Rob Zombie’s love of 70s grindhouse has been apparent throughout his often crass, brutal filmmaking career. With The Lords of Salem, however, the headbanger-cum-helmer seems keen to develop, drawing instead from more respectable wells. Polanski, Kubrick and Ken Russell loom large in this twisted and artful offering.
Zombie’s wife and go-to leading-lady Sheri Moon plays Heidi, a rock DJ in famed witchcraft hotspot Salem. When a mysterious LP signed simply by ‘The Lords’ arrives at her radio station, Heidi plays the track and is immediately entranced; weird visions and increasing mental disquiet soon follow.
Conjuring a creepy, doom-leaden atmosphere, the writer-director has a field day with his reference points. The Shining, The Devils and Rosemary’s Baby are prevalent, but there's The Exorcist and a touch of Cronenberg’s The Fly thrown in for good measure. Mrs Zombie cuts a sympathetic demonic patsy, while striking imagery and a wicked score from John 5 and Griffin Boyce haunt. Featuring some playfully deranged fantasy and flashback sequences to compliment what is overall sober, superior horror, this budding auteur of the macabre is hitting his groove.