Wednesday, January 27

Does Bad CGI Kill The Devil’s Rejects?

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Rob Zombie’s masterpiece The Devil’s Rejects is one of my favorite films of all time, and i’m not just talking in the horror genre.  When I first laid eyes on the movie that was gracing the big screen, I was so blinded by my love for what I was bearing witness to that I don’t think I even noticed the huge flaw inherent throughout almost its entire run time.  In more recent viewings however, I simply cannot help but take note of this flaw.  The afformentioned flaw of course being the use, or over use, of computer generated images, CGI.  But how much of a problem is it and does it take away from the overall greatness of the film?  Let’s take a closer look.

It’s a good 50 minutes before the bad CG rears its ugly head, which is also when the gore in the film amps up,and it’s the scene of Zombie’s wife throwing her knife into the Threes Company chicks heart that kicks it off.  The knife looks totally fake and as she falls to her knees after being hit, it wobbles around and doesn’t even stay in the same place as it originally was.  There’s no excuse for the CGI to be this bad.  I will say though, that the knife does look a lot better coming out than it did going in.

Diamond Dallas Page shooting that quickie handjob gal between the eyes is the second time you probably noticed something very wrong. The little red/black dot appears on her head out of nowhere and strange fake looking blood begins to ooze out.  It looks utterly ridiculous and sucks a good portion of the intensity out of the scene.  Should’ve diamond cut her, Dallas.  When it’s obvious what we’re seeing is not real, how the hell are we supposed to believe it?!  There was an awesome head shot on Brian Posehn just a half an hour or so before this.  Why couldn’t they just employ the same effect?!

Perhaps the most obvious use of CG comes when Ken Foree gets Scatman Crothers-ed by Wydell.  When the axe comes out, so does a neon looking red liquid, which hardly resembles blood.  I understand it’s kinda tough to get the red stuff to show up in a dark location, but I hardly think this was the proper solution.  A major characters death becomes a laughable scene, as opposed to a memorable one.  You deserved better, Ken.

The same neon looking blood makes an appearance when Tiny pulls the Jesus nail out of Otis’ hand.  Take a look at that screenshot!  Need I say more?!  The second nail pull out is done entirely with practical effects and it looks fuckin awesome.  What  gives?

And then we come to the end.  This is by far the coolest ending ever in a horror film and even the worst misuses of CGI couldn’t take that trophy away from the film, but the stuff is there and it does hurt the overall impact a tiny bit.  Seemingly every bullet hit and blood splatter in every second of the final minutes of the film were done via CG, but everythings going by so fast (even though it’s in slow mo) to really notice or be bothered by it.   The bullet hits (aka perfectly round black dots) towards the end in particular are pretty bad, but it’s such an awesome fuckin scene that we’ll let all that slide.

So does all this CGI ruin the film?  Absolutely without question not. It’s so good that it overcomes any flaws. In fact, the average horror goer probably didn’t even notice any of it (hope I didn’t ruin the film for ya with subsequent viewings!).  It sticks a knife into the film, but manages to miss all vital organs and most definetly does not deliver a fatal death blow, like the ones that have been dealt to so many horror films before by the silent killer known as CGI.  It’s just that i’d expect so much better from Rob Zombie.  He’s a true horror fan and surely he should know that horror fans wanna see practical effects, not computer generated crap.  I understand it saves time and all, but we as horror fans deserve better.

All that said, Devil’s Rejects is still a masterpiece and I still bow down before Mr. Zombies feet.  I take comfort in the fact that at least the flaws lie in the hands of tech geeks and not Zombie’s filmmaking aptitude, and I bet he does too.  Although the director is allowed to say “cut that out…that looks horrible”…..

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