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Rob Zombie's calmest and most bizarre film!
UniqueParticle16 January 2020
So nice to own every film directed by Rob Zombie, I'm a huge fan of his! A very odd witch film with a peculiar demonic vibe and sounds that are twisted. I love this film for what it is, I appreciate how different it is; I know others don't which is unfortunate. I have ASD/Autism I oddly love all of Rob's movies, I hope he does more work in any form!
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Rob Zombie's Best
jamiemiller-0761121 June 2019
I've never been a huge fan of Rob Zombie. There's something so sophomoric and immature about his writing style as if he's a 13 year old boy amusing his friends by dropping f-bombs and playing The Misfits. There doesn't usually seem to be a lot below the surface of his film, but imagine my surprise when I watched Lords of Salem and found myself loving every bizarre minute of it.

Zombie has dispatched of the white trash and "edgy" characters that typically populate his films and has given us a mature, stylish, and remarkably unsettling witchcraft story that feels like it could have been made my some European auteur in the 70's.

From the very first scene, Lords of Salem pulls us in with a disturbing prologue featuring a terrifying performance by Meg Foster (who goes for broke) as the head of a coven of witches. She vows to control all the women in Salem. Years later, a DJ plays a mysterious record on the air that ends up doing just that - controlling all the women of Salem to do the witch's bidding.

Lords of Salem is a surreal, nightmarish, and bizarre film that I'd compare to the works of Kubrick, Russell, Fulci, and Argento. It has a few missteps here and there, but it's a satisfying and unforgettable film.
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The witches of Salem are waiting
Woodyanders24 January 2018
Warning: Spoilers
Troubled disc jockey Heidi Hawthorne (a solid and appealing performance by Sheri Moon Zombie) receives a mysterious gift containing a record that has odd sounds within its grooves that trigger flashbacks to the violent witch-burning past of the town of Salem, Massachusetts. Pretty soon Heidi finds her life endangered by a coven of lethal witches.

Writer/director Rob Zombie ably crafts a potently spooky gloom-doom atmosphere that reeks of dread and unease, relates the absorbing story at a hypnotic gradual pace, grounds the premise in a believable workaday reality, goes all-out trippy in the surreal last third, and concludes everything on a bold downbeat note. Moreover, Zombie wisely keeps the cheap scares and graphic gore to a refreshing minimum as well as eschews the crude hick aesthetic of his previous films in favor of something a lot more subtle and sophisticated.

The sturdy cast of reliable genre veterans rates as another significant asset: Meg Foster contributes a superbly creepy turn as sinister head witch Margaret Morgan, Judy Geeson, Patricia Quinn, and Dee Wallace are likewise excellent as members of the deadly coven, Bruce Davison makes a nice impression as amiable academic Francis Matthias, Jeff Daniel Phillips does well as the smitten Herman Salvador, and Andrew Prine has a cool, albeit minor secondary part as the stern Reverend Jonathan Hawthorne. The brooding score by John 5 and Griffin Boice further enhances the overall unsettling mood. Brandon Trust's striking widescreen cinematography offers a wealth of eerie and freaky images. A very effective slow burner of a horror film.
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Red_Identity24 April 2013
I'm not exactly a Rob Zombie fan, but the three films I've seen from him (Halloween remake, House of 1000 Corpses, and Devil's Rejects) still have something in them that makes them memorable and not totally unworthy. I had no idea what Lords of Salem would be about but I expected the usual "Rob Zombie overload".

Much to my surprise, the film starts off pretty effectively. Although the annoying "loud sound" cliché is used here whenever there's something spooky in the background (HINT filmmakers- stop putting a loud noise over a great scare moment in an atmosphere such as this. It just ruins it) there was enough great build-up of atmosphere and the story was evolving nicely, not to mention many of the visual imagery really got under my skin. However, as I probably should have expected, Zombie's just not that smart of a film-maker to create a film like this. There's a really great version of this story to be told somewhere, but Zombie, as usual, over-indulges and just keeps on assaulting our senses starting in the second half that by the time the third act starts, I was honestly bored out of my mind and just rolling my eyes at all of the "visuals". The film just starts off great and burns out the more it goes on, and by the end it ultimately just leaves a very bad taste in your mouth and the second half just basically erases everything the first half build so cautiously to create. It feels pointless and redundant.

I've never disliked Moon Zombie, but her acting range has always seem limited. Here though, she's pretty impressive and I actually think Zombie did her a disservice. He should have just given a basic summary of this storyline to more talented filmmakers to write and direct it. Because it's definitely ambitious and definitely something that could have been truly amazing, that's what makes this film his most disappointing. I never expected anything unformulaic out of his other films, but because this started off with such potential and by the end I had to force myself not to fall asleep, it's just disheartening. A Rob Zombie film that is self-indulgent and stupid? Expected. But a boring one? Now that's a new low.
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The lords of boredom...
paul_haakonsen26 April 2013
When it was first announced that Rob Zombie was working on another movie, I was thrilled, as I had thoroughly enjoyed his previous movies, and as I am also a big fan of his music. And it was with great expectation that I followed the bits and pieces of information leaked/released about the movie up until it was finally released.

And now having seen it, I sit here with my expectations and hopes totally shattered. The movie was mostly an odd mixture of bits and pieces of incoherent imagery that had the usual Rob Zombie trademark touch to it, yes, but in overall the story got lost along the way in the imagery. And as such, the movie was a rather dull experience.

Storywise, then it wasn't particularly captivating or innovating. The story is about Heidi Hawthorne (played by Sheri Moon Zombie) who receives a strange record at the radio station where she works together with Herman 'Whitey' Salvador (played by Jeff Daniel Phillips) and Herman Jackson (played by Ken Foree). The haunting tune on the record opens up to the dark and sinister past of the witching era of Salem, unleashing power that were better left in the past.

