Feature 05 – The Lords of Salem (2012)

or “Jim Henson’s Rob Zombie’s Rosemary’s Baby’s Babies”

Featuring: Sheri “The Devil’s Rejects” Moon-Zombie , Bruce “Willard” Davison , Meg “Masters of the Universe” Foster

Written & Directed By: Rob “House of 1,000 Corpses” Zombie

Origin: USA



Well, it’s Halloween. Tomorrow it’ll be time to take down the 5 life-sized cutouts of the Cannibal Holocaust girl (you know the one) sitting on our balcony, send the night’s fun size lumps of artificially colored sugary treats off into the toilet sea, then it’s off to the local merchants to acquire 90% off leftover Halloween decorations! But today, it’s time for tricks and treats and torments and transvestites (Rocky Horror!). You know who probably used to put on awesome Halloween displays? Rob Zombie. Well, before he became a candidate for Grumpy Old Men 3 – The Artificial Hip of Braxis.

Yep, if news stories are any indication, Rob Zombie’s become a curmudgeonly old fart. Apparently he and Shari filed complaints with their local representatives about a skate park that was constructed near their home in Connecticut due to excessive noise… yes, the man responsible for Super Charger Heaven, Superbeast, and many many other songs without “Super” in the title that would make the average housewife’s eardrums rupture and bleed melted brain soup all over their copies of Twilight, was complaining about too much noise… It sounds like something you’d read on a fake newspaper headline in a Mel Brooks movie! As a result, various noise dampening modifications were made to the place, and its hours were cut, including closing the place entirely on Sundays. Originally, Mister and Missus Zombie wanted the place removed entirely and shipped off to some other part of town far away from them where it could be some other neighborhood’s problem. Jeezus. I almost punched down my shithead downstairs neighbor’s front door and made veiled threats of dismemberment if he didn’t stop playing his bass thumping retard baby club music all hours of the day and night, but I’ve also never been one of said assholes who rattles every window in the apartment building by cranking The Transplants to fucking eleven! A noise complaint from Rob Zombie is tantamount to the NRA calling for more federal gun control laws, or the KKK initiating affirmative action for their membership drives! Did I hit my head on a box of Superman back issues and wake up in fucking Bizarro World?!

(Any excuse to post some Eric Powell art)

Well, even if the Hellraiser of Horror Rock one day fully transmogrifies into a shotgun wielding Clint Eastwood telling kids to get off his lawn, if he continues making movies like today’s subject material, he’ll always have my support. The man’s movie maker resume is a polarizing one. House of 1000 Corpses was a rocky start, but an expected first effort from a horror film devotee and alternative metal legend known for his epic stage shows. The Devil’s Rejects was a face smashing white trash odyssey that made anti-heroes out of sociopath serial killers, turning away anyone with a stomach too weak to handle the onslaught of viscera and moral filth. His Halloween reboot infuriated a legion of horror geeks who’d spent most of their lives following the exploits of their Michael Myers, and would rather watch another washed up rapper make fun of the Shape’s William Shatner mask than accept a pretender to the mute murder-meister’s throne. When Halloween II came along… well… half the people thought Zombie was going full-on existential and playing puppet master with the audience’s gray matter, while the other half pegged the sequel as a contractual obligation that Zombie couldn’t care less about and just dicked around with as a way of sticking it to the production company, thus guaranteeing a box office failure that could never, in ANY way, warrant another installment. And The Haunted World of El Superbeasto? As one of the dozen or so people who saw it, if you ever wanted to see Rob Zombie characters in a John Kricfalusi (the Ren & Stimpy guy) cartoon, then you got your wish. Anyway, heeeeeeere’s The Lords of Salem!

