San Diego Charger fans, meet your new MLB: Manti Te’o
By the time the credits rolled, a few things were clear to me: people aren’t going to like this, Zombie still has it, and I need to see this again, soon.
It’s worth bearing in mind that I was a fan of House of 1,000 Corpses, and I absolutely loved The Devil’s Rejects. I’d prefer to forget the Halloween remake and its sequel exist. So that’s where I’m coming from with regards to my stance on Zombie’s film career. This is the film Zombie should have made after The Devil’s Rejects.
But going into Lords of Salem, none of that really matters. Outside of the casting (which I have no problem with whatsoever) and a somewhat cringe-worthy line from Ken Foree, Lords has little in common with anything else Zombie has done, other than remind us that the man behind the camera has a love for this genre.
I’ve been unsurprised, yet irritated nonetheless by the over-simplification and ignorance of the reviews of this film I’ve read. One, for example, which I don’t care to find again nor pay the courtesy of referencing by name, referred to the premise as having an industrial rock album at the center, which is really not the case, and makes the entire story seem much stupider than it really is.
Much of the criticism has been over the lack of narrative, which is fair, I suppose, if that’s what you’re looking for. The film is clearly meant to be more of a dream-like assault of horrific weirdness than a standard “this happens, then this happens, then it’s resolved” kind of a story. Yet there is a story, despite the aforementioned over-simplifications from those who would have you believe otherwise. It’s interesting that some of these same reviews dismiss the notion that there is a plot or story to tell, while also giving you a basic summary of what that story is.
To sum up, without going through the whole thing: Witches were burned centuries ago, witches return, and we’re introduced to their return by way of a mysterious record album (not entirely unlike the way the recording in The Evil Dead introduced us to the return of the titular evil dead or the album that unlocks the gates of hell in The Gate). The similarities to ‘Evil Dead’ end there (thankfully), and the result is Zombie’s version of Kubrick and satanic films of yesteryear. The film would be right at home as part of a double feature with Ti West’s modern day take on the satanic cult film, ‘House of the Devil,’ yet is different enough to warrant watching both films.
Sheri Moon Zombie is this film’s lead. Some have criticized her, perhaps out of convenience, given that Zombie casts her in every movie, and she’s not the traditional leading lady. To be fair, I was a bit skeptical of her leading abilities going in myself, but she played the role just as well as anyone could have, and quite frankly was less annoying than she was as Baby in Zombie’s earlier films.
Was I outright scared by anything in Lords of Salem? Not particularly, though the overall tone was efficiently creepy. Did I walk away feeling dirty or disturbed? No,not really (though one justifiably could be). Just entertained. And refreshed that semi-original horror can still surface in a movie theater once in awhile. And this was a much needed breath of fresh air after settling for the good-for-gore-but-not-much-else Evil Dead remake I watched a couple weeks ago. Of course that blew away the box office on opening weekend, and Lords of Salem opened in one theater in town, and packed in about six people (at the showing I went to). I’ll be surprised if it lasts for another week. Sadly, this probably means I won’t get the chance to see it front and center on the big screen again, and that’s probably the best way to enjoy it.