Thursday, October 31, 2019

3 FROM HELL (2019) (DVD Review)

3 FROM HELL (2019) 

Label: Lionsgate

Region Code: 1
Rating: R 
Duration: 115 Minutes
Audio: English Dolby Digital 5.1 with Optional English Subtitles 
Video: Anamorphic Widescreen (1.85:1) 
Director: Rob Zombie
Cast: Sheri Moon Zombie, Bill Moseley, Richard Brake, Jeff Daniel Phillips, Danny Trejo, Sid Haig, Bill Oberst Jr, Dee Wallace

This sequel might come as a bit of a surprise to some after the events in The Devil's Rejects (2005), a film which sure looked like it put the final nail in he coffin for the Firefly clan. The opening explains it all through newsreel footage showing the million-to-one recovery of the clan after being shot up like Swiss cheese, the ensuing trial for their heinous crimes and eventual incarceration. We catch up with the Firefly's ten years later still in prison, with Captain Spaulding (Sid Haig, Pit Stop) giving an interview shortly before his execution. That's right, my favorite member of the Firefly clan is gone too soon from this one! Obviously Haig was in poor health while making this, passing away not too long after the film's opened in the cinema, so what can you do? I will say that for what he does show up for onscreen is memorable stuff and won't disappoint fans!

While in prison the surviving Firefly clan have really captured the macabre imagination of the youth, with both Otis (Bill Moseley, Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2) and Baby (Sheri Moon Zombie, Lords of Salem) developing a bit of a cult-fan following, with the film continuing to play with the idea that the Fireflys are strange anti-heroes, with the authority figures not being much better than the killers. While we don't get anyone as unhinged as Sheriff Wydell from The Devil's Rejects (2005), we have corrupt prison warden Virgil Harper (Jeff Daniel Phillips, Halloween II), and his right-hand lady Greta (Dee Wallace, Cujo), the latter of whom really develops a distaste for Baby when she breaks her nose during a parole hearing. 

While on a work detail outside of the prison walls Otis manages to escape with the help of his half-brother Winslow 'Foxy' Coltrane (Richard Brake, 31), and the pair set about hatching a plan to spring Baby from the slammer, which involves kidnapping the Warden's wife, forcing the warden to sneak Baby out of prison disguised as a guard. The newly reunited Firefly trio meet-up at the warden's home and celebrate with a bloodbath in true Firefly style, making their captives extremely uncomfortable before killing them all, then fleeing to Mexico where they end up facing off against a brutal crime syndicate out for their blood. 

Rob Zombie's films are a bit of an acquired taste, and while I admit I am not a fan of his Halloween films I sort of dig his white trash aesthetic, he's got good feel for scumbags characters and a good eye for stuff that looks cool on film, though his dialogue, while entertaining on a base level, is oftentimes ridiculous, and this film is no exception. It was great to see Bill Mosely back in his Otis wig, after Chop Top from TCM2 I think this is his defining role. I also love having Sherri Moon Zombie back as the shrill-voiced Baby, this is a role that she was born to play, the demented killer-girl with a maniacal laugh, and this time she plays it even more detached, so strange in fact that Otis feels the need to make comment of it! With Captain Spaulding is largely missing from the film newcomer Winslow 'Foxy' Coltrane (Richard Brake) manages to capably fill the void, my favorite scene of his is a brain-splattering encounter in the woods with a hunter played by Bill Oberst Jr. (Dis), with a fun bit of trashy dialogue exchanged. 

If you're one of those people who love seeing familiar faces in small roles be on the lookout for Danny Trejo returning as as Rondo from The Devil's RejectsAustin Stoker (Assault on Precinct 13) as a newscaster,
Sean Whalen (The People Under the Stairs), Richard Edson (Ferris Bueller's Day Off), and Clint Howard (The Funhouse Massacre) as an unfortunate party clown named Mr. Baggy Britches.   

Special Features: 
- Audio Commentary with Writer-Director Rob Zombie
- “To Hell and Back: The Making of 3 From Hell” Featurette (4-Part Documentary Available on 4K and Blu-ray, Only Part 1 Available on DVD)

3 From Hell (2019) will likely please die-hard fans of the first two films, if you're a Rob Zombie hater though this is not the film that's gonna change your opinion. I dig it, it's not on par with The Devil's Rejects but I'll watch this ten times before I watch House of a 1000 Corpses (2003) again, in fact I enjoyed it enough to order the unrated 4K UltraHD release, because what Lionsgate sent for this review was only the R-rated theatrical version DVD, which is cut and only includes the first-part of the four-part making of documentary.