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31 - Movie Review

3 stars

Zombie is not finished with Halloween just yet, Boils and Ghouls. 

>Rob Zombie’s 31 is not nearly as good as you’ll want it to be.  It’s also not as bad as other critics are suggesting it is.  The film does EXACTLY what it needs to do, but without establishing any real purpose.    Its simplicity, when measured against the taboos it scales, is just a tad too slight for the film’s own good.  It's not about anything really.  It's a snapshot of survival.  31 is not Halloween-inspired fodder to be laughed at, but neither is that self-aware to invite harmless chuckles.  I’m not saying that you won’t, under the right conditions, have fun watching 31, I just think Zombie – seven movies into his filmography – can and will do better.  

For my part, the main issue with the horror movie is a simple one.  It’s not the absurdity.  It’s not the piled-up gore.  It’s not even the total embrace of B- and D- grindhouse tock and schlock.  Hell, yeah!  Bring it, Zombie!!  The film simply has no center for us to attach ourselves to.  With no real likable characters in this redneck roundup, our interest is simply stretched thin.  And it breaks all too soon, making the act of watching a horror movie about survival an actual game of one, too.

Zombie is a solid horror director.  There’s no denying that he has the eye and the knowledge for the craft.  There are several scenes in 31 that demonstrate that fact.  His visuals are top-notch and his direction knows its way around each and every haunted house.   He might even be able to do the job blindfolded.  He knows the ins and outs of the genre that well.  The gore is once again amped up.  And the tension is tight.  In 31, there are indeed some good frights along the way to the next sunrise, but we don’t really root for any of the survivors.   

And it’s a shame because the ensemble cast – including Sheri Moon Zombie, Jeff Daniel Phillips, Lawrence Hilton-Jacobs, Meg Foster (WOW!), Richard Brake, Malcolm McDowell, Judy Geeson (AGAIN, WOW!), and Jane Carr – sure begs for it.  It’s a big cast and one look at the names and a brief glimpse into their work will see that most are horror and b-movie regulars somehow resurrected by Zombie for this flick.  Consider then that 31 MUST be a sister in spirit to Zombie’s House of 1000 Corpses.  The two films and their cast certainly share some similarities in their blood-spooling ambitions.   

Written and directed by Zombie, 31 is the tale of Sister Dragon, Sister Serpent, and their leader Father Napoleon-Horatio-Silas Murder’s deadly game of 31.  They are one-percenters, though and through.  They even dress the part of the aristocrat with their powdered faces and white wigs.  And they demand 12 solid hours of murderous entertainment on Halloween night from Sick-Head, Psycho-Head, Schizo-Head, Death-Head, Sex-Head, and Doom-Head.  They just need victims.  Fresh blood, if you will for these clowns to feed upon.

And that’s how Charly, Venus, Panda, Levon, and Roscoe, a multi-cultural group of carnival workers, get involved.  They must survive this deadly night.  Some will.  Most won’t.  It’s the how in this joint that is supposed to keep you glued to the screen.  All of these players are look like badasses.  All of them.  This makes their deaths a bit too simple and problematic.  They go down fighting, for sure, but we already know the rules in this game and this movie, so can’t we get to know the characters, too? 

Unfortunately, only one clown – Brake’s Doom-Head  – does that job and his character is one of total unhinged insanity.  His frightening performance is quite effective.  He is creepy as fuck and hilarious, too.  We appreciate him even if he does make us want to run far away whenever he’s near the camera.  The other clowns merely suck on the jugular and don’t bother with introductions before their feasting begins.  Of course, Zombie gives them arean-like intros but, minus all the flash and bang, they carry little weight.  

31 is, as it should be, a sick and twisted night on the midway.  You just might not come back for another ride.


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31 - Movie Review

MPAA Rating: R for strong bloody horror violence, pervasive language, sexual content and drug use.
: Rob Zombie
Rob Zombie
 Malcolm McDowell, Richard Brake, Jeff Daniel Phillips
: Horror
A Rob Zombie Film
Memorable Movie Quote: "You know what they say, kemosabe, in Hell, everybody loves popcorn."
Theatrical Distributor: 
Fathom Events
Official Site:
Release Date:
October 21, 2016 (limited)
DVD/Blu-ray Release Date:
December 20, 2016.
Synopsis: The day before Halloween, five carnival employees are kidnapped & held hostage in an isolated compound known as "Murderworld". On Halloween, they are thrown into a sadistic game called "31" where they must survive 12 hours against a gang of maniacs dressed like clowns. However, the clowns aren't the only ones they need to worry about - a grand scheme of satanic rituals & a much more sadistic plot awakens. It's time to play 31.


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31 - Movie Review


Blu-ray Details:

Home Video Distributor: Lionsgate Films
Available on Blu-ray
- December 20, 2016
Screen Formats: 2.40:1
: Englis; English SDH; Spanish
English: DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1
Discs: Blu-ray Disc; Single disc (1 BD-50); UV digital copy; Digital copy
Region Encoding: Region A

Lionsgate unleashes 31 with a visual flurry of images and stank that won't soon be forgotten. This is stylistically murky material. The color palette practically screams late 1970s and, as it is a Rob Zombie picture, the gore is wicked and wet and deep. Black levels are dark and defined. Shadows are tall, yet never fudge their depth or lines. Since this film is built on various stages, it is important for the lighting and design to create mood and, as replicated here on this 1080p transfer, the MPEG-4 AVC in 2.39:1 does exactly that. The barrage of sounds that are contained in the disc's DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track do much to create an impressive soundscape of constant immersion.



  • Rob Zombie's commentary is the shit. He knows his stuff, clarifies the movie, and is just damn intelligent as all get-out when it comes to horror. I wish he would resume his gig with AMC and host forgotten horror gems again.

Special Features:

The 2-hour video diary included as the sole supplemental item is intense, informative and provides all you probably needed to know about the shoot and more! A UV and Digital Copy is also included with the purchase.

  • In Hell Everyone Loves Popcorn: The Making of 31 (131 min)


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31 - Movie Review