Homefront movie
7.25 out of 10
The Hunger Games: Catching Fire movie
8.75 out of 10
Disney's Frozen movie
10.0 out of 10
Delivery Man movie
6.75 out of 10
8.25 out of 10

Saturday, April 20, 2013

The Lords of Salem


We've Always Been Waiting

6.5 out of 10 | Rental (for Rob Zombie fans)

Rated: R Disturbing violent and sexual content, graphic nudity, language and some drug use
Release Date: April 19, 2013 (limited)
Runtime: 1 hour 40 minutes

Director: Rob Zombie
Writers: Rob Zombie
Cast: Sheri Moon Zombie, Bruce Davison, Jeff Daniel Phillips, Judy Gleeson, Meg Foster, Patricia Quinn, Ken Foree, Dee Wallace, Maria Conchita Alonso

SYNOPSIS:  Heidi, a radio DJ, is sent a box containing a record -- a "gift from the Lords." The sounds within the grooves trigger flashbacks of her town's violent past. Is Heidi going mad, or are the Lords back to take revenge on Salem, Massachusetts?

REVIEW: Former rocker and current writer/director Rob Zombie startled with his House of a 1,000 Corpses and the brutal follow-up The Devil's Rejects. Gaining acclaim with his horror style and palette, Zombie was tasked with the reboot of John Carpenter's Halloween franchise. Now, Rob Zombie writes and directs a new type of horror, this time focusing on America's original gothic - witches from the ever known Salem, Massachusetts.

Heidi Hawthorne (Sheri Moon Zombie, Halloween II), a radio DJ on the late show in Salem, Massachusetts lives a simple life of sleeping, doing her radio show with her co-hosts Herman 'Whitey' Salvador (Jeffrey Daniel Phillips, Halloween II) and Herman Jackson (Ken Foree, The Devil's Rejects), walk her dog and think about what the next day will bring. After a death metal artist guests on the show, Heidi is left a wooden box with a vinyl 45 record inside from 'The Lords', Heidi plays the record at home and again in a segment slot on the radio show while new guest author Francis Matthias (Bruce Davison, The Millionaire Tour) listens in. When played, Heidi feels awkward and starts having strange visions of the accused Salem witch Margaret Morgan (Meg Foster, They Live) and her coven. As the week goes on, her visions get more vivid and she falls back to her previously conquered addictions. Heidi's landlord Lacy Doyle (Judy Gleeson, Spanish Fly), and her sisters Megan (Patricia Quinn, The Rocky Horror Picture Show) and Sonny (Dee Wallace, The Howling) try to help her through her issues but do not seem to be equipped to handle what is happening to Heidi. While Lacy and her sister sit vigil with Heidi, Francis, with help from his wife Alice Matthias (Maria Conchita Alonso, The Running Man), looks for clues to the origins of the music and the calling card 'The Lords'. By week's end, Heidi may not have any hope of regaining a foothold on her former normal life as the visions grow worse and Heidi spirals into a world of superstition, Satan worship, and secret witch covens and curses that exist in the alleys of modern Salem.

Rob Zombie brings to the screen his own twisted perspective on the horror genre. With House of a 1,000 Corpses, Zombie reinvented the back woods horror flick with a taste of artistic torture porn to bring to bear a crazed film of superstition and urban legend. The follow-up, The Devil's Rejects, took the brutality of lawlessness to the next level with an epic cat-and-mouse criminal road trip. His take on the longer origins of Michael Meyers on the Halloween reboot was inspired and respectful to the original John Carpenter genre defining effort. With The Lords of Salem, Rob Zombie reaches back to the horror films that proved most formative to him for a tale of hidden curses in the breeding grounds of  America's earliest monsters and superstitions.

The Lords of Salem is a nostalgic homage to horror films of the 70s and 80s. Stanley Kubrick's The Shining followed Stephen King's book format with white print on black screen to jarringly break the film into successive days of the week. Zombie starts with Monday and ends with Saturday in this format. Even the creepy apartment hallway leading to apartment #5 lends itself to Kubrick's style from the same film. Rob Zombie uses various slight angles of the same hallway, along with lighting, texture, and swaying lamps, to serve up a very creepy tone. The camera stock, especially for the wide angle exterior shot, is very reminiscent of 70s suspense/horror flicks. The subject matter has been popularized since the 50s, with plenty of campy attempts disguised as serious cinema. Zombie writes a supernatural, Satan worship tale that is closer to The Sentinel than to so many of the schlocky B-films. In fact, Zombie channels familiar actors and actresses to enhance the period feel and flavor of his Salem suspense story.

Zombie assembles his own coven of Zombie film mainstays, with Sheri Moon Zombie, Sid Haig, 
Jeffrey Daniel Phillips, and Ken Foree, plus iconic horror film diva royalty in the form of Cujo and The Howling's Dee Wallace, Patricia Quinn from the cult classic The Rocky Horror Picture Show, Meg Foster, Judy Gleeson, and Maria Conchita Alonso. This ensemble cast gives the film a credibility and a bit of historical depth. Zombie knew what he was doing by bringing this talent together. Wallace, Quinn, Foster, and Gleeson take the film back several decades. Wallace, Quinn and Gleeson embody quaint sisters possibly hiding more sinister motives, reminding me scenes with Beverly D'Angelo from The Sentinel. When a town's origins are mired in accusation, death and the occult, it is difficult to ever shake its grip from growth and progress.

Rob Zombie is a visionary horror writer and director. He possesses the knowledge of suspense/horror's past to built the best into its future. Unfortunately, Zombie also puts elements of demonic camp onto screen that slaps the audience away from the beautiful and seriously suspenseful tapestry. If Zombie had meant to integrate the schlock from the past with poor and strange demonic rubber or hairy monsters, and multiple shots of goats, he succeeded in only taking away from the drama and atmosphere he had captured the audience with to start with.

The Lords of Salem had potential to be a stylish and suspenseful homage to the occult films from years ago. So many scenes are perfectly set, but the more demonic elements strip away the film's worth in the end.

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