Amazingly, it’s been a year since the release of Rob Zombie’s 3 From Hell, the bookend to his band of merry Groucho-homaged murderous monikers trilogy. It’s now up for grabs as a Blu-Ray collection and chided as an exclusive to Shudder (the crappiest Roku app on the planet, seeing that no one on at Roku or Shudder will take responsibility for my inability to log in after paying $64.99 for a year-long subscription, ahem). I digress.
I’m a horror buff. Give me ‘70s and ‘80s and some ‘90s, but outside of the continuation of Child’s Play, Rob Zombie’s films are the only horror flicks that I sit down with, no questions asked.
But. I didn’t like House of 1000 Corpses. Maybe it’s my aversion to Rainn Wilson as “Fish Boy”. Animal-human body mutilation is the one thing that makes me nauseous beyond all comprehension (my tongue starts to swell at even the thought of—shame on you Kevin Smith—Tusk, and the absolutely WRONG WRONG WRONG H****n C******de, which I’ve only seen the poster and read the description of, and that was MORE than enough for me).
So you’re probably wondering, how is Rob Zombie any different when you have face removal? It’s one part cinematography, the other soundtrack.
The musician-turned-director payed serious attention to the reverence that each one of these films paid to The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, explicitly The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2, all the way down to nabbing actor Bill Mosely, who played Choptop, to star as Otis Driftwood (better with a beard, BTW). I love his character—seems like the kind of guy I’d choose to sit down next to in a seedy dive, barring murderous intentions, because he has a charming way of turning a phrase to invoke the cynical side. This element of “grit” follows each character, perfectly choreographed from their holey, dirty costumes that appear to have been lived in forever (I’m such a heel for that), to the landscape and sets, the camera filtering, the panning frame transitions—it really captures and romanticizes the 1970s desert, to which I admit to having an obsession with, most likely derived from The Devil’s Rejects, which I saw on opening night, same as 3 From Hell.
3 From Hell didn’t grab me as well as its predecessor. Perhaps it was the loss of Sid Haig or even the introduction of Winslow Foxworth Coltrane (Richard Brake) because I couldn’t dissociate him from the likes of the late Tom Petty. The cinematography echoed that of The Devil’s Rejects, but the characters, while the same, they really weren’t—which I think screenwriters chock up to (spoiler alert) time served, or the fact that Baby Firefly (Sheri Moon Zombie) has finally begun to earn her acting chops. Plus, I don’t recall there being any ‘70s sitcom star appearances like Pricilla Barnes from Three’s Company or Lawrence Hilton-Jacobs from Welcome Back, Kotter (who was in 31). Such a downer, that’s a Cinnamon Dolce sprinkle.
The grounding point to all Rob Zombie’s films—the kickass ‘70s dad-rock soundtrack that collectively features James Gang, Joe Walsh, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Suzi Quatro, Steely Dan, Iron Butterfly, and Terry Reid—in addition to some serious country hits by Kitty Wells and Ernest Tubb.
All of the above, plus THAT, you cannot go wrong.