Following the same structure I used for my The Conjuring anticipation list, I am going to present you with eight different movies one must watch in order to be prepared for Rob Zombie's upcoming film insanity 31.
Ever since he directed the remake of Halloween, Zombie has been quite the divisive figure among horror buffs. Love him or hate him, the truth is the guy deserves respect for standing up to his own style. He is a man with a vision, a redneckish-dirty-gory-disturbed one, which is far more than we can say about the largest percentage of filmmakers out there.
Disclaimer! The list was created based on the following recurrent elements in Zombie's films: '70s, '80s, exploitation, gore, Halloween, hillbillies, psychos, murder, dirt, survival, revenge, family, carnival.
Here is the plot synopsis for 31:
Five carnival workers are kidnapped and held hostage in an abandoned, Hell-like compound where they are forced to participate in a violent game, the goal of which is to survive 12 hours against a gang of sadistic clowns.
1. The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2 (1986) — Tobe Hooper
The first Texas Chainsaw Massacre would also be a good pick for this list, since it is the one and only ultimate influence over everything Zombie has done in the horror genre. However, the set up for the final act, which is set in this abandoned house of horrors makes TTCM2 the perfect film to watch before 31. Also, the often humorous, clown-y way the characters behave, are common ground on 31.
2. The Funhouse (1981) — Tobe Hooper
There is zero questioning that Tobe Hooper is the ultimate inspiration for Zombie. The brutality and dirty aesthetics of his films are widely present throughout RZ's filmography, especially in films such as House of 1000 Corpses. Hooper's Funhouse is set in a carnival of horrors, where a group of youngsters are stranded and fighting to survive. This is mandatory viewing!
3. The Hills Have Eyes (2006) — Alexandre Aja
High-def and beautifully shot mayhem, dirt, ultra-violence, gore, cannibalism, fighting against maniacs to survive. It is hard to tell if I'm talking about The Hills Have Eyes or 31. Although the original THHE by Wes Craven is most likely to have influenced RZ, this outstanding remake, which surpasses the original, is closer to his work nowadays.
4. Two Thousand Maniacs! (1964) — Herschell Gordon Lewis
The recently deceased godfather of gore has gifted us with many passionate pieces of gory craziness, when gore was all but a distant dream (nightmare). In Two Thousand Maniacs — maybe a reference to the title of House of 1000 Corpses — Gordon put six people to be slaughtered by the hands of a bunch of southern hillbillies in a wide variety of disturbing carnival games.
5. The Houses October Built (2014) — Bobby Roe
RZ's journey into the horror genre started many years ago when he was responsible for developing haunted house attractions. His first and last films are completely centered around that, but he was not the only one to explore it. 2014's The Houses October Built is a mockumentary/found footage horror flick that follows a group of people in search of the most frightening haunted house experience in the United States, which leads them to a bizarre encounter with masked sickos, who promise a killer experience.
6. Carnival Of Souls (1962) — Herk Harvey
Carnival of Souls is a black-and-white classic and one of the most celebrated horror films of the '60s. It is very different from the other gory hounds in this list, but also a demonstration of the many different approaches to a horror carnival.
7. Saw II (2005) — Darren Lynn Bousman
As this list values diversity, this one will definitely please the younger audiences, accustomed to the Saw franchise. This second part is a great choice as it features a group of different individuals locked inside a place filled with traps and violence, forced to play some sickening and brutal games.
8. House Of 1000 Corpses (2003) — Rob Zombie
As reported before, haunted house attractions are Zombie's specialty. His first film was set in one and so is his latest. In many ways, 31 is a throwback to what he started back in the early 2000s. In 31, it's easy to spot the evolution of his filmmaking technique and style. The composition and lighting in 31 is far superior, and the opening scene alone might be the best thing he has done, but HO1000C remains one of his most personal and unique films. Being able to put together some obvious influences with his own personal style is what makes Zombie a name to be respected.
Seeing as Rob Zombie is such a fan of twisted carnivals, check out some of horror's most disturbing clowns in the video below:
Chainsaw (Short Film)