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A view on Blu-ray and DVD video by Leonard Norwitz

The Devils Rejects [Blu-ray]

 

(Rob Zombie, 2005)

 

 

 

 

 

 

Review by Leonard Norwitz

 

Studio:

Theatrical: Cinelamda, Devil's Rejects Inc., & Firm Films

Blu-ray: LionsGate

 

Disc:

Region: FREE! (as verified by the Momitsu region FREE Blu-ray player)

Runtime: 1:50:53.647

Disc Size: 24,906,928,444 bytes

Feature Size: 21,967,306,752 bytes

Video Bitrate: 20.71 Mbps

Chapters: 14

Case: Standard Blu-ray case

Release date: August 22nd, 2006

 

Video:

Aspect ratio: 1.85:1

Resolution: 1080p / 23.976 fps

Video codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video

 

 

Audio:

DTS-HD Audio English 3039 kbps 6.1 / 48 kHz / 3039 kbps / 24-bit (DTS Core: 6.1-ES / 48 kHz / 1509 kbps / 24-bit)
Dolby Digital EX Audio English 640 kbps 5.1-EX / 48 kHz / 640 kbps
Dolby Digital Audio English 192 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 192 kbps / Dolby Surround
Dolby Digital Audio English 192 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 192 kbps / Dolby Surround

 

Subtitles:

English, Spanish, none

 

Extras:

• Audio Commentary by Writer/Director Rob Zombie

• Audio Commentary by Cast Members Sid Haig, Bill Moseley & Sheri Moon Zombie

• Deleted Scenes

 

 

The Film:

Comment:
LionsGate's "Uncut" version of Rob Zombie's essay on ultra-violence and vigilante justice marks the first appearance of the movie in high definition this side of the Atlantic and one of the early transfers in the new medium.

The Movie : 8
While you could think of this movie as a sequel to Rob Zombie's first directorial effort, the ghoulishly bloody and deliciously titled House of 10,000 Corpses, The Devil's Rejects is so superior and assured in every way, it should be considered entirely on its own merits. I dare say the movie is so good that it begs the question as to what constitutes a proper way to judge it, let alone score it.

As much as I'm tempted to give that question a long and serious look, I shall content myself with a few spasms: I make the assumption that such movies do not arouse murderous feelings in ourselves, but rather permit us to confront, perhaps even savor, them in a relatively safe environment. Most significant for me, is the question of when does a slasher movie become a stand in for a snuff film? How "real" is the terror. Are we, the audience, as terrorized as the victims the killers happen on? Do we imagine that meeting the actors who play the killers would generate a feeling of dread, or that meeting the actors that play the victims would provoke a sense of embarrassment for having witnessed their cruel execution?

Does the director wink at the audience, as Hitchcock always did (with the possible exceptions of Frenzy and Psycho), assuring us that this is just a movie? Do our smiles and laughter come from anxiety or an understanding of intention or something even more cosmic? Are there diversions in the movie, as if the director himself couldn't bear to look? Does whatever sense of irony there is ease our pain? Should it?

In the present case, I was more convinced by the victims than the killers. There were a few times I felt that Bill Moseley, though he certainly looks the part, was just acting; and that Sheri Moon, though much more convincing here than in hubbie's Halloween, was about to break into a giggle. But, in general, these two, and especially once Sid Haig joins them, were sufficiently threatening that I was all the more convinced by the panic of the victims. Special high marks, then, to Priscilla Barnes (would you believe, Terri from Three's Company), Geoff Lewis (who plays her husband) and Kate Norby, among the victims from the hotel of lost souls. . . and to Leslie Easterbrook, "Mother Firefly" who is even more frightening in captivity than on the run.

Final note: Many of these actors are pros and far from the age we expect to see in slasher and horror films. Haig was 65 when the movie was made; Moseley and Easterbrook, 55 and 56; Barnes, 50; and Geoffrey Lewis, 70. There are no teenagers, no young adults, no horny behavior ripe for a knife in the throat. On the contrary, the killing is all arbitrary – which is always more frightening than "deserved." Just one more reason to credit Zombie as a serious director.


