3 FROM HELL (REVIEW)
Dir. Rob Zombie
Reviewer. Martyn Wakefield
Ever since the death of the Firefly family left us in an embrace of emotions hearts have been left empty. After the degenerate family butchered their way through America running from a police force full of revenge, the world of horror cinema has waited patiently to see whether there would be more...
Well, 14 years later, the most reviled family in America somehow return. Let's cut to the chase (as director Rob Zombie has), the remnants of the family are kept alive despite the hundreds of bullets taken at the climax of the previous film and after 10 years in prison, finally get their chance to escape. From the outset it's clear Zombie has no ambition to elaborate on how we got here, this is about what happens going forward. Despite Sid Haig's passing before this film finally got made, he is quickly brushed under as a death in prison.
Making new friends on the outside, Baby (played, of course, by Rob's wife Sheri Moon) and Otis (Bill Moseley) meet up with estranged family member Winslow (Richard Brake) who proves less of a replacement for Haig's Spaulding and instead is the evil twin to Otis. Over the years Zombie hasn't toned down and there's more of the same macabre fascination with wounds and, thankfully, practical effects to keep hardened fans happy. IT is however surprising, that despite an absence of the Firefly family for so long, the likes of 31 and LORDS OF SALEM have proven there's still some fresh blood left in this zombie, so why does this feel like it was forced to be made? Maybe it's the fan pressure, maybe it's personal, whatever the reason, the magic touch he had seems to be absent and I'm sure many fans of both the series and Zombie's other work, would agree.
As for the plot, well this is a contained piece and feels more like a western made by Robert Rodriguez than the horror films the previous films were. Zombie's trademark nastiness is here and there is blood at every turn however there's really nothing to be afraid of here as the Firefly family focus on hiding than terrorising the world.
Has the wait been worth it? Was it worth returning the characters to screen? In short, no. What 3 FROM HELL does successfully is remind us how great THE DEVIL'S REJECTS still is and how the sometimes what the fans want, isn't what they need. This threequel is more focussed on introducing new characters than closing the series. The likes of Brake, who add a sinister charm but nothing majorly new that Moseley hasn't done before and Jeff Daniel Phillips arrives as a new Deputy on the hunt are just add-ons fit in like they've arrived in the last episode of a 19 year long series.
Maybe it's expectations set too high from the brilliant predecessors but it feels more like an epilogue than a full fledged film. There's no mention of the supernatural experiments of Dr Satan featured in HOUSE OF 1,000 CORPSES and events from the previous films are glossed over at max. The events here could have been a prequel to both films, an origin story or even life before they were hunted by the police would have opened up for a more interesting premise however at this point, 3 FROM HELL proves you can't sell the dead.