This Halloween season Rob Zombie released the latest in his trilogy following the Firefly family 3 From Hell and while there was a lot of hype among horror fans, the release of the film seemed to fall flat. As a big fan of Zombie’s work I was concerned, this was a sequel to Devil’s Rejects over 10 years later, perhaps Rob had lost a step? I went into the film with a fair bit of trepidation but by the time the credits rolled I was supremely confused at how anyone with expectations for this film did not see them all met. Buckle in kiddies, were gonna dive into this thing, spoilers and all.
The movie opens with a 1970’s style newsreel very similar to the documentaries of the Manson family which shows the aftermath of the epic finale of Devil’s Rejects. Baby, Otis and Captain Spaulding all survived their shootout with the cops and after a lengthy hospital stay, they have spent the past 10 years in maximum security prisons. We get the few small scenes before the untimely death of Sid Haig, a jailhouse interview with Captain Spaulding which has your typical Zombie dialogue about grease paint and dancing for the man. There is also a solid interview with Otis that rivals his “I’m the devil and I’m here to do the Devil’s work” quote from Devil’s Rejects. This opening effectively fills in the gaps from the last 10 years, provides quotable material, writes Sid Haig out of the story, introduces us to the main “villain”, the Warden and ends with Otis breaking out of jail with help from his half-brother, The Midnight Wolfman.
So far, what's not to love? Grimey, 1970’s style news reel that cuts hard to a furniture commercial, fantastically diabolical dialogue, blood, guts, gore and a character named The Midnight Wolfman? Expectations met!
Then we move on to Zombie’s homage to the women in prison movies of the 1970’s as we see Baby in jail who is up for parole. I’m going to go ahead and say it, Vera-Ellen “Baby” Firefly is the best female slasher, killer, whatever of all time. Her insane rambling dialogue during her parole hearing could have only been created by recording an actual paranoid schizophrenic who was on acid and then mixed all their words up. Obviously she doesn't get paroled and instead head butts one of the guards, Greta played by Dee Wallace, in the face breaking her nose. Greta seeks revenge by taking Baby out of her cell and locking her in a boiler room with two large and menacing looking inmates who are there to kill her. Obviously baby massacres them, spilling their guts all over the ground and writing “Fuck You Greta” with a big heart in their blood on the ground.
Meanwhile, Otis and the Wolfman are on the lamb, arguing about old movies killing whomever crosses their path. This includes a pair of vigilantes who are hunting for the convicts. It is in this scene where the Wolfman truly shines and while no one could ever replace Captain Spaulding, he is an acceptable replacement as he distracts a man with a gun pointed to his head by talking about his tits and porn in graphic detail. Rob Zombie has a unique ability to personify scumbag in his films unlike any other director. The pair then discuss “A House Call” which lands them at the Warden’s house and two women bound at the dinner table. While Otis tortures the Warden, his wife and two friends try to convince the warden to break Baby out of jail. Then a strange visitor comes knocking on the front door.
Clint Howard, dressed as a clown who Otis forces to tell jokes at gunpoint to the hostages. Again, what’s not to love? More maniacal dialogue, greasy characters, dark violence and even darker comedy. Expectations met!
What comes next is predictable at best. The warden helps Baby escape and brings her back home where Otis, The Wolfman, the dead clown, two beaten and bloody women, one fully naked and a dead body are watching old horror movies. God Bless Rob Zombie. The scene soon explodes in chaos with Otis stabbing people, Wolfman brutally and graphically slitting the warden’s wife’s throat as he watches and Baby chasing a naked woman around suburbia before finally stabbing her over and over again on the front lawn, waving to the old lady across the street as she does it, “Hey grannie!” The gang make a run for it and start making their way towards Mexico and once they get across the border this is where the movie really shines.
It’s a Rob Zombie film so of course they are staying in the nastiest, dirty hotel in all of Mexico, with a little person with an eye patch concierge, during a day of the dead party with sex workers and drunken knife throwing competitions. The hotel’s owner recognizes the three as the murderers of the Cartel boss’s brother and calls in the hit. While the group is distracted reading comic books and watching The Hunchback of Notre Dame with the sex workers, the cartel arrives with three black coffins in the back of an El Camino. But these are not just your average cartel members, these are The Black Satans, a group of killers wearing luchador masks and suits armed with AK-47s and machetes. As the needle drops in the movie and In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida starts playing, all hell breaks loose.
Baby Firefly, armed with a bow and arrow wearing a full Indian headdress hunts masked luchadores, killing them with arrows to the face. This not only meets expectations, this exceeds them. It was at this point in the movie where I was fully confused by all of the negative reviews from people about this movie.
Overall, 3 From Hell is exactly what one would expect from a Rob Zombie movie. There seems to be a trend in the horror world where people are looking for more cinema style from directors like Ari Aster and if you come in with that expectation, you might not like this movie. But if you come into this movie expecting greasepaint and monkey brains, the type of movie Rob Zombie is known for, that's exactly what you'll get and more. This film really cements Zombie as one of the greatest horror directors of all time and the character of Baby Firefly as one of the greatest villains, not just female villains of all time. 3 From Hell is currently available on all VOD platforms.
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