The Lords of Salem Synopsis: Heidi, a radio DJ, is sent a box containing a record – a “gift from the Lords”. The sounds within the grooves trigger flashbacks of her town’s violent past. Is Heidi going mad, or are the Lords back to take revenge on Salem, Massachusetts?
Tagline: The Lords Are Coming
Soundtrack Available: Amazon
The Lords of Salem Review
Ah, Rob Zombie. How up and down our relationship has been. Well, one-sided relationship. I love your music. I haven’t heard the latest one but holy hell, What a title. Movies however, have been up and down. I loved ‘House of 1000 Corpses‘. I wasn’t too crazy about the sequel, ‘The Devil’s Rejects‘. Apparently I’m in the minority on that one. I’ll give you some leeway with the Halloween remake and it’s sequel as I know you didn’t have full artistic control. Which brings me to The Lords of Salem.
Again, I believe I’m slightly in the minority on this one, I loved it. I think people do Sheri Moon Zombie a disservice. I hear the usual snarky stuff about how she wouldn’t be an actress if it weren’t for her husband. And people love to point to the fact that she’s not been in any other movies. I haven’t heard from her one way or the other but it’s possible she doesn’t want to do any others. I would love to see her in something else, though, because I think she would surprise a lot of people. Her roles have been varied throughout the Zombie movies she’s been in and she performs each one admirably. She’s scary as the psychotic ‘Baby’ in House of 1000 Corpses. I loved her interview question. They asked if she enjoyed the stabby part of it. Her answer? “No! And I don’t think I’d want to meet anyone who would!”. In Halloween she wavers between a sympathetic mom and a mom you kind of want to yell at. I have yet to see 31.
In Lords of Salem, however, she’s someone you desperately want to root for. You can see her playfulness in the DJ scenes and her attempt to make it through her addiction problem. But you also get a sense of impending dread and doom hanging over her as the Forces That Be Evil coalesce around her. And, since it’s a Zombie movie, you can pretty much tell that things will not end well for poor Heidi.
The pace keeps along quite well. There are maybe one or two laggy parts but even they move along at a decent clip. Zombie has a flair for imagery. Some of the best parts might as well be still shots because they’re clips that are just so visual they don’t seem to be a part of a motion picture. Zombie also always has a (not too surprising considering his background) knack for joining the music well with the movie scenes. And, to give him credit, although he usually does write a song for his movies, they are never prominently displayed throughout, They are typically reserved for the credit roll.
Watching Zombie’s movies you can tell that he has a great love for the classic horror movies. His former band used to be called White Zombie after the 1932 Bela Lugosi zombie flick. The Lords of Salem definitely has overtones of the Christopher Lee movie – City of the Dead (Horror Hotel is it’s alternate title). And he can’t say he hasn’t seen it. In the intro to Dragula there’s a direct quote from Christopher Lee from the movie.
I know, I know. You didn’t come here to listen to me ramble about the music. You want to hear about the movie. The only reason I’ve gone so in-depth is because it’s rather hard to separate the two. Especially since a bit of the movie revolves around a radio station.
Heidi is very likable and really the only fault I can find in the character itself was the choice to make her an ex-junkie. It seemed kind of unnecessary to the plot as it didn’t add much to it. Her interactions with the other characters are great, particularly the chemistry between her and Herman Jackson (Ken Foree). Her chemistry with Bruce Davison is great, too and it’s a shame there’s so little of it in the movie. In fact, the only chemistry that I found lacking was that between her and Herman ‘Whitey’ Salvador (Jeff Daniel Phillips). He seemed to be a love interest, at least in the past and seemed to want to pick it up again. Heidi’s feelings seem to be a bit more ambiguous until the end. But they never seemed to click for me. I honestly couldn’t see why she liked him. And he seemed rather ambivalent throughout. Some of my favorite scenes are the three DJ’s in the radio station. They seem to be having so much fun together.
One of the main complaints I’ve heard was that Zombie didn’t use the town of Salem to full effect. I think it showed a bit grungier side that tourists overlook and the Chamber of Commerce is very happy to not have thrust to the forefront. I think it works well. It seems to me to subvert it’s current reputation for being of the benign Wiccans and Neo-Pagans. The grungy side is where you would find the true evil of The Lords lurking.
To me, the movie and it’s scenes flow together smoothly. Which might sound strange as it can be choppy at times. But the choppiness comes in only when Heidi is slowly falling under the spell of The Lords and reality is getting harder and harder to hang onto. There are also two scenes which one of them I found unnecessaryand the other slightly giggle-inducing.
For all it’s weirdness I couldn’t help but be drawn in. And the end scene? It’s Zombie using his visual imagery at it’s best. And the music that plays through is perfect (All Tomorrow’s Parties’ by The Velvet Underground). The wrap-up reminds me strongly of the ending of Night of the Living Dead but in the light of an homage, not a rip-off.
I would certainly recommend it but it seems to be a love it or hate it type of movie so be warned. There are also two scenes that may be intense. The following is hidden for spoilers but they could also be triggering for some viewers so please take a look. Without the context they’re only light spoilers
It’s not a subtle movie. But when has Rob Zombie ever been accused of being subtle?
3 out of 5 Skulls