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[Sundance Review] ’31’ is Rob Zombie’s ‘The Running Man’!

ROB ZOMBIE's 31 | image via Alchemy and Sundance
Image courtesy of Alchemy

31 is Rob Zombie’s The Running Man and it works. A group of touring performers (Sheri Moon Zombie, Meg Foster, Jeff Daniel Phillips and Lawrence Hilton-Jacobs) is captured by game makers led by Malcolm McDowell who send their stable of killers after them. It’s fast-paced, violent and fun.

This is the same aesthetic Zombie has been employing in all his films. Everything is grimy and crusty, even the characters. The fact that the traveling show is a girlie show may be Zombie challenging us to root for sideshow hustlers and pornographers but probably not. It’s just the usual type of underbelly characters he likes to write about.

The violence is up to Zombie’s standards and you’ve got to respect that it all looks like real squibs and blood packs. These are actors rigged to spew blood like it’s supposed to be, not lazy CGI blood added later. There is also more than one occasion of naked women bloodied and brutalized. That’s a conversation that’s already been had regarding most of Zombie’s other films, so at this point I no longer engage with it. Whether it’s sexualized or confrontational, it’s just something I expect in a Rob Zombie movie.

Most of the movie is shot in shakeycam handheld cinematography, which I am fundamentally against. However Zombie gave me a strange appreciation of the technique in 31. There are two reasons it could be appropriate. One is that the events are so unpleasant we don’t want to see them clearly anyway, but I don’t buy that because Zombie wants us to see them. What I think is that Zombie’s is all about grime and handheld is the cinematic equivalent of grimy photography. It matched. I could follow the kills.

The game makers only ever appear in their master room so they probably shot them out in a day or two. “And Malcolm McDowell” indeed. There’s enough sense of history and unlimited resources there that you feel the players are f***ed. I can’t say the killers are as memorable as Buzzsaw and Captain Freedom but they’re not supposed to be fun. A Nazi little person is creepy as hell, and we get to meet the big bad (Richard Brake) in his downtime, being a vile misogynist in the most articulate way possible.

Some of the gags are a little obvious. Like when the game makers leave the players a meal, how did anyone not see the next thing coming? I mean, did it really taste like chicken?

It is a harrowing ordeal and you know that anyone who even survives will be traumatized for life. It’s not hard to get behind a desperate fight for your life. Set on Halloween 1976, a classic rock soundtrack propels a lot of the violence. It seems Zombie found the sweet spot between his punishing aesthetic and letting the audience have a rewarding catharsis by the end.



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COMMENTS

124 Comments
  • Weresmurf

    Excellent. Just the kind of film I was hoping it would be. Great to hear 😀

  • I’m curious upon how 31’s U.S. distributor Alchemy Entertainment is going to release this film,whether it’ll be a limited theatrical release ala LORDS OF SALEM,hook up with a major theatrical distributor,or a puny New York/L.A. release with a VOD run.

    • Nick Greeley

      Unless they make a deal with a large distributor (ie Lionsgate), expect a limited release.

  • Lady Bathory

    I’m 100% positive that I’m going to enjoy this film a lot! Hopefully, we’ll be given some footage soon!!

  • Steve Wasko

    You had me at “Running Man!”

    I find most any Most Dangerous Game inspired concepts to be entertaining.

  • wehoaks

    This review needs to take its ADHD medication.

  • RidleyScott

    When I listened to the new Metallica record, they employed their previous sound. Meeeeeeeeeeeeeeep meep meep stuff thingy stuuuuuuuff.

  • So nothing to surprisinging but well made? Anything else? cinematography? violence levels? How does it compare to the rest of Zombie filmography? I am more interested now!

  • Creepshow

    Now all the Kickstart funders get to spend their hard earned dough again, in order to see this grungy, stanky movie. That is of course, if it’s even playing in wide release. I still taste the vomit from my trek to see Lords of Salem. I hope he satisfies what fans he has left, and shows multiple naked 87 yr old ladies again. My fingers are crossed for ya!

    • wehoaks

      But Zombie is sooooooo cool. SO cool in fact, that with his new film you CAN PAY HIM $500 to be an extra WHILE violating labor laws!

  • eli

    It seems from the review you liked the movie (I guess). Then it gets 3 skulls (average). So it’s pretty unexceptional after all? It seems like you watched it on coke. And then wrote this on even more coke. Then gave the rating while coming down hard.

    • wehoaks

      It reads exactly like any of the creepy zombie fans who comment here: Incoherent and full of random taint licking.

