NeglectedField wrote:Fancy the look of 10 Cloverfield Lane. Is there any connection to the Cloverfield film there, or would that spoil it?
That would spoil it.
If you've seen even just one Rob Zombie movie, you'll already have a good idea of what's in store for you here. Brutal and sadistic violence, bucket loads of gore, bright, garish music video lighting, trailer trash characters, nightmarish imagery, and a suitably '70s-heavy soundtrack. But not really much to speak of in the way of plot. And in that sense, 31, the dribbling, greasepainted mongoloid offspring of The Running Man and the Texas Chain Saw Massacre, is 100% a Rob Zombie film.
The trailer trash characters are even louder, stupider, hairier, and more unlikable than before, the baddies have names like "Psycho Head", "Death Head" and "Sick Head" and wear scary clown grease paint. Zombie's influences, as ever, are all up there in full view, but at no point does he ever come close to emulating any of them with any real degree of success. After half an hour of running around, stabbing and screaming, everything just becomes a pointless blur of colours and noise. At one point, something happens which looks like it could actually send the film off in a totally different, and most welcomed direction, but instead it completely ignores its chance and just carries on doing the same old thing to a soundtrack of screaming, gurgling, splashy noises, chainsaws, '70s hard rock, and a John Carpenter, let's say... inspired music score.
Again, Zombie has put together a talented cast of cult actors, but this time fails to utilise almost every single one of them in a satisfactory manner. Malcolm McDowell (A Clockwork Orange) and Judy Geeson (10 Rillington Place) spend their sparse screen time in renaissance wigs, repeatedly telling the group of intended victims their odds of survival. Green eyed Meg Foster (They Live, Masters of the Universe) - now resembling a screwed up brown paper bag - spends most of the film running, hiding, falling over, or grabbing her crotch, and the ever reliable Tracey Walter (Silence of the Lambs, Batman, Conan The Destroyer) is reduced to a role of a toothless, sweary garage attendant. At least porn actress Ginger Lynn gets to play to her strengths by doing what she does best.
With its haphazard, almost panicked direction, 31 is clearly a bad film and arguably Zombie's worst effort thus far, but it's not irretrievably awful. Richard Brake (Batman Begins, Hannibal Rising) is brilliantly OTT as "Doom Head" (most notably during the Tarantino-esque opening sequence, and the final scene) and Sheri Moon Zombie actually turns in her first genuinely passable performance. The exteriors have a wonderfully washed out look giving it a genuine 1970s vibe, the gaudy carnival lighting plays a key role as usual, and there's a great use of Aerosmith's 'Dream On' during a black and white flashback. But it's just not enough as 31 basically just retreads old ground in unimaginative ways, and you get the feeling that not even the fully uncut version (apparently set for the Blu ray release) will be able to salvage things any further.