The Western Classics That Inspired Rob Zombie During The Devil's Rejects

Rob Zombie evokes a ... let's say passionate response from film-goers. His fans love him for all the wild swings he takes and his detractors feel just as passionately about the quality of said swings. However, if there's one thing most can agree on it's that his sophomore effort, 2005's "The Devil's Rejects," is the best movie. 

"The Devil's Rejects" stands apart from the rest of his filmography, thanks mostly to its throwback style, rooted heavily in the 1970s. All his work has some influence from that era of horror, but what makes "The Devil's Rejects" different from, say, "Halloween" is that Zombie pulled from more than just the horror genre. Like just about every movie Zombie has made, "Rejects" has a good amount of "The Texas Chain Saw Massacre" in its DNA, but Zombie also decided if he was going to do a sequel to his divisive and super gnarly "House of 1000 Corpses" he wanted to push it into a wildly different direction.

So, alongside the hardcore classic horror influences he decided to turn to a few unexpected genres, like Westerns and gangster movies.

The biggest influence was a classic Sergio Leone western called "Once Upon A Time in the West," starring Charles Bronson, Henry Fonda, and Claudia Cardinale.

Westerns and horror is an oddly good fit

"The Devil's Rejects" is, above all else, a revenge story. It follows the Firefly family as they're on the run from a Sheriff trying to avenge the death of his brother. "Once Upon a Time in the West" is also a revenge story that follows a loner (Bronson) out to kill a dastardly man in black (Fonda) who we find out killed his brother. The main difference between the two movies, plot-wise, is that we see most of "The Devil's Rejects" through the point of view of the killers, but that's where another late '60s and early '70s round of influences comes in.

Speaking with the wonderfully named, Zombie talked about the Leone influence as well as another surprising classic: "Bonnie and Clyde."

"It's funny, but when I was in pre-production with the crew I never once referenced a horror movie. Because my biggest fear when I was hiring the production designer or costume designer is that they would look at horror movies and I didn't want that look or feel. I would leave that part to me and I didn't want them to go and fall into the conventions of the genre. So I would tell them to go watch 'Once Upon a Time in the West,' 'Bonnie and Clyde' or 'The Gauntlet.'"

"Bonnie and Clyde" should make a ton of sense, as it also places the murderers as the protagonists of the story. It should also be noted that the ending of "Rejects" echoes "Bonnie and Clyde" as well as "Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid." 

So, by looking outside the genre Zombie crafted a unique kind of horror picture that stands out from the rest of his work.