It’s been 14 years since we last saw the Firefly family go to, what we believed was their death. However, Rob Zombie had something different in mind for these beloved characters as he’s brought them back after a long hiatus.
It seems to be common trend in Hollywood these days, with filmmakers revisiting the same characters and stories that once made them famous. Sometimes it works, other times it fails. But how does it work out for Rob Zombie? Let’s take a closer (spoiler free) look into 3 From Hell!
The Return of Sid Haig
Given Haig’s very recent health issues, it was incredibly refreshing to see him as Captain Spaulding once again. As of this writing, he is still in the hospital, but is slowly recovering.
Unfortunately, even back when 3 From Hell was in preproduction, Haig was having health problems, and therefore was only able to film for one day. While it is a bit disappointing we don’t get more of Spaulding, it’s kind of amazing that we got him at all.
Free the Three!
The film opens with a montage of news footage exposition, filling us in on the last 10 years. We see that the Devil’s Rejects miraculously survived their encounter with police and have been on death row for a decade. What’s most fascinating however is the entire media sensation surrounding their trial.
Much like the Manson cult back in the 60’s, these three inspire fans who honestly believe in their absolute innocence. It’s a fun and almost ridiculous scene, but it perfectly demonstrates Rob Zombie’s dark and sarcastic sense of humor, which often gets overlooked.
In many ways, the film is split in two. The first half deals with the characters escaping from prison, and remains incredibly tense and suspenseful. The story is driven more by the prison warden and guards, as they react to, fear, and try to prevent the escape of these dangerous criminals.
Otis, Baby, and newcomer Winston (another half brother of theirs) remain the antagonists who are constantly plotting and may do anything at any moment. It just makes for a stronger tension build.
Treading the Same Ground
Once they all manage to escape, the film shifts to the titular 3 from Hell going on the run, all while evading police. It’s a lot of fun to see these characters back in their element, but in many ways the second half of the film just feels like the same plot as Devil’s Rejects.
Though we do get to see how the last 10 years has changed each of them. After spending much time in solitary confinement, Baby is more unstable than ever, which we bear witness to as she gleefully chases a victim down with a knife and adopts a bow and arrow as her new weapon of choice.
We also see somewhat protective Otis, much more so than ever before. The film toys with the idea of giving character arcs to him and Baby (who even questions if this is all worth it), but these never really go anywhere.
Overall, 3 From Hell gives us the comfort of revisiting these characters we’ve loved for years. It does them justice in the sense that Rob Zombie knows them very well and knows just how to use them. He also brings back many of his regulars including Dee Wallace, Jeff Daniel Phillips, Richard Brake, Danny Trejo, Clint Howard, and Pancho Moler.
It doesn’t do quite enough to justify the need for another sequel, but it also doesn’t ruin these characters, as often happens with these sequels released many years later. Fans of House of 1000 Corpses and Devil’s Rejects pretty much know what they’re getting with this, and they won’t be disappointed!