3 from Hell is the third and seemingly final leg of the Firefly family saga.
Rob Zombie has returned in the kind of exhibition model that seems to be how his films are getting released anymore. Things have changed from The Devil’s Rejects opening wide all those years ago. While some don’t dig his Halloween remakes, they opened big too. Now, Zombie works on the periphery while the Conjuring and other spooky horror ruins the expectations of a generation.
American horror has always been the biggest slave to business in film history. Shot for cheap and meant to entertain the masses, artists have struggled to find ways to tell carefully crafted stories within this format. If you get too arty, you lose the audience. When you become a slave to the audience, you make a suspenseful thriller and not true horror. All the while, your budgets grow slimmer and studio eyes linger on your art.
3 from Hell lingers in my mind
I hate it when films remind of an actor’s mortality. Sid Haig will not be with us that much longer and we should appreciate every moment this talent graces the screen. The film is quick to dispatch him, but it makes sense. Richard Brake does his best to fill in for Haig, but you know it’s not the same thing. While most of the Firefly family is dead, things hurt a little bit more knowing that Captain Spaulding doesn’t get to take this final ride.
The love of 70s cinema empowers this film. I’m not going to call Zombie the next Peckinpah. Too many people have tried to ape the master macho director and fell down face first. Zombie pays homage, but his work belongs closer to the Girdlers and Starretts of the world. Due to the sheer flood of media that now populates our world, it becomes easier for the underground to grow larger and larger. We live in an era where the bland and prudish control everything from purse stringers to the mainstream’s attention.
I am here to do the Devil’s work
Coming on the heels of Tarantino’s Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, Bill Moseley’s character leaning into the Manson overtones feels undercooked. What once worked in Devil’s Rejects now has such a spotlight on it that it farts out. The nature of violence in our cinema is changing and it’s not necessarily being watered down. It’s just that in 14 years, what was shocking is now commonplace. It’s not enough to make someone wear someone else’s face. You have to understand the character work.
Moseley, Brake, Moon Zombie and even Haig make you believe in this familial band of rogues. They have a shot at starting their mayhem over again in Mexico, but will they make it? Regardless of the little people that drag them back into action, you have a feeling that you know what motivates these characters. Even if they could get away clean, they wouldn’t.
These goons want to kill. Blood lust is a real thing and it’s super apparent in 3 from Hell.
3 from Hell almost goes straight to hell
What ultimately hurts 3 from Hell is the same thing that draws the normie response from certain sites. Rob Zombie is a visually driven director who wants to share his love with movies. Given his access to talent, production funds and general release…it makes it super easy to indulge. It’s just that we live in a time of sheltered audiences who can’t understand the pleasure of decadence and indulgence. Couple that with their growing distaste for violence and 3 from Hell can feel like a movie out of time.
That time can come again. I think we’re all tired of those Annabelle movies.