and desperately trying to grab onto anything that once held him up as one of the more interesting horror filmmakers in modern day.
I miss the Zombie of old and 3 from Hell shows that he still has that raw and relentless approach that once made his films truly feel like something from a forgotten era, too bad the script doesn’t really give his characters much purpose. 3 from Hell is strictly nostalgia from a fading filmmaker trying to stay relevant and it pains me to say this.
It’s still a worthwhile venture for fans of the previous films, but I can safely say that an at-home-rental would probably do this film just fine. There’s nothing shocking or new to be found in 3 from Hell and instead more of the same, just not executed as expertly as the time before.
3 from Hell lives and dies on its talent and luckily for Zombie, he managed to wrestle up most of the Firefly gang for one more escapade. Be warned that the film doesn’t really serve much purpose and ends rather abruptly, but maybe your milage may vary on the enjoyment found with revisiting such detestable characters.