Rob Zombie’s THE LORDS OF SALEM isn’t for everyone. In fact, the film isn’t for a lot of people. If there’s one film this year that I can say that I would understand if people DIDN’T like it, it would be this one. That being said, for those who do see it for what it is, and for those who the film DOES find a way to connect with, then I can also understand how they might feel how I do…and that is, that the film is a VISUAL MASTERPIECE.
THE LORDS OF SALEM follows Heidi Hawthorne (Sherri Moon Zombie, THE DEVIL’S REJECTS, HALLOWEEN) a former drug addict who works as one of the three member ‘Big H Radio Team’, along with Herman ‘Whitey’ (Jeff Daniel Phillips, HALLOWEEN 2, one of TV’s Cavemen) and Herman ‘Munster’ (Ken Foree, DAWN OF THE DEAD, FROM BEYOND). Already having a tough time emotionally, Heidi receives a mysterious record from a group only known as ‘The Lords’, and upon playing it on the air, her world goes straight to hell faster than ever, as a coven of witches that were executed in the 17th century come back, ready to exact revenge.
That’s about all of the plot that I’m going to give away, because as strange as this might sound, the fact is that plot really sits backseat to visual aesthetics. Are there story issues, hell to the yes, some people really don’t even need to be in the film, but like I said, this film is pure art. THE LORDS OF SALEM feels like the first film that Zombie has done, that he was allowed to go all out and do whatever the hell he wanted, without people telling him what he could or couldnt do. It’s a satanic visual nightmare from start to finish, full of some of the most vibrant, yet deeply disturbing scenery put to film.
It’s also insanely different, stylistically, from Rob’s previous films. Gone are the white-trash characters, the shaky handheld approach and the over-use of the word ‘fuck’ that made up for a lot of Zombie’s previous films (don’t get me wrong, THE DEVILS REJECTS is one of my favorite films but there isn’t even a hint of that here). Instead, LORDS gives us really contained, wide-shots, as well as subtle performances, and an even endearing subplot involving Whitey wanting to be there for Heidi. The chemistry between them is good, and though it’s not as fleshed out as it could be, it does leave a somber feeling, when the film heads into a bleak as hell ending (if you thought for a second that the film would end on a happy note, then you’re going to the wrong movie). While Zombie’s earlier films seemed to be heavily inspired by ’70s exploitation fare, LORDS feels much closer to a hybrid of Argento/Jodorowski, and even a good deal of Polanksi thrown it for good measure.
Like I said it’s not for everyone, and after seeing it, it makes complete sense why it would be in limited release, because it’s far from a mainstream feeling movie. With that being said, it’s a visual work of art, and if THE LORDS OF SALEM is Zombie’s last horror film, like he’s said..then Rob definitely went out with a bang.
THE LORDS OF SALEM is now playing in limited theatrical release via Anchor Bay/Momentum Pictures