Me and Rob Zombie have a very complex relationship and lets just say 31 has not helped.
As already discussed in my review of his respectful remake of Halloween and his brilliant 2012 psychedelic chiller Lords of Salem I was neither a fan of his music or his first two films however I changed my mind, in fact I ended my last Rob Zombie review with these words – “Thanks to The Lords of Salem I am now a fan of Rob Zombie.”
Sadly after forcing myself to sit through his latest atrocious, arduous and frankly fucking awful directorial offering its safe to say that thanks to 31 my fandom has faded.
Starting out with a pre-credit black and white monologue scene straight out of Quentin Tarantino’s Big Book of How to Make Cool Movie’s (which may or may not exist) we jump to October 31st 1976 and the boring and unlikable set of characters we are supposed to be rooting for in this useless picture.All carnival workers packed into a camper van there is spooky skinny psychic woman Venus Virgo (They Live’s Meg Foster), annoying manly boss man Roscoe (Jeff Daniel Phillips), ridiculous Rasta Panda (Lawrence Hilton-Jacobs), least annoying person in the film Levon (Kevin Jackson) and Rob Zombie’s wife Sheri Moon Zombie because she has to be the lead in every film he makes or else I guess.
Anyway the idiots get kidnapped and end up trapped in a crazy murder world where three insane aristocrats dressed in wigs with powdered faces lead by Malcolm McDowell inform them they have to survive for 12 hours in their lair while playing 31 a game of cat and mouse where they are the mice and the cat’s, well the cat’s are crazy weapon wielding clowns.
I know some of you may be thinking ‘That all sound pretty great to me!’ but thats because you haven’t had to put up with the awful character development, inept ideas and derivative direction that got you to this point. The rest of the film is the group facing a series of killer clowns all supposedly more sick and twisted than the last and thats where 31 and Zombie himself fails most of all as a writer and director.
Ignoring how unoriginal an idea 31 is, which is pretty hard to do, what could have saved it was some truly magnificent murders. Hobo with a Shotgun and Frankenstein’s Army both contained some insanely inspired psychopaths which elevated the rest of the movies elements no end.
Robert Bartleh Cummings, for that is Rob Zombie’s real name, however gives us a Nazi midget swearing in Mexican, two foul mouthed sex obsessed Hicks, an evil blonde German in bondage and his a sick sex kitten all coming across to the audience as characters either too desperate to offend or something they have seen a million times before.
The only stand out turn is Richard Brake’s Doom-Head who appears in the opening and obviously returns as the final foe for the surviving few to face. Channelling Heath Ledger’s Joker and Texas Chainsaw Massacres Hitchhiker his performance is chilling but ultimately ruined by a dumb anticlimactic ending.
Oh and did you know that 31 was crowdfunded? Yes apparently Rob Zombie doesn’t have enough money or sway to get his horror movies made any more either that or producers hated the script as much as I hated the film and so he had to get the film crowdfunded TWICE on a fan website. You can see a list of the stuff he was offering out if you paid him HERE and there is a crap quote about how he is going it for the fans but whatever I call bullshit straight away on that one because he just wanted their money to be wasted on this and not his own!
Puerile, pointless and gratuitously grotesque fans of The Devil’s Rejects and House of 1000 Corpses will herald 31 as a return to form I am sure however after the intelligent and inventive Lords of Salem it is a giant fall back into the cess pit of trite horror.
Perhaps Lords of Salem was a fluke and Rob Zombie is just as bad as I always believed. I guess its up to him now to prove me wrong!