The Devil's Rejects is a 2005 American horror film written and directed by Rob Zombie, and the sequel to his 2003 film House of 1000 Corpses. The film is about the family of psychopathic killers from the previous film now on the run. At the time of its release and in the years since, the film has garnered a cult film|cult following.
Seven months after the events of House of 1000 Corpses, Texas Sheriff John Quincey Wydell (William Forsythe), and a large posse of State Troopers issue a Search and Destroy on the Firefly family for over seventy-five homicides and disappearances over the past several years. They begin a full-scale attack when the Firefly family fires on them. During the firefight, Tiny (Matthew McGrory) goes missing, Rufus (Tyler Mane) is killed, and Mother Firefly (Leslie Easterbrook) is taken into custody while Otis (Bill Moseley) and Baby (Sheri Moon) escape. Otis and Baby take refuge at a run-down motel, where they torture and murder four of the five members of Banjo and Sullivan, a traveling country band. Baby's father, Captain Spaulding (Sid Haig), meets Baby at the motel. Otis arrives a few minutes later and all three leave the motel together in the band's van. The last member of the band is accidentally killed when she runs out to the highway to seek help.
Meanwhile, Wydell slowly begins to lose his sanity when Mother Firefly reveals that she murdered his brother. After having a dream in which his brother urges him to avenge him, Wydell stabs Mother Firefly to death. The surviving Fireflies gather at a brothel owned by Captain Spaulding's brother, Charlie Altamont (Ken Foree), where he offers them shelter from the police. After leaving the brothel to purchase some chickens, Charlie is threatened at gunpoint by Wydell to give up the Fireflies. With the help of a pair of amoral bounty hunters known as the "Unholy Two," the sheriff takes the family back to the Firefly house where he delights in torturing them with similar methods they had used on their own victims. He nails Otis' hands to his chair and staples crime scene photographs to Otis' and Baby's stomach, beats, and shocks Captain Spaulding and Otis with a cattle-prod, and taunts Baby about the death of her mother.
Wydell lights the house on fire and leaves Otis and Spaulding to burn while taking Baby outside to murder her. Charlie returns to save the Firefly family, but is brutally axed by Wydell. It is only the last minute intervention of Tiny that saves the Firefly family; Tiny returns and snaps Wydell's neck. The family shares a brief tearful reunion as Tiny walks into the blazing house. Otis, Baby, and Spaulding escape in Charlie's car, leaving Tiny behind. The film's final scene has the trio driving into the middle of a police barricade, with no sound heard except Lynyrd Skynyrd's "Free Bird." As the song climaxes, they grab their guns and go forward in a final blaze of glory, apparently being shot to death by the police. The order of the deaths, as shown in freeze-frames, is Baby, then Otis, then Spaulding.
- Sid Haig as Captain Spaulding
- Bill Moseley as Otis B. Driftwood
- Sheri Moon Zombie as Baby Firefly
- Tyler Mane as Rufus T. Firefly
- William Forsythe as Sheriff John Quincey Wydell
- Ken Foree as Charlie Altamont
- Matthew McGrory as Tiny Firefly
- Leslie Easterbrook as Mother Firefly
- Dave Sheridan as Officer Ray Dobson
- E.G. Daily as Candy
- Michael Berryman as Clevon
- Danny Trejo as Rondo
- Diamond Dallas Page as Billy Ray Snapper
- Brian Posehn as Jimmy
- Kate Norby as Wendy Banjo
- Priscilla Barnes as Gloria Sullivan
- Lew Temple as Adam Banjo
- Geoffrey Lewis as Roy Sullivan
- Tom Towles as George Wydell
- P. J. Soles as Susan
- Deborah Van Valkenburgh as Casey
- Ginger Lynn Allen as Fanny
- Mary Woronov as Abbie
- Daniel Roebuck as Morris Green
- Steve Railsback (uncredited) as Sheriff Ken Dwyer
When Rob Zombie wrote House of 1000 Corpses, he had a "vague idea for a story" about the brother of the sheriff that the Firefly clan killed coming back for revenge. After Lions Gate Entertainment made back all of their money on the first day of Corpses theatrical release, they wanted Zombie to make another movie and he started to seriously think about a new story. With Rejects, Zombie has said that he wanted to make it "more horrific" and the characters less cartoonish than in Corpses, and that he wanted "to make something that was almost like a violent western. Sort of like a road movie." He has also cited films like The Wild Bunch, Bonnie and Clyde and Badlands as influences on Rejects. When he approached William Forsythe about doing the film, he told the actor that the inspiration for how to portray his character came from actors like Lee Marvin and Robert Shaw. Sheri Moon Zombie does not see the film as a sequel: "It's more like some of the characters from House of 1000 Corpses came on over, and now they're the Devil's Rejects."
