My gore-soaked goblins, let’s keep carving our wretched road through horror as October marches onward! Yesterday we booked a stay at the Bates Motel via Hitchcock’s eternally influential Psycho. Today I prescribe indulging your bloodlust with Rob Zombie’s sadistic 2005 love letter to the grindhouse era, The Devil’s Rejects.
Now I know even we wicked things have our limits when it comes to on-screen brutality. But trust your old Auntie Macabre – The Devil’s Rejects wields its unrelenting carnage to weave a depraved modern exploitation classic. For open-minded fans, it earns its wicked wings as a white-knuckle homage to cinema’s grimiest grindhouse roots.
At the vile heart of it all is the Firefly Family – murderous matrizriarch Mama Firefly along with her gleefully vicious adult kids Otis and Baby. Imagine the Manson Family and Texas Chainsaw clan in a grungy grindhouse blender. When a vengeful sheriff besieges their rural house of horrors, the Rejects take their repulsive carnival act on the road.
What follows is a stomach-churning plunge into sun-bleached 70s hell as the Firefly gang terrorizes everything in their path. From assaults to torture to poetic executions, Rob Zombie wallows in the ugliness of his antiheroes. But the film proves sickeningly magnificent due to its filthy, retro aesthetic and balls-out performances.
As the Equalizer-esque sheriff on their trail, William Forsythe chews scenery with Nicholas Cage levels of overacting that suits the grimy vibe. And horror heroine Sid Haig, later known as Tarantino’s Captain Spaulding, exudes menace as Mama Firefly. But Rejects belongs to Bill Moseley’s Otis – few characters manage to be so utterly detestable yet magnetic.
The Devil’s Rejects taps into our primal fascination with society’s ultimate outsiders – those who completely reject morals and empathy for lives of impulse and carnage. And like it or not, embracing the Firefly Family’s repugnant acts feels cathartic, a temporary taste of unfettered id satisfying our darkest human urges.
So consider indulging your October bloodlust via Rob Zombie’s singular senses-assaulting exploitation throwback. But be warned – you may recoil from the abject horrors Zombie gleefully unveils. Yet those strong enough to travel into the gutter with the Devil’s Rejects will experience the grotesque glory grindhouse cinema offered in its grimiest heyday. Just bring a strong stomach and shower after.
Now before you rush to cue up The Devil’s Rejects this October, be warned – Rob Zombie’s grindhouse ghastly gem is not currently available on any major streaming services. Your best bet is to rent or purchase it through platforms like Amazon Prime, Apple TV, YouTube or Google Play.
Of course, the Analog Age lends itself perfectly to discovering The Devil’s Rejects. Those willing to embrace grindhouse grit and grime as physical media can find copies on DVD and Blu-Ray. Horror hounds and cinephiles seeking Rob Zombie’s lurid exploitation throwback in all its filthy glory need look no further than their local library or video store.
So consider postponing a nostalgic trip to the video shop to pick up this blood-soaked blast from horror’s sleaziest past. Just wait until the little ghouls have gone to bed before cracking open Zombie’s NC-17 nightmare. Then after the end credits roll, rewind the VHS tape and slip it back into its clamshell case before returning to the Devil’s Rejects to your local Blockbuster.
Sometimes the forbidden fruits of fright play best on formats thought long dead and buried. For lovers of grindhouse grit, The Devil’s Rejects may be one of those lurid, lo-fi treats worth savoring in sullied analog.