Rob Zombie’s 31 takes place in 1976 on Halloween, mixing the plot of The Running Man and many twisted clowns, into a blender throttling a bloodbath of delights, gore effects and some dark sexual vibes, in other words, a typical Zombie movie. Discounting his work of Halloween and part two, remakes, he definitely does not fit the typical style of the average director, rather incorporates experimental angles, and elements into his flicks often intense, extreme and enjoyable. This film actually became his first crowdfunded film, establishing a budget of $1.5 million, and resulting in a 20-day production and a body count of 14, in this grindhouse clown theme set to a very cool 1970s rock soundtrack.
The film opens with a creepy cryptic speech from a clown (Richard Brake), then brutally killing a victim, not before informing him of the sexual sadism to a love one of his. It then switches to the true beginning of the movie involving a band of unusual carnies traveling group outfitted with a burlesque show motoring their way to Las Vegas on the day before Halloween. Late at night on an isolated road the group in an RV stop for some crudely made scarecrows on the highway, now instead just going through, and making a mess, they get out to politely remove them. A major mistake as all horror fans know, as they find themselves trapped and attacked, but to understand why them and there, viewers will need to watch the entire movie. Soon enough only five of them remain, no surprise of who one of them actual is, and their role in the film, Charly (Sheri Moon Zombie), Venus (Meg Foster), Panda (Lawrence Hilton-Jacobs), Roscoe (Jeff Daniel Phillips), and Levon (Kevin Jackson), taken to a theater room all strung up for the next act. Then everyone learns quickly the name of the places – Murderworld, and their appearance fits a mad game of design and controlled by Father Murder (the incredible Malcolm McDowell). Now in lies a small problem, the audience needs to care about one the prisoners, and their previous actions make it a challenging case, for anyone to concern themselves over the lot, likely start to charm to the villains in this movie. The game keepers only ever shown in their room, which includes in addition to McDowell, in a French nobility outfit, Sister Serpent and Dragon (Jane Carr and Judy Geeson) respectively, and four naked Lounge Girls. The rules to their mad Halloween game (hence the 31 tie-in), consist of surviving for 12-hours while facing different obstacles, namely hunters with bizarre qualities and names, and free to go home. The first Sick-Head (Pancho Moler), a little person donning a Hitler outfit, while the game masters layout odds on the victims, but it seems only those three playing the game. As the game starts, the more killers enter into the maze of locations, each carrying new weapons and more enjoyable methods of killing and torture. Among the clown characters name Cherry Bomb (Ginger Lynn), Sex-Head (Elizabeth Daily), Death-Head (Torsten Voges), and chainsaw maniacs tag-team Psycho-Head (Lew Temple) and Schizo-Head (David Ury) the dwindling team find themselves as mice in a cage and more issues as their odds increase on surviving the situation. It is when Father Murder makes the call to the ultimate killing machine, and the meeting of the animalistic passion of Doom-Head (Brake), who appears extremely qualified and for those unsure of him, think of a Bill Moseley meets Bill Oberst Jr for a whirlwind of insanity and rage killing with intent. His interactions with Sheri make for interesting tease and entertaining ordeals, especially twirling his knives.
This movie shows Zombie, for whom he is, a vicious and gritty filmmaker, and delivers exactly what his fans want, and never expands it any further, and it does result some enjoyment but questions. As to whom Father Murder actual is, the reason for this game and why isn’t any interaction shown between him and the sisters and the lounge ladies. Horror fans do enjoy character-developing stories, and while straightforward pays off, some variation on his tested platform of film likely increase both is screenwriter and director strengths. Sheri’s character Charly strives to convince the audience of her worth with the mentality of instead hiding out lash out against their superior adversaries. In addition, to script and dialogue the language clearly shows Rob’s favorite word – F-bombs, and his passion for going clearly over the top with his creation. The actors find cover in more sweat and blood then likely ever before in their careers, which also earn three trips to the editing room to secure an R-rating from the censor board of the MPAA. Fret not Zombie fans, all the customary tactics find themselves include, from the nudity, to women experiencing brutalizing agonies and trashy cinematic moments, and more blood, guts and gore.
Rejoice horror fans, 31 delivers with hellish delights and gallons of blood spillage, although the plot and storyline, tend for remix of The Running Man (1987), the gamesman showmanship of all parties lends some creativity on a variation of a horror movie with a connection to Halloween. The clown mayhem never quiets down too much, and for the resting moments, the character’s decisions remind us of the nonsense logic which lead to horrendous encounters with the newest villain in horror – Doom-head, definitely don’t want to answer the door and find Richard Brake.