I have a soft spot, a scab that I keep picking, for Rob Zombie’s movies. Something about the look of them really tickles my fancy: the grittiness to it all, the sweat stained look on everyone’s skin and clothing, and just that undeniable stench of body odor and swamp ass in that dry heat where so many of his movies seem to take place. Perhaps it is the country music fan in me that appeals?
I also love seeing Sheri Moon-Zombie half naked. That’s a big one for any male horror fan young or old.
It feels like I waited years to finally see Rob Zombie’s 31. I heard rumours about it around the time that The Lords of Salem was hitting horrorfests. At one point, I was even thinking it was secretly Halloween 3 (given the specific number of 31 and all) but then production was stalled. I heard reshoots were necessary and when it was finally finished, the production company that purchased it went bankrupt.
That undeniable stench of body odor and swamp ass
Alas, a teaser poster went online this past summer and suddenly there were select screenings. In Canada, I waited for some concrete release date in a theatre and not simply on iTunes but nothing certain. One warm October night, I switched on my Android TV Box and there it was, ready for my viewing pleasure. I didn’t quite know what to expect, but I knew I was going get an hour and a half of great shock cinema; plenty of gore, guts with gratuitous nip slips in between.
The movie starts off introducing five travelling carnival workers who are inevitably kidnapped, held hostage, and forced to try and survive a twelve hour murder marathon in which they will be hunted like wild game. Its Stone Cold Steve Austin’s The Condemned meets Predators so I can’t say Zombie reinvented the wheel with the plot in this one. To sum it up for this genre, think basically the three-way love child of The Running Man, The Purge and The Texas Chainsaw Massacre. (…But really, what’s so bad with that? It’s Rob Zombie!)
What he lacks in story originality, all the creativity reflected through the villains in this film was outstanding. Emphasis on character and unique new additions to our horror fandom is something Zombie nails out of the park every time. From Malcolm McDowell looking like Paul Revere – sporting a powder white wig and taking bets on who’s next to die – to a Neo-Nazi midget who swings switchblades, the twin brothers that opted to dress as dirty clowns (talk about foreshadowing current clown events) that wield chainsaws to, finally, Doom-Head. This guy is a one hundred and forty pound easy fan favourite murderer. Doom-Head, when he isn’t taking his skin boat to tuna town, acts and looks like the most violent Joker incarnation that Batman has ever laid his dark knight eyes on. This crew of murderous monsters would be the most fucked up alternative Suicide Squad ever.
The movie holds so much within its carnival atmosphere that I need not spoil it here. The psychedelic trip for the viewer, which anybody who has watched a Rob Zombie film knows all too well, will appreciate this particular visit. Needless to say I loved 31 and I’m no critic by any means (great thing to say while reviewing a movie). Zombie didn’t break any new ground which did leave a tad bit of disappointment seeing as how this movie was to be his climactic horror presentation. That said I believe he gave a perfectly acceptable gore driven movie; balancing blood, nudity and rip-roaring fun.