Let´s travel back in time, to the year of 2003. This was the year when Limp Bizkit returned with their 4th album Results May Vary, it was also the year when the SARS virus was all over the news, with infected people. It was also the year when Kevin Costner returned to the western genre, with the unexpected well made film Open Range. Not only did he direct the film, he was also one of the producers. I strongly suggest you rent this film, especially if you love western films. Let´s leave this genre, and move on and talk about a completely different film. This year, Rob Zombie released his film House Of 1000 Corpses. Rob Zombie, the musician, artist ? Yep, that guy with the long beard. You could say that he was inspired by grindehouse films, with a 70´s style. And i have to say i think he managed to capture the feeling of the grindhouse cinema, using different tasteful ingredients. His first film turned out to be just a taste of what he was about to bring us next. His second film The Devil´s Rejects is a horror film, that proved what a great director he can be with the right material. The dialogue is stronger, the acting is even better, and the story is really insane and entertaining. Even today i have The Devil´s Rejects on my own list among top horror films, simply because it is a classic in my opinion. When Rob Zombie decided to remake Halloween, the classic 70´s horror film from legendary director John Carpenter, he actually made a film better than all the sequels. Not as good as the original film of course, but still better than i expected. His sequel Halloween 2 might have been brutal, but not as good as his first film. I think he focused more on the violence than on the characters, turned out to be a mistake. Rob then started working on a completely different project, a film like nothing he have done before. It turned out to be The Lords Of Salem. A very odd film, and this film actually upset many fans. This was not what they asked for, and the film did not get that many ticket buyers. I personally did not feel that it was a horrible film, it just was not strong as his first films. Rob continued working with his music, touring, and focused on all kinds of projects, and eventually he told the world he would go back to his roots, making his next film 31 more of his earlier films. So he asked fans to help him on Fanbacked, where you could be apart of his film, by supporting the project. He got a lot of money collected, i was one of the people who helped the campaign. I was really excited to see if 31 would bring Rob Zombie back, as one of the best horror directors of our time. So when 31 finally got released on VOD, i ran straight in and rented it, because i just had to see it. Is this the best film from Rob Zombie in many years, or should he have skipped this project from the beginning ?
It is the year of 1976. A group of carnival workers, including Charly ( Sheri Moon Zombie ), Roscoe Pepper ( Jeff Daniels Phillips ), Panda Thomas ( Lawrence Hilton-Jacobs ), Venus Virgo ( Meg Foster ), Fat Randy ( Michael " Red Bone " Alcott ) and Levon Wally ( Kevin Jackson ), are travelling on the highway, together in a van. They are forced to stop on a road, as they arrive to very odd road blocks. It turns out to be a trap, and the carnival workers are kidnapped to a isolated compound known as Murderworld. Here the compound is in control by game host Father Murder ( Malcolm McDowell ), who have a game waiting for the visitors. They have to survive inside the compound, against psychopathic serial killers, armed with different weapons. If they manage to survive, they will be released. If they don´t, they will be another victim among all the others corps. There is especially one serial killer, that Father Murder have hope for, the true champion known as Doom-Head ( Richard Brake ). When things don´t go as planned, Father Murder knows that Doom-Head will finish the job.
Since i found the first 2 films of Rob Zombie really entertaining, i was hoping that 31 would be a step back into his roots of the grindhouse genre. He have returned to some of the style of the previous films, but perhaps not as much as i was hoping for. Another detail is the lack of strong characters. Both films House Of 1000 Corpses and The Devil´s Rejects had characters you remembered especially Captain Spaulding, brilliant played by Sid Haig. And of course Otis, who did a wonderful performance from legendary actor Bill Moseley. I would dare to say that these 2 films are much better than most horror films i have seen since the millenium. Especially The Devil´s Rejects, now here is a film with power. From the start to the finish, there is so much violence, vulgar language and brutality that ( some ) religious people, will most likely call this film demonic. In 31 you also get lots of violence, but perhaps a bit softer, and not as brutal as we would have hoped for. If you are going back to your roots, you might as well go insane and bring some really disturbed shit. Because that´s what you would expect from Rob Zombie, he have proved himself in the past. Now, i would not say that 31 fails completely. Simply because there are some good ideas here, especially being another version of the classic 80´s film The Running Man. And this chase does have some highlights, where characters wearing makeup try to murder the chosen guests, in every possible way they can. This time we do have a few great characters, especially Doom-Head, played by Richard Brake. I will say that he is perhaps the strongest character in this film, and i love to see his disturbing anger break out, fits great with the films concept. Of course we get to see Sheri Moon Zombie, always great as usual and looks fantastic as well. I also enjoy the performance of legendary actor Malcolm McDowell, a true professional at doing different characters. Once the chase really begin, we get to see different surviving fights, and most of them work. My problem with 31 is that Rob promised from the beginning, ( as he was going to make this film ), that it would be filled with gore and violence. But it does not feel like the good days of his first 2 films. And that is a shame, because i like the concept that he tried to do here. Apart from this, i can´t complain much more, there is still something positive to see about 31. As a horror film, we do have ingredients here that feels tasteful, and who does not enjoy chainsaw battles with insane people ? Even though i feel a little bit disappointed about 31, i still feel this is still a fun ride, especially because of some fun characters. 31 is a film that will most likely be divided by fans, some will enjoy it, some will not. But remember one thing, since the horror genre is filled with many mainstream films, we still need Rob Zombie to make his films. Without him we would not have the gore that some directors don´t dare to experiment with. This explains why you should give 31 a chance, i hope you heard that Salvation Army ?