Mania Grade: D
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- Rated: R
- Starring: Sheri Moon Zombie, Bruce Davidson, Ken Foree, Meg Foster, Dee Wallace
- Written By: Rob Zombie
- Directed By: Rob Zombie
- Original Year of Release: 2013
- Distributor: Anchor Bay Home Entertainment
- Special Features: Audio Commentary with Rob Zombie
The Lords of Salem Blu-Ray Review
Witchcraft film derails right from the beginning
By Tim Janson
September 09, 2013
I appreciate the fact that Rob Zombie has a love of horror both modern and classic, and that’s what makes this review sad to write. After seeing The Lords of Salem, and Zombie’s two ill-fated Halloween remakes, you have to wonder if this is the same guy who directed the depraved but entertaining House of a 1000 Corpses and its sequel The Devil’s Rejects. If Zombie was looking to leave an impression on viewers he certainly succeeded. The sight of a half dozen fat, naked elderly women has definitely left me scarred for life.
The Lords of Salem gets its fuel from the infamous Salem Witch trials in the 1690s. Zombie’s wife Sheri plays Heidi Hawthorne, a distant relative of Reverend Jonathan Hawthorne who presided over the witch’s executions. Heidi is a recovering drug addict and co-host of a local talk radio show along with partners Whitey (Jeff Daniel Philips) and Herman (Ken Foree). A strange wood box arrives for Heidi at the radio station containing an album by a band known only as “The Lords” which they quickly dub the Lords of Salem. The strange, rhythmic music has a hypnotic effect on several women of Salem who become almost entranced upon hearing it. The music is also heard by a guest on their radio show, Francis Matthias (Davidson) a local writer who penned a book about the Salem Witch Trials.
After hearing the music, Heidi begins to experience terrifying visions. She investigates a supposedly empty apartment in her building where she finds a neon crucifix and sees a hag-like witch named Margaret Morgan. Heidi’s visions become more and more alarming, causing her to slip back into drug use and miss work. Whitey attempts to help Heidi but runs into opposition from Heidi’s landlady Lacy and her two sisters. As Heidi descends further and further into madness, a concert by The Lords of Salem becomes the stage for a ceremony for the witches to summon Satan with Heidi as the coven’s leader.
The Lords of Salem is as about as disjointed a film as I have seen in some time. It’s a rambling wreck of incoherent scenes completely lacking in logical narrative. The film is like one of those 1970s Satantic themed movies as if it were written by a 10 year-old on hallucinogenic drugs. Zombie borrows liberally from films like Rosemary’s Baby and The Sentinel but without a shred of those film’s style and horror. Zombie is also wildly off with his facts about witchcraft trials and executions in Salem. Witches were hung, not burned. One of the presiding Judges in the case was John Hathorne, not Hawthorne. The early American writher Nathaniel Hawthorne was related to the judge and added the “w” to his name in order to distance himself from his notorious ancestor. Perhaps this is nit-picking on my part but at the very least, Zombie could have got the history correct.
Sheri Zombie has appeared in all of her husband’s films but in supporting roles. Here she is asked to carry the film almost entirely and she is simply not up to the task. She’s emotionless and lacks charisma and spends much of the film mumbling her lines even in the scenes where she is not supposed to be under the influence of drugs. Oh and when she’s not mumbling and stumbling about, Rob makes her feign performing oral sex on a priest. Nice…
I will credit Zombie for featuring several 1970s and 1980s horror stars like Ken Foree, Meg Foster, Dee Wallace, and Michael Berryman. But it’s just a shame that they all show up in such a disaster of a film.