3 From Hell - 3 From Hell(Blu Ray) [Lionsgate - 2019]
3 From Hell finds controversial horror auteur Rob Zombie (literally) resurrecting the most popular characters of his career- whether you call it the third part in the Firefly trilogy, the third film in the House Of A 1000 Copses series, or The Devils Rejects sequel. Here’s 3 From Hell, and I must say after getting ready to be disappointed I was pleasantly surprised, if not wholly satisfied by what we have here. From Lionsgate here is the Blu Ray release of the film-bringing together a director's commentary & an hour & half making-of doc.
3 From Hell is the 8th film from horror rock star turned director Rob Zombie- aka Robert Bartleh Cummings. It’s his first film since the critical and horror fan slammed 31, which seemingly was the most clichéd & predictable take on his own distinct brand of foul-mouthed and brutal trailer trash horror. I’ll have to admit my interest in Zombie’s film work drifted after his more lo-key/ though contrived take of dread filled 1970’s filmmaking that was 2012’s The Lords of Salem. But I’d been a huge fan of both House Of 1000 Copses & The Devils Rejects, so when I saw Zombie was revisiting the now-classic/iconic characters of those two movies with 3 From hell I had to dip in- though was still somewhat cautious.Roger Batty
As with the other two films in the trilogy Zombie once again blends together a few exploitation sub-genres with 3 From Hell. The whole thing starts off clearly mimicking Charles Manson Documteries of the 70 with the Devils Rejects- Ortis(Billy Mosely), Baby(Sheri Moon Zombie) & Captain Spaulding( Sid Haig) recovering after their seemingly fatal gun down in the previous film- we get a mash-up of outside court footage, cult follower interviews, and aged news reels backed by sinisterly gurgling & droning retro synth tones. Then we switch into Women In Prison mode- as we follow the now very distributed & unbalanced Baby character- in this part of the film we get a totally unrecognizable Dee Wallace( The Howling, ET, Critters) giving a great gritty performance as prison warden Greta. As the film unfolds we dart into prison-get-away roughie, home invasion brutality, before shifting into Mexican cowboy with Lucha libre mask-wearing & machine gun gangsters.
The lead performances from both Mosely & Moon Zombie are great- as they really slipping back into their derange-yet- at times badass & darkly amusing characters well. Sadly Haig, who has since passed away, was too unwell at the point of filming to give his third to the film- so he gets a powerful & potent five-minute speech in prison. So instead the third place in the trio is taken up by Richard Brake- who plays Winslow Foxworth Coltrane, who is another member of ‘the family’- Brake fits in & plays off well with both Mosely & Moon Zombie as a scruffy-yet charming killer. As we’ve come to expect from Zombie film we get some great cameos from cult movie stars of the past, with the most memorable of these coming from Clint Howard as the bumbling party clown Mr. Baggy Britches.
Where my issues come with the film are threefold- firstly is the overuse of CGI gore, where in previous films the focus was on grimmer practical effects- more often than not 3 From Hell goes down the digital effects route, which sadly lessened both the impact & brutality of many scenes. Sure we still get a few effective particular effects here & there, and these look good enough- but not enough to detract from the mainly digital feel to the effects.
Next, this didn’t feel as brutal & extreme as Zombie’s other films- not sure if this was due to budget or something else, but there are not many scenes- aside from one-two- that truly shock/ shake you up.
And my last negative comes down to the films plotting- which at times felt somewhat wondering/ lacking purpose, with not until the last quarter any real threatening/ believable treat coming to the 3.
As I said in my opening- I was pleasantly surprised by 3 From Hell- as on the plus side it was great to see Mosley & Moon doing their stuff again, Brake makes as a good enough replacement to Haig. And though-out there's crudely amusing & badass dialogue, with some great set-ups along the way. I enjoyed the mockumentary/ Women In Prison part of the film, and the escape/ house invasion scenes had their moments, as do the Mexican western part of the film. It’s just a pity that the few negative elements, do sadly drag things down at points- all making this the lesser film of the trilogy.
On the extra side, we get a commentary track from Rob Zombie- this is as with the past tracks on his other films- very informative & unpretentious- full of facts/ observations on scenes, how the story developed/ changed as the production went along & location info- most directors commentary tracks are normally not great & very ego polishing- but Zombie always does a great job, and he does once again here. Next, we get an hour & a half doc about the making of the film- this is great and most worthy following the film from its early planning/ through to filming, and it's completion, with interviews with Mr. Zombie, Mosely, Brake, and others- as well as behind the scene footage. Zombie has done similar docs for his other films, and once again this is a wholly interesting & down-to-earth look at 3 From Hell production. So these certainly make it worth picking this release up in it's physical format
All in all I’m glad to say that 3 From Hell was a lot better than I was expecting it to be- and on the whole it’s a worthy third part to the trilogy. I do hope that this film will jump-start Mr. Zombies directional career again, because at one point he was one of the more promising new voices in horror cinema.