FearTASTIC Vault O’FUN #75
3 from Hell (2019)
Director(s): Rob Zombie
Writer(s): Rob Zombie
Starring: Sid Haig, Bill Moseley, Sheri Moon Zombie, Richard Brake
Let’s bring this home folks! I’ve already regaled you gals and ghouls with my love for the insanity train that is The Devil’s Rejects (CLICK HERE) and broke down the legitimate merits of House of 1000 Corpses (CLICK HERE). Now my friends, all good things must come to an eventual end with the final film in Rob Zombie’s Firefly Family trilogy, 3 From Hell.
Now, just a quick re-cap; all three flicks focus on the infamous/murderous/insane family of killers, known as the Firefly family. The first flick, House of 1000 Corpses was an obvious love letter to Texas Chainsaw Massacre …but on acid…the fun kind (is there any other?). The second flick, The Devil’s Rejects saw the Firefly family on the run from the (corrupt) law and leads to a nice tone of exploitation horror throughout the movie that never lets up and eventually leads to one of the most bad-ass horror movie endings to date. Walking into 3 From Hell, I made sure to erase my mind completely and try to watch this flick with fresh eyes. The best way to think about this flick was that this was an existing franchise that happened to have a new director. Like most franchises, different directors tend to take the same characters and try to explore something new, so although I know all three flicks are directed by the infamous Rob Zombie, his eccentricities throughout his career prove that he indeed, is three different directors for the Firefly trilogy so I was excited in my anticipation in how this “new” director would fare with these existing characters.
Right off the bat, from the slow burn scenes to the vintage call backs on tone and style (much more so than the first two flicks), I started to feel a sort of hip-ness that is usually not reserved for horror flicks. Cool? Yes. Exciting? Almost always. But this was different; watching the first 10 minutes of this new flick made me feel…hip. The music was recognizable but obscure enough to make you ask yourself who made the song and the style of the film oozed innovative Indie cinema…what the hell am I saying? Yet that’s how I felt at the time and it dawned on me that this director took the Firefly family and made them jump right into a hip Indie action flick in the style of Quentin Tarantino or Robert Rodriguez. That’s when it clicked that I was more than game. From what I can gather, we’ve already established that these characters were killers. They were also insane and have a blood lust that can only be quenched by ultra violence.
Where do we go from there? If Zombie made another road trip flick with killings along the way, I couldn’t help but feel content…but not happy. Zombie took a chance and gave more depth to these killers by having some snappy dialog with each other and even taking on a group of LEGIT bad guys, the organized kind that aren’t used to dealing with psychopaths. This flick bordered on ultra-violent action movie and I wouldn’t argue with anyone that put this flick in the action section of a streaming service. You have three killers that like to kill and you put them up against a gang, where the leader has a bone to pick with the killers…yeah, horror sure but let’s be open to the fact that this can definitely be something that can sit right next to a lot of Indie action flicks that are built on violence and revenge. I, for one, enjoyed the hell out of this action flick with familiar characters and I enjoyed the take on how to take a killer family and set them loose on organized crime. I finished the flick with a grin on my face and can finally close the book on the story of the Firefly family.
Having said that, I’m not sure I’m ready to let go yet.
For each sentence I write, I know that it’s another realization that Sid Haig’s Captain Spaulding will never really reach my gaze again in a new light. From now on moving forward, it’s more of a nostalgic statement or a historical fact; never again will I be able to exclaim that this new flick with Captain Spaulding is offensively entertaining and absolutely bonkers! With Sid Haig’s recent passing, it saddens me to know that he is now a legend that has passed us by and the character of Captain Spaulding; that depraved, psychopathic, horny clown is engrained in the horror realms of legend. Although his part was brief to say the least, he milked that one scene with as much Spaulding as possible to the point where it even seemed like his character knew it was time to go so he left us with one last image of hi flipping the bird to authority and showing no remorse for his hideous crimes.
With this in mind, 3 from Hell is not a Captain Spaulding movie, it feels like both a bookend and an experiment. Something familiar, yet simultaneously experimental. It could be said that this flick can be divisive amongst horror fans because in one hand, it certainly hits the notes of all the characters that we came to love from Zombie’s flicks but on the other, Rob refused to make the same movie again and if that’s something that is embraced, then I genuinely had a great time watching this flick. Expectations can often lead to disappointment and with a filmmaker like Rob Zombie, treating each flick like a game where you’re trying to figure out which love letter this movie belongs to, becomes incredibly fun. I applaud Zombie for taking a chance and I again, salute Sid Haig for being my Captain.
Life is FAR more interesting when we take interest in things that scare us.