We’ve been waiting, Heidi… We’ve always been waiting. – Margaret Morgan
Much has been said about the latest from musician turned horror director Rob Zombie‘s latest endeavor The Lords Of Salem. Many have praised it’s atmosphere and style while many others have lamented it’s lack of story and characterization.
I would fall into the former. I was intrigued from the very first moments of this film. His bizarre hallucinatory homage to 1970s art house horror is visually brilliant and surprisingly full of of characters that I enjoyed.
Zombie’s muse and wife Sheri Moon Zombie plays local radio DJ and recovering crack/heroine addict. When she receives a mysterious record addressed to her from The Lords she plays it on air. It gives her a headache and peaks the interest of that night’s guest, a local historian who specializes in the Salem witch trials.
What follows is a complete mind fuck that had me pulling the covers up to my nose at times. I have noticed several people say they believe that Zombie was inspired by Ti West’s The House Of The Devil, but in actuality I think they were both drawing on iconography of 1970s and early 80s horror. Sets are visually striking and the cinematography is likely the best in any of his films yet.
Add to this some delightful and heart felt performances by the cast. Sheri turns in what is definitely her best performance yet in my opinion. Her relationship or lack their of with Whitey is heart breaking and forms an emotional core for the film which shows a great deal of maturity. However I would be stupid if I didn’t point out the obvious use of Whitey as a stand in for Zombie as they have more then a striking resemblance and a softness that contrasts his gruff exterior.
I have to say that Heidi’s landlady and her two “sisters” are a definite highlight. Dee Wallace is delightfully air headed and sinister. Judy Geeson is delightful as the ring leader of the three. And quite possibly my favourite performance in a horror film this year would be Patricia Quinn who is best known as Magenta from Rocky Horror. She is so insane and creepy and awesome I found myself cheering at the trio’s evil antics.
While it may not be everyone’s cup of tea, Zombie has created a film which is regardless of opinion something which is highly original and recalls a better age of horror. It is definitely a breath of fresh air given that some of the biggest releases in the past year have included PG-13 fare and reboots a plenty. Horror isn’t always supposed to appeal to the widest audience possible. Sometimes it is better if it has a tiny budget and is sprung from the mind of someone who truly is in love with the genre.