Out of the entire cast, then I think it was actually Bruce Davison (playing Francis Matthias) who did the best job, and made the most memorable impact with his acting. The rest of the cast did good enough jobs, but it just didn't fully shine through.

Don't get your hopes up too high, unless you are into weird imagery that doesn't necessarily need to have a solid supporting story to be interesting. But, personally, I wasn't entertained by this movie, and I actually had my smartphone out at a point and was playing Jewels Star.

I suppose everyone throws a swing and a miss every now and then, and for me, then this was one such instances from Rob Zombie.
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Great premise and cast, but it all fizzles out in the end...
KnatLouie20 April 2013
Before I begin my review, I should probably start by saying that I'm actually quite a big fan of Rob Zombie the musician (including White Zombie), and I also liked his first two movies (House of 1000 Corpses and The Devil's Rejects) very much - and I hated the first Halloween-remake so much, that I didn't even want to see the second one he directed, which allegedly should be even worse.

So, with that in mind, here's my review: The film is about a young, trendy rock-radio DJ, Heidi (Sheri Moon Zombie), who suddenly finds herself in the middle of an occult Satan-worshiping witchcraft scheme, because her ancestors did something bad 400 years ago or something.. She's sent an old, crusty LP, which she (of course) plays on the radio, even though it's just a bunch of creepy, monotonous notes, played over and over again, giving all the local women in the town zombie-like headaches.

Now, this isn't just all there is to the story, but it just as well might have been, as the plot doesn't really seem to develop much from that point on. The movie is all about setting a mood, showing creepy images, and basically just making the viewers generally uncomfortable - which it actually succeeds doing. I felt bad watching this, but strangely attracted to it at the same time.

The cast is pretty good actually, with Jeff Daniel Phillips and Ken Foree as the other two radio-hosts, and Bruce Davison as the historian who tries to get to the bottom of this whole witch-thing going on. The problem is just, that the movie doesn't really go anywhere with it's plot, and it's not really a slasher-movie or exorcism-movie, which you could expect. It's purely about making you feel miserable, and that's not (always) a good thing.

Oh, by the way... if you're expecting to see a lot of Sid Haig and Michael Berryman, think again, as they've only got small non-talking, not-interesting cameos. Meg Foster is pretty good as the witch-"queen", though.
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A throwback to Classic 70s Horror
ZombiGurl15 September 2012
Warning: Spoilers
Rob Zombie has really outdone himself with The Lords of Salem. The film plays like a throwback to the psychedelic satanic Horror Movies of the early 70s. The movie starts out with a slow build getting to know the lead character, Heidi. Heidi, played by Sherri Moon Zombie, is a recovering addict that works for the local radio station as a DJ for a popular late night radio show. She lives in Salem, Massachusetts, which is famous for its witch trials during the 1600s.

When Heidi arrives at the radio station for her show she receives a demo record from a band called The Lords. Thinking the album must be from a new and upcoming band, the DJs play it on the show. When the sound goes out over the radio, many local women go into a trance, very much like when the tape is played in Evil Dead! Heidi has severe headaches when the album is played and from that point on starts having hallucinations. There are many flashbacks to the 1600s, when a coven of witches were having their Sabbath or Black Mass, dancing around a fire nude, praying to Satan, and playing music. The local Salem Authorities catch all the witches and put them on trial. Found guilty of witchcraft, they are burned alive at the stake. While dying, the leader of the coven curses her accuser, Nathaniel Hawthorne, and all of his ancestors.

Heidi lives in a historic building with an older lady that lives in the apartment below her. She invites Heidi for tea with her friends, but right away you can tell the older ladies have something to hide. Heidi starts a slow decent into madness after hearing the Lords of Salem album again. And that's when we get the flashbacks to the ancient evil witches and their strange satanic rituals.

Sherri Moon Zombie does her best acting to date, but she is still no match for the older scream queens that play the witches…Dee Wallace, Patricia Quinn, Judy Geeson, and Meg Foster steal all the scenes. Meg Foster and Dee Wallace especially shine in their roles. One of things I like about Rob Zombie is that he casts a lot of familiar faces from the horror genre and Lords of Salem was no exception.

Lords of Salem has a real art-house artistic feel to it, which Zombie's previous films did not have. There are several shots that remind me of classic Argento films like Suspiria. The use of colourful architecture and background scenery is almost like another character in the film. The movie was visually stunning and it owes a lot of its influences to classic Horror films like The Devils, The Sentinel, Eraserhead and The Shining. The only part of the film I was not all that keen on was the psychedelic ending. It just seemed out of context, but maybe I will like it better on a second viewing. It also had way too many gratuitous shots of Sherri Moon's backside which was a little distracting from the storyline in my opinion. Unfortunately, I don't think Lords of Salem will appeal to the general public and will probably not get a wide release the way his previous films did.

In the end, I think this movie will get very split reviews from horror fans. If you can appreciate an art-house independent horror film you will enjoy it. If you prefer a grindhouse style gory action movie, you will hate it. I am sure this movie will surprise and divide Rob Zombie fans. Up until now, Zombie has earned a very well-deserved reputation for films that push the limits of good taste. For the most part I have enjoyed most of his films (yes, even Halloween 2!) For me, Lords of Salem showed that he is not a one trick pony when it comes to his writing and I really appreciate that. I highly recommend you go and see it when it comes out and form your own opinion about it.
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Ambitious, wildly referential art house horror; meandering but fascinating
drowned_soda24 April 2013
Warning: Spoilers
"The Lords of Salem", Rob Zombie's fifth feature film, is perhaps the most aesthetically and thematically adventurous (which is saying a fair amount taking into account his first two films). "Lords" follows Heidi (Sheri Moon Zombie), a troubled disc jockey at a Salem, Massachusetts rock radio station. One night, a bizarre record encased in a wooden box arrives at the station for Heidi; the only information on the box reads: "The Lords", which is assumed to be the name of a local band. After playing the record on air, Heidi's life begins to drastically take a turn for the worst, and she finds herself plagued by disturbing visions related to a coven of witches who were executed in the late 1600s. If that weren't bad enough, the witches are returning, and the record also had a strange effect on all of the townswomen who heard it as well...

