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The Lords of Salem(2013)
Written by: The Arrow
Director: Rob Zombie

Starring:
Sheri Moon Zombie/Heidi
Bruce Davison/Francis
Meg Foster/Margaret
Dee Wallace/Sonny
9 10
PLOT-CRUNCH
A cute radio DJ (Sheri Moon Zombie) sees her world go to hell when she receives a mysterious vinyl record, plays it and unleashes a living nightmare. Son of Witch!
THE LOWDOWN
This seems to be the rule of middle finger up out there on the internet: you're either a Rob Zombie fan or you're not. Doesn't seem to be much of a middle ground when it comes to the dude's work. Personally, I loved House of a 1000 Corpses and The Devil's Rejects. Thought his uneven Halloween had its moments (the work-print cut was so much better than the obviously Studio compromised theatrical cut), I am in the minority in having dug Halloween 2 not as a Halloween movie though, but as a Rob Zombie dips into the art-film pool effort (have yet to see the D. Cut, will in due time). So, I guess I am a Rob Zombie fan, as a filmmaker that is, I only just started to get into his music. I went and got his CDs after clocking THE LORDS OF SALEM (am listening to his third album as I type this – so far, so rock!).

So what of THE LORDS OF SALEM? The first thing that crossed my rotten grey matter as the end credits rolled was “I want to see it again and on the big screen!” Alas the film didn't get released in my corner of the abyss, so I had to watch it by way of a low resolution online screener on my laptop. For a flick that is so audio/visual driven that's the last way I wanted to see it, but the f*ck you gonna do, beggars can't be choosers. I am content that I got to witness it period. THE LORDS OF SALEM was my kind of movie! It was an obvious throwback to 70's horror flicks (lets face it, the best era for the genre), ROSEMARY'S BABY came to mind big time in terms of the progression of the narrative and the turns it took. At the same time, content wise, THE LORDS OF SALEM reminded me of Dario Argento's classic witch movies (Inferno, Suspiria) with a visual style that was akin to Stanley Kubrick's The Shining. So yeah, that's a potent mix right there, one that went down smoother than a head job on a Sunday morning. Zombie's latest opus was unquestionably an art house type of celluloid injection, one that opted to communicate its tale via surreal imagery and macabre sound design first and I was all good with that jive.

The visuals here (arrestingly photographed by DOP Brandon Trost) were simply mesmerizing; I adored Zombie's slow push ins, his long takes and his more methodical way of shooting when compared to his past films. His framing was also immaculate, always taking into account the architecture or/and the backdrops within said shots to deliver scenes that were akin to morbid paintings in motion. Psychedelic, somber and unsettling... I relished every second of the poisened eye candy that was onscreen. And was it me or did the movie almost come across as a love letter to Satan? I actually went and surfed the  net afterwards to find out if Rob Zombie was a Satanist (he's not, he's an atheist). Yup, there was something mucho WRONG about this movie, and I say that in a GOOD way. I was in an almost trance like state when I watched it (the 8 beers I had guzzled down before helped on that front I am sure), and although the mood was oppressive and disturbing, I simply couldn't take my retinas and ears off it. Speaking of sound, the music here was a big plus too; Griffin Boice and John 5's score was astounding! The score was primitive and fairly unorthodox (reminded me of Goblin), which made for quite a unique audio feast that ably supported the twisted imagery that Zombie tossed my way. All about the dittie on the LP in the flick (listen to it here)... brrrr...

Moreover the casting here was a old school horror fans wet dream come through! Meg Foster (of They Live fame) stole every scene she was in via her fearless and feral show, Bruce Davison was fantastic, and he brought “some” levity to the affair, genre vet Dee Wallace blew me away (her home-girls Patricia Quinn and Judy Geeson aced it as well) while Zombie's real life squeeze Sherri Moon Zombie gave her best performance to date as the gal with hell on her tail. She's come a long way! NOTE: Thanks for all the Sheri ass shots, they didn't go unappreciated. END OF NOTE. On his end, Jeffrey Daniel Phillips was almost upstaged by his insane amount of facial hair while Ken Foree classed the joint up as he always does! Add to all that horror love some freaky flashbacks to the Salem trials, a refreshing old school approach to horror (no CGI or boo scares here, all about spookiness), a unique representation of El Diablo and a totally out there finale that will either turn you off or give you a horrorgasm (I loved it of course, all about Mozart's Requiem In D Minor... nice!) and you get one hell of an out there experience!

Drawbacks? Well anybody that's seen 5 horror films from the 70's will know where this one was going pretty early on. With that, for me, it wasn't where I was going that had me by the hacky-sack, but how I got there. So the familiarity of the chain of events didn't hinder my enjoyment of the picture much, if at all. Then we had some moments which were supposed to be “scary” but wound coming off as hokey (due to goofy looking effects). It happened once or twice for the bulk of the film, so nothing for me to snap neck about. lastly, the last-last frames...WTF?! I didn't get it. If you do, let me know what's the dealio! On the whole THE LORDS OF SALEM made for a very satisfying sit down for yours truly. Will it for you? The f*ck I know! But I was one happy horror fan afterwards, all that matters to me! Thank you Rob Zombie for this refreshing jab of trip-out horror! My 2013 needed it!

PS: Goats baby, goats, nough said!

GORE
The film had its brutal moments but was far from the gorefest that was Zombie's past films. The emphasis was mood and chill inducing visuals, not the red stuff.
T & A
We get lots of naked flesh that I could have done without and that was the point (everything went, male and female). Lets just say these witches ain't hitting the Gym. Thankfully, Rob's countless shots of Sheri's round “flip a nickel off it” ass made the wrong things right. Girl should have that rump insured! It looks THAT fine! Damn!
BOTTOM LINE
A drug induced nightmare come to life! THE LORDS OF SALEM was the polar opposite of what I'd expect from a Rob Zombie movie. His past work was brash, gory and in your face. But LORDS played the slow burn, art-house and restrained card, favoring sinister atmosphere, creepy sound design and wild imagery over splatter. Sure the chain of events was predictable (specially if you've seen Rosemary's Baby), a couple of effects/moments were “off” and the last frames made me go "uh?", but on the whole I relished every second of this bitter and trippy ass flick, adored its slow/steady demeanor, its stellar set designs, gloomy lighting, freaky camera work and solid acting all around Meg Foster was nuts!). Yeah... LORDS OF SALEM was a keeper for this a-hole, I can't wait to see it again, can't wait to own it and can't wait for what Rob does next! Bring it!
BULL'S EYE
Look out for small cameos by Michael Berryman and Sid Haig.

80's and 90's got to hispanic gal Maria Conchita Alonso has a small role here. Was nice to see here again! Loved her in Extreme Prejudice!

Richard Lynch was initially cast as Reverend John Hawthorne. But health issues got in the way of his performance. He was replaced by Andrew Prine. Lynch has since passed on. Too bad, he would have ACED that role.
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