It may not be popping up on too many year-end ‘best of’ lists, but Rob Zombie’s 31 was undoubtedly one of the most hotly-anticipated horror movies of 2016. Zombie’s seventh feature took its sweet time getting to us, and was finally released into limited theaters this past summer. It subsequently hit VOD outlets and, as of this past Tuesday, is now available on DVD and Blu-ray.
But as many fans have discovered, the version of 31 that hit DVD and Blu-ray is the very same cut that was released into theaters. The 103-minute version of the film is the cut that Zombie trimmed down in order to get an R-rating from the MPAA – he submitted the film several times before they gave him what he needed – which would be fine if we hadn’t been promised the unrated cut of 31 on home video. As we reported back in January, Zombie did indeed make that promise…
The original cut of the film, slapped with an unreleasable NC-17 rating, screened at Sundance but hasn’t been seen or heard from since. And it’s most definitely not included on either the DVD or Blu-ray releases of 31, which again contain only the R-rated cut that was shown in theaters and made available through VOD outlets. So what gives? And how different was the NC-17 cut?
All we really know about the so-called unrated cut of 31 is that it was rated NC-17 for “sadistic graphic violence, bizarre sexuality/nudity, pervasive disturbing images, and some strong language.” Presumably, that cut of the film was much more graphically violent than the R-rated cut, which often seemed to skirt around the violent bits with quick cuts and off-screen kills.
In an interview with What To Watch earlier this year, Zombie did note that he didn’t feel as if the MPAA-enforced cuts hurt the overall film or compromised his vision. He said:
Every movie I’ve ever made has been an MPAA nightmare and this one was too, but it always is. Really what you do is you get the things that they’re upset about, and you try to push it through as hard as possible without sacrificing the movie. I didn’t feel like  suffered from it at all.
Fair enough. But will we ever see the NC-17 cut of 31? We’ll be doing our best to find out.
In 31, “five friends are kidnapped on the day before Halloween and are held hostage in a terrifying place named Murder World. While trapped, they must play a violent game called 31, in which the mission is to survive 12 hours against a gang of evil clowns.”