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The Devil's Rejects Review


Excellent
House of 1000 Corpses, the last song on Rob Zombie's 2001 album The Sinister Urge, also served as the title track to the metal frontman-turned-filmmaker's 2003 directorial debut, but the cut's country twang-inflected ghoulishness would have made a more apt musical accompaniment for Zombie's The Devil's Rejects. Less a sequel than a spiritual follow-up, the director's latest revisits House's serial-killing Firefly clan as they're cast into the backwater dustbowls of rural America by a sheriff (William Forsythe) intent on exacting vigilante revenge for the murder of his brother. A gritty Western-via-grindhouse modern exploitation flick imbued with the ferocity of independent '70s horror, Zombie's splatterfest wisely alters virtually everything (narratively, stylistically, thematically) that characterized his campy, cartoonish and awkward first film. And from its coarse, graphic visual aesthetic, profusion of classic Southern rock tunes, and portrait of unrepentant mayhem, his film reverentially exults in the deranged spirit and impulsive, unpredictable energy of seminal genre masterpieces The Texas Chain Saw Massacre and The Hills Have Eyes.

The Devil's Rejects diverges from its predecessor beginning with its opening frames, in which the depiction of the Firefly residence - no longer a remote, forest-shrouded funhouse of horrors but, rather, a dilapidated structure situated in a stretch of open land - speaks to the film's rejection of atmospheric claustrophobia in favor of wide-open anarchy. A fascination with rampant disorder certainly fuels the tour de force intro sequence, a bullet-strewn siege on the Firefly home by Sheriff Wydell (Forsythe) and an army of police officers heightened by Zombie's sly use of freeze frames, Sergio Leone-esque close-ups, and The Allman Brothers' "Midnight Rider." Exhibiting a directorial maturity devoid of his former MTV-ish gimmickry (no hyper-edited montages with varying film stocks or bludgeoning industrial heavy metal here), the director orchestrates the chaotic events with feverish abandon, his shaky handheld camera set-ups and scraggly, sun-bleached cinematography (courtesy of Phil Parmet) placing us directly inside the carnage. By the time murderous siblings Otis (Bill Moseley) and Baby (Sheri Moon) escape their now overrun home to seek shelter in the rotting, blindingly white desert, Zombie has demonstrated a newfound adeptness at lacing nasty action with a breakneck thrust and vicious wit.

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Heart of the Beholder Review


Excellent
The cover (and title) of Heart of the Beholder indicate a much different experience: Bathed in fire, a sword with a crucifix on it erupts from the ball of flames. Another Left Behind, you're thinking.

Sorry, folks, Kirk Carmeron is nowhere to be found: this is the true story about one of the first video rental shops in the country, and how the business was done in by fundamentalists, a corrupt district attorney, and a greedy businessman.

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