Defending Rob Zombie’s 31 – By Baron Craze

As some might recall I did a review of 31 in 2016 for Rogue Cinema, which I described his movie a horror movie version of The Running Man just with more clowns and f-bombs, but otherwise a typical Rob Zombie flick. So why am I touching on this film again, well to defend it against the negative criticism and perhaps to view those critics seeing if their position warrants their reason to pan the film, I’m not calling anyone out by name just citing their reasons. A typical reason many dislike the movie is because of who directed it, whether leftover from his departure from the band White Zombie (unbelievably some reach this far back) or other holding a grudge against his Halloween movies. When it comes to criticizing a director directly a lot more baggage needed for kicking one out of the genre let alone filmmaker.

Issue #1 – The collaboration with Rob Zombie and Malcolm McDowell equals failure. While I cannot say about their work on Halloween, as I just didn’t like the version done, to it was the same reaction I had to the dreadful remake of Psycho. However, in this movie, I would disagree partially, the reason, the script doesn’t do enough to understand his character Father Murder nor the reason for his French nobility outfit, while it seems natural for Halloween a costume, this goes deeper it even leads to questions for the four naked lounge girls. It’s very common for Rob to include the naked female form, and most of the core of horror fans likely won’t object it leaves some questions, therefore one can ask in the future flesh out the characters further.

Issue #2 – The movie is actually another slasher horror film in a genre oversaturated by these flicks. I never thought of the film as anything deeper than a version of The Running Man with Arnold Schwarzenegger, it follows many of the common clichés in the slasher subgenre, and served more as violence intended spree, than tension building works. Nevertheless this argument, I feel extends from one’s view tired of the these stalking movies, sadly to inform you, they remain a permanent staple of the genre, movies like Halloween and Friday the 13th, solidify their position. The heyday of slasher golden age likely rusted long ago, the films keep rising up to hunt down campers, trespassers, and the unfortunate ones.

Issue #3 – The plot’s conceptual design contains all of Zombie’s filmmaker flaws. His characters channel the typical down-home country and a dash of redneck thrown into the mix, followed by an element of sleaze.  It’s becoming a repeat or betters a revolving door of characters, a tad tiresome and the director needs time to refresh his chosen cast interest, as society contains a varied selection of people, he needs to expand the pool. Then his lack of understanding filmmaking in creating tension or suspense, far too much foreshadowing with scenes another problem cited, however he knows the core of the audience only wants more gore and disgusting anguish. For many of his fans the suspense feels as a slowdown, it’s not his manner, or his audience, they enjoy the fast pace and herky-jerky camera movements, recently found in the first-person shooting styles like that of Hotel Inferno (2013). In addition, while the killers often look alike, Richard Blake’s Doom Head the main villain layers his character very well, wondering how Blake took over and Zombie backed off from his direction.

Issue #4 – Zombie generates too many imagery moments, overstuffing the production. Rob Zombie, a fan of the exploitation films and cinema of the 1970s, echoed this in his music and body of film work, and the images catering mostly to his desire to relive the era, and sometimes it goes to attract his fans on a completely different level. A great example comes from perhaps a controversial character, Sick-Head, Rob’s send-up to the Naziploitation movies, as his character likely rejected these monsters, portrayed by Pancho Moler, for obvious reasons. However, his appearance and attitude perhaps goes too far and misses the inside joke, a tad too sensitive, and thereby lack of understanding in horror to always push the envelope.

In conclusion, like him, love him or hate him Rob Zombie’s films, stir an emotion in everyone that sees them, therefore as the criticism pours in and his devoted fan base praise him with alludes and resources to make more sick, slick productions, the battle over what is good horror will likely to continue. Thanks for enjoying the first battle of defending this film, for Sinful Celluloid, what movie should one try to defend next.

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