The Ninjabot

LORDS OF SALEM Review

Posted on April 21, 2013 at 3:29 pm by Jess Hicks

If you throw out the name “Rob Zombie” during a discussion with horror fans you will discover there is a serious divide in people who love his stuff and who absolutely hate anything he does with a burning passion. He creates extreme horror and does it, usually, in a way that can be really interesting. Unfortunately, Lords of Salem is not like anything he has done. Sure, it’s strange and the same cast is used like in all of his other films but this one just didn’t take off the way I wanted it to. Please stop reading now if you wish to avoid SPOILERS!

lords-of-salem-teaser

Official Synopsis:

From the singular mind of horror maestro Rob Zombie comes a chilling plunge into a nightmare world where evil runs in the blood. The Lords of Salem tells the tale of Heidi (Sheri Moon Zombie), a radio station DJ living in Salem, Massachusetts, who receives a strange wooden box containing a record, a “gift from the Lords.” Heidi listens, and the bizarre sounds within the grooves immediately trigger flashbacks of the town’s violent past. Is Heidi going mad, or are the “Lords of Salem” returning for revenge on modern-day Salem?

I guess some of my issues lie in that I really didn’t know what to expect from this film, I just wanted it to happen. Sadly, I think I can say the same for Zombie in this situation. Don’t get me wrong, I think he is a fantastic musician and filmmaker but Lords just doesn’t fit. First off I am going to say what everyone has been saying since Halloween, Sheri Moon Zombie is a lovely woman who can do awesome over the top acting but when it comes to something more serious she just kind of misses the mark.

At times I could buy into her character but those times were rare, otherwise it just seemed like she was reading directly from the script itself. I love her in Devil’s Rejects and House of 1000 corpses but I think she has fallen into only being able to play that specific type of character. The real unfortunate part is that there are definitely some very interesting side characters that I would have liked to see more of.

Lords of Salem- Sheri

A second issue I had with this film is the time line which shouldn’t have been too difficult to follow. It’s set up much in the style of The Shining in that it follows a day by day process, Monday, Tuesday, etc. The problem I had with this is that the days just seemed to take too long. Half the time I forgot we were even in a day until the next one flashed up on the screen. I like this style but for some reason it just didn’t seem to work with this film. It also didn’t help that the characters wore virtually the same outfit throughout the film. At one point Heidi is staying with her friend (ex-boyfriend?) from the radio station and she begins to cough up blood. Her friend calls 911 but as he is calling he is killed by demons, or so it seems. We don’t see him for a good half hour and then all of a sudden he is in the movie again. Perhaps some of his footage was cut in the editing room but it just seemed incredibly confusing to me.

Now when you watch a film by Zombie you are going to expect some weird shit to go down and I’m usually totally cool with that. Weird stuff, violence, kick ass soundtrack and I’m sold. However, the weird in Lords of Salem was just a bit too out there with no rhyme or reason. The biggest example of this occurs towards the end of the film. Heidi has been consumed by Satan and the witches who live downstairs so she is pretty much gone for the rest of the movie (not physically, just mentally). As she enters this big cathedral like place she stumbles up the stairs and is greeted by what I can only describe as a Ghoulie crossed with a chicken. I’m not sure what exactly was supposed be happening but what did happen was the entire theater cracking up laughing. That’s a great reaction if something is supposed to be funny but I don’t think that was the goal for this particular scene.

Lords of Salem- Baby

Which brings me to the complete and overall problem in that this film was just entirely all over the place with extremely interesting ideas that never really got fleshed out. Personally I would have liked to see more of the witches who “took care” of Heidi played by Dee Wallace (The Howling, Critters, Cujo, etc) Patricia Quinn (The Rocky Horror Picture Show) and Judy Geeson (To Sir, With Love). They were interesting, funny, creepy and everything that this film should have been. Or if the film had been a straight up story about the Salem Witch Trials I would have been okay with that too.

What I did really enjoy about The Lords of Salem is the visual style that Zombie always seems to get right. There were some genuinely creepy moments (scary witch on the counter anyone?) that were done extremely well and subtly. Zombie is still fine tuning his storytelling but he does have a knack for the visual aspect which is half the battle in horror films.

Lords of Salem- Sisters

Closing Thoughts and Side Bars:

  • The use of 70s style clothing and music somewhat made the time period hard to distinguish. The only reason I could tell it was set in present times was by the cars in the film.
  • I learned that if you want to keep creepy witches and satanic chicken babies out of your house you should not buy a dog, they don’t notice shit. Get a cat.
  • Patricia Quinn was my absolute favorite part of this movie, she is still as awesome and creepy as she was playing Magenta in The Rocky Horror Picture Show.
  • I won’t give up on Zombie, every filmmaker is inclined to one bad movie.

Lords of Salem Rating- 2.5/5 STARS

 

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