I have really enjoyed all of Rob Zombie’s films, and I’m happy to say that 3 From Hell is no exception, a wild and graphic continuation of the Firefly family saga that started in 2003 with the modern Halloween classic House of 1000 Corpses and continued with the intensely brutal 2005 sequel The Devil’s Rejects.
The film is in many ways the ultimate Rob Zombie sequel, a mashup of many of his best characters and favorite actors, remixed and in some cases retrofitted into the world of Bill Moseley’s Otis Driftwood and Sherry Moon Zombie’s Baby Firefly, the brother-sister two-thirds of the Rejects, which also included the late great Sid Haig’s Captain Spaulding.
Haig of course makes an all too brief appearance reprising the iconic role of Spaulding one more time, all of which is much more bittersweet than it already would have been since his unexpected passing in September, just five days after 3 From Hell‘s release. In such a blood soaked tale of violence, there ar some actual heart-tugging moments when Otis and Baby talk about missing their dad, Spaulding.
There is another unexpectedly heartfelt scene in which Baby talks to Pancho Moler’s (31, Candy Corn) scene stealing character Sebastian about her dead brother Tiny, played in the first two films by the late Matthew McGory. Moler is phenomenal and makes the absolute most of his limited screen time, as Sebastian becomes the surprising heart of the film in the final act.
Stepping in as the newest member of the family to be introduced, it is Richard Brake’s Foxy “Midnight Wolfman” Coltrane who rounds out the actual 3 From Hell the title refers to. I loved Brake’s unhinged turn as Doom-Head in Zombie’s Halloween funhouse of a film, 31, but he’s even more fun (and funny) as the entrepreneurial movie-loving Foxy, the half-brother of Otis and Baby.
Moseley and Moon Zombie slide the roles back on like a well-worn pair of jeans, a little older and little more crazy, but never more deadly and assured of their place in this twisted universe. After 10 years in prison, Baby is wackier than ever, and while age may have mellowed Otis a bit, there’s still fire, piss, and fight in him.
Ultimately, Zombies’s biggest achievement with this trilogy of films is how he has so effectively managed to make us feel for, sympathize with, and even maybe love these truly despicable, dementedly evil characters.
There are plenty of fun callbacks to both Corpses and Rejects, as Otis skins a face, Baby’s still ready to get fucked up and “do some fucked up shit”, and Dr. Wolfenstein’s Creature Feature Show is still on the air.
And Hell even takes place over Halloween and into a Dia de los Muertos (Day of the Dead) party in Mexico.
The Blu-ray includes an extensive four-part documentary, “To Hell and Back: The Making of 3 From Hell” (the DVD only includes the 30-minute Part 1 of the doc), and the 4K and Blu-ray discs both feature the unrated cut, which is about four minutes longer than the theatrical version of the film, with a run time of 1:55.
With more than an hour and 40 minutes of behind the scenes footage, the documentary follows every aspect of the production, from the moment Moseley, Haig, and Moon Zombie first reunited through the entire 20-day shoot. You’ll likely be surprised at how much of the blood and blades are actually CGI effects, as I marveled at what a chill set it seemed to be for such a frenetic movie.
I was beyond thrilled to see that the Blu-ray also includes a feature length commentary track by Zombie, a bonus that has become increasingly rare on many recent releases, and I loved taking a deep dive through all of his directorial choices and fun stories about filming.
Hell has no fury like the most lovable family of mass murderers ever put on screen.
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