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Rob Zombie's 3 From Hell gets teaser trailer

The last chapter in the bloody saga of the Firefly clan will soon be here.

Writer/director Rob Zombie posted the first teaser trailer for 3 From Hell, the long-awaited sequel to 2003's House of 1000 Corpses and 2005's The Devil's Rejects, to his YouTube channel today. It's brief and short on plot details, but it promises more of the gritty, gory mayhem Zombie's fans have come to expect.

While the previous two films weren't exactly well-received critically, they've become classics among a certain subset of horror fans — that is, those with a taste for rather extreme sadism and heaping helpings of gore. The first flick, his directorial debut, was a nasty, Texas Chain Saw Massacre-esque little piece about a group of four unfortunate hitchhikers who cross paths with the murderous family. Although the film was completed in 2000, it wasn't released until three years later, as a host of studios passed the film around like a hot potato due to its unrelenting and graphic violence (for which it was initially slapped with an NC-17 rating). Upon its release, the vast majority of critics panned it mercilessly — but horror fans appreciated Zombie's commitment to his (admittedly insane) vision, and were hungry for more.

They got it in 2005, when The Devil's Rejects hit the screen. It continued the story of two of the Firefly family members — Otis (Bill Moseley) and Baby (Sherri Moon Zombie), who survive a police ambush at the beginning of the film and go on the run, hoping to reunite with their father Captain Spaulding (Sid Haig). Critics were generally kinder to the film than they were to its predecessor, noting that Zombie's filmmaking skills had greatly improved — but even the kindest reviews warned moviegoers about its ridiculously extreme content. (In a positive review for Rolling Stone, Peter Travers called the film "indefensible on a moral level.")

Now, roughly fifteen months after it was first announced, we finally have our first look at Zombie's three-quel. It is all atmosphere, with lightning-quick cuts of its three… er, protagonists in action, apparently none the worse for wear after the conclusion of The Devil's Rejects (in which they were famously blown to bits in a hail of police bullets as Lynyrd Skynyrd's "Free Bird" played on the soundtrack). How, you may ask, could this be?

The answer may very well lie in the film's title, as well as in the lyrics of Zombie's song "The Devil's Rejects." As noted by Bloody Disgusting, Zombie sings of his "heroes" in that cheerful little ditty, "Hell doesn't want them, Hell doesn't want them, Hell doesn't love them." While there were no overtly supernatural elements in the first two films, the implication here is that Baby, Otis, and Captain Spaulding may very well have been blown to smithereens, only to find themselves in Hell, which… didn't want them. They are, after all, the Devil's rejects. (Thanks a lot, Lucifer.)

At any rate, this teaser doesn't give us the answer, but subtly suggests another question: just how can Zombie possibly top the utter mayhem and carnage of the two preceding films? There's no real graphic imagery on display here, but if you're thinking the filmmaker has any designs on toning it down, you should probably think again. As unbelievably extreme as House of 1000 Corpses was, The Devil's Rejects upped the ante considerably, an impressive feat in and of itself. The grimy, grindhouse aesthetic of the trailer evokes the best (or worst, depending on your point of view) qualities of '70s exploitation cinema, a strong influence on the entire series. All that's missing is that famous tagline from Wes Craven's Last House on the Left: "To avoid fainting, keep repeating to yourself — it's only a movie. It's only a movie. It's only a movie."

At any rate, Zombie die-hards don't have long to wait to find out what jaw-dropping horrors the director has in store for them this time around. The spot promises a 2019 release, although no firm date has been announced. We'll keep an eye out for that, and keep you informed; in the meantime, there's sure to be wild speculation about how the story of Otis, Baby, and Captain Spaulding could possibly find any kind of conclusion. After all, a literal storm of gunfire appears to have not done the trick of dispatching them; perhaps, after being rejected by the Devil, God will finally give in and let them into the other place. Seems like a pretty bad idea, but you never know.