I saw Rob Zombie’s latest installment in the Firefly Family Saga, 3 From Hell, this evening. Before I begin my review and hurl some “first impression” thoughts your way, two things:
First, I’m a huge Rob Zombie fan, through and through. I’m telling you this because I don’t want you to mistake me for an impartial critic. I went into this movie knowing I would like it, or at least that I would find a way to like it. To put it bluntly, the stars of 3 From Hell could’ve stood in front of a green screen and ad libbed the entire movie with no direction whatsoever, and I still would’ve been on my knees ready to fellate the hell out of this movie.
Second, I’m going to spoil a few “professional” film critic reviews for you, so avert your eyes for a second if you’re looking forward to reading reviews from horror website who love to trash the latest horror movies:
“…fails to satisfy…too much fan service…” -Man Who Lives in Mom’s Basement
“Rob Zombie succeeds only in tarnishing his best film with aimless followup ‘3 From Hell.'” -Some Guy
“It just wasn’t artistic or intellectual enough for me. Anyone who knows me knows I’m really into smart horror movies that make me feel like the local genius for having viewed them. This movie made me horny, but not much else…” -Your Pretentious Friend Who Doesn’t Shut Up About How Much He Loves Intellectual Horror Movies But Can’t Quite Describe What Constitutes An Intellectual Horror Movie
Now that spoilers are out of the way, let me tell you everything that Rob Zombie got right with 3 From Hell.
For starters, Rob Zombie knows his audience, and he knows that 99.9% of the people who purposely seek out his movies are expecting something sleazy, violent, and absent of any sort of trigger warnings. I truly believe that the success of The Devil’s Rejects, at least in terms of being applauded by many of the big names in the horror industry, was a happy accident in a lot of ways. Rob Zombie obviously didn’t go through the entire filmmaking process asking himself, “How can I be taken super seriously as a filmmaker?” That’s not to say he didn’t carefully consider every artistic decision in the movie, but he did so on his own terms. Nobody does Rob Zombie like Rob Zombie does Rob Zombie; Rob Zombie doesn’t give a fuck what you think of his world. And no, Rob Zombie doesn’t much care if you didn’t like Halloween, Halloween II, Lords of Salem, or 31. In fact, Rob Zombie is a little bit surprised you still bother to complain about how his films never quite live up to your petty little expectations….I mean, does it really look like he gives up even an inch of artistic ground to critics and their masturbatory hate reviews?
3 From Hell is no different. No, sir; this movie’s about as sleazy as sleazy gets, and it’s completely self-aware of how it’s going to be perceived by audiences who were hoping for something a little classier or “meaningful.” In one scene, Otis remarks of Baby, “You don’t know her like I know her, man. No….she’s really changed.” Perhaps I’m giving Rob Zombie too much credit, but I took this scene as a giant “FUCK YOU” to critics who are sitting in the theater scribbling their diatribes against how Rob Zombie’s either “forgotten his roots” or “lost touch with his own characters.”
Or maybe it wasn’t.
Again, I’m a Rob Zombie fan, and this is far from an impartial review.
Another thing Rob Zombie got right was the callbacks to his previous movies. Funny thing, but I’ve noticed that nobody ever gives a damn when superhero movies make callbacks to previous installments in their multi-million-dollar franchises…but when a horror movie does it, people complain that it feels cheap, or that it relies too much on the fan base of the previous movies.
Again, Rob Zombie doesn’t give a fuck what you think of his artistic decisions. Go re-watch The Devil’s Rejects if you get tired of the endless amount of callbacks to that and House of 1000 Corpses.” Chances are you pirated 3 From Hell, anyway, so it’s not like you’re losing any money with all your bitching…
For as frequent as the fanservice was, it never lacked entertainment value. The jokes landed every time, at least in the auditorium I watched the movie in. Most of the audience was wearing Rob Zombie t-shirts or dressed up as Captain Spaulding, so if you want the opinions of true fans, there you go. Critics will pan the movie to death for the fanservice alone, so if that’s something you don’t care for in horror movies, you probably won’t dig this movie much.
Finally, I especially liked the black comedy nature of 3 From Hell. In a way, it’s the best way Rob Zombie could’ve progressed with the story. The first movie, House of 1000 Corpses, was a hallucinatory acid trip with cartoonish and over-the-top characters and lots of “bad guy dialogue.” It wasn’t meant to be taken very seriously; as a wise friend of mine (who owes me $20 for a ride to Detroit in 2015) once said, “Horror movies are at their best when they don’t take themselves too seriously.” In the case of House of 1000 Corpses, it worked well. The second movie, The Devil’s Rejects, retconned a few things from the first movie, including the supernatural elements and some of Otis’s characterization, in order to create a more believable story that started off with a black and white picture of ‘Good Guys vs. Bad Guys,’ but then succeeded in making audiences really feel for the psychopathic villains, despite all their deeds. This worked, and nobody complained that it wasn’t very much like its predecessor.
For 3 From Hell, Rob Zombie pokes a bit of fun at audiences for falling in love with the despicable villains he’s created. Most of the first half hour of the movie involves protestors talking about how much they love “The Three” and declaring their status as symbols against the status quo or just plain proclaiming their love (i.e., boners) for Baby and Otis. Baby in particular lets fame go to her head; several times throughout the movie she exclaims, “I’m the star!” or tells everyone who hates her that she’s aware how they masturbate to thoughts of her, because she’s a sex symbol in the same way real-life serial killers become sex symbols for antisocial high school kids with Guns & Ammo subscriptions. In a way, it feels like Rob Zombie is saying, “I showed you the most despicable bastards I could come up with, and you all called me a genius for making them redeemable…and now I’m going to make you feel like shit for liking them.”
Now, I can understand how this might come off as insulting. For those of you suffering from Butt Hurt Syndrome (BHS), I recommend two Tylenol and a stiff drink, because you’re not going to make it through this movie with such thin skin in your rectums.
Maybe I’m the minority in this situation, or maybe I’m just plain wrong (hey, I fucking could be), but I really did like the endless amount of jokes in this movie. It was less of a horror movie and more of a horror-comedy, if we’re being honest. And you know what? I fucking loved it.
One of my favorite jokes involved a decision to relocate to Mexico.
Otis says, “We can’t go to Mexico, we don’t speak Mexican!”
Baby replies, very seriously, “Little kids speak Mexican! How hard can it be?”
I know, right? Har-har-har! Maybe the joke won’t quite land with you, but the Levis Commons Auditorium 12 I saw the movie in was absolutely cracking the hell up…so those of you who say things like “All the jokes in the movie failed!” can shut the hell up. Humor is obviously subjective, you see?
My only real complaint about the movie involves a spoiler you’ve likely already guessed: Captain Spaulding is barely in the movie. I’ve read some articles about the reasoning behind this, and apparently there were health issues involved which prevented Sid Haig from dedicating enough screen time to do his character proper justice.
But, as Spaulding himself tells us, “There is no justice in this world.”
I don’t know what else I can tell you about the movie without treading into spoiler territory. My final comment is this:
Watch the goddamn movie before deciding how to feel about it.
So many of you read shitty blogs like this, or articles from your favorite news source, and then you go see the movie with these opinions preset in your mind.
Be your own person.
Go see the movie. If you hate it, that’s fine. If you love it, that’s even better. But don’t let assholes like me or anyone else decide for you how much you love or hate Rob Zombie’s latest splatterpiece.
My verdict: 7/10 Fireflies
I’m really hoping Rob Zombie refrains from making a fourth movie, however. Three is enough; this is the logical stopping point, and there’s nowhere else to go from here.