Heidi (Shirley Temple) is a singing, dancing, angelic little moppet of an orphan who brings happiness and good will to the inhabitants of a small mountain village while dreaming of the day she’ll be reunited with her great grandpa Adolph. She also has nothing to do with this movie. OUR Heidi (Mrs. Zombie) is a thirty-something former meth junkie-turned-late night radio deejay who keeps the up-all-night listeners of Salem, Massachusetts (who don’t have musically inclined smart phones or internet radio apps, anyway) tappin’ their toes and ticklin’ their funny bones to the tunes and antics of she and her radio prattle cohorts. Not a lot in common between the two beyond the name, but it’s hard to review a movie whose protagonista shares that name and not make some kind of Shirley Temple reference. In lieu of an actual joke though (cuz I’m drawing a big fat blank on this one), I was just gonna ‘Shop a pic of Baby Doll Firefly’s head on Shirley Temple’s body. But, I’m lazy, so since it’s Halloween, just check out this pic of another Heidi (Klum) and her fuckin’ bad-ass 2011 Halloween costume!

(Heidi Klum auditions for the lead in a remake of Pin)

Back to our Heidi, her partners in the zoo of Salem radio are the eternally funky blaxploitation movie refugee Herman Jackson (Ken Foree!) and the “looks way too much like Rob Zombie for it to be coincidental” Herman “Whitey” Salvadore (Jeff Daniels… err, Jeff Daniel Phillips). The latter Herman is that unfortunate nice guy that too many of us can identify with. Not due to his massive beard (well, that I can identify with), but because he’s the perpetual nice guy who’s spends every day with the woman he loves like a goddess, but… prepare yourself guys… here comes the real horror… are you ready?… are you REALLY ready?… okay, you asked for it… she loves him “like another”!… I’m sorry, I meant “like a brother”. Toldja it was scary. Like every scare moment from the [REC] series, combined with the hopeless depression of every suicide scene from Kairo. Speaking of, Pulse (the US version of Kairo) has gotta be one of, if not THE most miss-the-point Americanization of another country’s movie since Adam Sandler’s Eight Crazy Nights failed to catch the artistic integrity of its own source material – Salo, or the 120 Days of Sodom. Notice that the former didn’t get a spot in The Criterion Collection.

Heidi’s personal life doesn’t extend much beyond taking her dog for a walk, attending her support group for ex-addicts, and hanging out in her oddly decorated apartment, the highlight of which has to be the giant iconic image from A Trip to the Moon over her bed or the Commando Cody chorus line graphic in her bathroom. I imagine this to be a pretty faithful recreation of what Rob Zombie’s first one-bedroom looked like, minus the psychedelic painting of Horatio J. Hoodoo I imagine mounted over his toilet. When Heidi does leave her home, she notices odd things going on with the apartment at the end of the hall. A strange figure standing in the doorway prompts her to inquire about the new resident with her landlord Lacy (Judy Geeson), but she insists that there is no tenant in that apartment. In fact, she says she can’t rent the room for the life of her… So, is Heidi having one-sided conversations with weird post-junkie hallucinations? Or, is our heroin heroine (I know it’s heroin and not meth, just let me have my pun!) being targeted for a conspiracy? I’m not saying it’s Rosemary’s Baby… but it’s Rosemary’s Baby.

Back to work, Heid and the boys receive an unmarked submission to their show by a group calling themselves “The Lords”. It’s printed on vinyl and delivered in some piss poor wooden box that looks like it came from a junior high shop class, so they’re probably some indie rock hipster douche group. The record’s delivered with no return address and no press material, just a note addressed directly to Heids under her birth name, so who they are and what they’re about is anybody’s guess. They’re so indie, they don’t want ANYBODY to know about them! Anyway, while Beard-o’s hanging out with the object of his unrequited affections back at her place, he pops the Lords’ demo onto Heidi’s needle for a listen. Though the odd, droning melody doesn’t really impress Whitey, it gives Heid a sudden case of hallucinations as her consciousness takes a flashback ride to a witch coven’s dark acts in Salem 1696. On the verge of yodeling her dinner, she excuses herself for the night, leaving ol’ Blue Balls to go home and depression stroke himself to sleep using his own tears and self-resentment as lube. You wouldn’t think self-resentment would make for good meat pole emollient, but you’d be wrong.

