Picture this: It’s Oct. 31, 1976; you and your fellow carnival crew workers have been attacked by a group of men in black and white striped prison shirts, and taken to an abandoned factory where you’re held hostage by victorian clowns.
“Tonight we are going to play 31,” says the host. “31 is war and as the old saying goes, war is hell.”
After being informed you’ve actually entered their version of hell, you’re told you have 12 hours to try and survive while you’re being hunted down by “The Heads,” six of their very own hand-picked serial killers: Sick-Head, Psycho-Head, his brother Schizo-Head, Death-Head, his lover Sex-Head, and finally Doom-Head.
“Happy Halloween mother fuckers,” says Sick-Head, the first killer to be released, and the gruesome game begins.
“31” is the latest thriller/horror film written and directed by Rob Zombie. It was released on Sept. 1, for a one day Fathom Event, and then on video and on-demand on Sept. 16, 2016. Not fully having the finances, Zombie did something different for “31” and turned towards crowdfunding.
“I used a little bit of it at the beginning because sometimes it’s really hard to get a production moving because nobody ever wants to start cutting checks to start getting people working,” said Zombie in an interview with Fangoria.com. “Every studio I have ever worked for just dragged their heels because they don’t want to spend the money.”
The film features: Sheri Moon Zombie “Sweet Charly,” (who was the ultimate badass), Jeff Daniel Phillips “Roscoe Pepper,” Meg Foster “Venus Virgo” (also badass), Lawrence Hilton-Jacobs “Panda,” and Kevin Jackson “Levon Wally” as the victims.
One of the most disturbingly unforgettable parts of the film occurred three hours into the hunt during the last supper scene. The hosts announce a break for a complimentary meal, the setting is arranged in an area that looks like an eerie halloween feast in a graveyard, minus the graveyard. Amazed by the table decorations and meal, Panda digs right in, claiming if they are going to survive they needed to have their strength.
Meanwhile, Charly is feeling uneasy about being offered food from these people; she looks disgusted Panda could even stuff his face, especially right after their friend Levon had just been killed. Eventually Roscoe Pepper also starts eating the food, and suddenly Charly cautions both of them to stop eating immediately after moving the tablecloth and discovering: the main entree was in fact their friend Levon.
Living up to Zombie’s slasher/gore/western aesthetic, anyone who watches “31,” or any of his films should know ahead of time: this is definitely not a film those with weak stomachs. At some point during the film the council that’s hosting the game: Judy Geeson “Sister Dragon,” Malcolm McDowell “Father Napoleon-Horatio-Silas Murder,” and Jane Carr “Sister Serpent,” are gathered around a pentagram making bets. When the game ends they take off their costumes, leave the factory, and go on with their day. It definitely makes one wonder what this is supposed to represent. Perhaps the wealthy torturing and killing people for fun, just because they can?
On Dec. 20, the Blu-Ray and DVD of the film will be released, including a two-hour documentary “In Hell Everybody Loves Popcorn: The Making of 31,” and an audio commentary with Zombie himself.
Maybe you aren’t a huge fan of cannibal feasts, or watching people get their heads chainsawed off, but this is definitely a Zombie production I would recommend to horror/slasher fans.
Written and directed by: Rob Zombie
Rating: 4 out of 5