3 FROM HELL (2019)
Written and Directed by Rob Zombie
At the end of Rob Zombie’s Devil’s Rejects, we saw the Firefly family consisting of Captain Spaulding (Sid Haig), Baby Firefly (Sheri Moon Zombie) and Otis Driftwood (Bill Moseley) shot down in a hail of bullets but it seems that somehow, despite taking 20 bullets a piece, the bloodthirsty, heartless trio cannot simply be put down.
3 FROM HELL highlights the media frenzy around the trio as Spaulding and Otis are sentenced to death whilst Baby is locked up in a secure prison for the mentally unstable. These scenes, with the media highlighting their crimes whilst members of public protest their innocence, with some going as far as sporting ‘Free the Three’ t-shirts and proclaiming their love for them, smacks of the reaction to serial killers like the Manson family and Ted Bundy. Moseley’s performance of Otis in these scenes is very Charles Manson-esque as they feed into that idea of celebrity and doing the world justice through their killing. Having been locked up for 10 years, they soon get bored of life behind bars and Otis decides that the outside would be a far more interesting place to be…
When I first saw the cover art for this movie, I was questioning why the beloved Captain Spaulding wasn’t present and why Richard Brake was in his place. Well, after watching the movie it makes perfect sense as Haig’s performance is very minor with 5 minutes of footage, if that, present in the film. After Sid passed at the end of September 2019 after a stint in hospital, Zombie explained that he’d known about Sid’s poor health for a while but Sid wanted to do one more film as Spaulding. As a result, we have a touching signing off of the much-loved character. Winslow Foxworth Coltrane, played by Outpost star Richard Brake, is introduced as half-brother to Otis and Baby who helps them break out of jail and head for their new life in Mexico.
Rob Zombie has achieved the dirty, 70’s grindhouse aesthetic so well in 3 FROM HELL as he resurrects his characters from what you’d have deemed a bullet-ridden ending to once again reign terror on whoever they meet. Baby is still as crazy as ever, maybe even crazier than we’ve ever seen her, whilst Otis is the cool-headed, ruthless SOB he always has been. The new addition of Winslow fits in nicely as he too looks for his pound of flesh to tear up and pepper with bullets as the three look to escape the eyes of the authorities. Expect plenty of nudity, mindless murder and vulgar talk as you’ve come to expect from the series whilst the introduction to a rival gang outfit brings an interesting flavour as the setting moves to Mexico; think Rob Zombie meets Robert Rodriguez. Without a doubt, this is where the film develops its ideas and the role of the trio flips from being the villains to the sort of anti-heroes as for once they’re legitimately threatened. The only thing spoiling this, as such, is the use of cheesy lucha libre masks by the Mexican gang. Wearing white contrasting suits, looking like extras straight out of Saturday Night Fever, the gang sport red lucha libre masks whilst their boss wears all black with a black mask. This brings a novelty edge to what should be a serious threat but, like any opposition the three come up against, does it even matter in the long run?
3 FROM HELL is one for the fans of the series. Any other horror fan that doesn’t mind these films but can take them or leave them probably won’t find much here to get excited for other than Zombie’s knack for making gritty looking cinema. The story itself lacks real depth and feels like merely an extension of the Devil’ Rejects’ journey to see them return on top again with a splash of bloodied, comic-book extravaganza.