Sunday 28 April 2013

The Lords of Salem

Written & directed by Rob Zombie


Rob Zombie's view of Hell
The Lords of Salem is almost the perfect horror movie. Written and directed by Rob Zombie (he of the recent Halloween remake), it is set  in Salem town and intelligently re-examines the notorious and true witch-burnings that the Puritan judge Jonathan Hathorne carried out in the 17th century upon 20 or so local women.

Sheri Moon Zombie (Mrs Rob) stars as Heidi Hawthorne, a recovering addict and DJ on a local rock radio station. When a band, The Lords of Salem, deliver a vinyl recording to her radio station, Hawthorne broadcasts the eerie music to the Massachusetts town with such a troubled history. If one can recall Spielberg's movie, Close Encounters Of The Third Kind, where a celestial melody inspired good curiosity, so The Lords’ simple minor harmonics awaken satanic impulses in those of the town’s residents descended from pilgrim forefathers.  It’s a neat twist by Zombie that works well, as his movie plays out a haunting combination of psychological horror, as well as as some graphically disturbing imagery.

Zombie’s premise is that Satan has remained alive and well within Salem's townspeople and wouldn’t you know it, Lacy Doyle, Heidi’s landlord is in fact a modern day witch and it is a delight to find that Doyle is played by veteran English actress Judy Geeson. Whilst it may be a worn-out tradition to cast a Brit performer as the malevolent bad guy (gal), who cares if it provides the audience with a chance to re-aqcquaint ourselves with the elegant Miss Geeson who has been away from our screens for far too long.

In a slightly clich├ęd sub plot, Jeffrey Daniel Philips is local wise historian Herman Salvatore, who deduces that the satanic coven of old is being re-kindled in the town and is in turn battered to death for being so inquisitive.

Zombie’s imagining of the horror of the stake-burnings, the gruesomeness of the effects of the devil upon his disciples and the magnificence of his vision of hell are superbly captured with great photography by Brandon Trost. Where the film drops points is in its representation of the devil himself, whose image switches from a goat which is fine, to a rather disappointing Bigfoot type character or alternatively a grotesque baby, the special effects of which jar in quality with the overall standard of the rest of the film.

The Lords of Salem is a refreshingly generously budgetted, well written and very well photographed horror picture with many suggesting that it is Zombie’s best to date. Grab or download this film soon. It’s a truly scary movie, the calibre of which does not come along very often.

Available now on Blu-ray, DVD and for download

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