Living in the Real Desert: Fact Resembling Fiction

Quartzsite, Arizona mystery mobile home graveyard

Riding to town this afternoon I decided to take an alternate route to the main strip leading to town. A quick decision was made to take a dirt road where the surface was hard packed enough to make the bike tires move fairly well despite the lack of asphalt. It was this detour that made living in the real desert suddenly become “fact” eerily resembling fiction.

Perhaps it has to do with the fact that I’ve been binge watching all my DVD horror collection. Three of these films were watched back-to-back; the first being Wes Craven’s 1977 The Hills Have Eyes with the delightful Michael Berryman and “Lassie’s mom” Dee Wallace, and the last two being the damned good remake of the original film and the 2007 The Hills Have Eyes II that deviated from its Craven roots by a lot.

Screen shot from The Hills Have Eyes II 2007
The Hills Have Eyes II 2007

So it was with something resembling trepidation and downright creeped out fascination that I observed what appeared to be a sort of graveyard for mobile homes, aka trailers, RV’s and boats off the side of the road. On the opposite of this dirt road is a recycling business.

Boats, truck and propane tanks
Boats?

Slowing to a stop, I took some pictures and observed that apart from a couple of different sized watercraft vehicles there was also an old propane truck, complete with tank on tow behind it. A few RVs and a big trailer with a semi, or Mack” cab set up to pull the silver monstrosity if its tires weren’t flat.

More RVs...
Please forgive the blur, pictures taken “on the run.”

The whole thing had a sort of “horror film feel” to it. Especially as the first trailer/mobile home had a shadowy figure lurking behind the big window in the stripped “living room.”

Creepy.

It really felt like fiction had become fact, behind that tall fence in the “real desert.”  Although arguably these skeletal remains of holiday vehicles and abodes did not resemble the “nuke town” in The Hills Have Eyes II.

In front of the odd assortment of “dead” tin human receptacles is an old RV park that has had a “closed” sign on it since I got here at least. This derelict “Winnebago” version of the Bates Motel, looks to have been closed for some time. No stuffed animals or murderous mummy’s boy named Norman here…

Hopefully.

However, this place looks like an old deserted drive-in theatre, the site has old electrical hookup standing lonely and disconnected next to small rectangles of gravel and what appears to be a water outlet of some sort.

Tour trailer derailed
No “Highway to Hell” for this tour vehicle…

There is a “reception” building that looks as deserted as the old damaged denizens of the graveyard behind it, but there are a couple of dirty cars in front of the structure and about 500 yards away from it, next to a wash, or arroyo, is a washing line and the drying clothes hanging there change regularly.

Someone is washing their clothes and apparently living in the rundown and creepy looking old RV park with all those dead occupants scattered behind it…

It honestly creeped me out and after taking a few hasty pictures with my trusty iPhone, I got the hell out of there in case Papa Jupiter came after me with his family trailing behind. This living in the real desert lark does sometimes feature fact that certainly resembles fiction and vice versa. A little hard on the nerves of an older “big kid” with an overactive imagination.

15 February 2015

The Devils Rejects (2005): Zombie Western Horror

Rob Zombie wrote and directed this sequel to House of a 1000 Corpses. After the financial success of Corpses Lions Gate Entertainment were eager for Zombie to make another film.

Rob had an idea for a sequel while filming Corpses about the sheriff’s brother coming after the Firefly clan in an act of deadly revenge. With the idea in place Zombie began to craft The Devil’s Rejects  with the aim of making the film less comedic and more horrific.

Rob stated that he wanted it to feel a bit likeThe Wild Bunch , Bonnie and Clyde and Badlands. The influence of all three films can be seen in the final cut of Rejects.

The Devil’s Rejects opens with the Sheriff’s brother, Sheriff Wydell (William Forsythe) surrounding the Firefly house with a posse of lawmen. After telling the besieged family to surrender or die a prolonged shoot-out ensues with every one in the house being shot to rag-doll ribbons.

Otis (Bill Mosely) and Baby (Sherri Moon Zombie) manage to escape, but Mother Firefly is captured by Wydell. Otis and Baby after murdering a nurse to steal her car hide out at a motel.

At the motel Baby starts flirting with Roy (Geoffrey Lewis) who part of a country music band and when they head back to Roy’s room, Otis shows up and they take the entire band hostage. What follows is the hardest part of the film to watch.

Gone are the comedic undertones that make Corpses so amusing. Otis and Baby have grown p as it were and they set upon the band member with vicious and horrific acts of violence. Otis rapes Roy’s wife Gloria (Priscilla Barnes) and later kills the two remaining men. He cuts one of their faces off and returns to the motel room with his victims face over his own.

The two contact their father Captain Spaulding (Sid Haig) and they meet at the motel. After their reunion they all go to the Chicken Ranch, a brothel run by family friend Charlie Altamont (Ken Foree) and his lackey Clevon (Michael Berryman).

Sheriff Wydell has hired two bounty hunters to help track down the remaining Firefly family members, one of the bounty hunters is Danny Trejo, they catch up with them at the chicken ranch.

The cast list of The Devil’s Rejects reads like a horror-thon reunion. P.J. Soles, Michael Berryman,  and Kane Hodder all make appearances in the film.

With his second feature Rob Zombie has fine tuned his cinematic and horror skills. Focusing more on the evil side of the Firefly brood, he has toned down the hilarity that was present in his first film. He also gives the characters a chance to show who and what they really are.

The interaction between Baby, Otis and dad, Captain Spaulding is touching, funny and revealing. That this family unit is dysfunctional is obvious and just as apparent is their love (however strange) for one another.

Yet despite the more horrific nature of the film and it’s lead characters, we are fond of the backwater Dionysian family and when the film ends to the music of Lynyrd  Skynyrd’s Free Bird we are sad and a little touched.