The Lords of Salem – Growth
There are certain people that like to co-opt the horror genre and whore it out for their own needs (Michael Bay, I’m looking at you) and others that have a feeling for the genre and try to pay homage while trying to create something new that either hasn’t been done before, or hasn’t been done for decades. Rob Zombie is a little bit of both. Overall, I like Zombie. White Zombie was a kick ass band, his solo efforts were solid, even if they were a little more on the industrial rock side, but when I first heard he was getting into the horror movie making business I thought about films like “Monster Dog” “Andy Warhol’s Frankenstein” and other assorted crappy movies that happened to have musicians associated with them. Out comes “House of 1000 Corpses” while not perfect, was still entertaining and was instant nostalgia. Fast forward 10 years and we have Zombie’s newest, and most mature effort, with “The Lords of Salem,” once again starring Sheri Moon Zombie’s ass.
“Lords” plot revolves around a Salem disc jockey, played by Moon Zombie, a recovering drug addict who begins to have strange, demonic visions. After listening to a mysterious record from a new band ironically-called “The Lords” her visions begin to intensify complete with giant hairy monsters, bleeding walls, and perverted priests (well, the last one very well could have been real). Complete with witches and a town conspiracy, “Lords” is a modern day Dario Argento film, very similar to “Suspiria” or “Deep Red.”
There’s no doubt that director Zombie has an eye for film. His shot compositions are put together very well in “Lords,” he knows just how long to linger on a shot, and I commend him for being very practical with his special effects, I have a hard time forgiving him for his “fake blood and bullet hits” in “The Devil’s Rejects” but it looks like he has finally moved beyond that and gone back to basics.
The acting is still a struggle, as it usually is in his movies. There is overacting, underacting, and everything in-between I’ll go out on a limb and say it’s the best acting in a Zombie film so far, which isn’t saying a lot, but it’s not as bad as “Halloween 2.” While I understand it, I don’t think Sheri Moon Zombie is a leading lady. She’s a scream queen at this point, and always will be, but I don’t think she is strong enough to hold together an entire picture, but she does a decent job as the disturbed lead, Heidi Hawthrone. As is normal for a Zombie film, you get plenty of cameos by some great genre actors, namely Sid Haig, Michael Berryman, and the almost unrecognizable Meg Foster from “They Live.” It’s almost like she was channeling Grima Wormtongue from the “Lord of the Rings” trilogy.
Overall, if you like Rob Zombie, you won’t be let down by his latest effort. Like I said, it’s his strongest since “1000 Corpses,” but don’t go in expecting blood and guts all over the wall. While there is gore, it’s more nuanced and the film relies on sense of dread instead of buckets of blood. Also, as a warning, if you are bothered by excessive amounts of weirdness and hate music videos, you might want to skip the end of the film…..it gets……odd, to say the least.
Fun Fact: During the Salem Witch Trials, which lasted from 1692-1693, 27 people were killed by the means of hanging, pressing, and while detained in prison.