Rob Zombie’s first completely original feature film since 2009, The Lords of Salem, is likely to split audiences right down the middle (not literally). Zombie’s last live-action features were his terrifically misunderstood Halloween remakes, however, now the director is free from the shackles of an established franchise and returns to fresh, visceral style of his earlier work.
The Lords of Salem follows Heidi (Sheri Moon Zombie), a radio DJ, who receives an antique LP proclaiming to be “A gift from the Lords.” Believing this to be a staged PR stunt from a local band, Heidi plays the record and soon begins to experience disturbing flashbacks and feel the presence of malevolent evils.
The Lords of Salem is Zombie’s most ambitious feature yet – serving as a true visual triumph that harks back to several masterpieces of cult horror cinema. Traces of countless iconic horror maestros are present in Zombie’s grand and sweeping direction, including homages ranging from Argento and Polanski to Ken Russell and Alejandro Jodorowsky. Given the plentiful homages and stylistic influences, The Lords of Salem still retains Zombie’s distinct aesthetic and influence. Zombie’s musical taste and style are particularly prevalent, whilst the presence of regular collaborators: Sheri Moon Zombie and Ken Foree, ensure this film feels ‘inherently Rob Zombie’. This fusion of grand, sweeping horror influences from past years, combined with Zombie’s dark, visceral style results in an outstanding, truly unparalleled watch.
Zombie’s feature is at its most astounding in its truly epic conclusion that sees a montage of chilling horror iconography, located in a hugely decadent setting that screams parallels to classic Ken Russell/Roman Polanski style cult horror. Mozart’s Requiem blasts, giving this sense an extra sense of horror and gravitas – making it one of the most unforgettable scenes in horror cinema in recent years (that we shall not divulge in the interest of spoilers.) Some may say this verges on pretentious, I personality bought right into Zombie’s chilling spectacle.
Zombie’s narrative fuses together the past and present, with The Lords of Salem spanning hundreds of years. References to the Salem witch trials of 1692 hark back to the days of classic Witchfinder General and The City of the Dead (aka Horror Hotel) style horror. This fused with more modern psychological horror and regular jump sequences – particularly as Heidi feels a macabre presence stalking her apartment, stand as a seamless fusion of the old and new.
Sheri Moon Zombie leads the cast with utmost conviction, bringing a sense of humanity and depth to the role of Heidi. Bruce Davison, Jeff Daniels Phillips and Ken Foree are all welcome additions – with Zombie allowing each character a solid amount of time to shine. However, it is the sinister trio of Dee Wallace, Patricia Quinn and Judy Geeson, that dominate The Lords of Salem. These three genre icons command the screen with their camp prowess. It’s a particular pleasure to see Geeson back on the screen after a nine year hiatus.It is just unfortunate that regular collaborators: Sid Haig, Richard Lynch and Udo Kier had there scenes cut, sadly none of which feature on the DVD release.
The Lords of Salem is the strongest horror release of 2013 thus far. It’s a stylistic tour de force, bringing together the grand chills of classic horror with Zombie’s homegrown visceral aesthetic- resulting in a fresh and truly magnificent psychological horror. Forget Evil Dead, this is the horror to watch this year.
DVD Release Date: 22nd April 2013 (UK)
Director: Rob Zombie
Cast: Sheri Moon Zombie, Bruce Davison, Jeff Daniel Phillips, Meg Foster, Judy Geeson, Dee Wallace
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[Original Review Source Silver Screen Slags]