April 25, 2013

The Lords of Salem (2012)

"Heidi, a radio DJ, is sent a box containing a record - a 'gift from the Lords'. The sounds within the grooves trigger flashbacks of her town's violent past. Is Heidi going mad, or are the Lords back to take revenge on Salem, Massachusetts?"

There's no point beating around the bush like a lot of reviewers do, "The Lords of Salem" is just a load of disappointing, boring, faux arty-farty bullshit.

As much as I like Rob Zombie's "Halloween II" and fancy his wife in everything she does, "The Lords of Salem" put the kibosh on any of those warm fuzzies. If a film like this, which borrows from everywhere yet still fails to deliver its story in a comprehensible manner, is the way that Rob Zombie has chosen to go, horror isn't just dead, it's rotting too.

There's a lot of pretentious arty-farty crap in the world, and then there's crap which pretends to be pretentious and arty-farty like this. Rob Zombie has described his film as "If Ken Russell directed The Shining", but that's nothing to be proud of. The obvious homages with pacing as lethargic as "2001: A Space Odyssey" are, however, the least of this movie's problems.

As I mentioned, I think a lot of Sheri Moon Zombie. She seems like a nice enough woman in real life and she's undeniably hot. The problem is that she doesn't have enough charisma on screen to pull off a lead role. This, of course, is disastrous in "The Lords of Salem" where the focus is on her.

Men seldom make passes at girls who need a good wash.

Sheri has great legs and a pretty face. You can say what you like about her bottom and washboard chest, and beauty is subjective, but you still can't deny her legs. You get to see a lot of them here too. Unfortunately, with ugly librarian glasses, dirty-looking dreadlocks and a bunch of fake tattoos, she's been made to look like a female version of her husband which doesn't exactly make her Heidi character sympathetic.

To say that the ex-junkie Heidi looks like she smells of wet dog and needs several showers (not to mention lots of laser tattoo removal to get rid of all that vile self-harming) is an understatement. Gratuitously showing her ass cheeks a couple of times doesn't help in any way, shape or form either. She's just too alienating. When Heidi says that she's "super tired" around 20 minutes in, that's the end as far as dialogue goes too. The correct word is "very" or "really" not "super"! I hope this is just a one-off and that irritating West Coast half-grammar hasn't spread from YouTube to real movies.

It's not really worth mentioning any of the other actors or actresses in "The Lords of Salem" especially as the big name convention whores who everyone expected to see cameos from are only in "blink and you'll miss it" moments, and the others are just in the background, but I'm obliged to say something merely to be sociable. I think Jeff Daniel Phillips is supposed to be channelling Rob Zombie, and Bruce Davison (aka Willard) has an even more pointless role than Scatman Crothers in "The Shining".

When old Willard uses Google (relabelled "Lookup") on his Apple product placement laptop to search Heidi's real name, the Bumhole (I mean Blumhouse) Productions influence is painfully obvious. Seriously, he'd just been reading the diary by the leader of the Lords of Salem and got his wife to play a bar of music out of it, so how is finding out that Heidi's real surname is Hawthorne (or "Hawthroen" according to the misspelled website) some great surprise? The Family Tree search is a most unnecessary discovery contrivance since there can't be that many people named Hawthorne who are born in Salem. It's not like her surname is Smith!!!

Sorry, you're not coming in if you don't have any little cakes!

I'm sure that there will be Rob Zombie fanboys raving about the three old satchel-asses, i.e. Macbeth witches, so I might as well say something about them too. Yes, Patricia Quinn, Dee Wallace and Judy Geeson are the best part of the movie, but they deserved to have a movie devoted entirely to themselves without all the other rubbish going on. "The Witches of Eastwick" has already been made, but if anyone wanted to remake it as a real horror movie, I now know three actresses who would be good in it. As someone who usually can't stand Dee Wallace's acting, I'm still willing to give a compliment when I feel that she has actually earned it.

Giving it more benefit than it actually deserves, "The Lords of Salem" is really only "Rosemary's Baby" mixed with "Black Sunday", "The Shining", Lars Von Trier's "The Kingdom", "The Devils", "Crowhaven Farm", "The Ninth Gate", "Trick or Treat", "The Ring", "Pontypool", "The House of the Devil", and "Suckspiria". I could quite easily tick off another 20 or so movies (and short stories such as M.R. James' "Number 13") which it borrows from, but if I can do it, so can you.

There are so many places where parts of the story are set up just to fizzle out and be forgotten about that it's all a confusing mess which seems designed to be weird for the sake of being weird. Even Dario Argento's "Mother of Tears" is better than this shit and doesn't have anyone giving birth to a lobster in it. Oh, did I just ruin the ending? Too bad. Most people will either walk out or fall asleep before they get that far anyway. "The Lords of Salem" doesn't even have any spring-loaded cat scares in it!

Ultimately, the sad thing is that no matter how many bad reviews "The Lords of Salem" gets, the braindead "yukyukyuk" crowd will still pay to see it just to find out how bad it really is for themselves. Ker-ching! Once you're famous, it's a licence to make money from morons even if your product sucks possessed priests.

This, my friends, is why we can't have nice things.

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