Sunday, March 18, 2007
The Devil's Rejects
So I’m always on the lookout for some good old-fashioned Horror flicks. A few months back I re-watched The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (the Tobe Hopper version, not the crap that just came out) and upon growing older and a little smarter about film I realized that it is a really well made flick. It’s beautifully shot and expertly edited. For a film most people think of as one of the bloodiest movies ever it’s actually edited in a way that shows very little of the gore. It’s the unknown and unseen off-camera that is truly disturbing about Tobe Hooper’s masterpiece. You’re more scared of what can happen than you are of what has happened. (Even though what has happened is scary as hell.) It enters into the psychological aspect of fear while simultaneously showing a chainsaw wielding, skin suit-wearing maniac on screen. That’s a pretty neat trick to pull-off as a filmmaker.
This kind of horror film is rarely made today. I think it’s a mixture of a few things that has led to the rather sad state of the present day horror movie genre. Studios are almost exclusively releasing focus group tested movies. Sure there are exceptions to this rule, but for the most part a big studio isn’t going to consider a low-budget horror flick when the can release Saw 4 with a built-in audience. Why make a Devil’s Rejects when you can do Saw 4 and/or make a Chainsaw remake with CGI and the latest WB actress that happens to be on the cover of Maxim? These kinds of movies have that “built-in audience” that grabs The Suits attention more than sitting through an unknown pitch. This stuff goes right on down to comics these days. Why are they pummeling fans with “Event Comics”? Because they sell and they know people will buy them no matter what.
All right, on to the real matter at hand. My reaction to the closest thing to a 1970’s low-budget horror flick: Rob Zombie’s The Devil’s Rejects.
I really dug about 2/3rds of this movie. It had a little Chainsaw, a little Last House on the Left and even a little Bonnie and Clyde. Zombie did some really nice things with the camera and some really nice use of Needle Drops along the way. They got a little repetitive and at times I wondered if they only used the Needle Drop because they paid for the rights to the song, but nevertheless I was impressed by the look of the film. While there were a lot of old horror homage scenes (Like Chainsaw and Last House) there was that twist to them that made them not come off as a total rip-off. The only thing that really bothered me was the last half hour. The pre-established characterization went out the window when it served the plot as well as the use of a rather convenient and confusing plot devise. (The deformed mongoloid that saved the day and then walked into a burning house as if the reason for doing so obvious to the viewer.) The car scene at the end just seemed weird to me, almost like it was an afterthought, but hey, who am I to complain? There weren’t any CGI monsters and bad acting like you see in flicks like Saw or The Hills Have Eyes. Which, I should confess I haven’t been able to sit through because I suddenly become a luddite when it comes to making horror movies. They should put a cap on Horror movie budgets and completely ban the use of CGI in every one. Prove me wrong, but I haven’t seen it work yet.
Anyway, if you’re a horror movie fan, check out Devil’s Rejects. It was a pretty solid flick…. Especially if you’re a fan of 70’s horror movies.
Thanks for reading,