  • Adrienne Santiago

    Wow, there are some serious Zombie haters in this feed. Find a new hobby, guys. Rob makes a killing literally and figuratively, and since I’m a TRUE horror fan in every sense of the word, I know 31 will not disappoint. Very excited for the latest gore infested, raunchy installment into our Zombie-led genre. ♡

    • wehoaks

      Anyone that claims they are a TRUE horror fan and others aren’t just because their taste differs is the one that needs a new hobby, you fucksmear.

      • Adrienne Santiago

        aww aren’t you just hilarious and well-educated?

        • wehoaks

          Yes, I am.

          • I Am Colossus

            No…..ahahahaha fuck no

      • I Am Colossus

        Wehole your just mad because you were molested by a clown

    • RidleyScott

      Every film of his besides Halloween(a freebie, really) has performed HORRIBLY at the box office.

      Enjoy.

      • wehoaks

        Not to mention he needed handouts to make this latest shitpile.

      • km

        To be fair there hasn’t really been any actual decent horror releases that have done well at the box office in my lifetime (I’m 32)…done well, yes, but good, no.

        • RidleyScott

          Wrong

        • wehoaks

          Scream, Scream 2, Scream 3, I Know What You Did Last Summer, F V J, Urban Legend, Bride of Chucky, the first 4 Friday the 13th films, the first 4 nightmare films, every single slasher remake, The Mist, Silence of the Lambs, Hannibal, The Sixth Sense, Signs, The Visit, Insidious 1 and 2, The Conjuring… Need I go on?

          • Khy

            *Ghostface voice* ALL OF THE ABOVE!

          • wehoaks

            EXACTLY!

    • wtf is a ”true horror fan in every sense of the word”?

    • Cheshire TrollCat

      Just, go away.

    • Chris Harris

      HELLO! CAN YOU HEAR ME UP THERE ON YOUR HIGH HORSE?

    • Chamber

      A ‘true” horror fan does not support Zombie and his brand of slop. You have horrible taste and you should feel bad about it.

      • I Am Colossus

        Yes they do chubby, dont embarrass yourself

      • wehoaks

        You just know she is one of those girls that says shit like “I am soooooo not like a girl. I only have guy friends. I drink beer and I’m a girl. Can you believe I like horror movies that are gory AND I am a girl? Girls are so much drama. I just like to sit around in sweatpants and were no makeup. My hubby can look at girls… I do aaaahahahahaha.” and other idiot lines.

        • Jack Derwent

          For someone who’s constantly offended about Rob Zombie’s treatment of women you’re coming off a misogynist here.

          • wehoaks

            Then you clearly don’t know what that word means.

          • Jack Derwent

            Make that comment in a place mostly frequented by women and see where it gets you.

          • wehoaks

            Will do! And that comment was said because she’s an idiot, not because she’s a woman so any and all non-idiots won’t get offended. Idiot.

          • Jack Derwent

            She said nothing related to her being a girl and yet you attacked her as being “one of those girls who…” as if she likes horror films to get guy cred.

          • RidleyScott

            Someone’s projecting. And in need of a lesson on what the word ‘misogyny’ means.

          • wehoaks

            Someone’s clearly looking for an argument. So cute. Don’t worry baby peen, you’re rape fantasy 31 will be out soon!

          • Jack Derwent

            It’s ‘your’, not ‘you’re’ in this context. “You are rape fantasy 31” doesn’t make sense. FWIW.

          • wehoaks

            Grasping at straws already. Adorbs.

          • Jack Derwent

            NP, always happy to teach someone proper English.

          • wehoaks

            Thanks! Now go dictionary dot com the word misogyny.

          • wehoaks

            Don’t forget to put a space after commas you fucking idiot Bahahahahahahahaha. That is a joke but yeah don’t forget the space, though, especially when you’re calling out other people’s simple mistakes.

          • Jack Derwent

            There is a space. If there wasn’t it would be “NP,always” instead of “NP, always” as it currently is. Thanks for keeping an eye out, though! (There’s a space after that comma as well.)

          • wehoaks

            Good job editing babe! I’ll do it too!

          • Jack Derwent

            imgur com/EIukNjj

            Nope.

          • wehoaks

            You don’t know what misogyny means.

          • wehoaks

            It is your dummy. A dummy, which I know you are!

          • Max T.

            You’re a total moron who should not be allowed to go online! Plz shut off your computer and go sit in the corner so the adults can talk.

          • Jack Derwent

            My post must be important for you to respond two months later.

