Here Come the Lords!
We watched Rob Zombie’s The Lords of Salem last night. You probably read a ton of reviews last spring when the movie actually hit theaters, so I’ll keep this short. I’m a moderate fan of ‘Bob Zom.’ I really like Corpses and Rejects. I’ve grown to enjoy his first Halloween for the most part. I hated H2, although I’ve only seen it once and do plan to re-visit it one day to determine if the hate thing still applies.
Salem falls somewhere in between his first two original projects and his remake work, quality-wise. Mrs. Zombie is not a very good actress, and it shows in Lords, where she does not have the cutesy-talking psycho-y Baby Firefly persona to hide her lack of skill behind. As local DJ Heidi LaRoc, she may have dreads and hipster glasses, but she is a pretty boring character with no real social life. She has tea with the landlord and her “sisters” and she hangs out a little with her radio show cohorts (you can number Ken Foree among them). It’s during this radio show that the two “story points” occur. First, she receives a mysterious record by a “band” that calls themselves The Lords. She then interviews a Salem Witch enthusiast (Bruce Davison) on her show, during which she plays this record. Davison’s character is haunted by what he hears on the wax, so he does a little late-90s style internet searching and discovers connections to the actual Salem Witch Trials.
There’s not a lot of story here, which is fine. Zombie is not known for storytelling or dialog. He’s really known for characters and visuals. Unfortunately, there is not much in the way of characters here, nor are the visuals really that exciting (despite quite a few hallucinatory scenes). He had a good opportunity with this vintage 70s-style satanic witchcult plot to do a really stylized throwback movie…kind of like the opportunity Ti West had and fully kicked ass with in the excellent House of the Devil. Also, it seems that a movie based around a rock n’ roll DJ who plays records should have music as a more prominent part of the scenery. Aside from a couple (well chosen) Velvet Underground tunes, the music really is faded so far in the background you barely notice it.
Meg Foster and especially Dee Wallace are good in their minor roles.
The film did keep me engaged throughout and I did enjoy it as a whole, but I can’t imagine going back to it often—I don’t really know how it would hold up on a second viewing. Maybe ten years from now I will find out.