 

Image: 8/8   NOTE: The below Blu-ray captures were taken directly from the Blu-ray disc.
As was not uncommon at the time, the encode is MPEG-2, not that the movie wants for anything of finer distinction. This is not to say that The Devil's Rejects doesn't deserve as good as any other film, but that the nature of original film, shot as it was in 16 mm, doesn't insist on or expect anything more refined. It might even object to it. The bit rate is healthy enough in the low 20s, and the disc makes considerable use of its single layer. I don't find any issues that aren't attributable to its source material. Contrast and black levels are superb. Color is lurid, but doesn't oversaturate. Natural film grain is apparent long before any noise issues come to bear. Frankly I can't imagine this movie to have looked this good in the theaters it must have played in, what with projectionists that couldn't have cared less and prints that cared less than that.

 

CLICK EACH BLU-RAY CAPTURE TO SEE ALL IMAGES IN FULL 1920X1080 RESOLUTION

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Audio & Music:

Audio & Music: 8/9
The 6.1 audio mix is "DTS-HD Audio" – that's "HD" without the "MA" - but still comes in at a solid 3.04 Mbps (48kHz/16-bit.) I've seen less from "HD-MA." The present mix holds it own quite well compared to the then present competition, especially when we consider that Warner wouldn't embrace the idea of high definition audio for another two years. Surrounds are involved and involving, with the crackle of fire and firearms coming from there and behind. More to the point, the audio here has a live, unprocessed uncivilized feel to it, helped along by some savvy 70s rock music choices that somehow supports the drama, rather than simply make use of an available semi-iconic library: We have to love the ironic touch in Lynyrd Skynyrd's "Free Bird" for the finale and the best rendering of "Midnight Rider", courtesy of the original Allman Brothers, since Willie Nelson's Electric Horseman, to name just two of many.
 

Operations:

Operations : 6
My one complaint about the menu design is that it is so bloodsoaked as to make its information and directions harder to read than is necessary.

 

 

Extras:

Extras : 6
Dual layered Blu-ray content had not yet hit its stride when The Devil's Rejects made its appearance on high def, and for that reason alone, there wasn't room for "30 Days in Hell," the nearly two and half hour making–of documentary that took pride of place on the 2-disc DVD. What are brought over are a number of deleted scenes and two commentaries: one by a sober, serious minded and even a bit affable Rob Zombie, who details all matters production as well as gives agreeable voice to his love of the music he so liberally and intelligently uses throughout his movie. The other is by the Rejects Trinity, if I may be permitted a little mix of metaphor. Sid, Bill and Sheri Moon have a good time on this one.
 

Bottom line:

Recommendation : 8
Echoing every reviewer with a shred of humanity (and some of us do have that), please take the blood, gore and repulsiveness of its subject seriously. I like what Peter Hartlaub said of it at sfgate.com HERE:
"Still not sure if you should let your 13-year-old see it? On an inappropriate movie scale of 1 to 10, where the R-rated "Wedding Crashers" rates a 7, "The Devil's Rejects" gets about a 194. The film opens with a naked, bruised woman being dragged through the forest by a guy with burn scars for a face -- and that's one of the easier scenes to watch. Some dude in front of me brought what looked like a 3-year-old boy to the critics screening, and the $30 he saved on a baby sitter will one day cost $30,000 in therapy bills"

Leonard Norwitz
March 7th, 2010

 

 

 

 

 

 

About the Reviewer: I first noticed that some movies were actually "films" back around 1960 when I saw Seven Samurai (in the then popular truncated version), La Strada and The Third Man for the first time. American classics were a later and happy discovery.

My earliest teacher in Aesthetics was Alexander Sesonske, who encouraged the comparison of unlike objects. He opened my mind to the study of art in a broader sense, rather than of technique or the gratification of instantaneous events. My take on video, or audio for that matter – about which I feel more competent – is not particularly technical. Rather it is aesthetic, perceptual, psychological and strongly influenced by temporal considerations in much the same way as music. I hope you will find my musings entertaining and informative, fun, interactive and very much a work in progress.


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