Horror threequel 3 From Hell shocked fans by killing off a key character early, and here's the reason director Rob Zombie excised them from the remainder of the film. While Zombie has directed multiple films over the course of his career, he's most closely associated with his initial creations, the Firefly family. Introduced in 2003's House of 1000 Corpses, Otis (Bill Moseley), Baby (Sheri Moon Zombie), and Captain Spaulding (Sid Haig) would go on to claim more victims while going up against a lawman arguably even more ruthless in 2005 sequel The Devil's Rejects. Now, they're back as part of Zombie's latest effort, 3 From Hell.
In 3 From Hell, three members of the Firefly family go on a new killing spree, but as fans have come to find out, it's actually not the three most were expecting. Despite initial marketing still leading fans to believe that Otis, Baby, and Spaulding were back in the saddle, it turns out Spaulding isn't one of the titular trio. In fact, he's barely in the new film at all.
As has became apparent in recent weeks, Haig isn't a major player in 3 From Hell, but it's safe to say that still didn't prepare most Firefly fans for Captain Spaulding to be unceremoniously killed off just a few minutes into the film. Before Otis and Baby even manage to escape from prison with the help of newly introduced brother Foxy (Richard Brake), Spaulding is executed for his crimes, as he Otis and Baby had been on death row since surviving their encounter with police at the end of The Devil's Rejects. After that, Spaulding is barely mentioned again, but thanks to a recent interview EW conducted with Zombie, we know why the former clown was used so sparingly in 3 From Hell.
"The movie that I prepped to make, and was getting ready to start shooting, it was Captain Spaulding, Otis, and Baby, the three originals. But three weeks out from shooting, I got a call from Sid Haig. He had been in the hospital, and he had just had surgery, and he was now recovering in a rehabilitation facility. I’m like, holy sh—, this is a serious business. So, I went to see him, and he had changed drastically from the last time I saw him. Because Sid, he’s big and burly, and now he’s tiny as a skeleton.
"So, I was like, oh man. I kind of realized, yeah, he’s in rough shape. So, at that point I was kind of f—ed. I created this character Foxy for Richard Brake. [...] A lot of the scenes with Foxy were supposed to be Spaulding and I twisted things around so I didn’t have to rewrite every single thing. [...] I knew it was so important [Haig] be part of the movie. Lionsgate was fine with me sort of sneaking him in one day to shoot as much as I could. It was on me to make sure that nothing went wrong. So I got him in, I shot everything I could shoot."
While the above interview was published a few days before 3 From Hell's release, even without it, fans likely would've been able to figure things out. For one, Haig was recently admitted again to the ICU after suffering an accident, and is now recovering. For two, the man is 80-years-old, and despite still being able to muster up some of the old Spaulding attitude during his brief prison scenes, it's clear Haig isn't quite the intimidating presence he once was, and isn't in the best of health.
As disappointing as it is that Haig's role in 3 from Hell couldn't use Captain Spaulding to the character's full potential, the director's explanation certainly presents a logical reason why that is. Fans wouldn't tolerate the iconic role being recast, yet not including him at all would be upsetting too. At least this way Spaulding got a brief moment to shine before his character was written out, and a brief scene later in the film does at least establish that Baby and Otis do feel the pain of his loss, as they all loved each other in their own twisted way.
Still, some fans may argue that there was no need to kill Spaulding off in 3 From Hell, as he could've just been left in prison, or escaped separately from the others and had his final fate left up in the air. Dramatically though, those scenarios wouldn't make sense. Haig's physical condition wouldn't make an independent Spaulding escape believable, and it's also impossible to imagine his family members leaving him to rot in prison after making their own exits. Plus, Zombie may well want to make a fourth film continuing the Firefly saga, and as sad as it is to contemplate, Haig many not be around to appear at all whenever that time rolls around.