Some have gone so far as to say that "The Lords of Salem" is Zombie's magnum opus; I believe his career is far too young to judge that (I also was not a fan of his "Halloween" remakes, but loved "House of 1000 Corpses" and its counterpart "The Devil's Rejects"). However, these fans have their fingers on the pulse of something special, and it seems Zombie's auteur status is beginning to take full shape with this film.

The film is riddled with references to '70s and '80s Satantic witchcraft films, much in the vein of "The Dunwich Horror" and "The Devonsville Terror", although "Lords" also makes nods to cinematic classics such as "Rosemary's Baby" and "The Shining" with its ambitious cinematography, and, if only by virtue of its basis on the Salem witch trials, cribs elements of Arthur Miller's "The Crucible". There's a gritty grindhouse feel that permeates the film, but what's interesting is that it turns tricks and becomes something of an art display; Zombie channels Dario Argento, Alejandro Jardowsky, Lucio Fulci, and Mario Bava in equal spades. While Zombie dabbled with surrealism and artsy provocateur in "House of 1000 Corpses" quite abundantly, he takes it a step (or five) further in "Lords". The last 20 minutes of the film are nothing short of surrealist horror— disturbing, lush, and austerely haunting imagery is paired with the sacrilegious carnival freakshow shtick that Zombie became known for; this bizarre combination frames a contentious relationship between the art house elements of the film and its use of B-horror movie conventions.

"Lords" has an impressive cast for being such a small production; Sheri Moon Zombie carries the film as our troubled leading lady, and holds her weight, while Bruce Davison plays a quirky writer with abundant knowledge on the Salem witch history. Judy Geeson makes up a modern witch circle with genre favorites Patricia Quinn (famed as Magenta in "Rocky Horror") and Dee Wallace ("The Hills Have Eyes", "Cujo", "E.T."); all three women turn in solid performances with a certain sense of self-awareness. Meg Foster plays the ancient leader of the original coven, and tackles the role full-on; she's easily one of the most frightening on screen incarnations of a witch I've ever seen. All of her scenes are wonderful, particularly the historical flashbacks and the executions.

Also worth noting is the wild soundtrack for this— from the "Lords"' groaning record to tracks by Bruce Springsteen, classical pieces by Mozart and Bach, and a marvelous use of "All Tomorrow's Parties" by The Velvet Underground, Zombie assembled an interesting collection of songs for the film, but for one reason or another, they all work.

One issue that Zombie does have with the script, as many others have noticed, is that it never seems to quite get on its feet. The plot somewhat meanders for the majority of the film, not particularly taking one course or another, before launching into full-blown grand guignol mode. That said, in Zombie's defense, I somewhat get the sense that he was going more for a mood piece with the film as opposed to the serial killer drama of "The Devil's Rejects" or the backwoods frenetics of "House of 1000 Corpses". "Lords", in many ways, is Zombie's most restrained film; in others, it's easily his most provocative.

Overall, "The Lords of Salem" is, if nothing else, a completely unique movie experience, especially for horror fans. It conjures up some of the horror genre's greatest witchcraft conventions (and those of B films in general) and disseminates them in the fashion of art house cinema. This attempt at combining high art with the conventions of B-grade horror cinema is quite a feat, and though I'm not sure Zombie totally hit the mark, he came extremely close to it. 8/10.
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We serve the butchers....
FlashCallahan27 October 2013
Warning: Spoilers
Heidi, DJs at a local radio station, and together with Whitey and Munster, form part of the Big H Radio Team.

A box containing a vinyl record arrives for Heidi. She assumes it's a rock band on a mission to spread their word. As Heidi and Whitey play the record, it starts to play backwards, and Heidi experiences a flashback to a past trauma.

Whitey plays the record, dubbing them the Lords of Salem, and to his surprise, the record plays normally and is a hit. Another box arrives presenting the Big H team with free tickets, posters and records to host a gig in Salem.

But Heidi and her cohorts are far from the rock spectacle they're expecting.......

Zombie either makes movies that are either works of genius, or utter pants. Thankfully, this is just as good, if not better than his previous works. And it's all to do with his vision, and his stark, layered imagery.

Every scene and shot is breathtaking, lighting and cinematography wonderful, and this all adds another layer to an already rich narrative.

It's not necessarily scary, just very eerie, and it harks of The Shining, Holy Ground, and The Ninth Configuration.

Zombies movies are involving and important because they do not conform to generic cinema, and that's probably why many don't like his movies.

They simply don't understand them, hence labelling them boring, or rubbish.

They are strangely beautiful, and in many respects, poetic.
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A movie that was actually better then I expected. More disturbing then true horror. Horror fans will like this a lot. I say B-
cosmo_tiger13 July 2013
"Fate leaves you no choice. It is predetermined by forces stronger then ourselves." Heidi Hawthorne (Zombie) is a DJ at a local radio station. One night as she is leaving she receives a record from a local band. Playing it when she gets home she begins to feel strange. When a local man starts to investigate the song they played he starts to uncover a horrifying secret. This one overall isn't that bad but I think it was more disturbing then scary. I have only seen the Halloween remakes by Rob Zombie and not the other ones he has done but I still had an idea of what to expect and for the most part I was right. The movie,while it was OK and kept me watching did seem slow and repetitive in parts, really just seemed like a movie he wrote as a reason to show off his wife. Bruce Davison is good in this and he really helps the movie out. There is a ton of Satan worship in this so if that bothers you avoid this...but since it's a Rob Zombie movie you kind of expect something like that anyway. Overall, nothing that amazing, but also not that bad, an OK rent for me...horror fans may really like this more then I did though. I give it a B-.
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Rob Zombie = Good Ideas - Bad Films
bushtony4 May 2013
Warning: Spoilers
Rob Zombie is a frustrating film maker. He is a man of many good ideas. He is capable of some directorial flashes of ability and occasional flair. He has stories he wants to tell. Yet his live action films are all so half-baked and so horribly executed to the ultimate extent of being uniformly and unsatisfyingly bad.

