THE LORDS OF SALEM
Review by Michael Jacobson
Stars: Sherri Moon Zombie, Bruce Davison, Jeff Daniel Phillips, Ken Foree, Judy
Geeson, Meg Foster, Patricia Quinn, Dee Wallace
Director: Rob Zombie
Audio: DTS HD 5.1
Video: Anamorphic Widescreen 2.35:1
Studio: Anchor Bay
Features: Director Commentary
Length: 101 Minutes
Release Date: September 3, 2013
“Bleed us a king!”
I’ve been a fan of Rob Zombie for a while now, both as a musician and as a filmmaker. His movies have been stylistically sharp and gleefully gory, as well as entertaining for the right audiences (which includes me). I even eagerly awaited Halloween, a film I would have argued should NEVER have been remade, but was surprisingly enthused when I learned it was Zombie’s project.
I knew nothing about The Lords of Salem other than his name was attached, and that was all I needed to know. I approached it with anticipation and expectation. But not every filmmaker scores a home run every time out. This time, Rob Zombie weakly flied out to the infield.
The premise is that a coven of REAL witches in 17th century Salem met their fate at the hands of a zealous religious leader. They burned (and by the way, nobody was ever burned for witchcraft in Salem or anywhere else in the United States…accused witches were hung), but vowed to bring Satan to full power via an offspring.
Cut to modern times, and we are with Heidi (Sherri Moon Zombie), part of a successful trio of night time DJs who lives alone in a rather dark and creepy apartment complex. Apartment number 5 is supposed to be vacant…but there always seems to be something going on; strange noises, figures coming in and out…
Long story short, the complex is owned by a descendant of one of the Salem witches. Her and her friends, or sisters…didn’t catch which…are planning to finish the demonic task of old, with Heidi as their unsuspecting and unwilling participant.
Zombie knows his horror genre, and this movie has a little bit of Rosemary’s Baby, The Shining and others. But it all kind of sits flatly on the screen. The characters aren’t interesting, the story is not particularly imaginative or fresh, and there’s nothing scary about any of it. It doesn’t help that the demonic music that is supposed to awake Satan sounds like the theme from Planet Terror.
Even if all you’re hoping for is Rob Zombie’s usual penchant for imaginative gore, forget it. Worst thing that happens here is someone gets killed by a hit to the head with a frying pan.
When it was all over, the experience was unsatisfying at best, and downright disappointing at worst. Rob Zombie has made better films than this, and will likely do so again. This one is just a huge miss all around.
Zombie’s movies usually have a very unique look, and this is no exception. His deliberate color schemes and fearless shooting in low lighting translates well to high definition. Everything looks crisp, sharp and well-defined throughout.
The uncompressed surround track is quite good…there’s enough dynamic range to keep you motivated, and the dialogue is cleanly delivered. The music, which was NOT provided by Zombie, is decent but forgettable.
The only real extra is a nice commentary from Rob Zombie, in addition to a DVD copy of the movie.
The Lords of Salem seems curiously uninspired from a man I once said could bring back 70s styled horror movies in a new way for the new millennium. Rob Zombie has talent as a filmmaker, but very little of it can be seen with this offering.