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The Lords of Salem - Blu-ray Review

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The Lords of Salem - blu-ray review

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4 stars

The old school blade of horror and suspense gets sharpened in heavy metal rocker-turned-filmmaker Rob Zombie’s The Lords of Salem.  While it was much maligned by critics upon its initial release, the film – drawing inspiration from Rosemary’s Baby, Suspiria and the style of Stanley Kubrick – is a bold vision of terror and confusion that proves to be Zombie’s most thoughtful and misunderstood work to date.

Zombie, wanting to focus on the experience of horror instead of the steely violence of it all, slows things down to an Italian-like motion picture crawl as a shock-jock DJ and former drug addict named Heidi (Sheri Moon Zombie) falls under the spell of a mysterious record sent to her from an obscure group who refer to themselves as The Lords.  With a connection that spans clear back to the Salem witch trials and Judge Hawthorn himself, the film manages to remain disturbing and engaging to the final frame.

Thankfully, the film isn’t padded with manic energy.  Zombie doesn’t go for the gut-busting caricatures that usually haunt his films either.  He rolls out the Jodorowsky rug of mysticism and manages to provoke the audience with a slow burn of disturbing images as Heidi plunges down the bizarre and twisted rabbit hole of nerve-shredding chaos as her world is permanently altered by the arrival of the LP.  Plus, the haunting performances from Meg Foster, Ken Foree and Dee Wallace are spot on.

This is a straightforward narrative that manages to weave together an unsettling chain of events involving Heidi (and can we agree that this is Mrs. Zombie’s absolute best performance?), local occult historian Francis Matthias (Bruce Davison), and a bevy of frightening devils and witches.  Zombie favors the long – sometimes excruciatingly long – take and the real-world effect of actual time passing as the camera stares down a corridor illuminated in a dark red light, allowing the viewer to fill the void with all sorts of abnormal monsters.

As a result of its slow pace and terrifying images, The Lords of Salem certainly isn’t for everyone but – and this is without a doubt -  Zombie’s film is the  most effective piece of mood and tone to come along in the horror genre since The Shining.  Nothing comes close to this film in terms of actually playing with the concept of scary.  The slow tracking shots remind us that the film isn’t about the evil; it’s about the experience of evil and, in that, Zombie delivers one hell of an unforgettable experience.

The Lords of Salem bleeds Dario Argento and Lamberto Bava and Lucio Fulci.  And if you don’t understand those references, then this film is most certainly not for you.  Stick with the seemingly unending Paranormal Activity for your ghostly scares.  You are safer.  Salem's Satan-worshipping witches won’t harm you there.  But for everyone else out there wishing for a very Italian experience in modern horror filmmaking, well, your wait is indeed over.

American horror is a straightforward race to the end with little consideration for mood or tone.  Zombie brings us back to the era of Christopher Lee and The Wicker Man.  After the second Halloween film and this one, it is more than obvious that Zombie subscribes to Freudian dream theory and the Jungian unconscious.  With The Lords of Salem he takes audiences straight into the very dark heart of dreams and nightmares.

Do YOU dare?

{2jtab: Film Details}

The Lords of Salem - blu-ray reviewMPAA Rating: R for disturbing violent and sexual content, graphic nudity, language and some drug use.
Runtime: 101 mins.
Director
: Rob Zombie
Writer
: Rob Zombie
Cast: Sheri Moon Zombie, Meg Foster, Bruce Davison
Genre: Horror
Tagline:
Heretic. Witch. Devil.
Memorable Movie Quote: "You stand guilty of the crimes of witchcraft, and accepting the devil!"
Distributor:
Anchor Bay Films
Official Site:
www.lordsofsalem.com
Release Date: April 19, 2013
DVD/Blu-ray Release Date:
September 3, 2013

Synopsis: 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?

{2jtab: Blu-ray Review}

The Lords of Salem - blu-ray review

Component Grades
Movie

Blu-ray Disc
4 stars

3 stars



Blu-ray Experience
3.5 stars

Blu-ray

Blu-ray Details:

Available on Blu-ray - September 3, 2013
Screen Formats: 2.40:1
Subtitles
: English SDH, Spanish
Audio:
English: Dolby TrueHD 5.1
Discs: 25GB Blu-ray Disc; Two-disc set (1 BD, 1 DVD); UV digital copy; Digital copy; DVD copy

The Blu-ray is a solid technical release featuring a DVD and Ultra-Violet copy. The 1080p transfer holds up with crisp black levels and muted colors.  The visual experience is top notch with nice skin tones and great texture.  Everything from skin details and hair to clothes and the wallpapered hallways in the apartment building appear natural and wonderfully defined in details.  The audio quality – presented here in Dolby TrueHD 5.1 lossless soundtrack - is more than fine, but make sure to pump up the volume to actually feel the audio in the seat of your pants.

Supplements:

Commentary:

  • There’s an honest and sometimes funny commentary by Zombie that is a good example of just how knowledgeable he is about the horror genre.  It’s a good listen for fans of Zombie.

Special Features:

Unfortunately, there are none.

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