Friday, November 4, 2016

Phil's Horror Watch: 31 (2016) from Lionsgate - November 4, 2016

31 Blu-Ray Cover
Starring Sherri Moon Zombie, Malcom McDowell, Jeff Daniel Phillips, Meg Foster, Lawrence Hilton-Jacobs, Kevin Jackson, Judy Geeson, Jane Carr, Richard Brake, Pancho Moler, Elizabeth Daily (E.G. Daily), Ginger Lynn Allen, David Ury, Torsten Voges
Written by Rob Zombie
Cinematography by David Daniel
Edited by Glenn Garland
Produced by Rob Zombie, Mike Elliot, Andy Gould, Michael Sherman, Matthew Perniciaro, Eddie, Vaisman, Craig Walendziak
Directed by Rob Zombie
Released by Lionsgate

Musician and filmmaker Rob Zombie has had, let's just say, a very colorful and controversial career in the horror genre. His 2003 directorial debut HOUSE OF A 1000 CORPSES was a decent film, but it didn't live up to all the hype surrounding it. His follow-up and sequel THE DEVIL'S REJECTS was a masterpiece of horror cinema. Then he did the unthinkable: he remade John Carpenter's 1978 classic HALLOWEEN. Needless to say, the movie received mixed reviews, caused an avalanche of controversy among fans but made a killing at the boxoffice, taking in $59.3 million worldwide. The 2009 sequel HALLOWEEN II fared worse and performed poorly in theaters. In 2012, Zombie directed THE LORDS OF SALEM, a throwback to those classic witch and satanic films from the 1970's. Combining intriguing characters, magical and mystical themes and art house style of filmmaking, it looked like Zombie was growing as a director and poised to go on to make some really intriguing and fascinating movies. Then last month I saw his newest film 31 and all my hopes and expectations were flushed completely down the crapper.

The film's official synopsis: Five carnival workers are kidnapped and held hostage in an abandoned, Hell-like compound where they are forced to participate in a violent game, the goal is to survive twelve hours against a gang of sadistic clowns.

The main problem I have with Zombie's films is that the characters are all interchangeable and they all sound the same. They're dirty looking, cuss like a truck driver, sound deranged and are about as deep as a child's swimming pool. Since THE DEVIL'S REJECTS, the majority of his characters have been exactly the same! While LORDS OF SALEM was something completely different, it had a couple of his trademark characters but it didn't take away from the story nor its main protagonist. I was really looking forward in seeing what we was going to do as a filmmaker, but not anymore.

Theatrical Movie Poster (2016)
Now the film did have a few shining moments within the proverbial garbage that I was subjected to see. The opening scene was very fascinating to watch, as it was shot in black and white with actor Richard Brake as Doom-Head talking directly into the camera. It's actually a POV shot as we are seeing him through the victim's eyes, which I thought it was a very effective way  as to giving the audience an idea of the tone of the movie. And I have to admit, seeing E.G. Daily all sexy and batshit crazy was pretty damn cool! She's come a long way since playing Dottie in PEE-WEE'S BIG ADVENTURE that's for damn sure!

The film was originally crowdfunded, giving fans the opportunity of bringing Zombie's vision into fruition. A lot of them (plus the media) were speculating that the movie would be a sequel within the Firefly Family Universe (CORPSES and REJECTS) based on the teaser poster which had a bloody clown face, the title and the words "a Rob Zombie film." Others thought it was a movie about serial killer John Wayne Gacy, or perhaps another HALLOWEEN installment. Zombie later said that the title 31 refers to October 31, the Halloween holiday itself. The idea for the film came about when he read a statistic stating that Halloween is the number one day throughout the calendar year that more people go missing than any other day. Also, because of the tone of the screenplay, he wanted the visuals  of the film to be really down and dirty (like his movies didn't already look like this).

The movie had its premiere at the 2016 Sundance Film Festival in Park City, Utah. Lionsgate picked up the distribution rights and gave it a limited theatrical release in September. Originally, the movie received an NC-17 from the MPAA twice before finally getting an R rating. Zombie assured fans that he would release an unrated director's version on home video.

To be honest 31 isn't Rob Zombie's best film to date. Is it gory? Yes. Is it grotesquely sickening? Absolutely. Is it profoundly disturbing that it feels like a snuff film? Pretty damn close. But the auteur doesn't bring anything new and fresh to his project. It looks, feels and sounds like your typical Rob Zombie film, basically your familiar with the characters because we've seen them in his other films. So if you were looking forward to watching this movie, I'm sorry to report that it's just not that good and your better off watching THE DEVIL'S REJECTS and LORDS OF SALEM. At least you'll enjoy those films!! 2 out of 5! Only watch if you're bored!

31 is available on both Blu-Ray and DVD. The movie is also available on iTunes, Video On Demand, digital download and Netflix.

Thanks for reading, and enjoy the screaming!

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