        • The Almighty Foust

          So girls that don’t act in ways that are traditionally considered feminine are bad? So what if they chose to have guy friends and not wear makeup? Why does that somehow negate their opinion on anything?

          • wehoaks

            Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

            “I just want a beer! Can you believe I drink beer? Girls don’t drink beer!”

          • The Almighty Foust

            Yeah, I don’t need any more beer.

          • wehoaks

            Me either!! I gave it up in 2014!

        • Khy

          LMFAAAAOOOOO OMG. *Dies*

      • RidleyScott

        Damn, is that you in your avatar? WHADDUP.

    • Trent Owens

      What the fuck is a true horror fan? just because someone doesn’t like the shit you do doesn’t make them less of a horror fan.

    • James

      Sorry but 31 completely disappointed on every level.

  • Creepshow

    Been a huge Zombie fan since La Sexorcisto. I loved 1000 Corpses after waiting literally years for its release. Enjoyed Rejects aside from the fact of a MAJOR plot hole…..No Dr. Satan!! After those 2 flicks it’s been nothing but a mess. With the exception of John 5, even his music now is dopey lyric crud.

    • wehoaks

      But don’t you know you can only sing his praises here? We aren’t true horror fans so we should shut up. DUH.

      • Creepshow

        Ain’t that the truth bro. Not real horror fans…Please. Adrienne is probably Googling La Sexorcisto as we speak.

        • wehoaks

          Anyone that uses that term is a master dope. A master dope.

          • Adrienne Santiago

            wow i love that i happen to look in my email to see that you sorry ass hacks have been talking about me this entire time. thank you for the publicity! this website has turned into just as sorry it’s fat little trolls that comment on here

          • wehoaks

            Yup, you come here to talk shit about anyone who dare speaks Ill of your trash god but we are the trolls. You supreme idiot.

          • Adrienne Santiago

            keep talking sweetie. i’m only laughing at how pathetic your inane comments keep getting…bla bla bla. you’ll probably spend the rest of your lonely night here commenting while i forget you in the next second. keep it coming–i’m sure the readers here love your sad drama

          • wehoaks

            The funniest thing you said is that someone willingly fucks you.

          • I Am Colossus

            Shat up fat ass

          • RidleyScott

            You’re the one who loses her shit when people have a different opinion than you.

            Here I’m going to make up a horror rule too: You aren’t a TRUE horror movie fan unless you can name the sound editor for Nightmare on Elm Street 5.

            -Ridley, CEO of the True Horror Fan Clubhouse

          • I Am Colossus

            Ridlydildo hush now…….youre a little too boring

    • DBZEROGRAVITY

      yeah i’m not sure why rob cut out the dr. satan hospital scene from TDR… it definitely would have improved the overall experience. at least it’s in the extras

  • tyler

    Love Rob Zombie films! Love Sheri and the rest of the cast. If it is half as good as Lords of Salem and House of 1000 Corpses – I will be happy. Just don’t take forever to release it – he does tend to have that habit.

  • Kaijudude

    I’m really excited about this movie and i’m glad you enjoyed it, but you really need to proofread you articles man . Seriously.

    • Hal Sutton

      Proofread you articles? Haha. I love people doing the exact thing they said not to do.

      • RidleyScott

        A cluster-fuck of an article from a news source vs. one minor mistake from someone commenting. K.

        • Hal Sutton

          I’m just fucking with ya. But yes, this article is much like brunch at an Indian Food Buffet..

      • Kaijudude

        Well my r key sticks sometimes, I have a excuse. But , and I don’t know if a lot of these articles are by the same people , but more often than not , I notice a lot of things wrong , not the least of which are spelling errors. Now that i’ve mentioned it , maybe they’ll pay a bit more attention.

  • Shaky cam, seriously? My interest level has now dropped.

    • J Jett

      Tom G. i feel the same way. i’m praying the shaky cam abuse in the movie is tolerable/minimal. my heart kind of sank when i read that shaky cam part of the review.

  • Blade

    Looking forward to seeing it. I love Zombie’s films. So dark and brutal. He also somehow manages to make me really hate his antagonist characters (Excluding Michael Myers in his Halloween films) which is something I can’t say a lot of movies make me do. Like I REALLY dislike them, he makes them so despicable and scummy lol

  • Calavera Sonriente

    So far, I really like what I read about 31. The style, the cast, the soundtrack… it sounds as if all these aspects are typically RZ again. I’m really glad he makes these movies, since they contribute to completing my personal horror movie experience. Once in a while, it’s just got to be Zombie’s stylistically unique, sinister, and kind of retro approach. Some of the reviews mentioned a memorable scene in a bathroom stall and a creepy marionette show…I’m pretty excited to find out more about these.

