It's the Booze Talkin', Let's give Rob Zombie a chance with 31!

We all know what a Rob Zombie horror flick is. Each one is generally quite bloody. They all seem to be filled with the trashiest of white trash. And while THE LORDS OF SALEM wasn’t nearly as gore soaked or filled with foul-mouthed hicks, it did have another Zombie trademark. All of his films feature his lovely wife Sheri Moon Zombie. Actually, the musician/filmmaker clearly enjoys working with many of the same actors, and a ton of them return for his latest, 31. The film, which just premiered at Sundance, features Sheri Moon, Malcolm McDowell (HALLOWEEN), Elizabeth Daily (THE DEVIL’S REJECTS), Meg Foster (THE LORDS OF SALEM) and a ton more. And the word on the street? Well, not surprisingly, the reviews are mixed. And that is being generous. But does that mean we should count it out so soon?

The first time I caught Zombie’s first feature, HOUSE OF 1,000 CORPSES, a few audience members literally walked out midway through. Personally, I enjoyed the vicious and bloody carnival ride. After all, it was the first time we saw Rob Zombie bring his vividly disturbing music video images to life. And of course, he seemed to revel in the films before that had inspired him. Now this is a common thing for modern directors to pay homage to their favorites, and Zombie is no different. And while I had fun with this bizarre fright fest, it wasn’t until his next feature that I was blown away.

With THE DEVIL’S REJECTS, the sequel/continuation to CORPSES, he embraced an entirely different type of movie. While the Firefly clan - Sid Haig, Sheri Moon, Bill Moseley and Leslie Easterbrook - were all a band of psychopaths, the bloodthirsty Sheriff Wydell (William Forsythe) was almost equally repellant. This mix of revenge flick meets road movie was a nice change of pace for the director. It was a gritty and sometimes revolting ride that expanded his vision and took his films in a new direction. There are many that consider this is best film to date, and I’d probably agree with that. It was nice to see his brutal imagery given a healthy dose of BONNIE AND CLYDE inspired mayhem.

His next feature was a bit controversial for many horror fans. He remade John Carpenter’s classic HALLOWEEN. And thanks to its box office success, he returned for the batshit crazy sequel. Bring on the white horses! Personally I have mixed feelings about both films - the first I enjoyed quite a bit when I saw it, but it didn’t stick with me all that well upon revisiting. And strangely enough, while I really disliked his HALLOWEEN 2, it is one that I find to have a better re-watchability factor than his first exploration into the psyche of a young Michael Myers. And while his next outing returned to a very different world, and far less gruesome, THE LORDS OF SALEM didn’t necessarily appeal to those looking for his intensely violent efforts.

So now we have a return to gore with 31. And aside from our own Chris Bumbray (you can check out his review here), film festival attendees aren’t terribly entertained by the bloodthirsty clowns terrorizing carnival workers. The question I have, is this the right film festival to truly judge a Rob Zombie flick? After all, Sundance brings in a certain type of film, and frankly this doesn’t seem to be it. Would it have been better to introduce this new blood-soaked nightmare to a more genre centric  film fest? Perhaps it is a mess. The filmmaker does seem to make films that don’t appeal to the masses, but from what I’ve seen and read, 31 appears to have many of the staples that have made Zombie who he is today. And let’s face it, critics have never really fallen in love with his work, but the rocker's dedicated fans will fervently support his exploits.

Maybe it’s the booze talkin’, but let’s give Rob Zombie a chance with 31. While I’m not always on board with what he has to offer, I’m more than curious to see what he has in store for his fans. And I’d never expect those fans to be making their way to Sundance to see his latest. The concept of the film is far from original, but as always I appreciate Rob’s casting choices and his love for the macabre. Can he make this killer clown flick something special? Or will it feel like too much of a retread? I’m certainly more than a little intrigued. One thing is for sure, 31 appears to be closer to the chaotic madness from his earlier work than the eccentric weirdness found in his last feature.

Extra Tidbit: What do you think? Are you looking forward to Rob Zombie's 31?
Source: AITH



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