31 (2016) Review
Written & Directed by Rob Zombie
Starring Sherri Moon Zombie, Malcolm McDowell, Richard Brake, Meg Foster, Jeff Daniel Phillips, Lew Temple,
Kevin Jackson, Judy Geeson, Lawrence Hilton-Jcobs, Jane Carr, Pancho Moler, Elizabeth Daily & Ginger Lynn Allen
The movie begins with Doom-Head spending a few minutes of eerie fourth wall breaking monologue introducing himself to both us the audience and a potential victim. Doom-Head, (played by criminally underrated character actor Richard Brake, lesser known for playing slimeball assholes in films such as Doom, better known for killing Bruce Wayne's parents in Batman Begins and playing The Night King who led the White Walkers and raised the dead at Hardhome in Game of Thrones), here he looks like a demented cross between Captain Spaulding and Ledger's Joker. Roll credits and we find out the movie is set on October 31st 1976, that would be exactly one year before the events of House of 1000 Corpses and I assume that's where the title '31' comes from. Our band of merry, soon to be dead protagonists are carnival workers on a road-trip cross country, Sherri Moon Zombie (no surprises there), Meg Foster, Jeff Daniel Philips aka bearded DJ guy from Lords of Salem and a few others are along for the ride.
They pull in at a gas station to fill up on fuel and refreshments when out of the blue pops Eliabeth Daily aka E.G. Daily. If you don't know who she is look her up, she's hot, and talented of course, her character's name is Sex-Head so I'm hoping she's gonna be some sort of Harley Quinn-esque killer clown. Interesting side-note, I've always fantasied about E.G. Daily as a slightly older Harley Quinn and strangely enough one of her best friends is Tara Strong - the voice of the original Harley in Batman:The Animated Series! They've both worked on various shows doing voice work together over the years, most notably Rugrats and The Powerpuff Girls. But hey, I'm rambling - and hoping E.G. gets 'Harley'd' up in some clown make-up later on.
So the gang are back on the road and its after dark, they're stopped by a roadblock made up of scarecrows. When they get out of the van to investigate their nightmare begins. They find themselves tied up in a giant compound known as Murderworld, and there they meet their hosts Father Murder (Malcolm McDowell and Sister Dragon (Judy Geeson). They explain to them their predicament - they must participate in a game called 31 where they have to last 12 hours fighting for their lives in a demented cat and mouse survival game against a gang of psychopaths dressed as clowns.
We're introduced to each of these clowns individually, each with 'Head' in their name for some reason - first up is Sick-Head (Latino-Nazi midget clown). Then we meet Schizo-Head & Psycho-Head, two chainsaw wielding redneck brothers played by David Ury and Rob Zombie regular Lew Temple. Then we get Death-Head, a 6ft 9 tutu wearing, spiked baseball bat wielding German giant. And finally we get to see Sex-Head in all her crazy clown psycho bitch glory. Not quite Margot Robbie but I'd still give her one.
Before they use their back-up plan and set Doom-Head on the survivors they tease us with two others - Rage-Head and Bash-Head, maybe they're saving them for a sequel? Anyway, Doom-Head gets a phone-call rudely interrupting him while he's banging porn star Ginger Lynn Allen. Here she's playing a hooker called Cherry Bomb, in The Devil's Rejects she played a hooker called Fanny. I think it would've been a cool little connection between both movies if she played the same prozzy, but hey that's just me.
Doom-Head is one of the coolest killers I've seen in a horror movie in a long time, just awesome, definitely action figure worthy (NECA or McFarlane get on that shit!). His performance here leads me to believe he would make a perfect Joker in a darker Batman movie, maybe if DC ever had the balls to adapt Grant Morrison's Arkham Asylum graphic novel to the big screen.
The ending is as epic and unpredictable/predictable as you'd expect from a Zombie film but all in all I enjoyed the hell out of it. As I've said all year 2016 has been a fairly shitty year for horror in my opinion and 31 was the only horror film I've been really looking forward to. I wasn't disappointed. The story itself is far from original, actually it's one thats all too familiar since the dawn of time and since the early days of cinema. Most notably the 1932 film The Most Dangerous Game based on the 1924 book by Richard Connel, this 'man hunting man for sport' story has been rehashed and retold over and over throughout the years - the infamous Australian video nasty Turkey Shoot aka Blood Camp Thatcher, Surviving The Game with Ice T, Hard Target with Van Damme, The Condemned with Stone Cold Steve Austin etc. The most famous though would be the epic Battle Royale. Take that familiar story, stick it in the 70's with typical Rob Zombie characters spouting out typical Rob Zombie style dialogue and you get 31. It's basically an old-school slasher film but instead of one psycho killer we get a gang of them. It's not Zombie's best film by any means but it's a hell of a fun ride with plenty of surprises and sick shocks along the way. Obviously Rob Zombie haters will hate it before they even see it but anyone who enjoyed both Firefly family outings and either of Zombie's forays into Haddonfield should enjoy the shit out of 31. And it's serious jerk-off material for Juggalos. Send in the clowns....