3 From Hell is the third film in Rob Zombie’s trilogy that started with House of 1000 Corpses in 2003. His most recent installment picks up right where the second film, The Devil’s Rejects, left off. Originally released in 2019, Baby Firefly (Sheri Moon Zombie), Otis Driftwood (Bill Moseley), and Captain Spaulding (Sid Haig) narrowly survive a deadly shootout and find themselves in prison for their notorious crimes. Zombie opens the film with a documentary style approach, explaining how the Firefly family survived. As expected, unrelenting mayhem unfolds as Zombie’s characters murder their way back into the free world.
Richard Brake (Mandy) is new to the trilogy. He stars as Winslow Foxworth Coltrane, better known as Foxy, the half-brother of Otis. Brake has become a dependable regular in Zombie’s films, featured in Halloween II and 31. Foxy is an ice cold killer with no remorse, a perfect addition to the Firefly family. Brake’s character was only included when Sid Haig was unable to fulfill his acting obligations due to health concerns. While his inclusion was never intended, Brake has no trouble assimilating.
This continuation of Zombie’s bloody saga has all of the gore, some of the excitement, but hardly any of the scares of its predecessors. The tension seems to have died with Captain Spaulding. Fans of the series should know what to anticipate from Zombie and his characters at this point, and Zombie delivers in his usual style. While it’s not a standout feature in his catalog of work, a middle-of-the-road effort from Zombie is still noteworthy.
In typical Zombie fashion, cameos abound. Danny Trejo (Machete) is taken out by Otis during his chain gang prison escape. Dee Wallace (Cujo) plays a demoralized prison guard struggling to maintain the upper hand with Baby. Clint Howard (Ice Cream Man) provides some comic relief as an unlucky clown forced to perform in front of a crowd of terrified hostages. The Three Stooges even make an appearance during a moment of TV downtime for Zombie’s three, right before they wrap up another day of work at the ‘death factory’. Much like in his music, Zombie’s films are infused with pop culture references. 3 From Hell does not disappoint in that regard.
Cinematographer David Daniel rejoined forces with Zombie after previously collaborating on a number of other projects. Their intended 1.85:1 theatrical aspect ratio is beautifully featured on both discs, 2160p on the 4K disc and 1080p on the Blu-ray. With a visual style similar to the western/horror look of The Devil’s Rejects, 3 From Hell maintains that gritty seventies look for which Zombie is well known.
This release offers a beautiful Dolby TrueHD audio presentation on both discs. With a killer score by ZEUSS and a soundtrack including songs from James Gang and Suzi Quatro, Zombie’s musical roots once again help craft a sweet-sounding layer to his overall concept. A scene reminiscent of Michael Mann’s Manhunter features extended use of Iron Butterfly’s “In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida”, a song that has somehow become synonymous with fight sequences ending in certain death.
An added benefit to this release is Zombie’s audio commentary track. Zombie talks about how his original vision was impeded by Sid Haig’s declining health. Haig was intended to be prominently featured as one of the three titular villains. Sadly, Haig died days after the film’s original release in September of 2019. Viewers critical of the film should take this into account, as Zombie’s original vision had to be reimagined. Like any good commentary, the director details the trials and tribulations of making a low budget film. From drawing courtroom sketches as a substitute for shooting more scenes to reusing Bill Moseley’s wig from The Devil’s Rejects, Zombie shares a range of stories that help answer some of the questions as to how and why 3 From Hell came to be.
A four-part documentary on the making of 3 From Hell is also included with this Best Buy Exclusive Steelbook release. It’s well produced, full of awesome artwork, animation and interviews with cast and crew.
The steelbook and plastic slip cover are an attractive feature to fans of physical media, with new artwork from artist Vance Kelly. It’s certainly an upgrade from previous releases. With three different viewing options, this Best Buy exclusive is worthy of the price of purchase My only wish would be the inclusion of some kind of insert, like a lobby card to help entice collectors. Nonetheless, fans of Zombie’s work should not hesitate to pick up this unique offering.