• 3 From Hell (Lionsgate) Steelbook UHD/Blu-ray Review

    Released by: Lionsgate
    Released on: September 28th, 2019.
    Director: Rob Zombie
    Cast: Sheri Moon Zombie, Bill Moseley, Sid Haig, Jeff Daniel Phillips, Richard Brakes, Kevin Jackson
    Year: 2019
    Purchase From Best Buy

    3 From Hell – Movie Review:

    The very fact that 3 From Hell exists in the first place should let you know where we’re at when the picture starts. At the end of The Devil’s Rejects, it sure as shit looked like the Firefly family was done for but of course, they weren’t. Grainy newsreel footage catches us up on what happened, how they defied the odds and made it out alive and then wound up incarcerated for their many heinous crimes.

    A decade after doing hard time, Otis (Bill Moseley) busts out of the big house, meets up with his pal Winslow Foxworth Coltrane (Richard Brake) and, together, they work on getting Otis’ sister Baby (Sheri Moon Zombie) out of the joint. Captain Spaulding (Sid Haig)? He’s had some health issues that started to run rampant during his sentence. The warden of the prison, Virgil Harper (Jeff Daniel Phillips), knows that Otis won’t stop until he gets Baby out, while inside, a cruel warden named Greta (Dee Wallace) works her over. That night, the warden comes home and finds his family held captive by Otis and Winslow, clearly leverage to get Baby out – and it works.

    Once they’re reunited, they decide to high tail it to Mexico, slaughtering a bunch of people along the way.

    Zombie indulges his penchant for violence in this film without really saying much about it. We’re asked, even more than we were in The Devil’s Rejects, to identify with Otis, Baby and Foxy because everyone that they’re surrounded by is just as bad, if not worse. There are no good guys here, but the Firefly clan are posited in this picture as outlaw style folk heroes. This would have been fine if the movie had something to say or a legitimate reason for doing this, but it really doesn’t. They’re still deplorable violent killers and very hardened criminals out for themselves with no regard for anyone else. It’s interesting that the movie does see them adjusting to life outside of prison. A lot changed while they were behind bars, and Zombie was right to bring this aspect into his story, but it doesn’t ultimately wind up meaning a whole lot.

    This is, however, a much better movie than his last – the atrocious 31. The cinematography is better, the editing is better and the storytelling is better. Yeah, there are flashes of Zombie’s occasional tendencies to shoot things like a music video – slow motions shots of Sheri Moon Zombie walking down the prison halls in shackles definitely conjure up that feel – but the gritty, fast cut aesthetic employed here suits the material well enough. It’s a shame that there isn’t more to the story. Zombie pulls from various influences here – women in prison films, road movies, home invasion films and westerns, with a nod or two to Bring Me The Head Of Alfredo Garcia thrown in (and is that bandage on Baby’s nose a Chinatown reference?) but the film winds up devoid of much substance.

    The film also suffers from less Sid Haig. Granted, he was 80 when the film was made and not in good health, so it’s completely understandable that his character wouldn’t get as much screen time, but you miss the cantankerous old bastard that was Captain Spaulding in this one. Richard Brake is decent enough in his part, he fits in with Moseley and Moon Zombie rather well, but he lacks Haig’s screen presence. Most people do. Moseley is very good here, handling the material well and playing Otis as a mellower, older psychopath but a psychopath none the less. Moon Zombie plays Baby the same way she always has – determined and demented, but pretty annoying. Danny Trejo has a small part in the film and Barry Bostwick does some narration for it. Clint Howard also shows up here for a small role.

    It stands to reason that die-hard fans of the first two movies will enjoy this third chapter in the saga of the Firefly family and to be fair, it has moments that work. The film’s main problem, however, is that it doesn’t really seem to even try to bring anything new or even all that interesting to these characters.

    3 From Hell – Blu-ray Review:

    Lionsgate brings 3 From Hell to 4k UHD in a 2160p/HEVC H.265 encoded transfer framed at 1.85.1 widescreen, with HDR enhancement. The transfer on this disc is pretty impressive. Detail is excellent and the colors really pop a lot, without looking oversaturated. Black levels are spot on, skin tones look very good. The movie still has a gritty, almost dusty look to it and a lot of it takes place in dimly lit interiors, so you need to keep that in mind, but this transfer really does shine. There are no problems with compression or edge enhancement and the image is spotless.

    Audio chores are handled nicely by the English language 16-bit Dolby TrueHD 7.1 mix on the disc. Subtitles are offered in English SDH and Spanish. The 7.1 mix is solid. Not reference quality, but definitely very good. There’s plenty of surround activity during the more active scenes and the score and soundtrack are both spread out very well into the different channels. Levels are properly balanced throughout and the track is free of any hiss or distortion.

    The first extra of note is a commentary track from Rob Zombie that dives deep into the making of the film. He talks about bringing the characters back after the success of The Devil’s Rejects, influences that worked their way into the movie, working with the cast again, some of the locations that were used, shooting and editing the picture and much more. Zombie’s commentary tracks are typically quite interesting and this one is no exception to that. Additionally, the disc includes a ninety-five-minute documentary entitled To Hell And Back that in a lot of ways is more interesting than the feature itself. We get a lot of behind the scenes footage here and a real ‘fly on the wall’ look at what it was like on set.

    Rounding out the extras on the disc is a trailer for the feature, menus and chapter selection. Lionsgate packages this release with a slipcover. As this is a combo pack release, we also get a standard Blu-ray disc included inside the keepcase as well as an insert containing a download code for a digital HD version of the movie.

    What sets this release apart from the previous release is the packaging. Lionsgate has provided, as a Best Buy exclusive, a pretty nice steelbook that features some original art on the front and a cool plastic slipcover that slides overtop of the steelbook, adding faces overtop of the skulls of the three main characters.

    3 From Hell – The Final Word:

    3 From Hell is pretty mediocre but those enamored with the first two movies will probably enjoy it for what it is even if Zombie doesn’t really seem all that interested in trying anything new with his characters. Lionsgate’s UHD release looks excellent and sounds very good. Both the commentary and documentary add value to the package. All in all, it’s a very good release for a very unexceptional film, but the steelbook packaging is a really nice touch and sure to appeal to the film’s fan base.

    Click on the images below for full sized 3 From Hell Blu-ray screen caps!