Directed By: Rob Zombie
Starring: Sheri Moon Zombie, Jeff Daniel Phillips, Lawrence Hilton-Jacobs, Meg Foster, Kevin Jackson, Malcolm McDowell, Judy Geeson, Jane Carr, Richard Brake, Pancho Moler, Lew Temple, David Ury, EG Daily, Torsten Voges, Ginger Lynn
Synopsis: A group of carnies are abducted and forced to play a murderous game of cat and mouse with killer, psychotic clowns.
Thoughts: When you sit down to watch a Rob Zombie movie, there are certain things you should expect. First, he has a deep love of the horror genre, so there are often some very obvious influences from other movies as well as familiar faces from the genre. Second, you’ll get the unmistakable Rob Zombie look and feel. Lastly, you’ll get his wife, Sheri Moon Zombie.
31 is no different. Saw, The Purge, The Hills Have Eyes, The Running Man and other movies all seem to have influenced 31 at least a little bit. As far as genre stars, this may be one of the lightest representations of genre stars in any of his films. Meg Foster and Malcolm McDowell are huge names and Lew Temple has done a few movies and The Walking Dead, but other than that, there are some lesser known and new names here.
It has Zombie usual gritty feel, complete with his raucous soundtrack, dirty settings and gratuitous use of profanity. Of course, his wife is front and center in the movie. Some people can’t stand her, but I often don’t mind her acting. Maybe I’ve gotten used to it, but I also think that there is a part of me that thinks it’s pretty cool that Zombie puts her in all his movies, no matter what anyone says.
As far as the movie itself, it’s a very a basic storyline. A group of friends making a cross country trip run into trouble. This particular trouble just happens to be a sadistic trio of aristocrats employing psychotic clowns (there’s that RZ twist). The group of friends tend to blend into most of Zombie’s other characters from Halloween, The Devil’s Rejects and House of 1000 Corpses, but he does make an impression with the clowns.
Pancho Moler is unforgettable as Sick-Head, a midget Hitler that is the first clown to hunt the group. I’ve read that some people found him annoying, but I thought her was hilarious and a great character. The other “Heads” (Psycho, Schizo, Sex and Death) are fairly shallow characters and don’t spend a lot of time on screen, but they do the job. The real star here is Richard Brake as Doom-Head. While he follows many of the RZ stereotypes, he does it with flare and really delivers an awesome adversary.
Overall, I found this to be one of Zombie’s most entertaining movies to date. It’s not his best, I’d give that to The Devil’s Rejects, and it’s not his most original (Lords of Salem), but it was the one I had the most fun watching. Maybe it’s the clowns, but I think it has a lot to do with that he didn’t try to hard here. He ran with an idea and I think it really worked. This isn’t going to blow your mind or turn the genre on its head, but grab a drink and some popcorn and enjoy this ride courtesy of Rob Zombie.