I'm a huge Rob Zombie fan, and I have been since he was White Zombie. I’ve loved his music for a very long time, so I was thrilled when he decided to get into movies. It was even better that his genre would be horror.
Not all of his films are spectacular. There were a few that I thought were meh (The Lords of Salem), but I get what he is doing. Zombie is a huge fan of the horror genre and often pays homage to it in his music. In his films, he attempts to recreate the feeling from the “old” films and give them some modernity. This is especially evident in his remake of Halloween (which I enjoyed, not so much the second one, but it wasn’t horrible) and in The Lords of Salem (I got a lot of Suspiria vibes from this one. If you haven’t seen Suspiria, it made a huge impact on the horror industry when it first came out—I have no idea why. I did not enjoy it).
Recently, I had the opportunity to watch 31, his most recent film. It’s an homage to the slasher genre, and it is gory! Of course, House of 1000 Corpses was also an homage to this genre, and both of them take the weird vibes of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre and run with ‘em.
As I was watching the film, I Googled horror films from the 1970s (which is the time frame this movie is based in), and it fits in well with the types of films that were coming out at the time. Zombie does his research, and he is very meticulous about making sure it is reflected in his films. Even the actors he picks to play the roles reflect this desire.
I won’t dive too deeply into what Zombie may or may not actually be doing in his films, but I find his approach fascinating. I really enjoy what he does—or attempts to do—with the horror genre. But not everyone does. For example, my husband didn’t like the film. He thought the camera work was shaky and that it was done to hide the fact that the special effects were terrible. And that might be totally true. Personally, I didn’t notice. There was enough blood and guts to keep me satisfied. However, if Zombie is trying to recreate films from the 70s, that is exactly the type of problems they would have been dealing with.
It’s no secret that slasher films were made on tiny budgets and had to leave a lot to the audiences’ imagination because they didn’t have great special effects. There’s still a lot of blood in 31, and a lot of dismemberment. I had no problems with the camera work or the special effects, but keep in mind, I love old school horror films. And, in my spouse’s defense, so does he. He’s a huge Friday the 13th fan, so he’s not usually bothered by shaky camera work or shoddy special effects.
The story line was bizarre. In essence, a group of people are kidnapped on Halloween and put into a warehouse where they must survive 12 hours of sadistic clowns who are trying to kill them—all for the entertainment of rich weirdos who want to bet on their deaths. What I found so fascinating about the movie was the fact that none of the hunted had any problems with immediately turning on the killers. They were afraid, for sure, but they weren’t afraid of maiming and murdering.
Why that is so fascinating is because in the slasher film context, the Final Girl won’t turn and fight until after she finds the bodies of her friends and is backed into a corner. She’ll run and attempt to hide for as long as she can, but once that fails, she’s all about using the killer’s techniques to protect herself. Zombie shows a little of this in his film (the hiding and being cornered), but it does not last for long.
I don’t want to give too much away. 31 is a film that needs to be experienced. Personally, I enjoyed it, but I might have enjoyed it on a different level than the typical movie watcher. After writing this post, I want to watch it again and pick out even more details and compare and contrast it to other slasher films and other horror films. That sounds like fun!
Have any of you seen it? What did you think?