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Review: The Lords of Salem

Apr. 19, 2013by: Eric Walkuski

PLOT: A radio DJ living in Salem unwittingly becomes part of a plot to resurrect a coven of witches killed centuries ago.

REVIEW: Rob Zombie gets his ROSEMARYS BABY on in THE LORDS OF SALEM, which ditches the rocker-directors trademark hillbilly-horror aesthetic for something a little more restrained - well, restrained for Zombie. And while LORDS seems like the movie Zombie was attempting to make with HALLOWEEN 2, and shows that hes leaning in a more assured direction behind the camera, it wobbles on the thin line between surreality and hokeyness. Plainly put, its more interesting than good.

Much like Roman Polanskis aforementioned 60s classic, LORDS focuses on a woman haunted by demonic forces close to home. Heidi (Sheri Moon Zombie) is a recovering addict and DJ, working a small rock station in Salem, Mass. alongside two good-natured co-hosts (Jeff Daniel Phillips and Ken Foree). When her station mysteriously receives a record from the Lords, its ominous, tribal tunes get inside her head (as well as, evidently, the heads of many Salem females). Soon after, Heidi begins to experience disorienting visions and the persistent feeling that something unnatural lives down the hall from her in the boarding house she occupies; said boarding house owned by a trio of too-friendly sisters (Dee Wallace, Judy Geeson, Patricia Quinn) who are none-too-conspicuously plotting a devious fate for the unraveling woman. Could the fact that Heidi is a descendant of a Salem Witch Trials-era pastor have anything to do with it?

Zombie paces his movie fairly methodically, eschewing the brutal violence typically found in his work in favor of an atmosphere of spooky weirdness. He sometimes falls back on standard horror flick devices, like sudden loud noises and ghostly figures looming in the background, but overall LORDS advances the gloomy/trippy style he utilized in H2s (admittedly out-of-place) dream/hallucination sequences. In the best of these, the mood is appropriately unnerving; in the worst, its like were watching outtakes from a particularly hellish music video. Unfortunately, the films climax contains more of the latter, resulting in visuals that are straight-up goofy as opposed to frightening.

Zombies most crucial mistake, however, is the casting of his wife in the lead role. Yes, its easy to nag the man for forever finding ways to shoehorn Sheri Moon into his films (her appearances in H2 were especially gratuitous), but it remains true that she simply doesnt have the acting chops to pull off a role that demands a more seasoned performer. Give Zombie credit: he turns a blind eye to her limitations and gives the finger to his detractors. Unfortunately, Heidis complexity is restricted because Sheri Moon cant muster up any true range. (Want to see a great performance in a somewhat similar role? Check out Gretchen Lodge in LOVELY MOLLY.)

As hes had in the past, Zombie has far greater success filling out the supporting roles, once again reaching back into the past to bring to the forefront a creative assemblage of has-beens. Wallace, Geeson and Quinn ham it up delightfully as the three sinister sisters, who purr and cackle quite witchily, while Bruce Davison is very likable as an author who does some digging into Heidis past in an effort to help her. And some kind of Special Achievement Award must be handed over to Meg Foster, whom we all remember from her steely-eyed turns in THEY LIVE and MASTERS OF THE UNIVERSE, but here is transformed into something unrecognizable and hideous. As the leader of a centuries-old coven, Foster is predominantly nude, frequently hissing, and an overall ghastly sight (I mean that in the best possible way).

Zombie also uses his considerable musical expertise to craft another killer soundtrack, with original themes by John 5 complemented by tracks by Velvet Underground and Rush. Its a very effective score, supplementing the appropriately melancholy cinematography by Brandon Trost and Zombies multiple references (direct or otherwise) to THE SHINING, THE EXORCIST and yes, ROSEMARYS BABY, not to mention numerous satanic-themed British horror flicks from the 60s and 70s.

Source: JoBlo.com

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8:13AM on 04/29/2013
I agree the ending totally falls apart with its weird music video style editing, but I thought Sheri Moon did a good job.
I agree the ending totally falls apart with its weird music video style editing, but I thought Sheri Moon did a good job.
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2:59PM on 04/23/2013
I left a more in-depth comment on Arrow's review, but to paraphrase a bit--
I've loved each and every one of Zombie's past films, and went into them with impossible expectations and he surpassed them each time (yes, I absolutely love Zombie's take on the "Halloween"'s), and was just as eager for this. Many of the advance reviews I had read were raves, so it seemed a no-brainer.
Well, color me disappointed. This let me down in many, many ways.
It's not a "bad" film by any means, and there
I left a more in-depth comment on Arrow's review, but to paraphrase a bit--
I've loved each and every one of Zombie's past films, and went into them with impossible expectations and he surpassed them each time (yes, I absolutely love Zombie's take on the "Halloween"'s), and was just as eager for this. Many of the advance reviews I had read were raves, so it seemed a no-brainer.
Well, color me disappointed. This let me down in many, many ways.
It's not a "bad" film by any means, and there were numerous elements to it I liked a great deal. But the flick as a whole did not gel and didn't work as a cohesive story.
I left feeling very indifferent, which, for me, was more upsetting than if I had straight-up despised it...
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10:49PM on 04/19/2013
This movie was terrible. Should have never went to see it. Should have listened to Nivekian. And the 5/10 was being very generous. Deserves no more than a 2/10
This movie was terrible. Should have never went to see it. Should have listened to Nivekian. And the 5/10 was being very generous. Deserves no more than a 2/10
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5:41PM on 04/19/2013
edit
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5:38PM on 04/19/2013
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5:37PM on 04/19/2013
Seen this last night, incredibly disappointed. I felt like I watched some crappy art film. I liked everything he has done till this, but this flick was walk out bad.
Seen this last night, incredibly disappointed. I felt like I watched some crappy art film. I liked everything he has done till this, but this flick was walk out bad.
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1:37PM on 04/19/2013
I love Zombie's Corpses and Rejects so ill def check this out. Kind of excited actually. He's an original horror director and even though his last few weren't perfect he's got some serious talent that can't be denied
I love Zombie's Corpses and Rejects so ill def check this out. Kind of excited actually. He's an original horror director and even though his last few weren't perfect he's got some serious talent that can't be denied
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5:41PM on 04/19/2013
This film, even as a fan, will make you question his talent. Note the dildo stroking priests, and tentacle midget. I like his previous work, but Lords of Salem really was shit
This film, even as a fan, will make you question his talent. Note the dildo stroking priests, and tentacle midget. I like his previous work, but Lords of Salem really was shit
12:19PM on 04/19/2013

