Long Version: As I reflect on Rob Zombie’s latest film, 31, I try to think of the best parts of the movie. I did not walk away from it spouting “tutti-fucking-frutti” line over and over. Even though I am a notorious light weight who cannot stand the smallest drop of blood, I did not have to step out for air and I did not almost pass out. 31 is standard Rob Zombie film, only it was not as good as a typical Rob Zombie film. In fact, if it were not for the typical Zombie cast, I would be writing this review bashing someone for poorly trying to rip off the style of Rob Zombie. I shelled out the extra cash for the Fathom Event at my local theater. Due to the film’s limited release and such movies typically do not make it to this section of the Rust Belt, I figured this was the only chance I had to see it on the big screen. The event included world premieres of the music videos “Gore Whore” and “Get Your Boots On,” the film, a pre-recorded Q&A with Rob Zombie, and a section of the documentary of the making of the movie that provided a behind-the-scenes look at filming the movie. During my viewing, there were technical difficulties during the music videos that were abruptly shut off. I enjoyed the movie, but it did not have the jump out and scare you scenes that warrant a theater viewing. The Q&A and behind-the-scenes footage were both enjoyable, but not enough for me to fork out more money. During the Q&A, Rob Zombie reveals that the bare skeleton premise of 31 was born out of frustration. Zombie was frustrated that he could not get Broad Street Bullies, a movie about the Philadelphia Flyers, off the ground. He believed he could pitch the dumbest sounding movie and get the green light for it over Broad Street Bullies. He pitched that five people are kidnapped, tortured, and have to play a game for their lives. The framework was there and the rest came later. Zombie knew a movie like 31 would be made because it was something people expected and understood. Nonetheless, Zombie turned to crowd funding to float the majority of the cost of the movie. The result was a watered down version of what I would expect from Rob Zombie. The movie had gore, violence, sex, and nudity, but it felt like Zombie just went through the motions. When I watch an exploitation or Zombie movie, I want to feel a little guilty for liking it, not because it is a crappy movie, but because I do not want people to think I am a depraved person for liking it. As I mentioned, the plot of the film is fairly simple. Picture it, Halloween 1976. A group of carnies are travelling the United States in an RV, planning out their line-up. We get an incredibly brief look at the characters, not enough to really become invested emotionally. They stop at a gas station named Lucky Leo’s to get gas. Before they get too far, they are ambushed. A few of the disposal Red Shirt carnies are killed during the ambush while the remaining five are kidnapped, chained, and stand before three people in Aristocratic wigs in a cathedral. Father Napoleon-Horatio-Silas Murder (Malcolm McDowell) explains to the five carnies, Charly (Sheri Moon Zombie), Roscoe (Jeff Daniel Phillips), Panda (Lawrence Hilton-Jacobs), Venus Virgo (Meg Foster), and Levon (Kevin Jackson) will be facing several people, referred to as “heads”, over the next 12 hours. The group must wander around a maze at night while the different heads torture and try to kill them. Father Murder explains the odds of each carnie surviving, even though he believes none will survive. Father Murder and the other wig clad voyeurs, Sister Dragon (Judy Geeson) and Sister Serpent (Jane Carr) place their bets and act like a Greek chorus throughout the movie, reflecting on the players in the game, the heads, making bets, and the changing odds. I went to the movie fulling expecting to be disgusted by the blood and guts. I turned away several times, but was not shaken. Most of the deaths were pretty predictable even though the different heads were each unique and shocking, ranging from Sick-Head (Pancho Moler), a little person with clown makeup and a Hitler haircut and a Swastika painted on his bare chest to the duo of Death-Head (Torsten Voges) and Sex-Head (Elizabeth Daily) a 6’9 Goliath in a tutu and swimming goggles and a blue-wigged lollipop carrying vixen. Zombie channeled the 1939 classic The Wizard of Oz by having several of the heads appear earlier in the film and at the gas station. Not only did Zombie create a bizarre version of The Hunger Games, he also ripped off a surprise scene from The Rocky Horror Picture Show when it is revealed that Panda and Roscoe sat down to a decked out dinner service and dined on Levon, whose body just so happened to be entombed in the table, hiding just underneath the table cloth. The menacing Doom-Head (Richard Brake) who had never been defeated was not terrifying. In fact, he was one of the best incarnations of the Joker since Heath Ledger. Doom-Head and Sex-Head would have vastly improved this year’s Suicide Squad. Though the movie lacked the brutality and originality that I would expect from Zombie, it was still entertaining, but will be forgettable. I think I liked the movie because it reunited me with Dottie, Evil-Lyn, Freddie Boom-Boom Washington, and Bob the Goon. The soundtrack also included some of my favorite songs such as Aerosmith’s Dream On and The Mamas and the Papas singing California Dreamin’. I have not given up on Zombie. The movie opened with Doom-Head and his character had potential. His was without any conscience and had an obvious hatred for everyone. He also had some of the best lines in the movie. He could have been iconic if Zombie had just tried polished his character a little more. Aesthetically, the movie contained some wonderful images and shots. My favorite was the use of strobe lights illuminating and flashing on Sex-Head’s face as she attacked Roscoe. It was visually stunning and haunting. It was one of the most intriguing images I have ever seen. — Jessica Sowards Short Version: Rob Zombie is the white-trash horror Wes Anderson. He just can’t help but shovel as much spooky Hot Topic garbage into every scene as he can. — Adam Barraclough Share this:TweetShare on TumblrLike this:Like Loading... Related One Response Advance Review: 31 (2016) Blu-ray - Psycho Drive-In December 19, 2016 […] Rob Zombie’s latest white-trash Hot Topic horror show, 31, hit theaters, we ran two reviews. Jessica gave it a thorough going over, and then Adam came in with a two sentence summation. Both […] Log in to Reply Leave a Reply Cancel ReplyYou must be logged in to post a comment.