If you know me, you know I love horror films. I enjoy all horror varieties from monsters to slashers to psychological horror to ghosts and demons, and even Nazi zombies.Whether a horror movie is amazing or down right terrible, there is always something that catches my eye and makes me crave more. Hell, even Uwe Boll films hold a special place in my heart, despite how bad they are.
Now, I grew up listening to White Zombie and Rob Zombie music, and even loved when he started directing his own music videos. I loved that this guy was all about horror. His songs and music videos were heavy with horror lyrics that discussed monsters and madmen. I couldn't get enough of it. And when I heard that Zombie was finally getting his own feature horror film to direct with 'House of 1000 Corpses', I became an obsessive fan-boy and had to know everything about this film. While we all knew it had problems getting a release, it finally made its theatrical debut a couple of years later and surprised audiences around the world. Even though it seemed like a music video at some points, you have to admit that Zombie really captured a lost era of horror filmmaking and still managed to show some truly terrifying images on screen. After a sequel to that and a couple remakes of 'Halloween', Zombie decided to tell a tale of witchcraft and Satanism.
Unlike Zombie's other horror films, which are blood and guts heavy and move along quickly, his 'Lords of Salem' is a slow burning horror film that could quite possibly give you nightmares for a while. Much like Kubrick's 'The Shining', Zombie builds the suspense slowly and doesn't quick edit the film. Rather, he allows the camera to slowly track and pan through some extremely disturbing images that will not allow us, the audience, to escape. You might say that 'Lords of Salem' is his best shot film, but it's certainly not the most fun.
In true Rob Zombie fashion, he has cast his wife Sherri Moon Zombie in this flick, but this time she is the lead rather than a supporting character. She plays a young woman named Heidi Hawthorne, who is a few years into her sober life from a hardcore drug addiction. She is one of three radio disc-jockeys in Salem who play hard rock and heavy metal music on a daily show. Her other two co-hosts are Whitey Salvador (Jeff Daniel Phillips) and Herman Jackson (Ken Foree). The three have a great rapport and have gained a big cult following on the radio waves.
However, one day a mysterious package arrives at the radio station for Heidi. She opens it up and it appears to be a record for them to play by a band called The Lords. She decides to listen to it at home, which proves to be a slow and eerie basic sound with someone chanting in the background. Heidi seems to fall into a trance in her apartment and has horrible nightmares of a witch coven and demons. However, she wakes up fine and brings the record back to the studio to play on the air. Once she does, many women in Salem fall into an evil hypnotic state. Meanwhile, a local man Francis Matthias (Bruce Davison) is asked to come on the radio show and discuss his new book, which talks about the old Salem Witch Trials.
Once he hears the record that was sent to Heidi, he notices something strange about it and begins to research its origins and what it means. As he does this, Heidi is having more and more intense nightmares that seem to be stemming from a vacant apartment across the hall from her. And when her landlord, Lacy (Judy Geeson) invites her over to have some wine with her friends Sonny (Dee Wallace) and Megan (Patricia Quinn), Heidi feels very uncomfortable and abruptly leaves when she realizes these three older women are not what they seem.
Knowing Rob Zombie, nothing ends well for anyone in this movie as this slow moving and incredibly suspenseful film reaches a scary climax that might leave you with nightmares for weeks. Zombie methodically moves his camera into some tricky angles and along with his music score and songs, deliver quite some good scares. Sherri does a good job as the lead here and shows a good range of emotion. She must've been an emotional wreck after filming this movie. It's great to see some of the old horror actors and actresses show up from time to time as well.
While some of the slow pacing might seem tedious at times, 'Lords of Salem' is not doubt one of Rob Zombie's scariest films. This is a perfect horror addition to any collection and is a must watch come Halloween time.
'Lords of Salem' comes with an impressive 1080p HD transfer presented in 2.40:1 aspect ratio. The movie as a whole is dark and ominous throughout. The only real colors in the film are where we're in the radio station studio. Otherwise, Zombie uses very pale and eerie colors. There are tons of blacks, grays, whites, and muted greens. It's supposed to have a decaying look, and it succeeds in that.
The image has a good filmic look, with a fine layer of well balanced grain, so that nothing looks overly digitized or modern. Zombie wanted to create an atmosphere of old 70s horror films here. That being said, the detail is quit nice with well defined closeups that show wrinkles, blemishes, and scars on the actors. The costumes reveal detailed stitching as well.
Black levels are deep and inky for the most part, with flesh tones seeming natural and smooth. Overall, this dark film seems natural and has a gothic feel, devoid of any real primary colors brightening up the screen. Banding and aliasing are non-existent with no compression issues. This is a solid horror movie video presentation.
This release comes with a lossless Dolby TrueHD 5.1 audio mix and it sounds great. This is a very creepy soundtrack with noises popping up constantly from the pits of hell. There are growls, screams, demonic noises, and loud crescendos that will send you jumping out of your seat from time to time. The bass will even rattle and rumble your bones and walls, mainly during the beginning and end scenes.
The score is haunting and leaves a lasting presence far after the movie is over. The dialogue is always crystal clear and easy to understand with pops, cracks, or hissing. The dynamic range is wide with the LFE well balanced. This audio mix is well done and will most likely give you a scare.
Rob Zombie's 'Lords of Salem' is one of his best movies to date, and if you're not a fan of his previous gory films, you might take a liking to this one, as it relies on slow building suspense to scare you. The video and audio presentations are top notch, however the lone extra on the disc is a bit of a let down. Makes me wonder if there won't be a future bigger release for this with tons of extras. That being said, you will likely be having nightmares after watching this film. Definitely one you'll want to own this Halloween. Highly recommended.