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– by Daniel Tafoya

Baby, Otis and Captain Spaulding are back in Rob Zombie’s new film 3 From Hell. It closes out with a bang the trilogy he started with 2003’s House of 1000 Corpses and followed up with 2005’s The Devil’s Rejects. Left for dead at the end of the latter film, our three leads have a lot more violence left in them to perpetrate in this new movie.

All somehow miraculously survive the many gunshot wounds they suffered at the end of The Devil’s Rejects and find themselves behind bars. They are cult figures, with many fans out in the real world hoping for their release. Spaulding ends up being executed rather quickly, but Otis is able to escape prison with the help of his half brother Winslow Foxworth Coltrane. They then take the warden of Baby’s prison hostage and force him to spring her from the hoosegow. After some brutal killings bring attention back their way, the three decide to flee to Mexico where, of course, they’re not safe either. It all comes down to a big pistol-packing standoff with a Mexican gang leader, seeking revenge, and his foot soldiers in a town center. Will the 3 From Hell survive? And if so, how many more people, innocent and guilty alike, will die at their hands?

Shifting gears from the previous installments in this series, 3 From Hell is not really a horror movie. There are many violent acts portrayed but they are done so pretty matter of factly, rather than in a way intended to surprise or scare. And trust me when I say there are plenty of killings, all hyper-violent and bloody. Things never come across as titillating though. I would go so far as to call this film almost a drama that just happens to contain much murder and death.

I was not opposed to that tack that was taken myself. I wasn’t a big fan of the first two films with these characters but was drawn in by this movie. Sheri Moon Zombie as Baby was quite entertaining as the off her rocker killer queen we’ve come to know well. What I didn’t find particularly charming before was quite funny here. Baby is completely out there and a formidable foe when her back is against the wall.

Bill Moseley as Otis and Richard Brake as “Foxy” have a little fun as a sort of very dark comedy duo when they are on the run. The brothers are simultaneously scary and entertaining as they terrorize unlucky passersby and later hostages in their quest to free Baby.

Rob Zombie films this story in a very clear visual throwback to 70s films, especially of the horror kind. Grainy handheld shots and zooms harken back to the likes of the original Last House on the Left and Texas Chainsaw Massacre. While nothing new, as these influences have been obvious previously in his oeuvre, they work well to serve the story here and give it an almost documentary, fly on the wall feel.

Fans may be disappointed in this threequel by the lack of scares or the short shrift given to fan-favorite Captain Spaulding, but I, for one, enjoyed this new installment in director Zombie’s Firefly trilogy. While it only played briefly in theaters for three nights earlier this week, 3 From Hell will soon come out on Blu-Ray, DVD, digital and On Demand on October 15th. Give it a chance if you’re at all a fan of the first two movies or just willing to give Zombie another shot as a director of entertainingly violent fare.

Recommended if you liked: The Devil’s Rejects, House of 1000 Corpses, Lords of Salem

FINAL GRADE: B+

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