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Drive-In Massacre's Movie Reviews (43)

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The Devil's Rejects 
I've gone from hating it to finding it brilliant!
3.5/4 stars

Let me begin this review by saying it has taken me a long time to come around and have the opinions that I currently have about Rob Zombie's 2005 sequel to House of 1000 Corpses...I'm talking years.

The first time I had seen it, around 2006, I simply hated it. I mean vehemently hated it. I thought it was a movie that was unoriginal and tried with every effort it had to be as disgusting and mean-spirited as it possibly could. Keep in mind, this was also the first Rob Zombie film I had seen, and being a fan of Zombie as a person, I started the movie with positive feelings and was extremely disappointed.
Later, around 2007, I saw it again at my friends house and my opinion was changed from simply hating it, to finding the movie unintentionally funny and stupid, the way you would about Manos: The Hands of Fate...And then roughly around the beginning of this year, my thoughts on the film changed again!

What honestly changed my opinion about Devil's Rejects, was the beginning of the new decade. When 2010 rolled around, I looked at the decade of horror (which really had to be one of, if not the horror genres worst decade in film) in a retrospective manner and realized that, this movie was/is something special. I just really wish Zombie could make more films like this, because other than DR, I haven't seen anything by him that even comes close to being as impressive, his adaptation of Halloween is still one of the worst films I've ever seen in my entire life, and I've seen some shitty movies, trust me.

Once you really take a look at it, this film pretty much ignored everything that was happening in horror at the time and virtually decided where a lot of horror films were going to go after it. It's probably one of the most influential movies of the last 10 years or so...I mean how many movies since Devil's Rejects have we seen that really dirty, disgusting wasteland of really dirty, disgusting psychos? That look and feeling is really unique too, it's almost like watching a documentary on serial killers. I can name only 2 other films in which I had a very signature "sick-to-my-stomach" feeling that DR gave me on my initial viewing: Cannibal Holocaust and Faces of Death, and I find that to be an achievement, considering that it's a gap of about 25 years in filmmaking, and it's all the more unique because Devil's Rejects was made under a major studio and it does not pretend to be real, it's all just really affective performances and story.

One opinion has always remained the same for me, even on my first viewing; Bill Moseley who plays the Manson-esque sociopath, Otis, is incredible. Sid Haig does a really good job, as does William Forsythe, Sheri Moon Zombie? Well...um, well not so much, but even with my hatred for Devil's Rejects back in 2006, I would have still found it more than reasonable to give Moseley an academy award nomination for his performance. He was great in House of 1000 Corpses, if not a bit forced, and he was great in this. The collaboration of writing, acting, and directing that created Otis made one of the top 10 best anti-heroes in the past few years.

Speaking of anti-heroes, I also find it really original that we are meant to follow and connect with no less than the most repulsive, horrible human beings on the planet. Imagine if in the original Texas Chain Saw Massacre, we were supposed to root for leatherface and his family? That's pretty much Devil's Rejects. We've all seen movies with anti-heroes before, but Alex DeLarge (A Clockwork Orange) and Travis Bickle (Taxi Driver) have some positive traits that we can relate to, we simply don't have that with any of the people in the Firefly family, but it's obvious that it's who we are rooting for in our heads, we're certainly not rooting for the police force and I think that's where a lot of the criticisms come from. A lot of people don't want their minds to be taken to those depths, they don't want to think that they can actually have feelings of suspense when a serial killer is being tortured by a police officer, and that's a genius part of the film.

It's such a strange film for me, I remember watching the ending for the first time and rolling my eyes, feeling embarrassed for what Zombie decided to do..."Really? Freebird!? C'mon, that's so corny!", now my entire view of that scene has changed. In fact, the friend I had watched Devil's Rejects with back in 2006 who laughed with me at the stupidity we felt existed in the film, has also changed his entire opinion on the movie. He said, that "if you think about it, we've all heard Freebird hundreds of times before, but never once had anyone heard it in this context before". That's the genius of Zombie along with a lot of other great film makers, they take something we're all very familiar with and show it to us in ways we would otherwise never had thought of, I consider it a brilliant scene now.

There are very few movies in which I have had such a 180 opinion over, but I imagine that it's reasonable with The Devil's Rejects, it's a movie that is obviously going to win fans over time (me for example) and in a few years, I hope, it's going to be revered and remembered as one of the seminal films in the horror genre.


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