3 From Hell Review

3 From Hell
Matt Donato

Reviewed by:
On September 16, 2019
Last modified:September 16, 2019


3 From Hell is an ugly example of too much wicked style over zero intended substance.

3 From Hell confirms what 31 suggests: Rob Zombie “The Horror Experimentalist” has become Rob Zombie “The Blind Provocateur.” His Firefly threequel is just an excuse to splatter more blood, slaughter more innocents, and neglect plotting in favor of anarchistic gluttony. How, original? False, considering the ways bleakness and damnation have carried many a cinematic societal reflection before.

I get it. The world is full of monsters who can strike at any moment. That’s not an excuse worthy of almost two hours of “gettin’ f*cked up and f*cking shit up” though, steeped in narcissistic hatred rarely given a passing thought. Chaos for the sake of catharsis; evil for evil’s payoff. Too bad you need more than a stoner rambling “the world is just messed up, man” narrative to keep a Manson-adjacent road trip from derailing.

Picking up after The Devil’s Rejects, we visit an incarcerated Baby (Sheri Moon Zombie), Otis (Bill Moseley), and Captain Spaulding (Sid Haig). They’re now infamous media sensations congesting news waves, encouraged by fan-made signs reading “Free The Three.” Onlookers praise their “sticking” it to “the man” but fail to sway parole hearings. That’s where Winslow Foxworth Coltrane (Richard Brake) steps in, as he springs Otis during work duty and joins the Fireflys down another trail to ruin. It’s not like you can stop the devil in his tracks, after all.

Zombie’s going for mad-dog exploitation on a level that’d rattle El Superbeasto here. You could argue 3 From Hell further comments on how you can squash the nastiest cockroaches, but they’ll keep on living. How the world’s vilest underbelly creatures are lying in wait. Me? I’d say Zombie adds zero cultural relevance to a string of music video moments pumped with bullet holes. A movie like Assassination Nation spits venom with just cause and vocal thematics. 3 From Hell is a pornographic celebration of violence that hasn’t evolved past Cro Magnon simplicity in terms of morally abhorrent mutilation.

Victims are ushered into frame and eviscerated without any care for storytelling. Clint Howard, playing children’s clown Mr. Baggy Britches, knocks on the wrong cul-de-sac door for the sole purpose of interrupting Otis’ hogtied hostage dinner. Sean Whalen’s Halloween costumed motel patron is just another notch on Baby’s belt, despite the wild Firefly child being instructed to avoid drawing attention. Bodies pile up as flimsy excuses to keep the new and enraged Firefly gang marching onward. It’s a repetitive cycle of boozing, fornicating, and degradation that treats Zombie’s villains as lighthearted amusement despite atrocities on screen.

This displeasure’s coming from a professed gorehound, too.

I understand. Let the wicked rule every now and then. Embrace the darkness we can’t escape. Zombie has plenty of just cause, but objectifying Mexican “whores” and then massacring them doesn’t count as grindhouse entertainment with such flaccid intent. Characters are *mean* to one another. Criminality, slurs, and hateful inhumanity is the love language of 3 From Hell. Again, something I’m all for when properly enacted by filmmakers who layer retaliations and extreme satire under performative brutality. Zombie raises hillbilly hell and punches “The Man” through his big-government teeth, but nothing else. 31 is still his most out-of-touch release to date, but 3 From Hell ain’t far off.

The thing is, Zombie’s style-over-substance offers rampages that only Dr. Satan or Captain Spaulding can orchestrate. Luchador hitmen in suits corner Baby, Otis and “Foxy” in a quaint over-the-border town plucked from Robert Rodriguez’s Desperado. Nowhere to run or hide, which highlights claustrophobia. Snitches are shot up, throats slashed to reveal cascading blood waterfalls – all while no one reacts.

In Zombie’s world, pleading and praying gets you nowhere. Baby and Otis are ready to die at a trigger’s pull, and the excitement derived from unsightly deeds promotes this hyper-stylized universe that’s destructive beyond sane realms. Zombie’s brand of “action” is ferocious horror, but values death as the finality we’re all hurdling towards anyway. Guns pointed into the sky, pistol smoke filling our lungs after Otis flays another woman’s face clean off for no other reason than boredom.

Zombie can incite riots and rain rapturous rampages down like no other, which is *precisely* why he should try his hand at directing someone else’s script in the future.

As is – even more than Lords Of Salem – 3 From Hell is a choppy “highlight” reel of bastards living up to their name and grinning through the whole process. There’s no denying Sheri Moon Zombie was born to play a 70s-era pixie Manson minion, same for Moseley’s commital to Otis’ “savior” complex. Moon’s juvenile giggles coupled with schoolyard emphatics when chasing a naked, bruised, bleeding woman My Bloody Valentine 3D style is a remarkable sight. Less impressive is Otis’ dialogue punctuating “motherf*cker” at every line’s end, even when Richard Brake howls alongside like the psychopathic deviant that he’s played to a science at this point.

Everyone is a programmed level of evil – Jeff Daniel Phillips’ sexually devious warden included – which screams corruption on high. Why? For the sake of burning the world down with devalued outspoken emphasis.

It’s no shock that 3 From Hell is an ugly movie. Not in cinematography or production value, actually. Kaleidoscope-swirly barroom blackouts and “In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida” marijuana-trippy interludes are a hypnotizing brand of debauchery. It’s more that Rob Zombie is out of structural f*cks to give, which translates into repugnant world-burning injustice. The Fireflys have exhausted warnings worth repeating, but that won’t stop ‘em from blabbering or killing. Alas, maybe it’s time to put these ol’ devil dogs down for good.

3 From Hell Review

3 From Hell is an ugly example of too much wicked style over zero intended substance.