HOUSE OF A THOUSAND CORPSES, THE DEVIL'S REJECTS and his two HALLOWEEN refries are massively less than the sum of their parts. Zombie's concepts, his vision and his creative objectives are all fine and dandy in essence - yet following gestation they hit the screen as stillborn components, constituting badly realised, dreary, boring, tasteless, lumbering, corpulent entities of ramshackle celluloid grunge. Undynamic, uneven and repugnant, uninspiring to watch and altogether tedious to a fault. Nothing he does has any of the essential components of a good horror film - they are not creepy or scary, they are only shocking by way of how amazingly painfully contrived they are and there is nothing suspenseful or thrilling to be had out of any of them.

THE LORDS OF SALEM is a missed opportunity. Zombie was given full creative control, apparently, so I was expecting this to be the moment when he honed his ideas, clarified his vision and fulfilled his promise. Pre-release spin advising of the influence of Argento and the giallo movies built-up expectations - along with the Salem setting and accompanying witchcraft theme.

The plot has a lot going for it - recovering junkie DJ receives a vinyl record in a wooden sleeve with a music track by a band billing themselves as The Lords. The music when broadcast over the airwaves has a strange effect on some who hear it and the DJ chick starts to hallucinate some pretty disturbing visions. Add to the mix three malevolent sisters, a proposed free concert by The Lords and the participation of a cast which includes Meg (THEY LIVE) Foster, Judy (INSEMINOID) Geeson, Ken (DAWN OF THE DEAD) Foree, Bruce (WILLARD) Davison, Dee (THE HOWLING) Wallace and other genre stalwarts. There is a great deal here to pique interest and more than enough to cause me to want to watch.

Yet, it dies a death on screen. It is muddled, confused, plodding, lifeless and devoid of anything to stimulate any emotion other than mostly apathy. There is some beautiful and, dare I say, arty cinematography at times, indicative of Zombie striving to achieve some greater cinematic goal. But it all feels so flat and mundane. Most of the cast give it their best shot but they seem not to have been given a whole lot of direction resulting in their performances seeming quite perfunctory and superficial. Most unfortunately Sheri Moon Zombie lives up to her marital surname and acts like one. She looks quite cute in her spectacles and dreadlocks and she does have a very nice naked posterior - so much so that if they gave Oscars for best ass performance in a leading role hers would most likely win with little contest. It's not enough. I didn't care what happened to her or feel emotionally invested in her situation whatsoever. Mr Zombie either needs to direct her better or she needs to get some acting lessons - or he needs to get another leading lady for his movies.

LORDS is more proof that Rob Zombie has a problem and that problem is in two parts. One is that of coherence and emotional technique as a director - he is severely lacking in both. Two is a resolute failure of effective conceptual realisation. He's seen Hitchcock, Carpenter, Argento, Hooper, Polanski and Romero and he knows the act well enough. He just hasn't figured out how to pull it off yet.

All that apart, LORDS does represent progress in that it is Rob Zombies best cinema film to date. It's still bad, though.
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Most Mature Rob Zombie Film Yet
gregsrants13 September 2012
Warning: Spoilers
Rob Zombie films have a way of polarizing fans. His first features, House of 1,000 Corpses and The Devil's Rejects were incredibly violent and graphic entries in the horror genre that are either loved or loathed depending on the company. His takes on the Halloween series was well appreciated, but many still thought the films to be dark, dreary and drab.

Still, there is no denying that Rob Zombie is an important cog in the horror genre wheel. Zombie and fellow writer/directors Eli Roth and Ti West are all but carrying the genre on their backs while Hollywood either reboots old classics or stretches franchises long beyond their 'best before' dates (I'm looking at you Paranormal Activity!). Their collective projects still have an aura of originality about them and having their name on a movie poster can all but guarantee you are going to see something fresh, or at worst interesting to watch.

Rob Zombie is back in the director's chair for The Lords of Salem that had its World Premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival as part of the Midnight Madness Selection Series. The film surrounds a radio station DJ named Heidi (Sheri Moon Zombie) who receives a mysterious box with a vinyl record and a note stating, "A gift from the Lords". When Heidi listens to the record, it awakens an evil in her hometown of Salem, Massachusetts and she begins to experience flashbacks and dreams that interweave with her reality as the spirits of the renowned Witch Town attempt to puncture our world to seek revenge on an atrocity that occurred over 300 years ago.

Heidi will be haunted and tormented by visions and dreams of the past or of an alternate reality that will drive her literally mad. A trio of old women living in her building, who have their own secrets, will offer her comfort but their alterative motive will hardly come as a big surprise to general intelligent movie fans.

With Heidi's life spiraling out of control and with her friends powerless in either understanding or resolve, it is up to Heidi to fight the evil that has now surrounded her and hopefully ensure that the old witches of 1696 Salem are not resurrected.

Rob Zombie has some familiar B to C-List actors to help bring his tale to the big screen. Richard Lynch (The Sword and the Sorcerer), Meg Foster (They Live), Bruce Davison (X-Men), Maria Conchita Alonso (The Running Man) and Dee Wallace (The Howling) all have roles in this strange and very polarizing film. Of course, Zombie staples such as Sid Haig (The Devil's Rejects) and real life wife Sheri Moon Zombie appear in roles which must have made script readings feel like a family reunion.

