For whatever reason, I’ve spent over a decade pushing for rocker/filmmaker Rob Zombie to make a truly great movie.  I would have even settled for a good movie.

If nothing else, you have to give him credit for the fact that his 2003 horror movie House of 1,000 Corpses helped reinvigorate a slowly dying horror scene that is now thriving beyond belief. Sure, Wes Craven’s “Scream” movies did a good job making horror popular among young, mainstream audiences, but otherwise, horror had become very cheesy and easy to wait to see things on cable or VHS.

3 from Hell is a direct sequel to Zombie’s 2005 movie The Devil’s Rejects, a movie I absolutely loathed. When that movie ended with the film’s “heroes” shot to hell Bonnie and Clyde style, it made me think we’d seen the last of this ‘70s throwback series. No such luck.

The sequel opens in 1978 with a pseudo-documentary about the fate of the “Devil’s Rejects Cult” – Sid Haig’s Captain Spaulding, Bill Moseley’s Otis Driftwood and Sheri Moon Zombie’s “Baby” Firefly – who magically survived that shooting. The short prologue “doc” covers their trial that gets them death sentences within the Bain County Correctional, run by warden Virgil Dallas Harper (Jeff Daniel Philips). It also includes fake “testimonials” from people who seem to idolize the Rejects, despite their crime wave of murder and mutilation.

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Ten years later, Otis Driftwood escapes after being sent out on a chain gang along with his fellow inmate Winslow Coltrane, played by Bruce Dern wannabe Richard Brake. The duo are on the loose and they continue killing until they find the warden’s house and take his wife hostage as collateral to break Baby out of jail.

Haig’s Captain Spaulding, the best part of House of 1,000 Corpses and Rejects, is killed off-screen, executed via lethal injection, which is a true shame, since that leaves us with the weaker characters played by Moseley and Zombie’s wife Sheri. (Note: Haig  had to bow out of the movie due to illness.)

3 from Hell
A scene from 3 FROM HELL (courtesy: Lionsgate / Saban Films)

This is a movie that is grueling to sit through unless you have something seriously psychologically wrong with you, a movie that thrives to make violence and murder cool and fun. Otis and Baby are supposed to be your heroes? Why? Because they’re terrorizing and torturing the people who have been employed to keep their type in line and Zombie sees this as his symbol of anti-establishment? The penal system sucks. There are a lot of people making bad decisions. There are a lot of people in prison who don’t deserve to be. But the “Devil’s Rejects” do deserve to be in prison, so why would you root for them?

There have been some really good and some equally bad genre movies set in prison with The Human Centipede 3: Final Sequence still being the worst, but 3 from Hell seems to be more than willing to take second place. 3 from Hell is a movie for people raised on video games who think that inserting the word “mtherfcker” into every other line makes the filmmaker some type of Tarantino peer.

The writing is abysmal. I could quote some of the trash that comes out of Otis and Baby’s mouths, and you wouldn’t believe these were lines from an actual script written by an established filmmaker.  (I might jot a few of them down to get a laugh, though. “This is my death machine, and you are the product” is pretty funny.)

Zombie has gotten to the point where he can make these trashy movies for a fraction of the budget of a real movie, and his fans will still eat it up, allowing him to continue to make nearly-unwatchable garbage to further sate their blood lust.

The actors Zombie has assembled around the main trio – mostly drawn from his usual ensemble — are so awful, they offer very little to elevate his material, including Phillips as the warden and Kevin Jackson as a parole officer also taken hostage by Otis and his cohort. Although the acting across the board is terrible, none of them are quite as bad as Sheri Moon Zombie, who was actually quite good in The Lords of Salem. Her exaggerated performance of Baby as a cross between a 4-year-old and a demented hippie is easily the worst part of an already very bad movie.

3 from Hell
A scene from 3 FROM HELL (courtesy: Lionsgate / Saban Films)

As an example of one of the film’s typically offensive scenes, a female officer throws Baby into a cell with two other cutthroat fellow prisoners who threaten to torture and kill her. They don’t get very far and are systematically slaughtered like anyone else who comes up against the Rejects, and that’s it. There is literally no point to this three-minute scene except to show more gore and violence. There’s also an unfortunate appearance by Clint Howard as a particularly unfunny clown calling himself “Mr. Baggy Britches,” who has the misfortune of showing up at the door where the warden is being held hostage.

