Last we left our intrepid psychopaths, the remnants of the Firefly family were driving headfirst into a hail of police gunfire, to their death, or so we thought.
As Rob Zombie’s latest B-Movie inspired flick kicks off we find out that Baby Firefly (Sheri-Moon Zombie), Otis B. Driftwood (Bill Mosley) and Captain Spaulding (Sid Haig) somehow survived their run in with the law, with 20 bullets a piece, and for the past 10 years have been rotting in jail, unable to relish in the full extent of their depravity.
The public perception has shifted in their favour with people from all walks of life calling to “free the 3”, their actions aimed not at the heinous acts against individuals but against the system that created them, though Warden Virgil Harper (Jeff Daniel Phillips) keeps a keen eye on them, antagonising them when appropriate.
Sadly, as you may or may not know, Sid Haig’s health had deteriorated by the time Zombie decided to pick back up with these characters, and as a result, Haig has only a brief scene with a reporter early on in the film before his Chaotic Clown Captain Spaulding is sentenced to death and exits the film.
So now, with Otis busting rocks on the side of the rock and Baby constantly harassed by her guards and other inmates the table has been set, we just wait to see how these killers get loose, and sure enough the empty place in our triumvirate of terror is filled by Otis’ half brother Winslow Foxworth Coltrane or “The Wolf” as he likes to call himself (followed by a howl), busts Otis from his chain gang and the two high tail it out of there.
At this moment you would think we kick into high gear but it stills takes a surprisingly long time for adoptive brother and sister to be reunited, but at last, after a impromptu dinner party from hell at the Warden Harper’s home, Otis convinces the Warden to break Baby out himself.
Strangely once the gang are back together the film seems to throw out what story we’ve had so far and escape south of the border, down Mexico way where the final act can play out seemingly in isolation of anything else that’s happened, sans one death earlier in the film.
As usual the film is littered as Zombie’s movies usually are with “hey it’s that person” actors, Danny Trejo, Clint Howard and Dee Wallace to name a few and it seems like everyone’s having a good time on set which is always relieving to see after the studio nightmare that Zombie experienced on the Halloween remake. Here he’s back playing with some of his favourite toys but after The Devil’s Rejects, which many consider (myself included) to be Zombie’s high watermark, this film can’t help but pale in comparison.
Initially what feels what might be the thrust of the film, the public’s relationship with mass murders, Charlie Manson, Ted Bundy, Natural Born Killers, the Crime Channel, is quickly dropped in favour of a muddled plot, that stalls time and time again.
The vibe feels torn between its previous two entries without ever reaching the heights or horrors of either.
Haig’s charismatic presence is sorely missed and his replacement just feels like Otis-Lite.
Despite this, it’s still an entertaining time hanging out with these characters even if there isn’t a plot to back them up.
I hope this isn’t the final chapter, not because I want more but because if Zombie’s going to raise these characters from the seeming dead I wish it was for a more worthy finale.
- Oscar Jack
Check out the special halloween screenings on October 31st in cinemas across Australia & New Zealand curtesy of Fangoria x Monster Fest here.