The Lords of Salem on DVD

Sunday, 21 April 2013 12:12

The Lords of Salem on DVD“The Lords of Salem” is the latest horror movie from Rob Zombie (“The Devil’s Rejects” and the “Halloween” remakes). Zombie’s wife, Sheri Moon stars as Heidi, a heavy metal radio DJ whose life is upended when she is sent a ghastly but somehow addictive vinyl record by an unknown band called ‘The Lords’. The track puts a spell on Heidi, causing her to have horrible visions and go into a trance-like state.

Her town, Salem, has a dark past surrounding a witches’ coven that was hunted down and burnt alive in the 1600s. Before they died, the witches were said to have put a hellish curse on the town. Local museum curator Francis Matthias (Bruce Davison – “X-Men”, Last Resort) becomes concerned that history is about to catch up with Salem’s inhabitants, and is convinced that the record is the key to unlocking the mystery before it is too late.

When I saw the trailer for this movie, I was startled and intrigued by the unusual and disturbing imagery, and wanted to know more. The trailer tantalised but did not give the game away, unlike most other movie’s promos these days. Having now seen the entire feature, I can safely say that the trailer is very representative of the film, only it is a lot punchier and less self-obsessed.

The movie’s plot is threadbare, and what little narrative there is unfolds in a meandering, slightly confusing flashback-present day-vision structure that initially entices and then frustrates. The movie is somehow predictable and bewildering, with the audience never quite sure what is happening in the here and now, and what is an hallucination or flashback.

As with the trailer, I did find the visuals quite incredible in places, with some wonderfully gothic sets and striking costumes, and the atmosphere is sometimes so thick with darkness either metaphorical or real that it feels like your pores are blocking up. Sadly, Zombie spends far too much time in awe of his own imagery that he often forgets to move the plot on or feature much in the way of characterisation. At times the film feels more like a 90-minute rock video than a piece of fiction.

Fans of the horror and sci-fi genres will probably be drawn in by the cult cast that includes Ken Foree (“Dawn of the Dead”) as a fellow DJ, Meg Foster (“They Live”) as the head witch, Dee Wallace (“The Hills Have Eyes”, “The Howling”) as one of Heidi’s landlady’s sisters, Patricia Quinn (“The Rocky Horror Picture Show”) as another of her sisters and Maria Conchita Alonso (“The Running Man”, “Predator 2”) as Matthias’ wife.

The acting’s generally not bad with the exception of Sheri Moon who reminded me of Bo Derek from “10”, in that she is pretty but a bit flimsy. Fortunately the other actors help to support the film, especially the more experienced women.

To sum up, the film is a bit of a mess, albeit with some redeeming qualities in terms of its atmosphere and visuals. The DVD copy reviewed did not really do the production design justice, with slightly fuzzing, indistinct picture quality. Quite why a Blu-ray release is not also on the cards is baffling. Lastly, the only bonus content you get is a trailer.

“The Lords of Salem” (2012) is out now on DVD and download, courtesy of entertainment one. The main feature has a running time of 97 minutes approx, carries an ‘18’ certificate and retails for £12.99 on DVD, £8.84 via download, or less from www.culttvstore.com

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