WARNING: The following review contains spoilers.
After such a long wait, I was super excited to finally be able to screen 3 From Hell as part of a Fathom Events three-night only theatrical release. The movie was long overdue.
Rob Zombie created quite a name for himself when he made his directorial debut of House of 1000 Corpses in 2003. While the studios didn’t care for the picture; horror fans embraced Zombie’s film and praised him for the creation of horror icon Captain Spaulding. The genre had been hurting for a new icon character. Zombie created Captain Spaulding and Sid Haig perfected him.
In 2005, Rob Zombie followed up House of 1000 Corpses with The Devil’s Rejects. The Devil’s Rejects was a solid film. I really liked it. I liked how he improved upon Otis’s character with a new look. Otis and Captain Spaulding had some fantastic dialogue in the film.
Captain Spaulding’s “What’s the matter, kid? Don’t ya like clowns? Don’t we make ya laugh? Aren’t we fuckin’ funny? You best come up with an answer, cos I’m gonna come back here and check on you and your momma, and if you ain’t got a reason why you hate clowns, I’m gonna kill your whole fucking family.”
How about Otis’s line when he said “Boy, the next word that comes out of your mouth better be some brilliant fuckin’ Mark Twain shit. ‘Cause it’s definitely getting chiseled on your tombstone.” Or when he said, “I am the devil, and I am here to do the devil’s work.” (Side note: Rob Zombie copied that from Charles Manson’s cult follower Charles ‘Tex’ Watson. Tex actually said “I am the devil; I am here to do the devil’s business.”) I digress, but you get the point, The Devil’s Rejects was raw and good.
Now in 2019, Rob Zombie decided after 15 years to breathe new life into these once dead characters. Zombie was armed with the support of Lionsgate Films and a 3 million dollar budget. I was rooting for Rob Zombie. I was hoping he would create something magical with these amazing characters
After watching 3 From Hell, all I can say is 3 From Hell sucks, and Rob Zombie needs to wake the fuck up! I can’t believe this is the best you can do.
Rob, you are a rock and roll legend. You are more human than humans. But you are too much Hollywood and not enough raw indie horror filmmaker. You are supposed to push the barriers. Not give us crap.
This film may cost Rob Zombie his movie-making career. He may have to go back to directing Woolite commercials. Yes, Rob Zombie directed a Woolite commercial.
3 From Hell picked up where The Devil’s Rejects left off. Baby, Otis, and Captain Spaulding was riding down the road when they were gunned down by a barrage of bullets. Instead of dying, the three were wounded. Each of them was shot twenty times.
After recovering from their wounds, Baby, Otis, and Captain Spaulding were placed on trial for the numerous murders they were involved in.
The trials consist of a quick montage of interviews with people who support the 3 cut with B roll of Baby, Otis, and Captain Spaulding. The whole montage had that sixties Manson Family trial feel to it.
Within the first ten to fifteen minutes of the movie, Captain Spaulding is put to death. You read that correctly. Rob Zombie killed Captain Spaulding off in the first ten to fifteen minutes of 3 From Hell. WTF, Rob? You save Captain Spaulding from twenty gunshot wounds only to put him to death. Only giving him about 5 minutes of screen time.
Aside from b-roll, Captain Spaulding was only in the movie for that one scene where he was giving an interview to a reporter. I understand that Sid Haig could have been limited in his involvement due to personal health reasons. I understand that. We wish Sid Haig the best and hope that his health improves. But as a writer and director, Rob Zombie should have just killed off Captain Spaulding in the barrage of gunfire that ended The Devil’s Rejects. That would have been more respectable than what he did.
Rob Zombie let Spaulding survive so that he could use Spaulding as a marketing tool for 3 From Hell. Moviegoers went to the theater in hopes of seeing Spaulding in action only to see him die within the first ten to fifteen minutes. That is an extremely disingenuous thing to do to your fans.
After Spaulding is put to death, Otis escapes from a work detail with the help of his half-brother, Winslow Foxworth Coltrane (Richard Brake). During his escape, Otis kills Rondo (Danny Trejo). They run around for awhile doing not much of nothing before they go to Warden Virgil Dallas Harper’s (Jeff Daniel Phillips) house. They hold the Warden’s friends and family hostage so that the warden will break Baby out of prison.
Baby is sprung from prison by the Warden. She is reunited with Otis and Winslow. They kill the Warden, the Warden’s wife, the Warden’s friends, and a random birthday party clown. The killings felt stale and much like a copycat of the action at the hotel in The Devil’s Rejects.
The 3 leave the Warden’s house and go to Mexico. They get a room in a run-down hotel. The hotel owner informs Rondo’s son played by Emilio Rivera. Rondo’s son leads his men dressed in Mexican wrestling masks and suits to the hotel. There they attempt to kill the 3 but fail.
I guess that leaves room for the 3 From Hell which consists of Baby, Otis Firefly, and Winslow Foxworth Coltrane to come back in another sequel in fifteen years or whenever some gullible executive producer decides to greenlight a Rob Zombie film.
Richard Brake and Bill Moseley did a fair job in the film. Richard Brake’s character was very flat. I blame that Rob Zombie’s writing for the lack of memorable dialogue. Sheri Moon Zombie wasn’t convincing in her portrayal of Baby Firefly for most of the film.
There were a few good moments, but they were few and far between. I don’t say this often. But 3 From Hell sucked. I would have walked out in the first thirty minutes, but I needed to stay just to see how bad it really did suck. Rob Zombie’s 3 From Hell was like a Little Engine That Could but it didn’t make it.
If Rob Zombie doesn’t wake up, I can’t foresee him directing many more films. Lionsgate is set to release 3 From Hell on 4K UHD, Blu-Ray, DVD, and On Demand on October 15, 2019.
Check out the trailer and let me know your thoughts.