3 From Hell is the long-awaited final chapter in Rob Zombie’s trilogy of films on the Firefly family, starting with House of 1000 Corpses and followed with The Devil’s Rejects (still Zombie’s masterpiece). If you are not a fan of Zombie’s work already, there will be very little to convert you here: it’s a film made for fans, and probably more so for Zombie himself (for better or worse).
The film is basically a road movie where, after the events of The Devil’s Rejects, the Firefly family are arrested and serve time behind bars. They become celebrities in a Manson type of way, with many fans claiming they were innocent of the crimes or “just fighting against the system, MAN!” Otis (Bill Moseley) eventually escapes from prison and meets up with his half-brother Winslow “Foxy” Coltrane (Richard Brake). Baby (Sheri Moon Zombie) is slowly going mad in prison, so Otis and Foxy decide to break her out and flee to Mexico. And as you can imagine they leave a trail of carnage on the way.
Zombie indulges himself in all the usual ways, with a copious amount of blood, ridiculous dialogue that is so embarrassingly written that even Charles Manson at his most unhinged wouldn’t say it, his wife Sheri overacting to the extremes, and some of the most absurd editorial decisions you’ve ever witnessed, including hilariously awful transitions. It’s notably cheaper-looking than The Devil’s Rejects due to having half the budget and shooting digitally instead of 16mm, but it’s in line with the visual look of Zombie’s last few films.
Despite all of this, it’s the work of a single-minded director who has carved out his own place in modern horror. Zombie has created his own style, and every time he tries something different, which in such a samey genre as horror should be congratulated.
Sadly, due to his health problems, Sid Haig could only reprise his role as Captain Spaulding for a small cameo at the start. It’s a shame, because he was always the heart and soul of these films, as much as they have one. Danny Trejo also has a fun cameo relatively early on in the film, and there is even an unrecognizable Clint Howard! Moseley does his Manson-lite schtick, and is clearly having a ball with it.
The disc includes a feature-length making-of documentary and a commentary from Zombie—ever since The Devil’s Rejects Zombie has generally included a feature-length doc on the Blu-Rays of his films, at least in the US, with Lords of Salem being the most notable exception.