  • Chobble

    Whoa…What a poorly written review.

    • sliceanddice

      yup.

  • sliceanddice

    Now, I’m no Zombie fan, per say. but i would love to see him tackle a film adaptation of the works of Edward Lee. I think he’s crying out to tell someone else’s story. he can shoot good horror sequences but he struggles to find the narrative therein, i think. That’s why i like to think of him as a cinematic problem solver. more folks should bring an idea to him and let him run with it. he wouldn’t need to freak out about story etc quite as much and could hopefully play to his strengths.

    • ALearnedDoctor

      I’ve been hoping for this exact thing from Zombie for a while now. I’d love to see him pair up with a great writer and then see what we get. He’s got some serious chops in every other phase of the process but it’s always the writing that hinders his movies.
      Sadly, with this being his 6th movie I just don’t think he’s interested in going this route and pretty soon he won’t be able to fund any movies. Crowdsourcing or not.

      • sliceanddice

        true – he does have a visual style. maybe one day he’ll get a good writer and then we’ll see what he’s really capable of.

  • Tremors

    IMO, Zombie hasn’t done anything good since Ho1C. It was a unique film, of course borrowing some elements from classics, but still, it feels fresh every time I watch it. I’ve never understood the praise for TDR, it has no heart, it’s mostly an empty film with poor development and this constant pushing of “isn’t this fucked up? isn’t this retro? LOOK LOOK LOOK.” The Halloween remakes are garbage. Lords of Salem was some mish mash of horrible ideas and parading Sheri around for the bajillionth time. I’m awaiting 31 with open arms, but I have to say my expectations are incredibly low. I’m hoping Raised Eyebrows isn’t shitty either.

    • James

      While Malcolm is a great actor he’s been horrible in every single zombie film so far.

  • Hank_Scorpio

    This just seems like another addition to the shallow, white-trash vulgarity-fests he put out. Malcolm McDowell notwithstanding…..

  • Joe Hamilton

    At Chamber: “A ‘true” horror fan does not support Zombie and his brand of slop. You have horrible taste and you should feel bad about it.” I seriously take offense to that comment. I’ve seen just about every horror classic from all eras. I’m 42 years old and grew up on horror. Rob’s movies are not for everyone and as an avid reader, sometimes it seems like the narrative gets lost. However, when Fulci, Argento, along with many others, are considered masters of horror when most of their movies are less cohesive than Robs, I just don’t get the hate. I’ll take anything by Rob over the relentless onslaught of pg-13 movies or low budget ripoffs, high budget remakes, and such that we are continually subjected to. The end.

    • Evans Roberts

      Nailed it!

    • Ravinus

      Right on! Couldn’t have said it better.

    • sliceanddice

      I can’t say i 100% agree with you but good points, well made.

      • Joe Hamilton

        Edward Lee is my second favorite author behind Jack Ketchum. I have all his books, half in hardback. I even have number #34 of the original Bighead. The problem is that much like Peter Jackson or Sam Raimi, Rob has no financial incentive to make a movie about Lees really hardcore books. It would be super cool for him to tackle Dahmers not Dead or Portrait of the Psychopath as a Young Woman. Personally, I would love to see Rob direct Slither or Family Tradition as both are really campy.

        • sliceanddice

          I’m just getting into Lee – unbelievable stuff. Loved the pig and the house and now onto flesh gothic, which i’m not enjoying as much but it’s still good. gonna go for big head next. what else would you recommend? Creekers?

          • Joe Hamilton

            The over the top ones that I really like are Ghast, Ever Nat, Header, Haunter of the Threshold and The Minotauras and of course The Bighead, which is legendary. He also wrote two books with Eilizabeth Steffen, Dahmers Not Dead and Portrait of a Psychopath as a Young Woman. Family Tradition with John Pelan is a favorite too. Out of his Leisure stuff, I really enjoyed Slither and Monstrosity. There is a small community of us at edwardleeonline horror world if you want some different opinions.

          • sliceanddice

            excellent thank you!

    • wehoaks

      I don’t think you got the point of his reply/comment.

      Being that anyone can say they are a true horror fan. And that it is ridiculous to say why one version of it is more true than another. And really, anyone that claims they are “true horror fan” and someone else isn’t, for whatever reason, sounds like a fucking moron.