Rob

Mr. Zombie and another piece of shit!
Mr. Zombie and another piece of shit!
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11:47AM on 04/19/2013

I'm still gonna watch it out of respect for Zombie...

and my love for 60's and 70's cult movies about devil worship and witches (Suspiria, Race with the Devil, ext.). I think Zombies got talent he just needs better material (I.E. Devils Rejects Owned) and his "fuck you if you disagree" mentality, while commendable in this age of theater dribble, isn't really helping.

But what I really want to see is Zombie give us the Tyrannosaurus Rex movie he teased us with in 2009. Here's a reference in case you forgot, [link]
and my love for 60's and 70's cult movies about devil worship and witches (Suspiria, Race with the Devil, ext.). I think Zombies got talent he just needs better material (I.E. Devils Rejects Owned) and his "fuck you if you disagree" mentality, while commendable in this age of theater dribble, isn't really helping.

But what I really want to see is Zombie give us the Tyrannosaurus Rex movie he teased us with in 2009. Here's a reference in case you forgot, [link]
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11:04AM on 04/19/2013
I plan on seeing this movie tonight. Don't know if I should back out or not. Zombie is very hit or miss with his films.
I plan on seeing this movie tonight. Don't know if I should back out or not. Zombie is very hit or miss with his films.
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12:19PM on 04/19/2013
Hit: the devil rejects

Miss: house of the 1000 corps, halloween 1 and 2

lol
Hit: the devil rejects

Miss: house of the 1000 corps, halloween 1 and 2

lol
5:17PM on 04/19/2013
That's your opinion Barfly, here's mine:

Hit: House of 1000 Corpses, Halloween 1

Miss: Devil's Rejects and Halloween 2

Sounds pretty even to me.
That's your opinion Barfly, here's mine:

Hit: House of 1000 Corpses, Halloween 1

Miss: Devil's Rejects and Halloween 2

Sounds pretty even to me.
5:25PM on 04/19/2013
I agree and disagree with both of you in some way.

I enjoyed House of 1000 Corpses, The Devil Rejects, and Halloween.

I disliked The Haunted World of El Superbeasto(although that was just a small animated film) and Halloween 2.

Which I guess would be even LOL however his last two movies El Superbeasto and Halloween 2 have been awful. Which is why I say hit or miss.
I agree and disagree with both of you in some way.

I enjoyed House of 1000 Corpses, The Devil Rejects, and Halloween.

I disliked The Haunted World of El Superbeasto(although that was just a small animated film) and Halloween 2.

Which I guess would be even LOL however his last two movies El Superbeasto and Halloween 2 have been awful. Which is why I say hit or miss.
5:38PM on 04/19/2013
Save your money, man
Save your money, man
5:43PM on 04/19/2013
I read your comment Nivekian and you said you have like you enjoy everything he has done up to this film. That includes Halloween 2? That film was awful.
I read your comment Nivekian and you said you have like you enjoy everything he has done up to this film. That includes Halloween 2? That film was awful.
12:11PM on 04/20/2013
I hated Halloween. One reason. michael myers talks and for me it literally kills the caracter.
I hated Halloween. One reason. michael myers talks and for me it literally kills the caracter.
2:16PM on 04/20/2013
I'm assuming you are talking about the prequel they did in the first part of the remake. I didn't mind that at all since it was just that a prequel. I thought he did a great job on that movie however when he did the sequel it was downright bizarre. Like he threw everything out the window.
I'm assuming you are talking about the prequel they did in the first part of the remake. I didn't mind that at all since it was just that a prequel. I thought he did a great job on that movie however when he did the sequel it was downright bizarre. Like he threw everything out the window.
10:14AM on 04/22/2013
hits none!!
misses everything hes ever done.

as a horror fan he destroyed halloween.
again as a horror fan he makes shock horror crap with no class.

just becasue he has zombie in his name and singings songs about people eating each other doesnt make him a good horror director.

he should fuck off!!
hits none!!
misses everything hes ever done.

as a horror fan he destroyed halloween.
again as a horror fan he makes shock horror crap with no class.

just becasue he has zombie in his name and singings songs about people eating each other doesnt make him a good horror director.

he should fuck off!!
10:29AM on 04/19/2013
Heh heh. Suck it, Zombie....
Heh heh. Suck it, Zombie....
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