Rob Zombie has directed some of the most unforgettable films in the past decade, including “House of 1000 Corpses,” “The Devil’s Rejects,” “Halloween” and “The Haunted World of El Superbeasto.” While most of his films are known for their heavy use of gore, violence and psychopathic characters, “The Lords of Salem” ventures down a slightly unsettling path.
Heidi Hawthorne (Sheri Moon Zombie) is a DJ at a local radio station alongside Herman ‘Whitey’ Salvador (Jeff Daniel Phillips) and Herman Jackson (Ken Foree). Heidi receives a mysterious wooden box containing a vinyl record by the Lords and, assuming it comes from a rock band, she plays it at home. The vinyl record causes Heidi to have flashbacks of Salem’s past, but when Herman plays the record at the station, it is a hit on the radio. Heidi, who has her own personal demons, questions her sanity as weird occurrences start to happen.
‘Lords of Salem’ is visually stunning, grotesquely horrifying and contains a plot so mind-
bending that audiences will finish the film with a sense of bafflement. You won’t finish the film confused about the story, but rather, muddled by the psychedelic imagery Zombie creates with each scene. Shot in Salem, Mass., “The Lords of Salem” captured the utter beauty of the town and its murky history, and also explored what once plagued Salem hundreds of years ago: witchcraft of the darkest sorts. The location of the film sets the mood instantaneously and eerie vibes are felt from the beginning to the end without a pause in between.
Big-name actors and actresses make up the majority of the cast: Meg Foster (“They Live”,
“Ravenswood”), Bruce Davison (“The Crucible”, X-Men Series), Dee Wallace (“Cujo”, “E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial) and Patricia Quinn (“The Rocky Horror Picture Show”). Therefore, the acting in this movie is amazing, the standout of them all going to Jeff Daniel Phillips. Moon Zombie holds her own ground and gives one of her best performances so far. Judy Geeson, who plays Lacy Doyle, does a marvelous job playing Heidi’s landlord and caregiver.
Zombie incorporates 1970s elements into ‘Lords of Salem’ which gives it a classic, independent art film look, making it more appealing to those who would rather not watch blood, guts and excessive violence. However, Zombie does use plenty of nudity which surprisingly works with the storyline. If you haven’t seen any of Zombie’s films, then it may feel that he is using nudity and/or sex excessively, but for us who have seen each and every one of his films, it’s pretty moderate.
When it comes down to it, most people either absolutely hate Zombie’s films or they love them. I have enjoyed everything he has directed so far, and although he does push the boundaries and go to the extreme, I find that “The Lords of Salem” is the most artistic film I’ve seen from Zombie. There are a lot of spooky moments in this movie, but what makes it so compelling is that you can tell Zombie put a lot of effort into creating a visually stunning masterpiece. Whether it’s the lighting, the costumes, or the original music by Griffin Boice and John 5, the pieces are all there, and luckily for us, Zombie knows how to work a puzzle.