      • Joe Hamilton

        Yep. Including me:) By the way, I said that his comment was offensive to me. I never said I was I was better or worse or in between. If David Lynch or Ridley Scott made a Rob Zombie movie………….Well, never mind.

        • wehoaks

          haha. I never intended for that to be directly meaning you man. My bad if it felt that way. I just hate that stupid term. We’re all horror fans.

          • Creepshow

            In wehoaks defense, he was referencing a conversation that happened 3 days ago.

  • Meisha’s Taint

    If it’s half way decent Ill toss it in to my regular Halloween rotation.

  • Cj

    What 8th grader wrote this dribble?

    • The Pig

      Drivel, you mean.

  • gabriel

    Just release this thing already!

  • aNYagenda

    “Most of the movie is shot in shakeycam handheld cinematography,…”

    I was just about to ask if he’s shaking the goddamn camera around again.

    I’ve never been able to watch a rob zombie movie the way he always does that.

    Oh well.

  • Well idc im interested still

  • Educated Savage

    Okay, okay – but WHEN is it coming out?

  • The Pig

    So it’s basically the same old trash from RZ. Dirty people, gratuitous profanity, rape, and sadism. Movies made by white trash for white trash! Yay!

    • James

      Yeah pretty much. Unfortunately even the gore was incredibly lame.

  • 1EyeJack

    I can’t for the life of me understand the hate towards Rob Zombie. Is it because he’s been successful as a musician as well as a director? Is it because he’s an awesome (traditional) artist? Is it because he’s got a beautiful wife?
    He does great work! I’ve enjoyed all his movies so far and I think the horror community should be glad to have him. I certainly am.

    • MildManneredReporter

      Halloween 2

    • Glitchiee Glitch

      1 his music was hit or miss ..most of it was total crap.. most all of his movies were total dogshit. and his wife? lol um no not beautiful
      maybe 20 years ago.. i watched this movie last night and it was a fucking mess

      • ray gudel

        It was a huge mess.

      • James

        Gigantic mess. This movie was horrible and easily his worst film so far. The opening monologue was good that was about it. It was pretty much immediately downhill from there.

        • Glitchiee Glitch

          I AGREE COMPLETELY… the very beginning had me going oh man ! rob might surprise me this time.. then FLOP! nope

    • Maventii

      Maybe it’s because the movie sucks, asshole.

  • Nahuel Benvenuto

    when is this movie gonna be released?

  • Mark Tomocik

    I get excited every time I hear about Rob Zombie making a horror movie. Then I remember that they are all fucking terrible. He got to remake Halloween and what did he come up with? Gross white trash…wow…that’s so creative…thanks bud.

    • Batmanfanboy

      Agree, his first 2 movies were good stuff, now he`s getting progressively worse. What he did to Halloween was awful.

  • Glitchiee Glitch

    THIS MOVIE WAS A PIECE OF SHIT ! im not going to drop any spoilers but ill say this the acting was shitty as hell. zombies REALLY needs to stop casting his wife in all his damn movies and when you watch this steaming pile try not to face palm so hard you knock yourself out due to all the dumb shit that happens that makes NO SENSE

    • ray gudel

      I had the hardest time following what was going on, it seemed like there were a bunch of scenes that got cut that needed to be there to explain what the fuck was actually happening half the time.

  • Nahuel Benvenuto

    i watched it las night and it might be his worst movie, superbeasto doesnt count it is shitm but this was was, ehg, i like Zombie and his movies, but this was just shallow

    • Matt Miller

      Yeah, it was bad. Altough I really liked the first scene, I was preparing to enjoy the movie, but no. It wasn’t even fun but I’d like to see more of doomhead.

  • horrormaker

    Once again he missed his target. i still feel RZ is on to something, but still misses it. In this film, i don’t feel he was creative enough. He still takes unlikable people to an unlike place–that looks terrifying in a good sense–and kills them off which ever way he can. The timing was off–i didn’t know after the first kill to the dinner table, hours had past, until they said so. “What were these people doing during that time?” I think the big thing is, we have seen this style before. Yes, The Running Man comes to mind, however, there are other horror films out there that have done something like this before. Acting was bad, one scene they are believable, next they aren’t. i can understand why RZ casts his wife. Some directors cast themselves to save money, then add it to production costs. RZ might cast his wife, take the money that he would have use to hire someone else and but it in the production. But he needs to stop. I am tired of seeing her. Some people mentioned Edward Lee, yeah, it would be cool to see RZ take on one of his novels. I would like to see him do Slither, RZ needs to tackle monsters next, not slashers.

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