It’s no big secret; I am a huge fan of Rob Zombie. From his days as the charismatic front man for 90s horror-metal act White Zombie to his more recent endeavors as a horror-filmmaker, I totally support the Astro-Creep! So when Zombie’s latest effort: “THE LORDS OF SALEM” made its long-awaited debut, there weren’t very many lengths I wouldn’t go to in order to see this film… including traveling to Canada to see it first at the Toronto International Film Fest (which I totally, absolutely did rather than just finding a way to torrent it off the internet, I swear!).
Rob Zombie’s “THE LORDS OF SALEM” follows the story of Heidi Hawthorne (played by Sheri Moon Zombie,) a radio DJ who receives an unusual record from a group known as “The Lords” in a wooden box. While interviewing a prominent paranormal author on the show, she plays the strange record on the air; which somehow causes her to be plagued by horrifying visions of bizarre satanic rituals and phantoms of a long-dead coven of witches determined to exact their revenge on the Heidi’s ancestors in the Hawthorne family through her.
Unlike previous cinematic efforts from Zombie, “THE LORDS OF SALEM” isn’t the in-your-face gore-fest fans have come to expect from the director. Rather, it is a slow-paced, and highly atmospheric dive into the depths of supernatural horror with plenty of suspense and visual stimulation to thoroughly creep out its viewers. Combine that with an incredible soundtrack composed by John 5 (of Marilyn Manson/Rob Zombie fame) and you’ve got one of the better “artsy” horror films in quite some time… and that’s kind of the problem. The fact that the film is so “artsy” may cause many viewers to write it off as simply “weird for the sake of being weird;” particularly with the film’s David Lynch-worthy abstract ending.
Overall, “THE LORDS OF SALEM” is rather difficult to describe, as it’s completely unlike anything we’ve seen before from Rob Zombie, and certainly not your typical horror flick about witches. Simply put, if you’re looking for the second coming of Dario Argento’s witchy-legend: “SUSPIRIA,” or even another Rob Zombie movie like “HOUSE OF 1000 CORPSES” or “THE DEVILS REJECTS,” you will surely be disappointed. However, if you’re looking for a new, original, and most of all quality horror film that isn’t like everything else out there in mainstream cinema, then look no further. While it may take a couple viewings to appreciate all of the bizarro-fare featured here, and this film is certainly not for everyone, it’s still an extremely well made, and highly ambitious effort. Definitely worth checking out once it sees its worldwide release.
For more on Rob Zombie and “THE LORDS OF SALEM” check out: www.robzombie.com/movies/the-lords-of-salem
BOTTOM LINE: Way too bizarre to ever be embraced by non/casual horror fans, but way too well-made to go ignored… brace yourselves folks, this one is definitely going to cause some polarization! 9.0 out of 10
Dave Harlequin is a professional freelance journalist and Editor in Chief of Stiff Magazine, a bi-monthly horror culture & entertainment publication available internationally in print/digital formats through Amazon Publishing. Additionally, he serves on the Board of Directors for North Carolina’s Modern Film Fest, the Awards Committee for the FrightMeter Horror Film Awards, and is the Programming Coordinator for the annual multi-genre fandom convention MonsterCon in Greenville, SC. For more info on Dave, Stiff Magazine, and MonsterCon, please visit www.stiffmag.com and www.monstercon.org