Set during summer in the 70’s the story follows a group of travelling carnival workers. After passing through a small rural town they’re abducted and awake to discover that they’re the latest contestants in a game of “31”. Under the instruction of mysterious people in powdered wigs (led by Malcolm McDowell), the workers are equipped with a weapon each and have to survive 12 hours in a desolate warehouse tricked out with tricks, traps and half a dozen weapon wielding blood thirsty clowns!
I don’t normally follow Rob Zombies work, especially after watching The Lords of Salem – but my pal explaining the plot sold me on it; “Folk get kidnapped and forced to a running man type game against clowns”. I love these competition/survival themes in film (Battle Royale, The Condemned) it always hooks my attention – my only worry was how scary were the clowns!
Set during the seventies it was only right that Zombie treats this feature with the full Grind-house/Video Nasty treatment. The score to the film is excellent it reminds me of Escape from New York and Planet Terror; dropping those deep notes coming from an electric keyboard. Even the sound effects are turned up to 11, the sounds of people chowing down on succulent ribs to being struck in the gut with a spiked baseball bat – everything sounds extra squishy.
Zombies camera work comes across as intimate and intense, close, close shots of our heroes faces as they’re being hunted and attacked. The only downside when they’re under attack the footage becomes shaken and disorientating after a while. There’s only so much footage shaky of Sheri Moon Zombie one can handle. Whilst we’re talking about what I didn’t like, the acting at the start was a little cringe-worthy, just all the Rasta stuff was hammy – but by the time the cast of characters were in jeopardy everyone become very serious.
The collection killer clowns that are on display were surprisingly diverse, the midget wielding blades, chainsaw twins and our main antagonist; Doom-Head (Richard Brake) is a very intense character, his transformation from man to Doom leaves you frothing with anticipation on his first kill. You know nothing good could come from this man, although that was obvious after the films opening monologue.
Overall, I find myself enjoying the film more after watching it – it was good, nothing great – but just such a fun concept that can easily capture a persons imagination – who expected to see a midget dressed up like a knife wielding Hispanic Hitler or Malcolm McDowell in a powdered wig! It is defiantly worth watching for movie fans, essentially for Rob Zombie fans.