Rob Zombie stays true to the style that has made Zombie a name familiar outside of the music industry. You won't find any cyans or turquoise color schemes in any of Zombie's films. Everything is dark and devoid of neutral colors. Even the blood spilled in The Lords of Salem looks more like black tar at times that it does a river of red.

But this is also Rob Zombie's best work. And in writing that, I expect that it will be loathed by the Zombie fan base. I was never a fan of House of 1,000 Corpses and I never understood the fans reaction (which was just short of throwing palm leaves in front of the director) for the two Halloween remakes. I short, while everyone was putting Rob Zombie on a pedestal, I was still chasing squirrels.

But The Lords of Salem is more of a polished piece. The body count is incredibly low and throughout most of the film, nothing really happens other than the trip down the rabbit hole that befells the poor Heidi. The screening audience that filled our sold out theatre seemed to laugh at scenes that were not intended for humor (we did not). And restless fans without any gore to quench their bloodlust routinely left for washroom breaks or extra concessionary artery blockers – something that is not common in high expectation horror films.

The Lords of Salem did come off the rails just a bit in the final chapter. There is a mutant/reptilian type baby that is birthed followed by the final scene of Heidi on top of a heap of bodies and the 'Directed by Rob Zombie' title card. It was an unworthy finish to what was an involving movie prior to its reveal.
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Disturbing Silliness...Rob Zombie's Best Movie To Date
LeonLouisRicci22 December 2016
Up to this Point, None of Rob Zombie's Movies have been as "Fun" as His Music. Mostly because He Insists on Ugly, Redneck Imagery with the Camera Lingering on Nasty, Sweaty, Disgusting People and Their Trashy Trailer-Park Habitat and Habits.

His Music doesn't Evoke those Kind of Pictures in the Mind. It Projects Retro Matinees or Nights in Front of the Movie Screen or TV Lapping Up Old Movies, sometimes Really Old Movies like "A Trip to the Moon" (1903) or Serials like "Radar Men from the Moon" (1952).

In this Movie Zombie gets around to some of that Feeling and comes close to that Rock Persona. There are some Scenes that Work Great and Play Off of the Director's Strength of Disturbing Silliness.

But, Once Again, there's the Ugly, Disgusting, Dripping Nude Bodies of Very Old Men and Women Wrinkled Up and Proudly Displayed by Zombie as an In-Your-Face, One-Finger-Salute to all the Prudes in the Audience.

Not Necessary, and it Detracts from the Scariness, and the Silliness, and the Nostalgic Nuances that is Rob Zombie's Forte when He doesn't "Stretch". This is His Best and Most Accessible Movie to Date. The Imagery is occasionally Cool and Creepy, and there's a Lot to Take In and the Cast is Remarkable and In-Tune with the Low-Budget Vibe.

Rob Zombie has yet to Hit His Movie Making Groove, but This Thing takes the Filmmaker back to what made His Music so Unique, Enjoyable, and Interesting.
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Fear and loathing in Salem
StevePulaski25 April 2013
The Lords of Salem is a picture that replicates Rob Zombie's style in such a way that it will live up to his indelible, trashy standard he has made his films so often center around. I'd be foolish for neglecting to mention it, but I'd be lying if I said the film was a solid entry in the horror genre. Too often does Zombie seem to be taking the story in alternate directions, that he has made witches, what the film seems to be wanting to focus on, products of the background. In the foreground are mildly amusing, but forgettable characters and loads of pretty satanic imagery.

The story revolves around Heidi (Zombie's wife Sheri Moon), a local-girl DJing at a radio station with two close friends, both named Herman (Jeff Daniel Phillips and Ken Foree). One day, a mysterious wooden package housing a strange vinyl stating "a gift from the Lords" shows up addressed to Heidi. Assuming it's a band's attempt to make it big, she plays the record, which responds by playing itself backwards, making her flashback to traumatic life events and incomprehensible, jumbled visuals. Soon, the track becomes a hit with the listeners when they play it the way it should be played, but it isn't long before we discover the Lords aren't a rock band, but a ghastly group of depraved witches looking to claim the land as their own.

If this picture is supposed to be about witches and the resurrection of demons, it does a pretty poor job at staying focused. As stated, Zombie can't help but find different ways to make his imagery grossly trashy (not a derogatory remark) and deliciously depraved. He keeps getting caught up in ways to make Heidi's trances seem more and more questionable and disturbing, rather than emphasizing the significance this story has. By the time we reach the hour mark, and have not had any of our witch cravings fulfilled, the remaining thirty-two minutes become drab and uninteresting.

Sheri Moon, once again, does a wonderful job at portraying a character that is a few tires short of a car. Her work in The Devil's Rejects showed she truly has an affection and a talent for playing the kind of dirty, deranged roles her husband has in mind, and to be costarring alongside the likes of Bill Moseley and Sid Haig - two greats and frequent Zombie collaborators - only showed that she could hold her own. Here, without the help of Haig and Moseley, she is left to carry almost the entire film with her empty character and this poses a grave problem for the way the story conducts itself. Heidi very rarely does anything remotely intriguing, and her actions are confusing and seemingly inert. Often we see her randomly walking, hallucinating, losing and regaining consciousness, and being victim to the likes of witches and we do not sense any form of sympathy or sadness. There's just a looming feeling of emptiness on the narrative's part. Who is this woman and why should we care? It should come as no surprise that the framing, aesthetics, music choices, cinematography, and placement of the picture are all top-notch. The set design, which really kicks in during the last twenty-minutes, is beautifully presented in all its twisted, oddball glory. The inclusion of heavy metal music and astute framing also adds to the film's overall deranged-beauty. I've recently become acquainted with Rob Zombie's music (especially his nineties work, which is the kind of heavy metal I crave) and once you get his taste in music down, his films become a bit more accessible. I kind of wish The Lords of Salem was a cool, ten-minute long rock song rather than a film. I think Zombie could've gotten his expression of witches, depravity, and the witchcraft subplot more originally and less monotonously through the likes of music and loud riffs rather than cinematic redundancy.

