April 25, 2013

The Lords of Salem (2013)

Being of the firm belief that Rob Zombie went off the rails after his Halloween remake, and has made nothing but crap ever since, we went into The Lords of Salem with a cautious hope. We hoped it would be a return to form for Zombie akin to The Devil's Rejects; maybe not in terms of content, but definitely in terms of quality.

While LOS surely had it's moments, we found the movie overall to be a mess -maybe his messiest movie to date- and we loathed Halloween II and El Superbeasto.

Let's get on with it, shall we?

The Lords of Salem is the story of Heidi, a local DJ in Salem, Massachusetts. She's one third of the super-crazy "Big H Radio Team," and a former crackhead. All she has in life is her sobriety, her radio gig, a shitty apartment, and a dog named boo... or, it's named something else. Can't remember. *Turns out the dog was named Troy. Sorry for the confusion.

When a mysterious wooden box containing a mysterious record is delivered to Heidi at the radio station, marked "A gift from the Lords," she takes it home and listens to it, only to find that it plays backwards and its trippy grooves immediately put her into into a crazy trance. The next day at work, The Big H Radio Team pops that baby on the turn table and lets it rip, because, Rock n' Roll, man! It of course puts every woman (?) in Salem into the same trance-like state that Heidi fell into.

Maybe she was on drugs the whole time?
As Heidi's wild hallucinations and vivid flashbacks intensify, she falls into a state of hopeless despair, once again turning to drugs to cope. Lucky for her that she has a meddlesome Landlord (who has two creepy sisters) to look in on her, and keep her safely locked in her apartment... safe from everyone except them, that is!

Is Heidi going insane? Who are the Lords of Salem? Will any of this movie ever make any sense? Far be it from us to spoil it for you, but suffice it to say that no, no sense shall ever be made of this movie or anything contained therein.

Witches, man. Witches.
As a Director, Rob Zombie has two things going for him; he knows how to frame a shot/shoot a scene, and he has a unique eye for sharp, effective visuals. It's plain to see that he's a huge Horror fan, and because of that fact he brings certain classic elements to his movies, and tries to make the best out of them. Visually, this movie is pretty damn good.

Sheri Moon Zombie did a decent job in her role here, and came off as pretty believable. Even if she weren't Zombie's wife, she could totally do the acting thing on her own if she wanted to. As far as performances go, Bruce Davison was probably the standout for us in this one; he definitely brought the most legitimacy to the movie with his role, and he kept his scenes grounded, which we really liked.

The music was also great in this one, both the score and the song selections. John 5 really knocked it out of the park with this score, and I imagine the soundtrack album will be a good listen, especially at high volume, in the car.

Zombie has an artistic eye, no doubt.
Rob Zombie needs to stop writing his own scripts. The plot in this one is incoherent and underdeveloped, and the atmosphere feels more campy than it does dread filled or dark. That's the fault of poor writing and plotting, plain and simple. Zombie tends to cast pretty well, and those he does cast show up and do their jobs well, but the material they have to work with here is just not good at all.

The thing about this movie, and a lot of Zombie's other film work, is this: If there was no sound, no plot, and you played nothing but music over the visuals, you'd have a pretty trippy music video on your hands. So much of what goes on in this film is just random, "out there" visual oddity, that serves no real purpose other than to be random and "out there." Like a music video. That's basically what Rob Zombie does here; he creates an hour and a half long music video, and tries to force a shambled mess of a plot in there to make it into a movie.

I mean, the end credits were more coherent and tension-filled than anything that preceded them.

WTF is this guy doing? And why?
I'm really not trying to shit on the guy, or his creative vision, but he's six films deep into his career as a Director, and this is the extent of his growth and evolution as a filmmaker? This felt like a first film, not a sixth. To us, it even felt like more of a first film that 1000 Corpses did, and as much as we love that movie, it had some serious issues going on with it.

Rob Zombie clearly makes movies for himself, which is honestly what a filmmaker should do, but at some point in the creative process, there have to be measures enacted to ensure a work's coherence and to deliver a solid narrative. Had the script been better, this movie would have worked better. Had the story made more sense, and had more of a point to it, it could have been his best film to date.

Alright, at this point it's obvious that things like this were thrown into the move "just because."
Here's a list of examples of the things that bothered us in The Lords of Salem:

Why would a group of DJ's play a 30 second song that was sent to them by an unknown band, over the air like they did? Better yet, how could that band, with its 30 seconds of odd noise, be billed as the stars of a "Coming to Salem for one night only!" event, as if that would appeal to anyone at all? Is that how the Boston music scene really works?

