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Review: The Lords of Salem (TIFF 12)

Sep. 14, 2012by: Chris Bumbray


PLOT: Heidi (Sheri Moon Zombie)- a radio DJ, receives a strange package with an LP recording by a band called The Lords. After playing it on the air, she begins to sink into a pit of despair, drugs and degradation, all the while being watched over by her enigmatic landlord (Judy Geeson).

REVIEW: Appearances can be deceiving, and thus I was deceived when I heard Rod Zombie, master of the hardcore- was debuting his new film about witches and Salem at TIFF's Midnight Madness. I walked in expecting Grindhouse exploitation, but rather- I got Zombie's most ambitious film to date.


Gorgeously photographed by Brandon Trost, Zombie's movie takes it's time setting up the sinister tale. We spend a lot of time getting to know (and like) our main character, Heidi, as played by Zombie's wife Sheri. She does strong work as the vulnerable Heidi, who juggles her work as a radio DJ with the two Hermans (Ken Foree and Jeff Daniel Phillips) while trying to maintain her sobriety through weekly trips to AA.

The horror of LORDS doesn't really start to kick in until about a third of the way in, after the track by The Lords is played, to the distress of a local historian (Bruce Davidson) who's convinced there's something amiss. Meanwhile, Heidi's world is being taken over by her deceptively kind landlord, played by seventies Brit icon Judy Geeson, and her two cousins, played by Pat Quinn and Dee Wallace. These three, who form a modern coven of sorts are really what LORDS OF SALEM is all about, and their performances, including graphic nudity (possibly of the prosthetic variety), and surreal flashbacks to the Salem trials, are fearless.


The last part of LORDS is likely what's going to divide audiences, as Zombie goes right down the rabbit hole, with the film taking on the vibe of an early Roman Polanski film gone mad, or Kenneth Anger at his most Satanic. To me though, this is when the film really kicked into high gear. It's bold and experimental (not to mention gross) but damn if it's not unlike anything I've seen in a horror film for years. THE LORDS OF SALEM feels like one of the most authentically evil films since Anger's INVOCATION OF MY DEMON BROTHER, and the Catholic in me was totally freaked out. But- at the same time, I was utterly absorbed by Zombie's nightmarish psychedelia.

While I doubt this could ever be embraced by the mainstream to the relative degree his other films have been- a cult following seems a given. If you're into some weird shit- LORDS OF SALEM is not one you can afford to miss.

Source: JoBlo.com

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2:19AM on 04/01/2013

cool

excited for this, looks like it could be awesome
excited for this, looks like it could be awesome
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7:24PM on 09/14/2012
I'm getting a Rosemary's Baby vibe from this movie. And that's a good thing.
I'm getting a Rosemary's Baby vibe from this movie. And that's a good thing.
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3:32PM on 09/14/2012

Interesting...

I wasn't too excited on seeing this, but having read this review, I'm a bit interested.
I wasn't too excited on seeing this, but having read this review, I'm a bit interested.
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12:41PM on 09/14/2012
Great to hear! I'm an unapologetic Zombie fan and have been waiting for this since I first heard about it in 09. It's nice hearing this is an ambitious film. He's growing as a filmmaker.
Great to hear! I'm an unapologetic Zombie fan and have been waiting for this since I first heard about it in 09. It's nice hearing this is an ambitious film. He's growing as a filmmaker.
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12:22PM on 09/14/2012
i actually like Zombie's work. with the exception of Halloween 2. I've been looking forward to this for a while. any word on a date for wide release?
i actually like Zombie's work. with the exception of Halloween 2. I've been looking forward to this for a while. any word on a date for wide release?
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10:16AM on 09/14/2012
I'm really looking forward to this.
I'm really looking forward to this.
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8:20AM on 09/14/2012
Sounds like it's worth a look. I'm generally more interested in Rob Zombie's films when he's creating his own story rather than rebooting an established franchise, so I'll hopefully check this one out. Wonder how wide a cinema release it'll get?
Sounds like it's worth a look. I'm generally more interested in Rob Zombie's films when he's creating his own story rather than rebooting an established franchise, so I'll hopefully check this one out. Wonder how wide a cinema release it'll get?
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7:19AM on 09/14/2012

Crap

This movie was nothing but shlock and shock. Naked old ladies, terrible puppetry, and shit that just didn't make any sense. And when things "kicked in to high gear", it was nothing but a glorified music video. Sheri Moon was awful in it, trying her best I imagine, but falling short of anything that could be considered high school play acting.
To call this film utter garbage is an extremely mild understatement. It's nothing but shock value with brief glimpses of "cool imagery", with no
This movie was nothing but shlock and shock. Naked old ladies, terrible puppetry, and shit that just didn't make any sense. And when things "kicked in to high gear", it was nothing but a glorified music video. Sheri Moon was awful in it, trying her best I imagine, but falling short of anything that could be considered high school play acting.
To call this film utter garbage is an extremely mild understatement. It's nothing but shock value with brief glimpses of "cool imagery", with no plot whatsoever and some of the most eye-rolling dialogue and atrocious acting that I've ever seen. What a waste of time.
Rob Zombie enthusiasts will love it simply because he made it, but there's literally nothing about the film that they can otherwise use to justify its value or merit. It's filmmaking at its very worst.
How you managed to give this film a 7, I'll never know.
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7:59AM on 09/14/2012
you're a moron
you're a moron
9:49AM on 09/14/2012
eat a bag of dicks.
eat a bag of dicks.
7:07AM on 09/14/2012

Thanks..

Thanks for this review. Heretofore I have avoided Zombie's films, as they all seemed like 70s era exploitation flicks. This sounds not dissimilar, but your description reminds me a little of "The Sentinel" and also "Burnt Offerings", both of which I rather enjoyed. Perhaps I'll make this my first Rob Zombie flick.
Thanks for this review. Heretofore I have avoided Zombie's films, as they all seemed like 70s era exploitation flicks. This sounds not dissimilar, but your description reminds me a little of "The Sentinel" and also "Burnt Offerings", both of which I rather enjoyed. Perhaps I'll make this my first Rob Zombie flick.
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