By Laurie Coker
As part of my midnight features review for SXSW, I covered Rob Zombie’s Lords of Salem, so I want to allude to that review, and I’d like to begin this one by saying, even with the passage of time, I still think the film is complete trash. I find it shocking that anyone would back it and allow it into theaters, but alas, here it is hitting the big screen. I missed interviewing Zombie at the festival, purposely, but was told by someone who did, that he never reads reviews. I say, good thing!
The film follows Heidi (Sheri Moon Zombie), who works at a radio station as a DJ. She is single and lives alone in Salem, Massachusetts, when she receives a strange wooden box containing a recording, a “gift from the Lords.” Like it happens every day, without any reservations, Heidi listens to the record, and the weird sounds emanating from it trigger flashbacks. It is never clear why Heidi is picked, but she soon find herself, often half naked, in a bizarre world filled with masturbating midgets and pornographic priests and women of all ages and sizes lumbering around like zombies. They aren’t the undead, but are angry witches with some sort of sinister plan.
Lords of Salem is actually the first Rob Zombie film I have seen, but at the instance of a friend, I went in with an open mind. Zombie has followers who rave and who most likely love this one, but I say shame on them and Zombie. I would much rather be grossed out by blood, guts and scares (lame or otherwise) than to be subjected to perverted and disgusting imagery. One of my other friends, a former local critic, liked the film and he couldn’t really tell me why. If the order of the day is nasty, senseless, mind-numbing stupidity, then Lords of Salem rocks that world.
I find nothing redeeming about the film at all. When I know I have an interview with someone associated with a film, I try hard, really hard to find something positive to ask or say, but I had no such like with Zombie’s film. The acting, including his wife, is B-level at best and the story is asinine and while, I know he tried for something different than his usual spook-fest, but he fails miserable with Lords of Salem, a film that garners an R-rating, but deserves a NC-17 or even an X – I’ll admit it is not triple X material, but it is as close as should ever be allowed in a mainstream theater. There is little subtle about Zombie’s film. Every aspect slams the audience – even his soundtrack assaults senses and his sexually explicit imagery completely assails the eyes.
That I have wasted this much time already, on such bombastic nonsensical garbage bothers me even more than the movie did. It is no surprise than that I am placing an F- in my book. I truly don’t see it lasting too long in theaters, unless Zombie has an endless supply of loyal fans and I guess he just might.