Horror movie month continues! This week, I take a look at two finger-lickin’ good works from the American South.
It sounds kind of crazy, but rocker Rob Zombie may be the only true horror auteur working today. Sure, a large number of his films are messy and never come fully together by the end, but they all remain consistent in his relentless vision. If forced to choose one work that represents the epitome of his talent and style, look no further than 2005’s “The Devil’s Rejects.” But be warned: “The Devil’s Rejects” is a fairly unpleasant viewing experience and not for the squeamish, faint of heart… you know.
Zombie is similar to Quentin Tarantino in that he wears his influences on his sleeve. Watching “The Devil’s Rejects,” you can see the obvious references to “The Texas Chainsaw Massacre,” “The Last House on the Left,” and other exploitation films you’d probably find at a drive-in back in the day. “The Devil’s Rejects,” however, feels like more than a simple nostalgia piece, but, rather, like a lost film unearthed from that era of violent and ferocious horror. The story feels like something out of Southern myth. The characters are generally sleazy, horrible people. The onslaught of violence and other crimes is ruthless and nauseating, but if you like your humor mordant and dark, you’ll be sure to find some oozing up beneath the surface.
And what better to go with “The Devil’s Rejects” than “The Dirty South”? Above all else, Drive-By Truckers’ 2004 album is an exemplary piece of storytelling, crafting a redneck crime epic that includes characters both real and fictional, small and larger than life. “The Dirty South” is at once a gritty, novelistic portrait of Southern myth and iconography as well as a great example of Southern rock revival. Like Zombie, Drive-By Truckers wear the influence of artists past (like Lynyrd Skynyrd and The Allman Brothers Band) and turn it into something all their own.
“The Devil’s Rejects” and “The Dirty South” are Southern-fried works of crime fiction that take characters and elevate them to the level of myth. The biggest difference between the two is that “The Dirty South” has a heart and a sense of morality where “The Devil’s Rejects” has a black hole filled with mud, blood, and sweat.
The Climax: Out with a Bang and “Lookout Mountain”
The finale of “The Devil’s Rejects” already has a glorified sense of fatalism, but it’s amplified by the down-and-dirty standout track “Lookout Mountain,” the narrator of which contemplates throwing himself off of a mountain in epic fashion.