This is Zombie's sixth directorial effort in about ten years now, with his first picture, House of 1000 Corpses, dating all the way back to 2003. It was an interesting, stylistically potent piece of work, and was followed by the likes of the terrific Devil's Rejects, the tolerable Halloween remake, the loathsome sequel, the lukewarm Haunted World of El Superbeasto, and now the mixed bag that is The Lords of Salem. The last thing I want Zombie to do is quit the horror game when he has already made three truly well-done films that show off the insanity, dirtiness, and complete and total lunacy of the horror genre. The first thing I want him to do is find a story that compliments his style greatly and pursue it in a manner that doesn't distract him.

NOTE: Rob Zombie released two new albums recently, one of them the soundtrack to The Lords of Salem and, the other, his latest solo work Venomous Rat Regeneration Vendor. Both of them I strongly recommend picking up for their wonderful contributions to the genre of guttural, disturbing rock and roll. I suppose, in the case when a director's work suddenly slips, when one door becomes cracked another one optimistically opens.

Starring: Sheri Moon Zombie, Jeff Daniel Phillips, and Ken Foree. Directed by: Rob Zombie.
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Witchless Warning: Spoilers
Writer/Director Rob Zombie, whose 1990's death metal sounded like the Devil himself with his own rock band, serves up yet another cinematic gore fest.

Whether you liked or loathed Rob's HALLOWEEN remake, HOUSE OF 1,000 CORPSES or THE DEVIL'S REJECTS, these were motion pictures – actually more exploitation than horror – that at least took themselves seriously and most important, had a fanatical audience to consider.

THE LORDS OF SALEM feels more like an art-house music video paying dreary homage to classics like THE SHINING, as most of the story takes place in a hotel with the days of the week separating every other scene; THE EXORCIST, wherein a vulnerable female gets possessed and is aided by an older man with possible answers; and whatever devil worship cult flick you can think of, but for thematic purposes only.

Rob's wife Sheri Moon plays one of three Salem Rock N' Roll DJs, but Heidi Hawthorne's the only name on the old wooden box where a record from a band called THE LORDS OF SALEM is kept. When the main track is played… either in her room or on the air… bad things happen, mostly centering on three witchy old sisters (including the hotel landlord), who stand around as if posing for a Gothic photo shoot. Meanwhile Bruce Davison, as a Salem novelist/historian, attempts an intervention that fails miserably. Leaving poor Heidi (resembling a demonic voodoo doll Hamburgler) with a spaced-out expression and surreal dreams more interesting than her real life nightmare.

Sporadic flashbacks occur of the original Salem witches writhing naked around a fire pit, and none of these grotesque gals are a wee bit scary, just really gross and, befitting everything else, ultimately pointless.
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youthandyoungmanhood24 July 2018
Rob zombie has made some absolute rubbish in the past but this is actually quite creepy. One particular song in this film completely freaked me out for days! It's certainly isn't perfect but it is a decent horror film.
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Brilliant, retro, captures 40 years of avant garde horror
dedboy23-804-21559020 February 2014
Anyone who doesn't get this films needs to bone up on director Ken Russell. Watch Altered States, watch Whore, watch The Devils.

Rosemary's baby also an obvious influence here.

I find House of 1000's Corpses to be a straightforward 80's slasher homage, with a comic influence.

Devil's Rejects recaptured grindhouse, kicking it up a few notches and combining it with anti-hero themes and the good old road movie.

This however, takes us back to the art horror stylings from the late 70's - early 80's... I get tastes of Jacob's Ladder surrealism and fugue states. Russells obvious religious and neon overtones, and his psychedelia and primal explorations. I even get a bit of the hags from macbeth.. beautiful.

You have 23, 32, 5-2 for some simple Robert Anton Wilson references.