When the trio travels across the border to hideout, things don’t improve, although we do learn why the great Danny Trejo — the best actor in the entire movie — made a brief cameo and was killed by Otis during his breakout.

Even the music, which should be Zombie’s forté, isn’t great. Much of it seems to be pilfered almost verbatim from far better ‘70s movies, mostly John Carpenter, with random needle drops like Suzi Quatro’s “The Wild One,” which is used out of context and completely wasted in such a crappy movie. (I rarely get to hear Quatro’s version of the song, so it’s a shame it’s now always going to remind me of my experience watching 3 from Hell.)

3 from Hell is an offensive abomination of a film that doesn’t deserve to be shown in any place that involves people gathering to watch it– easily, the worst movie of the year. If you couldn’t tell, I hated every single minute of it.

Rating: 2/10

Three from Hell opened last night for a three-night run via Fathom Events. If after reading this review, you STILL feel the need to see it, you can learn more about it at the Official Site…. or just wait for the Blu-ray next month.

29 COMMENTS

  1. Well of course if you ‘loathed’ The Devil’s Rejects, you already were going to hate this. As someone who appreciated House Of 1000 Corpses and The Devil’s Rejects (I didn’t care much for his work after that. although I did like the style of The Lords Of Salem), I felt 3 From Hell hit the notes to give the fans (true fans) a sequel to TDR – even if it came too late (Sid Haig not being in it, definitely hurt the film). Far from a perfect movie, it delivered for me because I pretty much knew what to expect. And to be honest, everyone in my theater (which was packed) cheered positively when it ended. To each his/her own, I guess.

  2. Wow!
    This guy “loathed” The Devil’s rejects.
    “3 from hell” is the worst movie of the year.
    Logical conclusion: It must be great!!

  3. I can understand not liking the movie or the genre, but if you hated Devil’s Rejects why in the world would you watch 3 From Hell? That being said, I liked Devil’s Rejects and I thought 2 From Hell was dumb as hell.

  4. Rod Zemby made one good thing ever and it was the entirety of La Sexorcisto, the Only Good White Zombie Record. Every song is fantastic, the whole album is a perfect capsule of the thing it is trying to be. Everything before was over-reaching his means, everything since has been muddled by unchecked ego. The key moment of Zemby’s decent into mediocrity was the replacing of Ivan DePrume, the soul and swing of the band’s backbeat, with John Tempesta and also drum machines.

    Lightning in a bottle.

    One good record.

    p.s. all comics and movies are bad.

  5. I’m pretty sure there was a Robert the doll movie released this year so it definitely isn’t the worst movie of the year. Hyperbole is lazy click bait writing. Also, it doesn’t sound like this movie was going to be your cup of tea anyway so why should your opinion matter? I personally like all of his movies and enjoyed this one as well.

  6. “There are a lot of people in prison who don’t deserve to be. But the “Devil’s Rejects” do deserve to be in prison, so why would you root for them?”

    “Otis and Baby are supposed to be your heroes? Why?”

    The fact you’ve mentioned this in your review shows that you aren’t at all aware of Rob Zombie’s movies and the common thread between them. You went into his films looking for the “heroes” to root for. That’s one of the biggest points of his movies. There aren’t any heroes. You’re not supposed to be rooting for anyone. It’s a twisted, dark cinematic experience that is supposed to leave you with conflicting feelings by the end. If this is how you judge movies, I suggest you stick to movies that follow the classic thousand year old formula that goes something like, “introduce heroes, introduce conflict, introduce villain, big bang bong the good guys win and everyone feels fuzzy and warm.”

    Your points about the writing are valid enough. Sure, the music could have been better. But the fact that half of your article is steeped in a total misunderstanding of the artistic purpose that Zombie set out to do makes your review completely moot. Might I suggest you to approach things with a more artistic mind in the future, especially if you’re considering becoming a movie reviewer for a career.