The next night, following an interview with local author-historian Francis Matthias (Bruce Davison) about his new book (regarding, you guessed it, Salem’s witchy-poo past), the H Crew play the Lords’ track on the air. Heidi gets another migraine, but the rest of the female demographic tuning in fall into an odd trance while listening… maybe Sarah McLaughlin in the Lords’ front-woman? Presumably local themselves, Funky Herman dubs them “the Lords of Salem”, which catches Matthias’s ear since that was the same name given the coven of witches from Heidi’s prior night’s trip out. The name was coined by then Reverend Jonathan Hawthorne, who condemned the unwashed proto-feminists (led by Meg “Evil-Lyn” Foster!) for keeping him up at night with their drum circles and goat orgies, and had them all arrested and burned to death at the stake. Something I’m sure Old Man Zombie would’ve liked to have done to those skate park kids. Rev. Hawthorne wasn’t exactly the best when it comes to naming evil covens though. Why the Lords of Salem? Aren’t “lords” generally noblemen, with emphasis on the “men”? Why not the Witches of Salem, or the Coven of Salem, or, being a man of the cloth and one for over-exaggerated religious hyperbole, how about the Whores of Salem? No comprende.

Returning home, Heidi-hole gets socially blind-sided by Lacy, who wants to introduce her visiting sisters Megan (Patricia Quinn!) and Sonny (Dee Wallace!). Sonny’s a self-help guru, while Meg’s a palm reader… Okay, being a palm reader, Meg’s obviously a witch. As a self-help guru, which means self-empowering people, and a big component of witchcraft is self-empowerment, Sonny’s a less obvious witch. And Lacy? Well, she’s a landlord… of Salem… a landLORD of Salem… Get it? Yeah, Rosemary’s Baby. Back to the awkward socializing, Meg reads Heidi’s palm and foretells that her dark and dirty lustful loins will direct her fate and are the entire purpose of her life… because ROSEMARY’S BABY! What makes Heidi in particular the perfect spawning pool for the seed of Satan? Can she shed her fated horizontal mambo with the Great Deceiver? Will Ken Foree reveal himself to be a disguise Archangel and strike down the enemies of Jesus with his holy knuckle dusters?! Probably not. But back to the topic of sinister conception, if Lucifer started off as an angel (who have no genitals) then how the fuck is he supposed to impregnate Heidi-go-seek anyway!? Did god grant him a wedding tackle as a parting gift on his banishment to the Great Beyond? Did he fashion one for himself out of the mutilated genitals of rapists and child molesters?! While we’re on the subject of penises, why do witches, who act out against the oppression of the Xyers and denounce the patriarch deity they worship, swear their service and faith to ANOTHER male figure?! Rebel he may be, Satan’s still addressed as a dude. It’d make a LOT more sense to devote your shit to Lilith, Adam’s first wife who was punished for DISOBEYING GOD!

You ever have one of those days where you feel like you’re the only one who makes any sense, and everybody else is incapable of grasping the obvious? Are there pills for this kind of thing?

The slow, satisfying burn (witch trial humor!) of the movie’s first hour or so gives way, bit by bit, to Zombie’s more manic, music video core, climaxing in the last 10 minutes in a visual array that leaves you just a little too addled by the end credits, feeling more confused than fully satisfied. It’s as if, while having dinner with Zombie, he slipped some lsd into your wine as they were serving the main course, and by the time you realized there was something wrong and you were about 10min away from losing your mind, you snapped out of it, dessert was over, and Zombie had excused himself for the night, leaving you with the bill and about 2hrs of alone time wondering what the fuck is going on… Rob Zombie broke my heart is what I’m saying.

There are some out there who want to believe that Lords is Zombie’s secret prologue to his Halloween remake, with Satan’s evil coven spawn growing up to become Michael Myers. Hearing this made my curiosity shoot straight up my spine and explode out of the top of my skull Brain Damage style. After watching it myself, whoever thought this idea up in the first place is a fucking MORON. If Lords took place in the ’70s (which I actually thought it could have by the trailer I first saw), then I’d be all over the theory. Hell, before seeing it, I immediately started making my own parallels to how Lords could totally have been Zombie’s own personal spiritual homage to Halloween III: Season of the Witch! I even managed to blow the mind of fellow horrorphile Ragnarok of Cinematic Apocalypse with my Oliver Stone-ian levels of conspiracy imaginings.

