Rob Zombie’s The Devil's Rejects is one of the finest gritty, American-made horror movie sequels of the last 50 years. The film reunites the original cast of House of 1000 Corpses and barrels straight ahead towards a path of destruction that leaves nothing but carnage in its wake. Out of all the Rob Zombie movies out there, this is the one that put the cast through the most torment and almost ran Zombie himself into the ground.
The heat and intensity that bore down on the cast and crew of The Devil’s Rejects are clear in every frame of the film, and according to Zombie and his band of misfits, the behind-the-scenes stress made the final product a cinematic diamond. Much like the film, these behind-the-scenes stories from The Devil's Rejects are dirty and caked in blood, but that's what makes them so memorable.
Although she's married to Rob Zombie, Sheri Moon Zombie doesn't share his gruesome sensibilities. In a 2004 interview, she said that while she knew what she was getting into by playing Baby, she wasn't ready to be on the receiving end of William Forsythe's venom:
[Being the victim] was really scary... I had to cry, so [Forsythe] was really cool in coming up to me in between takes... to retain the tears, he would come over and show me pictures of [a deceased] Mother and all this other stuff. I was really emotional that night. I couldn't even come into work for a couple days.
No one in The Devil's Rejects is portrayed as a good person. The law enforcement is corrupt and the Firefly family commits vicious acts of terror against nearly everyone they encounter. In his role as Captain Spaulding, Sid Haig has to knock a woman out before taking her car, an action he wasn't excited to perform. He said in 2005:
I have a tendency to be very protective and respectful of women, so it was kind of difficult for me to beat up two of the women in the [film], and scare... the poor little kid... But see, I had to make it something where he was having fun... [My character's] objective here is to get the car, so I can get to where I gotta go.
The Devil's Rejects is Zombie's love letter to the '70s, especially the uber-gory films of Sam Peckinpah. The scene that many viewers find the hardest to watch was also the hardest to film, according to the actors.
Bill Moseley explained in 2005 that he was very uncomfortable filming Otis's motel scene, which involves sexual assault:
For me, [that scene] was difficult because that's not something I personally am excited about, sexual intimidation, whatever was going on that day - degradation. It affected me personally so that it was an unpleasant scene to play...
While Zombie understood the scene's intensity, he insisted in 2005 that he needed his actors to trust him:
Certain actors were really uncomfortable with that (hotel) scene, but now they're not uncomfortable. All they do is look at it and go, 'Wow. It really worked.' That's the thing I realized. They may feel bad, but they're going to feel worse after the fact if they feel like they held back.
The Devil's Rejects looks hot and dirty, and that wasn't just a production design choice. The film was shot about 70 miles northeast of Los Angeles, and the high temperatures on set bled into the film, helping it maintain a sense of realism. According to Sheri Moon Zombie in 2005:
It was hot a lot of the shoot. I think that really added to a lot of the grittiness for the characters and the film in general. The dusty, dirty, hot conditions. For me, I welcomed that. It brought me into character more, being dirty and grimy. It was a lot of fun. I think it helped. In between takes, you're miserable and they're trying to hold umbrellas over you so you don't get sunburned, but it was great.