Director: Rob Zombie
Summary: (from IMDb) 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?
Guest Review: Rob Zombie is a mixed bag for me: really dig his music but I could totally bury his film catalog underground and then set it on fire without a second thought or concern. His movies make you want to hate him and his films; some people actually have said that Rob Zombie’s movies are intentionally designed with the audience’s hatred in mind. “Lords of Salem” is another notch in his cinematic chain belt, proving that my concerns, doubts and problems from ALL of his past films have clung to this one as well…
The story follows Heidi (real life wife to Zombie, Sherri Moon Zombie), a DJ who; along with the two Hermans; Whitey and Herman (Jeff Daniel Phillips and Ken Foree) form the “Big H radio” show. The trio receives a mysterious wooden box containing a vinyl record that is apparently a “gift from the lords.” Playing the record has some very odd effects on people. The listeners love it when they hear it played normally, promoting a lot of hits, popularity and interest from everyone who hears it. But Heidi sees disturbing flashbacks into the past, flashbacks of horrifying things that may about to happen again when the singers of this “hot record” decide to host a “concert” in town. The Lords of Salem are returning.
You know, just trying to write that synopsis, I could barely understand what the hell was going on; but at least, I knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that this movie would be visually interesting. “Lords of Salem” uses the flashbacks and striking visuals of these “lords” and other creepy occurrences very well, I cannot deny that everything you’re seeing is presented in a graphically strong and unique bizarre style.
The choice of actors has certainly varied since his usual roster; I was actually quite impressed with Sherri Zombie, Dee Wallace and Judy Geeson. The problem is that Zombie tends to overkill the only good things he has in the film, or, the bad parts of his film overkill and overstretch over everything else to the point that the mixture has gone completely sour in every aspect. The casting is good but the focus relies too heavily on them and not enough on other characters or supporting actors to remind us that OTHER people are in the movie. Too much time and attention is also annoyingly wasted on the same graphic guts, gore and cursing fits that Zombie pumps out like sewer water.
I know it’s redundant to complain about the same problems over and over again in Zombie’s movies, but I’m just not seeing ANY improvement or change whatsoever. Even directors like Michael Bay or Tim Burton who have staggeringly obvious distinct styles know to change things up every once in a while to offer something new and different. “Lords of Salem” may be flipping the seat cushion to hide the nasty spot on the back, but as pretty or as imaginatively looking as that seat cushion is; that nasty spot is still festering in the spine of the entire structure.
I can love the visuals all I want, and I DO commend Rob for painting a grandiose set of visuals, but the problem I keep coming back to, is the same one that keeps spinning around and around like the demonic backwards voodoo spewing record that’s used in this movie. The story gets less cohesive and more butt backwards confusing as the film progresses, it doesn’t move forward or backwards; it pretty much just scatters itself and lets the weird pieces fall where they may.
Sense, logic or anything that a story is supposed to be gets lost in the mail and we’re left with this spooky slideshow. I Thought I had an idea of where this movie was going but after a certain point, The Lords of Salem didn’t feel like it had any planned out story going on; it just felt like everything was being made up on the spot and tossed in so it will somehow all work in the end.
I don’t like Rob Zombie’s movies, I never liked Rob Zombie’s movies, I’m never going to like Rob Zombie’s movies and if “Lords of Salem” is meant to be his latest improvement; then I think the definition for what’s bad and good has already passed him by. The actors are enjoyable for a while and the visuals always catchy, but nothing else holds onto you or makes you feel anything differently than nausea and aggravation the moment you walk out of that theater. It doesn’t matter how many different ways the record is played back; the message still sounds the same: nothing’s changed with Zombie or his style and it probably never will.
Guest Rating: 3/10