3 from Hell – Film Review

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by Zakary McGaha

[NOTE: The passing of Sid Haig is quite a loss to the world of horror films. His iconic Captain Spaulding character from the original Firefly movie House of 1000 Corpses…created by Sid just as much as the person who wrote him into existence, Rob Zombie…was an icon. Everyone recognized the face. He was often-times quoted. For the early 2000s, he was basically Freddy Krueger for a short period of time. That being said, this review is not meant to be, in any way, disrespectful to Sid and his beloved character. Rather, it is a review of a film that, as fate would have it, didn’t feature Sid that much, despite the fact that he was originally going to be in it throughout the entire runtime. Health reasons prevented that from happening, and so we got Richard Brake’s new character: Foxy. Although I didn’t like 3 From Hell at all, it was worth it to see Sid in character as the demented, sadistic, business-savvy clown with a country drawl one last time.]

WARNING: THIS REVIEW CONTAINS SPOILERS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Ah, Rob Zombie. I have a love-hate relationship with his movies and music. The gist of it is: I think he’s okay, and sometimes pretty awesome…when he doesn’t have his filthy mitts on the Halloween franchise. See, he has his own style; his own flare. He’s a distinctive creator, and his music branches into his movies. It’s all one, cohesive whole. However, if you take said distinctive flare and mix it in a witch’s cauldron with the already-established, and much beloved, Halloween franchise…you get a nasty concoction that shouldn’t be.

Halloween aside, you could call me a Rob Zombie fan. The Devil’s Rejects, in my opinion, is one of the standout horror-films of the 2000s, and it’s probably destined to be remembered as such. In many ways, it was a perfect movie. You had great, interesting, psychopathic characters who were accustomed to having all the power. Various victims never escaped the Firefly family’s brutality. These killers were remorseless, wise-cracking hillbilly-esque folks who were very good at winning. They contrasted usual slasher villains in that they simply didn’t get caught, and when they were confronted by force…such as the police officers in House of 1000 Corpses…they always wound up on top. But The Devil’s Rejects changed that: the whole point of the movie was to see how these characters fared when they were being hunted not just by a crazy, vengeful cop and his deputies, but also by bounty hunters who were just as viscous, if not MORE viscous, than them. The end result was an amazing film that keeps the viewer constantly on the edge of their seat as the plot barrels forward to a super-climactic, ultra-violent, CONCLUSION in the form of a final blaze-of-glory that will forever be known as one of the best endings in horror history…

…At least, that would have been the case had 3 From Hell not come along and completely destroyed everything built in the previous entry.

To call 3 From Hell pointless would be an understatement. It’s a continuation of a story that’s already reached its conclusion and is resting peacefully in the Horror Graveyard. However, Rob Zombie came along, dug up the corpse, and then resurrected it in Frankenstein-like fashion. The end result is a story that’s half-alive, half-dead, with absolutely no sense of direction.

The movie opens in a cool-enough way: news-footage reveals that the Firefly family beat the odds and survived the shootout at the end of Devil’s Rejects, and they’re all ALIVE save for the recently-executed Captain Spaulding.

Also, Otis has escaped prison: while on a chain-gang, his half-brother Foxy…previously unmentioned in the past two films…comes along, shoots up the scene, and frees Otis.

Another familiar face had been on the chain-gang as well: Rondo, played by Danny Trejo. Otis promptly gets revenge and kills the defenseless bounty-hunter…who, strangely, doesn’t even remember who Otis is…before running off into the woods.

This is really where the movie starts going downhill and stops being new. Every plot-point from here on out is ripped from the previous film, down to the minute details.

We get:

  1. A clown, as opposed to the clown-wannabe of DR, unluckily interrupting the Firefly gang as they’re torturing their latest hostages. Like in DR, this clown also gets shot in the head.
  2. As mentioned in the previous entry, hostages…two couples, again…are held in their quarters by the family.
  3. One hostage, as opposed to the two in DR, is sent out to do the Firefly gang’s dirty-work while his loved-ones are held captive.
  4. Every hostage dies. One said hostage’s death even plays homage to both the “run rabbit run” scene from House of 1000 Corpses and the girl with the face-mask from DR who gets hit by the truck.
  5. The Firefly gang is on the lam.
  6. The Firefly gang takes up shelter at a seedy hotel in Mexico, where they party with hookers…which, of course, is a direct rip from DR when they were at Charlie’s bordello.
  7. The Firefly gang gets ambushed by Rondo’s son, who has been looking for them ever since Otis killed his father in the beginning. He is accompanied by his organized-crime outfit, The Black Satans, which run around wearing wrestling masks. Again, this is a direct rip from DR, when Sheriff Wydell, accompanied by his bounty-hunters, ambush the Devils at the bordello.
  8. Instead of killing the Firefly gang, Rondo’s son ties them up and tries to act tough, with heavy talk of justice and family and shit. Again, this is directly ripped from the last part of DR where Sherriff Wydell does the same thing.
  9. The Firefly gang escapes and kills the spurned family-member who’s only trying to avenge his father…which, OF COURSE, is what happened to Sherriff Wydell in DR, although he came closer to killing the Devils. If only he would’ve been privy to Tiny…

Sound familiar? Yeah, I thought so. There are probably some other things I missed. To call this movie a derivative waste of time would be accurate and neither under or overstated. Was it fun? Yeah, but it didn’t have the UMPH of a good story, like in Devil’s Rejects, to accompany it.

1/5 stars. I would’ve given it 2/5 had it not completely tarnished The Devil’s Rejects and negated its importance in the overarching Firefly-family story.

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