An outstanding work. Most fans of recent commercial horror simply will not get this. I, however will be watching it again after rewatching all the films and directors I mention above and will surely watch it more than a few times after that.
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Spooky, atmospheric and a nice low key departure for Rob Zombie
NateWatchesCoolMovies27 October 2015
The Lords Of Salem is a departure for director Rob Zombie, easing back from his usual brand of profane, blitzkrieg, jarring vulgarity and bloody excess that he burst into the film scene with. Here he tones down the craziness in favour of something far moodier, that gets under your skin subtly, instead of ripping it off and wearing it as a suit. Don't get me wrong, it's still an extremely disturbing movie, but it takes its time getting there, the horror a droning force of inevitability as opposed to a dancing clown jabbing you playfully with a butcher's knife. The story here is based on the infamous Salem Witch Trials, and in a grimy prologue we see several gnarled pagan banshees involved in a backwoods ritual. Jump to present day, we follow Heidi Hawthorne (Sheri Moon Zombie) an ex junkie radio DJ, along with her fellow broadcasters Jeffrey Daniel Philips and the one and only Ken Foree. They interview various guests and goof off on the daily, a lighthearted enough job. Until a mysterious vinyl record shows up, in a box decorated with a vaguely threatening symbol. When they play it on the air, a grinding, dreadful melody flows out across town, causing strange, hypnotic behaviour among the women of the area. Heidi starts having hallucinations and shocking daytime visions of terrible things, which lead her down a path of distraught behaviour and confusion. Something evil is brewing again in Salem, something to do with Heidi, and her three cackling landladies (Judy Geeson, Patricia Quinn and Dee Wallace). A local author (Bruce Davison, excellent) is onto it and believes he can prevent it from happening. The film has a classically satanic, sort of 1970's vibe, clearly a throwback to oddball horror stuff from back then, like flicks from Ken Russell and the like. There's an almost psychedelic aura to it, and indeed visually the film looks just stunning, alternating from dirty, lived in frames, to nightmarishly baroque, surreal set piece shrouded in smoke and thoughtful, painstaking production design. Anyone who's said Moon Zombie can't act in the past should bite their tongue with this one; she displays a believable, slow burning picture of an unraveling mental state, a girl deeply in trouble. Meg Foster gives an unrecognizable performance that will make you want to hide behind the couch, as the feral leader of the original Coven, Margaret Morgan. There's also nice work from Richard Fancy, Andrew Pine and Maria Conchita Alonso. It's a new leap for Rob Zombie, film wise, but he handles the brooding side of horror quite well, and even in a chaotic, balls to the wall final sequence of wtf-ness, he never goes loud and crude like he has in the past, keeping it reigned in to an atmospheric minimum. Not a film for everyone, but any fan of this type of horror will be pleased.
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Rob Zombie's "Lords of Salem": An Atmospheric, Trippy 70's Mash-Up
Since he transcended from the realm of Rockstar to Film Auteur with "House of a 1000 Corpses", Rob Zombie has had mostly a love-hate relationship with his fans. And with his latest release, "Lords of Salem", Zombie, proves that this will be much of the same. Despite the fact that this time around, Zombie is completely thinking outside the norm of what has been his filming style and technique. Where before he set out for a certain shock value, with "Lords" Zombie has given us a very atmospheric, almost trippy film that borrows elements from such other masters of horror as Cronenberg, Polanski and Lynch.

If "Lords of Salem" was made in the 1970's (perhaps even as late as 1981) then it would have been hailed as an iconic horror film, much in the same way as such other greats of the genre of that time, as Dario Argento's "Suspiria", "Rosemary's Baby" or even that of Stanley Kubrick's "The Shining". Sadly, however, the film finds life in 2013 where most of the audiences that will go and see it will neither understand or have the patience for Zombie's latest creation.

We find ourselves following along the life of DJ Heidi Hawthorn (aka Heidi LaRox), played by Sheri Moon Zombie, living life in Salem, Massachusetts, as night time radio's hottest DJs. When One night after a show with her cohorts and hosts Herman 'Whitey' Salvador (Jeff Daniel Phillips) and Herman Jackson (Ken Foree), Heidi receives an old wooden box containing a vinyl record and a note saying it is from the band The Lords. Heidi takes the box home, and while she and Whitey are hanging around Heidi's apartment, Whitey plays the record. The music is mostly made up of string instruments being played in some strange rhythmic beat. The music, however, invokes a vision of days past for Heidi (and that of Salem) who sees what happens to a coven of supposed "real" witches back in the days that would get you killed for practicing or even being accused of witchcraft. The next night Herman puts the record up for the typical radio gig of Smash or Trash, dubbing the band The Lords of Salem. However, those women that are descendants of Salem that are listening to the show are hypnotized by the sound; stopping what they are doing entranced. Much in the same-way Heidi was the night before. Unaware at the time, the music triggers something inside Heidi that sends her spiraling out of control as she begins to see and deal with things that can not possibly be real.

Like many 70's films of the like, and while the film is set in modern day it has a definite 1970's feel to it, Zombie does as little as possible in the way of character development. Just giving you the bare essentials (Early in the film we see Heidi taking shots with her co- hosts after the job only later to find out that she is a recovering junkie. A fact sort of come into play later in the film.) of back-stories for them. Replaced instead with more back-story when it comes to plot. Although, that does not take away from the film. Zombie gives just as much as needed and doesn't get bogged down in useless or over dialogued scenes. Which is good. While I do not mind (as others) that Zombie puts his wife Sheri in all his films, her acting is quite limited, and at times with this film it is painfully so. As Zombie stretches Sheri Moon's acting ability and is a far cry from what she has done before. Zombie also has abandoned the shaky, hand-held almost documentary style of camera work from his previous films. Replaced now with thought out scenes shot on steady cameras using 35mm film; fantastic lighting and set designs with a moving, moody score that draws the viewer inside this strange world where a sect of ancient witches are hell bent in bring the Devil's child into our world. The plot is nothing new when it comes to this style and genre but Zombie makes it his own.

I can see the influences that Zombie has when it comes to horror. "Lords" is much in the way of "Rosemary's Baby" was when it comes to subject matter; "The Shining" where the tension builds through the slow pace of the film helped with a heavy score; scenes that highlighted (while not of the 70's, but just as insane) "Twin Peaks". Though if it were made by Argento instead of Lynch.

"Lords of Salem" took me a little while to absorb. I was lucky enough to have seen it in an empty theater with no distractions that plague today's movie going experience, because in my opinion (an opinion that Rob Zombie will only half agree with) is that this film, to get the true experience, needs to be seen in the theater. Although a mostly, if not fully, empty theater. I believe the impact of the visuals will be lost when it comes to BluRay, and won't lend the same stimulation of the cortex of the mind that of the big screen.

Like with Sheri Moon, we find the usual Rob Zombie stand ins. Although, timeout if you blink you will miss Sid Haig and Michael Berryman. The real standout, acting wise, is Jeff Daniel Phillips (aka the Geico Caveman). Phillips brings forth a certain reality and believability to his character.

Love it or hate it, Zombie, with "Lords of Salem, does exactly what he sets out to do with the audience with the visuals, the sound and added factor of a creepy-ass, empty theater: the film sits with you long after it is finished. Leaving to think and discuss with others about what the hell you have just sat through.
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Good but lacking
preppy-39 October 2017
This takes place in Salem MA.A DJ (Sheri Moon Zombie) receives a record recorded by "the Lords". She plays it and it unleashes three witches (Dee Wallace, Patricia Quinn and Judy Geeson) to possess Zombie and make her the bride of Satan.

