The Lords of Salem Blu-ray Review
You can’t picture Salem, Massachusetts without thinking of witches, and vice versa. Neither can Rob Zombie, whose latest directorial effort, THE LORDS OF SALEM, takes place in that town and is haunted by those sorceresses.
After a brief prologue with a coven of old, naked witches chanting about who-knows-what around a campfire, the story jumps to modern day Salem and Heidi (director Rob Zombie’s wife and muse, Sheri Moon Zombie, who played the oh-so-charming Baby Firefly for her husband), a DJ for a rock station. After a shift one night, Heidi receives a beat-up box containing an unknown record. No, it’s not Venomous Rat Regeneration Vendor, but it’s just as evil: when she listens to it, it creates hallucinations of the aforementioned witches and their practices.
Like every Perry Como album before it, the record probably best belongs in the attic away from curious ears. But Heidi plays The Lords of Salem’s tune on the air one evening, possessing the female population of Salem and bugging out her dog. How convenient that she just interviewed Francis Matthias (Bruce Davison, who horror fans know best as Willard, friend to rats), an author and expert in the Salem witch trials.
THE LORDS OF SALEM is heavy metal frontman-turned-horror director Zombie’s sixth feature in just over a decade, after 2003’s HOUSE OF 1000 CORPSES, 2005’s THE DEVIL’S REJECTS, 2007’s HALLOWEEN, 2009’s HALLOWEEN II, and the same year’s direct-to-video cartoon THE HAUNTED WORLD OF EL SUPERBEASTO. Compared to most of those efforts (especially HOUSE and REJECTS), THE LORDS OF SALEM is relatively light on gore. Yes, there is a murdered baby and witches burning at the stake and a hellish birth in the third act, but the special effects and makeup department seemed to have had a far easier job this time around.
Because of that, it might be a disappointment to those that got off on the excessiveness of Zombie’s previous works. (Those that enjoyed the sadistic stylings of Captain Spaulding and the gang may also gripe of THE LORDS OF SALEM’s nonsensical plot—why does Heidi continue to play the album and why doesn’t she just skip town?) But it’s hard not to still have a level of respect for Zombie knowing his intentions are legitimate and his reputation as a devoted horror hound (his band was named after the Bela Lugosi classic; his lyrics are littered with references; his house is covered with memorabilia and the like).
Problems aside, there are still a number of effective elements to THE LORDS OF SALEM, like its unsettling look (courtesy of cinematographer Brandon Trost, who shot HALLOWEEN II) and nods to ROSEMARY’S BABY in its mysterious doorways and sure-to-be-trouble-in-kindergarten babies. There are also the appearances of several genre favorites, like Dee Wallace (THE HOWLING), Ken Foree (DAWN OF THE DEAD), Michael Berryman (THE HILLS HAVE EYES), Sid Haig (who donned some seriously disturbing clown makeup for Zombie), Meg Foster (THEY LIVE), Andrew Prine (THE TOWN THAT DREADED SUNDOWN), and Patricia Quinn (THE ROCKY HORROR PICTURE SHOW).
THE LORDS OF SALEM BLU-RAY REVIEW
Video: 2.40:1 in 1080p with MPEG-4 AVC codec. This high-definition transfer of THE LORDS OF SALEM maintains the dark and dirty look of the film while presenting a picture with details and depth.
Audio: English Dolby TrueHD 5.1. Subtitles in English and Spanish. The audio transfer is incredibly effective, with disturbing sound effects and an atmospheric soundtrack.
Audio commentary with writer/producer/director Rob Zombie: Zombie offers a decent enough track with various production tidbits, but spends far too much time commenting on what’s onscreen.
Also included are a DVD and UltraViolet.