At one point, Sheri Moon Zombie comes home to her dark apartment, and starts calling her dog. All is silent. When she turns on the light. her dog is suddenly right there... and the creepy music hits to give us a jump scare? Intentional or not, it made me laugh.

... and what's with this guy?
What was with the midget made of clay, squealing while Sheri Moon Zombie vibrated in place and wrangled his penis tentacles? The thing looked like a living ham.

The paper mache'-looking priests masturbating with purple dildos while Sheri Moon Zombie rides a goat and grinds with someone from a Norwegian Death Metal band... well it looked like a bunch of abstract shit from a music video, rather than a scene, or even a quick sequence of them. It all felt very pointless and pout of place.

And the ending.... Sheri Moon Zombie gives birth to a crayfish and then ends up standing on top of a mound of dead, naked old chicks, white eyes and all, in a messianic pose... which prompts a goofy smile from the head witch. Then she plays with her dog, the end. What was that?

What is this I don't even.
We get a living ham playing penis-jump rope with Sheri Moon Zombie, a bunch of Fulci Zombie-looking Priests masturbating with dildo's, someone gets beat to death with a frying pan, and we see a pile of naked dead bodies at one point... the gore factor in this one is on the low end of the scale, though there are plenty of disturbing visuals throughout.

There's a ton of nudity in this one... and most of it involves a group of older, not-in-the-best-shape-of-their-lives women. Not gonna lie, it was mostly not cool. Sheri Moon Zombie also gets mostly naked in this, and seems to like showing off her butt crack, so, that helped a bit.

A bit.

Too many clothing!
Over the past 30 years of watching Horror flicks, I can safely say that I've seen thousands of them. I think it's safe to say that I've paid my dues as a Horror Fanatic, so when I say "God, that sucked" I do so with the experience of having a good basis of comparison under my belt.

For most of its running time, LOS is a silly, nonsensical, laughable, sorry mess of a movie. That being said, I have to admit that The Lords of Salem didn't completely suck; it's a nice looking movie with some moments of goodness wedged in between the even more numerous moments of confounding nonsense. It's confusing and feels incomplete, and more than anything else, just feels like a missed opportunity.

A guy named Ben Rock over on our Get Glue account made a comment about the movie that really sums it up the best:

"I don't hate Rob Zombie's films, but I don't like them either. I just can't help but think he doesn't make movies for the same reason I want to see them."

We couldn't have said it better ourselves.


Sheri Moon Zombie is a Hottie for sure, and she's not a bad actress at all, either. Lots of Horror fans out there bitch and moan that Rob Zombie needs to stop casting her in all of his movies, but if they had a wife that hot, and one that could actually act too, they'd cast her in their movies too.

So, shut up about it already.


  1. "At one point, Sheri Moon Zombie comes home to her dark apartment, and starts calling her dog. All is silent. When she turns on the light. her dog is suddenly right there... and the creepy music hits to give us a jump scare?"
    you didn't see the naked witch hanging in the kitchen?...well there was one.
    i liked the movie,there wasn't really any confusion,you get the point of what's happening.
    from the reviews i read including yours i thought that i was going to watch a very artistic film that looks good but doesn't make sense at all,i was ready for it but it never happened.
    it was good to see something different for a change.

  2. Instead of "confusing" I should have said "confused" as that's how it felt. It wasn't hard to follow along or keep track of, it just felt like a jumbled mess.

    I saw no witch. That could be my issue.

    This movie will definitely have its fans, I am just not one of them, that's all.

  3. Yeah there was a witch in the corner of the kitchen. However that witch did not save the film. LOL. It was pretty awful and boring. I like that the characters were not so over the top as Zombies other films. While I have no issues with foul language, Zombie tends to be over the top. But the last 20 min of this film were awful. I get that she was the "satanic mother marry" and that there was lots of comparing this to the birth of Christ (three witches/three kings/Holy Birth/Unholy birth/Mother comes from line of David/mother comes from line of witch killer etc... but my goodness what a mess. I liked how the film started out and the look of the film but then the matting with the midge demon(??)came and it was all down hill from there.

  4. I absolutely missed the witch, Jaws. I'll have to check it out again when it hits DVD.

    And I whole-heartedly agee; the movie started off well enough, but quickly turned into a bigger and bigger mess.

    Like you said when that little Living Ham of a Demon showed up, the movie just lost me.

  5. this film was very disappointing.

    spot on review

  6. Yeah, Clarence, it was a huge mess.

  7. so what does sheri moon turn into at the end of the lords of salem? the anti-christ?

  8. Rippin, I wish I could tell you.

    Maybe like a Supreme Witch or something?

  9. Sucked incredibly bad, Dennis. A true shame.