Played By: Sid Haig, Bill Moseley, Sheri Moon Zombie
When Rob Zombie’s directorial debut, House Of 1,000 Corpses, premiered in 2003, very few, if any, critics and cinema purists expected a piece of high art. One of rock music’s most outlandish personalities, Zombie’s reputation as a nihilistic performer guaranteed that his brand of film would be just as maniacal; besides, no one anticipates much out of musicians turned filmmakers, anyway. So when people saw House Of 1,000 Corpses, an uneven freakshow crammed with great ideas and hazardous execution, the unhinged camerawork and nonsensical writing fell in line with the anticipation.
And that’s why Zombie’s follow-up, the far more serious The Devil’s Rejects, knocked fools on their asses two years later. Continuing the exploits of Corpses villains Captain Spaulding (Sid Haig), Otis (Bill Moseley), and Baby (Sheri Moon Zombie), The Devil’s Rejects forgets all about the first movie’s dark comedy. Zombie shoots the film’s open-road landscapes with true grit, giving his best movie to date the feel of a nightmarish western at times.
Mostly, though, The Devil’s Rejects is brutal horror, a distinction exemplified by a sequence in which one of the trio’s victims, wearing the face of her murdered lover, runs onto a highway for help and gets flattened by a speeding truck. Even if you know the scene is coming, it’s still a visceral shock. —Matt Barone