  7. Why would you bother to WATCH, let alone REVIEW, the direct sequel to a movie you “loathed” 10+ years ago??? What a joke. After the desperate headline I was relieved when I learned I could totally discount your opinion .

  8. SO DISAPPOINTED! 3 from Hell was horrible. House of 1000 Corpses is my favorite horror movie. I loved Devil’s Rejects and even liked ’31’ considerably more than this! Freeken a mexican hat on Otis…. just so boring…

  9. 3 From Hell is ok but TDR was inspired. This reviewer went in with a bias and came out with a garbage review. Comicsbeat posting such a self-serving, hyperbolic, butt hurt opinion piece reflects so badly on your site. You’ve lost a reader.

  10. You are an absolute idiot. 3 from hell was a perfect balance of story and gore. Rob Zombie has found the way of turning dark movies into an art form and he flexed it all in this finale. You are an absolute uncultured sensitive swine to think for a secons this movie isnt a great way to end the rejects. And your terrible review is just going to hurt the film in terms of people wanting to watch it. You should honestly be ashamed of yourself and stripped of any reviews you do in the future. The audience i viewed it with laughed and followed their laughter with jaw drops. Perfect sequence of humor, murder and an ending to a trilogy. Just stfu

  11. People who say: “House of 1,000 Corpses is my fav movie”, and then in the same breath say 3 From Hell was no good, has either; not seen it, or is a complete idiot.

  12. You “loathed” it?¿ That’s because you don’t get it. Your criticizing “Rob Zombie” and his skills because your too scared to admit your exactly the type of person he’d kill in his movies, and we’d all cheer.

  13. What are the job requirements for being a critic of movie critics? It looks like an exciting career path.

    This movie sucked a lot more than most movies I’ve seen that sucked. Pure pointless dreck. It really had no plot. It ended with the guy whose father (played by Trejo) they killed at the beginning being doused with gasoline in a coffin and set aflame while these three animals looked on with moronic grins. Was I supposed to get a sense of justice out of that? Or a sense that nothing matters? Or a sense that evil reigns supreme on Earth? I have no idea? Who knows?! The only thing I could glean is that Zombie doesn’t know how to make a move that makes sense, that has any kind of discernible message.

  14. Based on the title I didn’t wast my time reading this but just so this doesn’t deter anyone from seeing a great film you couldn’t be more wrong. The worst movie of the year? No and to name a few that were easily worse We got the Aladdin remake the child’s play remake, and plenty of other garbage. Not only are Rob Zombies films original they send a message.

  15. Thank you for your review athough it is meaningless nobody knows who the fuck you even are so I will watch 3 from hell and enjoy it just as I know I will.

  16. The way this is written, like the writers opinion is the verdict of the movie is actually pretty horrible.
    Being you have zero issue’s saying it’s bad….
    You deffinantly should have made it very very clear that this is your opinion and your review.
    I understand it is, but the way you worded it….
    Will seriously confuse many.
    It really seems instead of “youre” honest review….it seems you are more trying to convince all to share your thoughts on the film.

    You are to biased and opinionated to be a film critic….maybe start a YouTube channel to rage on about your opinions….
    I loath people that review films and don’t leave it up to everyone to come to there own conclusion.
    Something tells me you propally listen to Nickleback…..

  17. Thank you kindly for calling out the trash Rob Zombie puts out, disguised as ‘cinema’.

    It’s plainly evident from reading the comments section that good taste has become incredibly hard to find, both amongst cinema goers and the ‘fare’ they seem to celebrate these days.

    Let me say this, for all posterity.

    Rob Zombie’s ‘films’ (and I am hard-pressed to use the term, here) have no redeeming qualities, whatsoever.

    The fact that they were never meant to still does not turn these cinematic excrements into ‘art’, by any stretch of the imagination.

    All three films in the series were absolute garbage, and I do believe there’s something inherently wrong with folks rooting for the characters portrayed in these cinematic rectal polyps, let alone defending such offal.

    Kudos for keeping it real.

  18. with what this movie grossed only after 3 showings it is FAR from the worst of the year… get a grip,it is called a horror movie cant handle move along

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