March 10, 2014 The Lords of Salem (Movie review)
The Lords of Salem is the newest film from rock star turned successful horror writer and director Rob Zombie. Juggling a busy schedule of music and film directing has proved to be a delicate balance for Zombie and this marks his first full-length feature film since the 2009 Halloween II. Sheri Moon Zombie heads an all-star cast including veteran actress Dee Wallace of E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial (1982) and The Howling (1981) fame, Meg Foster of Blind Fury (1989), Andrew Prine of The Miracle Worker (1962), and Ken Foree of legendary Dawn of the Dead (1978). The film also features brief cameos by horror movie icons Michael Berryman and Zombie movie regular Sid Haig. The film began production in 2011 and was released at the Toronto International Film Festival in 2012 before being given a limited theatrical release in April 2013.
Set in the town of Salem, MA, the movie initially gives you the background of Reverend Jonathan Hawthorn (Andrew Prine), who has been driven to the brink of insanity by witch Margaret Morgan (Meg Foster) and her satanic coven. Hawthorn is relentless in his pursuit to see the fall of these women and accuses them of making music to control the women of Salem. The end result of his witch hunt is having them put to death by fire, but not before Margaret curses both the women of Salem and Hawthorns descendants, whom she calls “the vessel by which the devil’s child would inherit the earth”. This sets the pace for the rest of the movie, allowing the pieces of the puzzle to fall together without serious thought by the viewer.
Fast forward to modern times and we meet local DJ and recovering drug addict Heidi (Sheri Moon Zombie) and follow a week in her life. After struggling with her drug addiction, Heidi has gotten her life back on track and enjoys her shifts at alternative WIQ2 Radio Station with her co-workers Whitey (played by Jeff Daniel Phillips of GEICO commercials, Halloween II 2009) and Herman (Ken Foree). After a regular shift, Heidi is handed an old wooden box delivered for her specifically, containing a record by unknown band, The Lords of Salem.
That evening at home with Whitey, she decides to play the record. The instant that Heidi plays the music, her life changes indelibly forever. She immediately becomes enchanted, having dreams of a coven of witches birthing a baby then damning it. The nightmarish effect ceases as soon as the music has stopped.
The next day at work, Heidi interviews author Francis Matthias (played by Bruce Davidson of X-men 2000, X-men 2 2002), who has written a book about the Salem Witch trials. Heidi again plays the record live on the air as part of a ticket give away to see The Lords of Salem in concert. As soon as the song begins it immediately enchants all the women of Salem. Francis cannot let go of his uneasy feelings of the music and the band The Lords of Salem and begins his own pursuit for answers before their one night only concert in Salem.
That same evening Heidi meets for tea with landlord Lacy (played by Judy Geeson of To Sir with Love 1967, The Eagle has Landed 1976), Sonny (Dee Wallace), and Megan (played by Patricia Quinn of The Rocky Horror Picture Show 1975, The Meaning of Life 1983). They initially seem benevolent, but after Megan reads Heidi’s palm she tells her that she is fated to succumb to her dark sexual desires as they are the only reason she exists, Heidi has serious doubts as to women’s intentions.
From this point on Heidi`s visions/dreams become more prominent and malevolent, drawing her to the ominous empty apartment 5, where a witch demands insidiously she “bleed us a king”. Heidi’s life quickly no longer is her own and she becomes a shell of her former self, concerning almost all who know her.
As the night of the Lords of Salem concert draws near, simultaneously, Francis makes startling discoveries that will alternately affect Heidi and the women of Salem, while Heidi descends deeper and readily into a new kind of twisted hell.
Rob Zombie’s horror reputation is confirmed with The Lords of Salem. The film shows that he can scare audiences with innuendo alone and when coupled with blood and gore is an explosive mix. Zombie once again, makes a dark icon of his beautiful wife as Heidi, which becomes an evil version of the Virgin Mary. This film, like many of Rob Zombies, is not for the faint-hearted though. The film contains some graphic scenes, taking you on a terrifying journey down a road with an even bleaker end, but you will be glued to the screen the entire time. The music is provided by Zombie collaborator, guitarist John 5, which pulls you deeply and darkly along through each brilliantly acted scene. CrypticRock give this movie 5 out of 5 stars.Review written by R.L. Andrew