Dark and disturbing full of sick imagery and gratuitous female nudity. Not a lot of blood and gore but the imagery and tone more than make up for it. The acting is excellent across the board and it all leads to a disturbing ending.

This was barely released (for some reason) but deserves recognition. I give it a 6.
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Disappointing horror movie
Wizard-821 September 2013
I've seen all of Rob Zombie's past movies, and I have to confess that I didn't think much of any of them. Needless to say, "The Lords of Salem", while a definite improvement over these past movies, kind of left me cold. The movie does have some definite merit, though. For a budget that was reportedly only 2.5 million dollars, the movie looks very good, coming across as more expensive than it really was. The acting by the various participants is adequate, and Zombie in the director's chair does generate some genuine mood as well as some striking images. However, Zombie's script is kind of a mess. The story is VERY slow-moving, taking much more time to unfold than what was needed. Also, while the central core of the story makes sense (sort of), there are a number of minor details that left me scratching my head in confusion. In the end, while the movie is not terrible, it's kind of unsatisfying. I do think that Zombie could make a great horror movie, but I think he needs to listen to other people wise in the horror genre before writing or directing.
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Witchcraft/Satanism in modern Salem by Rob Zombie
Wuchakk29 June 2018
RELEASED IN 2012 and written/directed by Rob Zombie, "The Lords of Salem" is a witchcraft/horror flick starring Sheri Moon Zombie as a DJ in Salem, Massachusetts, who is sent a wooden box containing a mysterious record dubbed "gift from the Lords." The creepy music thereof triggers flashbacks of her town's infamous past. Is Heidi going crazy or are the witches taking revenge on Salem?

The ambiance, mood, directing, music, locations, sets and cast are all top notch, showing that Zombie has developed into a quality director since his first shot eleven years earlier with "House of 1000 Corpses," which was shot in 2000. This is serious haunting horror as opposed to the campy black comedy of "1000 Corpses" (not that there's anything wrong with that, lol). The movie mixes elements from "The City of the Dead," aka "Horror Hotel" (1960), "Suspiria" (1977), "Rosemary's Baby" (1968), "The Wicker Man" (1973) and "To the Devil a Daughter" (1976). If you like any of these movies, "The Lords of Salem" is as good or better.

Usually when you see old hag witches in movies it's kinda eye-rolling; not so here. Rob gives us the real deal and it's not pretty, although I admit to busting out laughing every time the witches hailed Satan. Speaking of which, modern Wiccans won't like how the films mixes Witchcraft with Satanism (the truth hurts). Interestingly, there's almost as much Christian imagery as there is Satanic.

One thing's for sure, Zombie doesn't paint witchcraft/Satanism in a positive light. It's similar to "The Witch" (2015) in this respect, where converting to witch-dom meant becoming a baby-slaughtering, blood-bathing, family-destroying, goat-sucking, friggin' pedophile hag with the illusion of youth. When the Devil eventually appears in "Lords," it's anything but a positive image.

The story seems to perpetuate the myth that those condemned at the Salem Witch Trials in 1692-1693 were burned to death. Actually, 19 people were hung, another slowly crushed to death, and over 150 imprisoned.

Sheri makes for a strong protagonist, but she's the extant of any eye candy on the female front. As noted earlier, the witches are all hideous hags and look even uglier with their clothes off. Meg Foster surprisingly appears as the lead witch. Meanwhile, Judy Geeson, Patricia Quinn and Dee Wallace are on hand as a dubious trio in modern Salem. Speaking of whom, they have a great (hilarious) tea scene with Bruce Davison, who plays an expert on witchcraft.

THE FILM RUNS 1 hour, 41 minutes and was shot in Salem, Massachusetts; Sable Ranch, Santa Clarita, California (witches dancing around fire); and the Los Angeles Theatre (opera house).

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The thought of having to watch it again is SCARY
in198430 April 2013
Rob Zombie should not be directing or writing. The best he can hope for is being the lead camera, set designer, or lead soundtrack guy for a smart writer and director. He's just not smart enough to handle more than that. It may be ignorance; it may be too many drugs; it may be his brain has limits.

The worst kind of horror. It's so stupid as to be only horrifying to think you'd have to watch it again. Outside of a well chosen soundtrack, the only entertaining and scary (more gross) part of this film is the fully naked old and fat women.

Take out the nudity and a scene involving masturbation and you have little more than bad made-for-TV horror. It's too bad Zombie isn't smart enough to handle satire because the Satan and priests aspect of this film have the potential for lots of laughs.
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Didn't really get this one
dar041711 February 2020
Didn't really get this one. I don't think I get any of Rob Zombie's movies or maybe they are all just bad.
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The worst Rob Zombie movie to date!
Michael-Hallows-Eve27 April 2013
This movie is one that I'd been waiting to see as it was a Rob Zombie movie. I do like most of his movies, but this one was a failure! I didn't like it at all. It seemed to be a vehicle to have his wife play a lead role. It was self indulgent trash. Nudity for the sake of nudity, a plot that didn't do anything, this film is totally overrated. It was bumped back a few times, took a while to be completed, and I ask myself why? If it was to tweak the story or change some scenes, then it didn't work. If you're a Rob Zombie fan, and you didn't like 'Halloween 2', then in my opinion this is worse. I couldn't wait until it finished, and the only good thing about it was the part that Bruce Davison played. He was great in a bad movie. I tried to get in to this film, but in the end I just couldn't like it. I may be in a minority here, but so be it. All I could give it is a 2 out of 10 (for Davison's role).
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