3 from Hell Movie Review

Written by Stuart D. Monroe

Released by Lionsgate

3 from hell large

Written and directed by Rob Zombie
2019, 115 minutes, Rated R
Released on September 16th, 2019

Bill Moseley as Otis B. Driftwood
Sherri Moon Zombie as Baby Firefly
Richard Brake as Winslow Foxworth “Foxy” Coltrane
Sid Haig as Captain Spaulding
Jeff Daniel Phillips as Warden Virgil Dallas Harper
Dee Wallace as Greta
Emilio Rivera as Aquarius
Pancho Moler as Sebastian
Richard Edson as Carlos Perra
Clint Howard as Mr. Baggy Britches
Danny Trejo as Rondo

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I believe Rob Zombie, when he’s at his best, was put on this planet to test your sensibilities and boundaries and make you appreciate the universal truths of the world through an exceedingly violent palette. He once told Bill Moseley (after a take of that motel room scene in The Devil’s Rejects) that “art isn’t safe”.

Make zero mistakes about it: Zombie is at his best here, and his art is so far from safe that it feels a bit like parading through a pen full of starving dogs covered in raw steak.

3 from Hell continues the story of the presumed dead Devil’s Rejects: Otis B. Driftwood (Bill Moseley; Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2), Baby Firefly (Sherri Moon Zombie; The Lords of Salem), and Captain Spaulding (Sid Haig; Spider Baby) following their epic shootout with police. They survived at a million-to-one odds. The tables have turned, and the remaining members of the Firefly family are incarcerated and split apart ten years after their brush with death. A fortunate turn of events leads some of them to freedom and distant family. Soon, they’re off and running on the family mission – to do the Devil’s work. God may not be able to help anyone who crosses their path; He apparently loves a good family story.

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An unrepentantly violent and nasty family story is exactly what 3 from Hell is. If House of 1000 Corpses is the heavy metal, Day-Glo horror show homage to The Texas Chain Saw Massacre and The Devil’s Rejects is Zombie’s starkly beautiful Western, then 3 from Hell is National Lampoon’s Vacation with unapologetic shootings, stabbings, sexual assault, torture, gratuitous violence, gutter language, and criminal insanity; a true road movie with heart. Does that sound like lunacy? I mean, it is…but it’s also a movie that’s so true to the spirit of family bonds and the pursuit of happiness, those bonds produce that it’s hard not to be a little touched while you’re marveling at the dedication to hardcore excess.

3 from Hell is also another wonderfully shot exercise in the definition of auteur filmmaking. All the Rob Zombie staples are there: timely and occasionally ironic music (In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida!!), grainy grindhouse stylings, color juxtaposition for days, and an uber-talented ensemble cast where everyone brings something memorable to the table. I imagine that it’s damned impossible to not get up in a big way as an actor when Zombie calls your name because you know it’s going to be one unforgettable day at the office. His work isn’t for everyone, but when he gets you the connection is strong. The Devil’s Rejects surprised the world with his growth as a filmmaker; 3 from Hell will surprise you with his ability to further humanize the inhuman while making damn sure you know that a leopard doesn’t change its spots.

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I’m keeping it 100% spoiler-free for you because it’s the kind of movie where both the big reveals/questions (how the fuck did they survive all those gunshots?) and the little details (so that’s Baby’s real name!) keep you hooked. I just can’t ruin anything.

Richard Brake (31) continues to be a freakishly intense onscreen presence; the dude drips menace and sleaze. Dee Wallace as Greta, the guard obsessed with Baby, makes a stellar addition to the mythos and maximizes her screen time (no shocker there). My favorite little person, Pancho Moler, steals the show as Sebastian. He’s (dare I say) heartwarming, brave, and just plain cool. Emilio Rivera (Sons of Anarchy, Mayans M.C.) is the antagonist who brings that spot-on south of the border flavor to the proceedings. 3 From Hell is a true “there are no small parts” kind of film, one that shows the top to bottom importance of casting.

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Still, this is Otis and Baby’s movie. As an onscreen pair, their chemistry is pitch-perfect. As siblings, they’re utterly believable. That could figuratively be me and either of my siblings. They bicker, they party, they bail each other out. The fact that they mercilessly slaughter a cubic fuckton of people in the process is almost secondary. I laughed far more than I would have expected at the two of them together. Otis has grown more jaded and relatable; Baby has mentally left this planet. Sherri Moon Zombie is going for broke here in the best way possible.

3 from Hell perfectly caps off the trilogy with horror that doesn’t blink, mince words, or apologize. For Christ’s sake, it’s Rob Zombie. The man took 14 years to get us here. Did you expect anything less?

Now go and spend some time with your family. Do whatever gets you off.

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Movie: 4.5 Star Rating Cover

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Stuart D. Monroe
Staff Reviewer
Stuart D. Monroe is a man of many faces – father, husband, movie reviewer, published author of short horror, unsuccessful screenwriter (for now), rabid Clemson Tiger, Southern gentleman, and one hell of a model American who goes by the handle "Big Daddy Stu" or "Sir". He's also highly disturbed and wears that fact like a badge of honor. He is a lover of all things horror with a particular taste for the fare of the Italians and the British. He sometimes gets aroused watching the hardcore stuff, but doesn't bother worrying about whether he was a serial killer in a past life as worrying is for the weak. He was raised in the video stores of the '80s and '90s. The movie theater is his cathedral. He worships H.P. Lovecraft, Stephen King, and Clive Barker. When he writes, he listens obsessively to either classical music or the works of Goblin to stimulate the neural pathways. His favorite movie is Dawn of the Dead. His favorite book is IT. His favorite TV show is LOST.
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