Title: 3 From Hell
Release Date: September 16, 2019
Director: Rob Zombie
Release Format: Theatrical
Rob Zombie’s prolific trilogy returns as Baby, Otis Driftwood and Captain Spaulding return in all their gory glory in 3 From Hell. The trilogy started back with 2002’s House of 1000 corpses and it’s fantastic follow-up, The Devil’s Rejects. Sheri Moon Zombie, Bill Moseley, and the late, great Sid Haig all are back to reprise their iconic roles and are joined by Richard Brake as Otis and Baby’s half brother Winslow Foxworth Coltrane. The story follows the Firefly Family as they kill, maim, and torture their way through the three movies. The House of 1000 Corpses let us see the family in their horrific prime as they provided the screams from a group of unlucky teens as the horror slasher archetype villains. In The Devil’s Rejects, the fun is over as the gang goes on the run carving their way through the 1970’s southern states. The second movie ends as the gang meets their supposedly grisly demise at the hands of law enforcement. In 3 From Hell, through some apparent unholy miracle, the gang manages to survive and looks to escape confinement and get back to what they do best, become unmitigated chaos and murder to their hearts’ desire. So does this movie continue the thrills and chills of the original? Or will it become the Jason goes to Manhattan of the franchise?
Rob Zombie’s signature love of the Grindhouse 70’s style of cinema is all over his movies, from the rebooted Halloween series to the most recent 31. This movie makes no changes to that, as Zombie delivers his deliciously gritty take on what is happening with the Firefly family. Everything from the early trailers to the promotional posters suggested that Zombie would stay true to form and give the fans what they wanted. We even get a lovingly crafted 70’s style news cycle in the opening moments of the movie to catch us up on what the trio of sadists has been up to all the while throwing in the introduction of the newest Firefly, Winslow Foxworth Coltrane. That’s what I loved about this movie is that there is a lot of love put into it, Rob Zombie’s love for the grindhouse style, his love for the horror genre, and his love for blood and gore. But unfortunately, love and heart weren’t enough to raise this movie above its predecessors in terms of pure gory entertainment.
Toned Down Ultraviolence
As much as I loved the previous movies, even Rob Zombie’s take on the Halloween franchise, I’m going to finally come out and say I didn’t love 3 From Hell as much as I was hoping. It could be that I was purely riding the hype train, and I was looking forward to an awesome follow up to one of my favorite horror movies ever, The Devil’s Rejects. Now, not to say this movie is bad because it’s not at all. There are plenty of good ideas that never really feel like they come to fruition. An example is something I saw from the trailers where the Firefly family almost gets a Manson-esque following of people who believe that they didn’t commit the horrible crimes, and I was hoping that would have been followed through on and they would have broken the family out of prison. But like a lot of good ideas, it kind of just gets dropped.
Another issue I ran into is that everything seemed kind of toned down. In the previous movies, there was always one hyper-violent scene that bordered on uncomfortable. 3 From Hell tries that but it all just seems kind of toned down in terms of violence and how crazy and sadistic these characters can be. The other movies took an unflinching look at the violence these sick individuals inflict on the populace but in 3 From Hell, it seems like it flinches when the movie outright cuts away from a kill when in the last movies, the violence would have taken front and center stage. One issue, as you can probably tell by this review, is how this movie is constantly compared to the others. This does not seem like the third entry in a series. Everything in this movie is very middling. It’s smaller in scale than The Devil’s Rejects and coming off that epic, it just seemed like it would have worked better as the second entry rather than the third.
The final issue with this movie that I have is the focus on Sheri Moon Zombie’s character, Baby. Now, don’t get me wrong, Baby is a great character and Sheri Moon Zombie plays her particular kind of crazy perfectly. The main issue comes from that she works in little segments and not really as the main focus in the movie. There comes a point when her childish laugh just becomes grating, the particular way of talking becomes boring, certain parts I’d even call cliche and her particular story arc where she is locked up in solitary confinement and goes even more crazy kind of goes nowhere. That was the most disappointing part. Baby actually gets a story arch where Otis looks his partner and says, “she’s crazier than before, maybe even crazier than me.”. I was hoping that it would lead to some inner turmoil for the group but as I said, it gets dropped.
Quality Firefly Family entertainment
I know it’s seemed like I’ve been down on this movie, but these are just small nitpicks in what turns out to a good, if not great, edition to the Firefly family saga. The acting is superb with Richard Brake and Emilio Rivera as particular standouts, and Bill Moseley seeming like he’s having the time of his life as Otis slowly takes over as the leader and resident badass of the group. And while some storylines get dropped, the reunion of the Firefly family is a welcome one.
Verdict: While I may have had some particular gripes on the structure of the movie, it didn’t totally hinder my enjoyment of the film. This is a movie I’d recommend as a solid rental since it does have a particular niche audience, and if you liked it, I’d recommend buying it when it comes on sale or gets the inevitable 3 pack release with the other movies. 3 From hell had a very limited release in theatres with only select cities getting it for a few days, but it’s Blu Ray/DVD release is October 15.
Were you able to see the movie when it was in theatres? What did you think? Sound off in the comments below!
- Great acting
- Good third act
- Good overarching story
- Focus on Baby
- Weird pacing
- Doesn't seem like the third entry of a series