2013 / Director. Rob Zombie.
HOUSE OF 1000 CORPSES was a great little freak-show of a movie and it's sequel THE DEVIL'S REJECT was brilliant (one of that year's best) but then Rob Zombie made two HALLOWEEN movies that were a complete waste of time. I wont go into why I hated them so much, suffice to say you won't shut me up. They pissed me off so much that I had almost given up on Rob Zombie as a filmmaker. His most recent film is LORDS OF SALEM and thank-fuck!! This is an excellent and modest film that recalls classic horror of the 70s, most notably the work of Argento. This film proves that Rob Zombie should only be trusted with his own original material and ought to lay off the remakes and established properties. Clearly my expectations were low, although I was hoping for something good. It's great. A late-night radio show host receives an unusual vinyl record in the mail from "The Lords of Salem" (did I mention the film is set in modern Salem?). When played, the eerie and unsettling music conjures up a discomforting emotion and apparitions of century-old women begin to show up. The music has been cursed and it summons the sacrificed witches of the Salem Witch Trials. This is a refreshing and original horror movie that relies on atmosphere and surrealism to deliver it's punch. It's a slight change in direction for Zombie who had previously put his emphasis on gore and shock. He has drawn influences from films like SUSPIRIA and BLACK SUNDAY to bring an old genre back to life, with a wonderful modern flavour. It's been cast brilliantly too with an assortment of old genre-stars like Patricia Quinn, Dee Wallace, Judy Geeson, Ken Foree and Meg Forster. They add a lovely nostalgia to the film while Bruce Davidson, Michael Berryman, Clint Howard and Udo Kier offer an unexpected credence to the story. And then there's Sheri Moon-Zombie (Rob's wife). He has cast her in every film to date and its becoming a tiresome exercise in tokenism. She IS good in LORDS OF SALEM, I grant her that, but I hope Zombie starts to look beyond his own kin for whatever he does next. She's not THAT great an actress and while she did hold the movie together, she's not that great of an actress. The entire design of the film from wardrobe, set and music is fantastic. There's a brooding and malevolent feel woven throughout and the sense of forebode is strong. I imagine the film will test the patience of a lot of younger modern viewers but for cinephiles and lovers of retro 70's arthouse cinema, this will definitely strike a chord. Wicked fun. Rob's back!