First things first: yeah, I changed my font. Cause fuck TNR.
|A particularly atmospheric scene early in the action.|
|OG grindhouse vibes...|
|Zombie makes frequent use of effective lighting, as seen here|
with the strobe sequence.
pressure, and then the immediate
portrayal of sex and titillation from the carnies formulate that particular Zombie essence of scuzzy 70s sexploitation. Interestingly, now could be the point to mention that '31' is primarily driven by a mature female duo, and the only sex scene in the movie comes from two plus-size black actors. Neither of these things are played for laughs or kicks - they're completely genuine and honest. In an age where everyone's complaining about the lack of these things, Zombie lays them on without a trace of irony or the try-hard SJW Oscar-baiting of most 'equal opportunities' movies. It's also so far so good on the visual front as well - with Zombie making effective usage of the freeze-frames that he's so well known for, and some great slow-motion. The footage looks truly aged - rather than Tarantino pastiche fake scratches - and adds a layer of authenticity to the productions.
|Sheri Moon Zombie as 'Charly'.|
Speaking of characters, take Pancho Moller's 'Sick-Head': a Spanish-speaking Nazi dwarf, who wears SS uniform, has a fake mustache, and lives inside a garish shrine to the Fuhrer himself. What does Spanish have to do with it? A critic asked that at Sundance, and Zombie replied 'Hey, Pancho, why do you speak Spanish?'. The response was 'It's my first language': cue roars of laughter (Zombie always does well in interviews). Or take the chainsaw-wielding brothers 'Schizo-Head' (David Ury), and 'Psycho-Head' (Lew Temple); two wisecracking, sadistic, and intimidating characters who seriously know how to cut a hedge.... The prolonged scene in which they fight our heroes is incredibly intense and suspenseful: with spinning blades flying in all directions.
|Gloriously orchestrated mayhem.|
|A scene in the Aristocratic house, self censored by|
Rob Zombie on Twitter.
|Richard Brake puts in a particularly masterful performance.|
Is '31' a social allegory? Is that a silly question to ask? The answer to both is probably yes. The real question is most likely 'Did Rob Zombie envision '31' to be a social allegory?' To which the answer is probably no. I could be wrong, but it seems like the inclusion of the aristocratic villains fulfilled a specific visual purpose: badassery, rather than some comment on the ruling classes. But, if viewed under that particular lens, it's quite justifiably possible to see the betting party-goers as the heads of state and upper classes who play the lower classes against each other. In essence, the carnies and the clowns are in the same industry, on the same pay-grade, and ought to be fighting together; but they are pulled by strings far above them, dragging them into unnecessary conflict. At the end of the day, many die in the game of '31', but the aristocrats dust their makeup off, and carry on with their regular jobs the next day. 'Doom-Head' remarks that he "ain't no fuckin' clown"; the irony is that a group of people are paying to be entertained by him.
|'31' gets 4 stars!|