A Salem radio DJ is the target of a coven of witches who plan to use her to bring back their master and gain revenge on the town that crucified them centuries ago.
Judging a Book by its Cover
-Sherri Moon-Zombie in skeleton paint? I’m ok with that!
-Dreadlocks? Not ok…
We’ve been waiting…we’ve always been waiting.
Directed by Rob Zombie
Starring Sherri Moon-Zombie, Bruce Davison, Jeff Daniel Phillips and Ken Foree
Heidi, a member of a late night rock DJ trio in Salem, Massachusetts, has a box delivered to the station and upon opening it, she finds an old record inside by an unknown band simply named “The Lords.” Taking it home and playing it, the music features simple instruments repeating a series of notes on a loop. The music has an odd effect on Heidi as she has visions to centuries ago where witches were tried and executed for their satanic works.
Her visions focus on a particular coven that lived in Salem who were caught by the local townsfolk and executed. They did try to bring about the return of their demonic master through a pregnant woman, so I can see where people wouldn’t like that. The leader of the coven, Margaret Morgan, puts a curse on the future women of Salem and the bloodline of their executioner, Reverend Jonathan Hawthorne.
The next night, the record is played again on air while a noted author on witchcraft, Francis Matthias (Davison) is present as an earlier featured guest. He takes particular interest in the music and the name of the band which has been dubbed “The Lords of Salem.” His research begins to blow up lots of common threads in relation to Heidi as she shares a relation with Hawthorne and thinks she may be interested in that information but it only serves to put him in the path of danger.
Heidi continues to have creepy visions even when not exposed the music. She’s sure someone is living in a supposedly empty apartment down the hall but when she enters she’s assaulted by a demon and a screaming witch which she shrugs off as a bad nightmare. The older ladies in the apartment building invite her over for some drinks and one of them reads her palm and tells her her future though it gets a bit weird. Heidi takes off for the concert in town featuring “The Lords of Salem” which ultimately brings about the return of the curse.
I can certainly see where The Lords of Salem is considered such a polarizing film, it can pretty offensive to the right people, though I’m sure writer/director Rob Zombie is ok with that. Taking witchcraft films seriously is a tough sell in the 21st century but Zombie comes through with a way to modernize a satanic/witch film through music. I like the idea of the witch’s curse being transmitted through the simplistic tune which gets played all over the radio. The tune is an uneasy earful that keeps the viewer glued to the screen waiting for the next big scare to happen.
But that’s the biggest issue with the film as it fails to come through with the big scares you’re looking for. The film creeps slowly along towards a fairly disturbing finish, as only RZ can deliver, but the pace rarely quickens so you’re in for a slow crawl until that messed up ending.
Story: 8 – A curse is transfered across the airwaves as a coven of witches come back for revenge on the ancestors of their executioners.
Blood: 6 – The film is more about disturbing, often times grotesque, imagery over sheer graphic violence. That said, the death by frying pan is definitely on the bloody side.
Nudity: 8 – Lots of naked, hideous-looking witches. If you’re into that sort of thing. Sherri Moon-Zombie’s butt and sideboob are featured several times. If you’re into that sort of thing.
Overall: 6 – I like the idea behind The Lords of Salem more than the execution, but the film is definitely worth a watch.
-There were scenes involving actors Udo Kier, Sid Haig, Camille Keaton and Clint Howard but they were cut from the final print.
-Richard Lynch was originally cast as Jonathan Hawthorne and had some scenes filmed but his health was declining and had to drop out. He died several months later.