Unfortunately, Lords takes place in the modern day, so unless Satan teleported Heidi and the Hell Baby (coming to children’s bookstores this Halloween!) back through time and space almost 40 years, and Micheal’s older sister was adopted, then again, whoever thought up this imagined connection between the movies needs their ears boxed with a pair of those small military survival kit shovels. It’s really too bad Zombie didn’t have the same idea though. The whole thematic Halloween III idea would’ve been brilliant. Oh well.

As it stands, The Lords of Salem is a really good flick. When given his freedom, Rob Zombie can do great things. I may not have enjoyed much/any of his music since “The Sinister Urge”, but his movies are always interesting, and mostly in the best ways. His take on the Rosemary formula is great, and wastes no time trying to deceive the viewer as to what’s going to happen. He assumes you’ve seen the movie and know where everything’s going, so he takes the scenic route in getting there. It’s pretty great. Go into it expecting more style and suspense than energy and slaughter than Zombie’s other fare, and you shouldn’t be disappointed. Plus, you get to see Dee Wallace, the consummate “nice mom” of everything from E.T. – the Extra-Terrestrial to The Skateboard Kid 2, being evil! Granted, it’s a more unsuspecting, below-the-surface evil, so she doesn’t bite the heads off of any babies, but she’s still a Satan lusting harlot!

Oh, and speaking of Satan lusting, if you think the Devil is this studly, debonaire object of crimson-skinned desire, this movie may make you reconsider your Sunday school fanfic. If he had a facebook page, he’d be the type that uses male models for his profile pic and keeps telling you he can’t take any new ones because the camera on his phone’s “broken”. He is the Prince of Thieves Lies after all!

Moral of the Story: Whether they contain explosives, anthrax, or evil migraine inducing records that get you baby raped by Satan, mysterious packages are never to be opened. Straight to the incinerator! And throw in Stephanie while you’re at it!… to anyone who didn’t get that joke, you’re forgiven.


You’re not global. Who know who’s global? Globey. Globey’s global.
Ah, the original Lilith Fair. Before it got all corporate… and clothed.

Damn Rob Zombie. Always reminding us how hot his wife is…

… and that she poops.

Back then, the only way to test for birth defects was to lick the newborns. Thank you modern medical science!

Believe me that Zombie originally wrote this part for himself, now? Shit, I bet Sherri accidentally fucked this guy at least twice during filming.

“I’m heading out, Corpsey. Don’t forget to turn off the lights when you’re done pretending to be a kitchen cabinet.”

“You’re lucky, she’s lucky, I’m lucky, WE’RE ALL LUCKY!”

Hope you like that wallpaper, because you’re gonna see this hallway from about 30 different angles by the time this movie’s over!

For anyone who wondered if Bigfoot was religious, we now know he’s a Neon Pentecostal… *rimshot*

New black licorice Gushers are just as bursting with flavor as regular Gushers!… except it’s the flavor of burnt ass hair… like regular black licorice.

Osiris damn it, white people! BLACK FACE IS NOT OKAY! Stop it.

Hey! It’s the guy from the Quiet Riot album covers! Nice to see him finding work.

I wouldn’t trust these guys to take my temperature, let alone perform surgery on me.

So, Satan lives at the Grand Prospect Hall? I don’t see him trying to make all my dreams come true…

Fuck! I imagine it’s gotta take a lot of getting used to not to wake up to that thing in the morning and just shit the bed outright.

Anubis will return next time in
Save the Patients! Burn Down the Asylum!

Enjoy the review? Hate the review? Have a movie you’d like to see judged in The Tomb? Fill out the feedback form! Never has it been easier to make contact with a deitic being!

All materials found within this review are the intellectual properties and opinions of the original writer. The Tomb of Anubis claims no responsibility for the views expressed in this review, but we do lay a copyright claim on it beeyotch, so don’t steal from this shit or we’ll have to go all Farmer Vincent on your silly asses. © October 1st 2013 and beyond, not to be reproduced in any way without the express written consent of the reviewer and The Tomb of Anubis, or pain of a physical and legal nature will follow. Touch not lest ye be touched.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.