The Lords of Salem

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

In Salem, Massachusetts, Heidi (Sheri Moon Zombie), a recovering drug addict, works as a DJ at a hard rock station with her co-workers Whitey (Jeff Daniel Phillips) and Herman (Ken Foree). She receives a strange wooden box containing an album by a band named the Lords of Salem. At her home, she and Whitey listen to the record which is of a woman’s voice reciting a mysterious chant. Heidi has a vision of witches birthing a baby then damning it. The vision stops once Whitey turns the album off.

The next day, Heidi interviews Francis Matthias (Bruce Davison), who has written a book about the Salem witch trials. The station then plays the Lords of Salem record, which causes all of the women in Salem (other than Heidi) to enter a trance. After the show is over, Matthias tells his wife that the band’s name, The Lords of Salem, bothers him. That night, Heidi’s landlord, Lacy (Judy Geeson) insists that Heidi split a bottle of wine with her and her sisters, Sonny (Dee Wallace) and Megan (Patricia Quinn). Megan, a palm reader, tells Heidi that she is fated to succumb to her dark sexual desires: “the only reason you exist.” Disturbed, Heidi leaves the party. Later, Heidi notices her dog is acting strangely. She enters the supposedly vacant Apartment 5 and experience visions of a demon and a nude witch that demands that she lead the coven again. Heidi wakes up in bed and assumes the events in Apartment 5 were a vivid nightmare.

Troubled, Heidi visits a graveyard church where she is sexually assaulted by a priest. She then wakes up in one of the pews, with the assault seemingly another dream. Heidi flees the church but is faced with a ghostly entity who tells her that he has been waiting for her. Meanwhile Matthias researches the Lords of Salem. He discovers some music in a book he is reading and, after asking his wife to play the notes on their piano, realizes that it is the same music heard on the record. Matthias tracks down the author, who tells him that in the seventeenth century one Reverend Hawthorne (Andrew Prine) accused a coven of witches of creating the music to control the women of Salem. As a result Hawthorne killed the witches, but not before one of them, Margaret Morgan (Meg Foster)—the witch Heidi encountered outside Apartment 5—cursed both the Salem women and Hawthorne’s descendants, calling his bloodline “the vessel by which the devil’s child would inherit the earth.” Further research demonstrates that Heidi is a descendant of Reverend Hawthorne.

Heidi’s radio station announces they will be giving away tickets to the upcoming Lords of Salem concert. The record is played once again, which causes Heidi to have more strange visions that upset her. Upset, she spends the night at Whitey’s home, but experiences more disturbing visions before waking up in her own apartment. Heidi begins smoking heroin again. While she is stoned, Lacy, Sonny and Megan take her to Apartment 5. Instead of an apartment it is a huge opera house with the demon at the top of a staircase. She approaches him as he screams, but later finds her way back to her bedroom.

The next day, Matthias tries to tell Heidi the truth about the Lords of Salem and her lineage. Instead, Lacy and her sisters kill him. Heidi hears his murder, but does nothing. At the concert, Heidi joins Lacy, Sonny, Megan and the ghosts of Margaret and her coven in a satanic ritual. The Lords’ music causes the female audience members to strip off their clothes. In the midst of surreal visions, Heidi blissfully gives birth to a strange creature atop the corpses of the naked audience members. The next day, Heidi’s station reports on a mass suicide at a rock concert, as well on the disappearance of Heidi.

REVIEW:

Rob Zombie, who some have referred to as this generation’s “master of horror”, returns with a new treat for us, The Lords of Salem. As far as horror goes, the Salem witch trials don’t seem to tapped as much as they could be, so Zombie takes a chance with this topic. I have to ask, though, why does he constantly stick his wife in every film he makes?!?

What is this about?

Soon after rock DJ Heidi airs a mysterious album she received on vinyl, the locals start clamoring to hear more from the Lords of Salem. But the group’s otherworldly sounds have a strange effect on everyone, including Heidi.

What did I like?

Passion. Say what you will about the film, you cannot deny that Rob Zombie has a true passion for horror. Some may even go so far as to say he has a talent for the genre. The minor details he pays attention to that random horror directors ignore, such as actually developing the characters and building up the suspense for a big surprise at the end, are part of what make him such a good horror director.

Visuals. This film is like an acid trip, much like anything having to with Rob Zombie tends to be, and yet it works for this film. I’m not 100% sure why this is. Perhaps it is the shift in tone from the gritty realism this flick was utilizing. It was a nice change, as it woke me up from the  near sleep this film was putting me into. I did dig the 70s vibe that was going on here, though.

Real bodies. There are a couple of scenes that show nude women. I bring this up because they are all different sizes, skinny, average, a little extra baggage, old, firm (with what I assume are implants), muscular, etc. I found this to be interesting, as most of the time when you see a group of nude women, they are all the same size 0-4. Also noted, many times, the larger women were front and center, which I found quite interesting.

What didn’t I like?

Oh Sheri. In every movie Rob Zombie has directed, Sheri Moon Zombie has a part, usually a starring role. I have to ask why, though. Unlike with Kevin Smith and his usual crew, Adam Sandler and his frat pack, and the Tim Burton-Helena Bonham Carter-Johnny Depp love triangle, Sheri is not a good actress and her look are overrated, especially as she’s getting older. Rob, we get that she’s your wife and you want to show her off and everything, but seriously, dude, find someone else to star in these things because she’s not cutting it!

Freakshow. For me, this came off more as a film that showed more freaky rituals than anything that was scary. I was expecting to see a certain amount of freakiness, to be sure, but I was also expecting to get some scares, which didn’t happen. I’ve been more frightened of the Haunted Mansion at Disneyworld than what I saw here, which is a damn shame!

Cast yourself. I have to wonder why it is that Rob Zombie found someone with similar hair to him to be the de facto love interest for his wife. Was he trying to make a sex tape without actually being there and it turned into this? Does he just want a look-alike t be with his wife? If so, then why didn’t he just do those scenes himself? Its not like this guy, Jeff Daniel Phillips, is the star.

My expectations for The Lords of Salem weren’t very high, but I did expect something more entertaining than this. A couple of my friends went on a tirade about this film on their DVD/Blu-ray podcast and I thought they were just over exaggerating, but now I may be changing my tune. Let me stop beating around the bush. This is not a film that should be seen, even if you’re a Rob Zombie fan. He has better films *COUGH* House of 1,000 Corpses *COUGH* Avoid this film like the plague, if you know what’s best for you!

2 out of 5 stars

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