I once described the “Love Hurts” sequence from the 2007 remake of Halloween to my wife and she honestly thought I was making it up. I have rarely been so annoyed (or seen an audience so irritated) than after a SXSW screening of Lords of Salem. So it’s some kind of testament to Rob Zombie that I remain interested in him as a filmmaker and have every intention of seeing his newest movie, 31…which looks like something a team of comedians would have cooked up if they were tasked with creating a parody of a Rob Zombie movie.
The new (and NSFW) 31 trailer hits all of the checkmarks: evil clowns, big unkept beards, roles for actors from cult-favorite genre movies, excessive gore, sets that look like they’re pulsating with infectious disease, and an overall griminess that threatens to shoot an STD straight into your eyeballs. But hey, at least Zombie has an anesthetic. Not every horror filmmakers can claim that.
31 feels like the result of improv game where Zombie and his collaborators yes-and-ed their way toward a movie premise and then dared each other to make it. Five carnival workers are abducted and forced to participate in a deadly game where they are pursued by chainsaw-wielding clowns through a deadly compound that looks like a Six Flags haunted house built by meth addicts. Malcolm McDowell is Father Murder (that is, no shit, his name), who oversees the whole thing while dressed like he’s destined for the guillotine during the Reign of Terror. Other characters include Sex-Head, Venus Virgo, Satan’s Slave, Doom-Head, Psycho-Head, Tooth Grinder, Cherry Bomb, and Sister Dragon. I actually made one of those names up. Go ahead. Try to guess which one.
The trailer is built entirely around just exxxtreeeme 31 is, with the critic quotes feeling less like praise and more like descriptions of the film. It certainly looks like an endurance test, but that may every well be by design. Past Zombie movies have been all about punishing the audience and beating them into submission and this one will probably follow suit. The question for the moment is whether or not that punishment will be interesting (The Devil’s Rejects), unintentionally hilarious (Halloween 2), or a little boring (Lords of Salem).
31 is set to open on October 21. Here’s the official synopsis:
From the visionary mind of Rob Zombie comes the horrific story of five carnival workers who are kidnapped the night before Halloween and held hostage in a large compound. At the mercy of their captors, they are forced to play a twisted game or life or death called 31. For the next 12 hours they must fight for their lives against an endless parade of homicidal maniacs.