NOBODY PUTS BABY IN A CORNER
Written and Directed by Rob Zombie
With the exception of maybe 31, and House of 1000 Corpses, this might be the messiest and most aimless of Zombie's films, but—depending on what you're looking to derive from them—it may also be the most fun. If you enjoyed the road trip aspect of Devil's Rejects, the nihilistic antics of the firefly clan, and all the poetry of their banter, then you'll likely find enjoyment here.
Turning it way up on her manic, scatter-brained, unpredictable performance, Sheri Moon breaks the dial. You're either going to love Baby's excessive personality, or be cringed into total blackout. Bill Mosley is calm, cool, and collected as always, but still just as mad, just as nonsensical as anyone else in the troupe, waxing the most ridiculous bit of evil pontification ever heard (he made me laugh every time). And Richard Brake as Coltrane (compadre to Mosley's Otis) is as vile and juvenile as the rest of 'em. Unfortunately for us, he doesn't quite fill the personality hole left by Sid Haig's absence -- which is understandable. Captain Spaulding had a distinct personality that counterbalanced the rest of the fireflies. He was the dirty old sociopathic grandpa everyone loved, leaving some big shoes for Brake to fill (and not just because he played a clown).
Story wise, we open with the incarceration of the three bullet-riddled maniacs (who've somehow managed to survive the twenty plus rounds of ammo blasted at them at the close of Devil's Rejects). Eventually they recover, and through a sequence of events not shown on screen, Otis and Coltrane escape (but not without first murdering a couple inmates on the way out). Meanwhile, Baby loses her marbles in solitary, dreams of cat operas, and flirts constantly with her assigned CO. Things only escalate from here when her escaped brother and his escaped pal stage a ransom in hopes of getting Baby released. This leads to a brutal encounter with law enforcement (and their families), an uncomfortably hilarious meetup with an unfunny clown, and eventually a fateful road trip to Mexico.
The rest is standard fair Zombie-isms, affecting every aspect of production. Lots of grindhouse inspired low-fi footage, abrupt cuts, blurry freeze frames and sliding transitions to pepper the presentation. It's all familiar ground, but thanks to its dick-in-the-wind plot and heavy leaning on comedy, 3 from Hell feels uncharacteristically breezy. I dug it though.
If you haven’t enjoyed anything Rob has put out post ‘Devil’s Rejects’ it’s safe to say ‘3 From Hell’ won’t change your mind. At this point you either enjoy Zombie’s hellbilly horror or you loathe it. ‘3 From Hell’ plays out like an alt take on the fate of the Firefly gang that you would catch at a midnight grindhouse drive-in. It’s a mean spirited dark comedy with every RZ staple present: 70’s aesthetic, brutal violence, tits galore, stylish slo-mo, and a lot of mother fucking mother fuckers.
I fucking dug it. #FreeTheThree