Rated: R for disturbing violent and sexual content, graphic nudity, language and some drug use. Reviewed by: Jim Release date: April 19, 2013 Released by: ANCHOR BAY FILMS
Heavy metal icon and shock rock auteur influenced by the likes of Sam Raimi, Rob Zombie (Halloween II,House of 100 Corpses) co-produces, directs and writes this oddly watchable, though defective example of a genre covered more intensely and coherently in the recent (remake) Evil Dead.
In The Lords of Salem, the 'White Zombie' founder works from the gloom and dread of the 1692 Salem, Mass. witch trials. A coven of witches are condemned to death by judge John Nathaniel Hawthorne (ancestor of the author of The Scarlet Letter) but are able to invoke evil through one of his present day descendants.
In a film with its share of interesting casting choices and appearances, including Bruce Davison, Meg Foster, Patricia Quinn, Patricia Dunn, Jeff Daniel Phillips, Christopher Knight, Bruce Dern, and Zombie regular Sid Haig, the linchpin is his muse and off-screen misses, Sheri Moon Zombie (who seems to have a naturalness into wicked perversity). Her recovering alcoholic and drug addict Heidi is a radio station disc jockey with dreadlocks and tattoos who gets a wooden box with a record in it after work one day. She listens to this "gift from the Lords" who apparently are on their way to wreak more havoc in their old stomping ground.
The filmmaking has that brand of ardor and aspiration that intends to shock and elicit pain in ways that would elicit plaudits from its supporters. Aside from Moon Zombie's facile immersing into a strangely hypnotic role (maybe her most memorable since The Devil's Rejects), all the darkly tried and true elements don't make for much of a fitfully fresh fright fest.
Like cornering its diabolical distaff craft, the writing could have been more tightly drawn to let the shocks and visceral activity come across with a much needed clarity. The outrageous discordant result will only work for Zombie diehards, falling on deaf ears in the worst way given its sound mix/editing quality. The Lords of Salem may be another case where meeting the modest aspects of a project with little distinction and using the mystery of a legend in more ingenious, if mirthfully macabre ways an underwhelming freak-show vengeance tale is hideously spawned for condemnation.
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