Monday, 29 April 2013

Review: The Lords of Salem (2012)

Following Rob Zombie's somewhat disappointing take on Halloween, comes a all out assault on the senses, in the form of witchcraft horror flick The Lords of Salem.
 A major plus point for the film is the use of often overlooked but brilliant genre actresses, especially Judy Geeson (Goodbye Gemini, Inseminoid) and Patricia Quinn (The Rocky Horror Picture Show). It's, of course, always a pleasure to watch Dee Wallace too. Not to mention there's an almost unrecognisable, nude turn from Meg Foster.
Recovering addict Heidi Hawthorne (Sheri Moon Zombie) hosts a late night talk show on a local Salem radio station, aided by two Hermans, played by Jeff Daniel Phillips and genre veteran Ken Foree. When she plays a record left for her by an unknown band called The Lords (dubbed The Lords of Salem by Foree's Herman) during an interview with local author and authority on the witch trials, Francis Matthias (the brilliant Bruce Davison), it has a strange effect on the women of the town - and Heidi herself. Her landlady, Lacy (Geeson, who is fantastic and downright terrifying in one particular scene) and her two sisters, Megan (Quinn) and Sonny (Wallace) take a little too much of a shine to Heidi, and she starts to hallucinate as her life begins to spiral out of control, and she resorts back to drugs to deal with the haunting visions she is being confronted with. Meanwhile, Matthias researches both Heidi's past and the music of The Lords with startling results. The band themselves, are due to play an invitation only show in the town as the anniversary of the infamous witch trials approaches.
The Lords of Salem provides the kind of experience you would expect from David Lynch had he made horror films, and is both beguiling and bewildering, intriguing and repulsive. With numerous surreal, nightmarish sequences and an oppressive sound design which underlines the visuals. It's such a shame that this has not had a proper cinema release (a few one off screenings is just not enough) as the bass in some scenes is almost bowel shattering! The choice of music is stunning, too with The Velvet Underground, Rush and Rick James alongside the original score by Marilyn Manson/Zombie guitarist John 5 and producer/composer Griffin Boice. It would have been nice to hear the full "Lords Theme" on the soundtrack CD though!
Zombie has created, once again, a film that will polarise opinions, but it certainly one which requires more than one viewing to do it justice and to absorb the barrage on the senses. While his detractors accuse him of just re-hashing other tropes and films, the homages that pepper his work show a great deal of love and even more knowledge of the genre. The horror world needs someone like Zombie, and while he hasn't quite found the perfect recipe, with The Lords of Salem he has certainly gone in a different direction to his earlier crowd pleasing flicks, House of 1000 Corpses (2003) and The Devil's Rejects (2005). This film will confound the casual Saturday night horror crowd, those who are only out for some visceral scares (although they will no doubt get off on Sheri Moon's lovely behind, the aforementioned appearance by Foster will put them off their stroke), but for those who like it completely off the wall, there's plenty to devour here. If there's one major criticism, it's why is there no Blu-ray release, and no extras? We need to see the cut scenes filmed with Udo Kier, Camille Keaton, Clint Howard, etc.. in the promised film within a film Frankenstein and the Witchfinder. Someone please make this happen!

8 out of 10

No comments:

Post a Comment