Zombie hired Phil Parmet, who had shot the documentary Harlan County USA because he wanted to adopt a hand-held camera/documentary look. Principal photography was emotionally draining for some of the actors. Sheri Moon Zombie remembers a scene she had to do with Forsythe that required her to cry. The scene took two to three hours to film and affected her so much that she did not come into work for two days afterward.
Rejects went through the MPAA eight times earning an NC-17 rating every time until the last one. According to Zombie, the censors had a problem with the overall tone of the film, specifically, they did not like the motel scene between Bill Moseley and Priscilla Barnes and so Zombie cut two minutes from it but restored them on the DVD version.
While Rob Zombie himself is a musician, he decided to go with more southern rock to create the mood of the film. The soundtrack itself was notable as being one of the first to be released on DualDisc, with the DVD side featuring a making of featurette for the film and a photo gallery.
The Devil's Rejects was released on July 22, 2005 in 1,757 theaters and grossed USD $7.1 million on its opening weekend, recouping its roughly $7 million budget. It made $17 million in North America and $2.3 million in the rest of the world for a total of $19.4 million.
The film had mixed reviews with a 55% rating on Rotten Tomatoes and a 53 meta-score on Metacritic. Prominent critic Roger Ebert enjoyed the film and gave it three out of a possible four stars. He wrote, "There is actually some good writing and acting going on here, if you can step back from the [violent] material enough to see it". Later, in his review for The Hills Have Eyes, Ebert referenced The Devil's Rejects, writing, "I received some appalled feedback when I praised Rob Zombie's The Devil's Rejects, but I admired two things about it [that were absent from The Hills Have Eyes]: (1) It desired to entertain and not merely to sicken, and (2) its depraved killers were individuals with personalities, histories and motives". In his review for Rolling Stone, Peter Travers gave The Devil's Rejects three out of four stars and wrote, "Let's hear it for the Southern-fried soundtrack, from Buck Owens' "Satan's Got to Get Along Without Me" to Lynyrd Skynyrd's "Free Bird," playing over the blood-soaked finale, which manages to wed The Wild Bunch to Thelma and Louise".
In her review for the New York Times, Dana Stevens wrote that the film "is a trompe l'oeil experiment in deliberately retro film-making. It looks sensational, but there is a curious emptiness at its core". Entertainment Weekly gave the film a "C+" rating and wrote, "Zombie's characters are, to put it mildly, undeveloped". Robert K. Elder, of the Chicago Tribune, disliked the movie, writing "[D]espite decades of soaking in bloody classics such as the original Texas Chainsaw Massacre and I Spit On Your Grave, Zombie didn't absorb any of the underlying social tension or heart in those films. He's no collage artist of influences, like Quentin Tarantino, crafting his movie from childhood influences. Rejects plays more like a junkyard of homages, strewn together and lost among inept cops, gaping plot holes and buzzard-ready dialog".
Horror author Stephen King voted The Devil's Rejects the 9th best movie of 2005 and wrote, "No redeeming social merit, perfect '70s C-picture cheesy glow; this must be what Quentin Tarantino meant when he did those silly Kill Bill pictures".
- Spike TV Scream Awards:
- Won: Best Horror Film
- Won: Most Vile Villain (for the Firefly Clan)
- Nominated: The Ultimate Scream
- Fangoria Chainsaw Awards:
- Won: Killer Movie
- Won: Relationship from Hell (for Otis B. Driftwood and Baby Firefly)
- Nominated: Best Butcher (Villain) (Sid Haig)
- 7 on Bravo TV's 30 Even Scarier Movie Moments