The Lords of Salem

Director: Rob Zombie (2012)
Starring: Sheri Moon Zombie, Ken Foree
Find it: IMDB

Oh yummy, my favourite - words. Don't mind me, I'm just enjoying a plate of "Rob Zombie is shit" followed by a side order of myself saying that there are "no scary Witch movies". Nom, pass the "Devil's Rejects is shit" salad, please. Ahem. When Rob Zombie first emerged as a director of horror movies in 2003 with his House of 1000 Corpses, I had completely dismissed him and his directorial debut. And then I went on to absolutely loathe that film's sequel, The Devil's Rejects. Subsequent re-viewings of those films have left me wondering just what crack I was on at the time. While far from masterpieces, neither film is even nearly as bad as I somehow came away thinking them to be. Halloween, on the other hand, still sucks (edit: damn, no it doesn't! Not entirely, anyway).

With my newfound appreciation for Mister Robert Zombie and his films, I approached The Lords of Salem hoping for the best. There's a sense, with his films, that he can be too reverent, putting casting and style before character and substance. Sure, it's cool to see Danny Trejo in a Halloween movie, but you'd be better off making sure that the story and script isn't complete arsewash first. Would The Lords of Salem buck the trend, and stand on its own two feet, gimmicky casting aside?

Mostly, yes. It also helps that there are no more Hillbillies and is instead set at a heavy metal style radio station. Heidi Hawthorne (Moon Zombie) is a DJ at Salem's Number One radio station, playing a show alongside Hermans Salvador (Jeff Daniel Phillips) and Jackson (Foree). If The Lords of Salem left me with one overriding thought, it's that Ken Foree should totally have his own radio show. One fateful night, Heidi is delivered a mysterious vinyl record in a wooden box, purporting to be fresh from the recording studio of 'The Lords', a dark and mysterious local metal band. As she plays the record, Heidi sets into motion a series of events that will have terrible implications for her and all of Salem. Whoops.

Topical joke.

What follows is like a Rob Zombie version of Rosemary's Baby. There's a coven of witches, some great swearing and some truly unsettling nightmare imagery. Licking babies, blowjobs in church, goats and lots of terrifying nudity, The Lords of Salem is Rob Zombie's most effective horror film. While his other movies have been fine works of exploitation, they've never actually been scary. This should redress the balance. The all-important track by the Lords which permeates the film works well, in that it sounds genuinely chilling. Heidi's reaction to the song: that's how I feel about Adele.

Moody, grim and depressing, Salem's lot is not a happy one. It's a film which should stay with you long after the credits roll. Lords of Salem is Rob Zombie's best movie so far.