Director: Rob Zombie
Cast: Sheri Moon Zombie, Meg Foster, Bruce Davison
They say hate is a strong word. This is true for those occasions when talking about someone you passionately dislike; something you refuse to eat, or any number of other innocuous irritants. However, the word hate isn’t even close to being strong enough when concerning Rob Zombie’s latest cinematic raspberry, The Lords of Salem.
For those of you who have never seen a Rob Zombie movie, consider yourself blessed. His back-catalogue includes such reprehensible turds as The House of 1,000 Corpses and the recent double-fuck of Halloween remakes. This is a man, who after seeing Uwe Boll’s DTV drinks coasters, decided he would do all he could to let his apologists know that he has the power to direct anything he so desires because at the end of it all, he’s the one who’ll be bathing with thousands of tiny presidents.
This latest ‘fuck you’ to cineastes stars his wife Sheri Moon Zombie as Heidi, a Radio DJ who unleashes a curse on the town’s women (only not really, because that soon gets forgotten) via a vinyl record sent down through generations from a coven of Satan-worshipping witches who were burnt alive for their beliefs. The film is set over the course of one week; taking us from the tedious opening to the final hours of the newly formed coven’s plan; with psychedelic dream-sequences, child-sized walking abortions with tentacles and masturbating priests scattered with wanton recklessness throughout.
The film is so haphazardly paced that it never even tries to pinpoint a specific genre; is it an all-out psychological horror? Is it a slapstick, Evil Dead-esque comedy? Does it even have anything to say beyond its quantifiable nastiness? Snorts of derision from the 100-strong audience would suggest it’s none of these; but rather a complete mis-fire on all counts.
The script is terminally insipid, with genuine internet meme-speak used without irony. It’s as though one of Zombie’s teenage fan-boys were employed to ‘freshen up’ the content, when in fact – and to no real surprise – this ear-achingly rubbish screenplay was written by Zombie himself.
The biggest, incurable problem this film has is in the casting. Sheri Moon Zombie struggles to act through the simplest of emotions, looking confused when she should be tormented, scared when she should be smiling, drugged when she should be lucid. There’s not a single moment in its overlong runtime where she conveys any sense of comprehension that she’s meant to be acting. In some instances of film, you could blame the composite parts for an actor’s inadequate skill, but the fact of the matter is that Sheri Moon would strain to play a background extra convincingly. In addition to her, the trio of contemporary witches act as though they’re straight off the set of 1993’s Bette Midler starrer, Hocus Pocus. Complete with ridiculously exaggerated English accents, the three of them channel every archetypal English stereotype, including drinking excessive amounts of tea and running down corridors with scones. The film is packed with intolerable characters like this, none of whom have anything stimulating to add.
The Lords of Salem is most certainly the worst film I saw in 2013. It’s an extreme exercise in patience that is best left to die, lest Zombie unleashes more motion picture catastrophes.