Don't you just hate spoilers? I do, too. That's why I always try to include warnings. However, I sometimes ramble a bit too much here or there and maybe a few (or many) key plot points slip without me giving proper notice. So I'd like to include a blanket spoiler warning for the weary internet travelers of the world: Here There Be Spoilers. You've been warned.

Saturday, September 14, 2013

The Lords of Salem

Rob Zombie is one of those guys whose movies I want to like a lot more than I do. I mean, it's obvious he's a huge fan of the genre and I dig his music so it makes sense that I should like his movies. That's not the way it is, though. 

House of the 1000 Corpses is okay. The first time I watched it I didn't think much of it and I hated the way it so blatantly played off of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre. However, I did like the characters of Otis (William Moseley) and Captain Spaulding (Sid Haig) and I think they did bring the movie up a little more than it otherwise could have been. I do like the movie a bit more now after having seen the sequel, but it is a little silly in comparison.

The Devil's Rejects is a really good movie. Really good. The peak of Zombie's career so far. Hopefully, not his last peak, either. 

Halloween is one that divided folks and I hate remakes as much as the next guy, but I really like his version. And Malcolm McDowell is always fun to watch. 

Halloween II on the other hand is a movie that sort of lost me. I watched it once and wasn't sure what I saw. I could see his intention in wanting to make something different and I approve of his willingness to go outside of the box, but his execution just wasn't up to snuff. And it seems silly trying to be so original with a sequel to a remake.

But I honestly believe that it really doesn't matter what the subject matter is in any movie because it's execution or the lack thereof that makes a movie watchable or unwatchable. Rob Zombie didn't know how to execute his vision correctly and consequently it's a movie that has earned a far from envious reputation.

But I didn't really write him off. He's just starting out after all and everyone is entitled to a few duds.

The Lords of Salem feels like a movie that could have been better, but as it is it is one that is better than I thought it should have been. 

My dad got it for me on Blu-ray as a surprise because he knows I like weird things and that Rob Zombie was a director I did want to keep an eye on. My expectations going into this movie was that I wasn't really going to enjoy it. But, being the kind a courteous son I am, I was going to watch it and give an honest opinion of it.

Sheri Moon Zombie. Yeah, she looks good and I'm sure Rob is very proud of her looks (I would be), but actually having an experienced actress in the lead role of this movie would have greatly helped move the slow pace along. To be fair, Sheri didn't exactly do anything wrong in role. I think she did all that was required of her... which wasn't much. Or at least what the almost non-existence screenplay required her to do. 

The reason I bring this up is because the beginning is when we need to bond the most with the main character and that ability just isn't there for Sheri yet. She can't carry a movie yet and most experienced actors and actresses can't, either. But a few can and giving them a phone call couldn't have hurt. 

We do get something nice to look at for most of the movie in the form of Sheri to help erase the images of nude Meg Foster, though. And it kind of works. 

So... it's pick your poison, really. 

The second half required a bit more acting chops because I don't think Sheri said anything during the second half of the movie other than a few sentences, but she did manage to effectively portray her character's inner turmoil. So her performance did get a bit better as the movie began taking a more kookier turn. 

The screenplay was written by Rob Zombie, but I think he should stop writing his own screenplays for a little bit and try tackling a project written by someone else. I don't think Rob Zombie's writing skills were up to snuff for this type of movie (much like his previous movie Halloween II). While I think the swearing and gore he's become known for was significantly toned down for this movie, I still don't think that he knows how to make a slow-paced psychological movie quite yet. 

The first half feels sluggish and the attempts to try to build suspense just aren't quite there. Sure, it's kind of creepy and interesting and I wanted to know what was going to happen, but I didn't really feel compelled to keep watching. That is the difference between a great slow-burn movie like The Shining and a middle of the road movie like The Lords of Salem

Zombie's secondary characters and even his batch of villains are relatively uninteresting, too. At least to me. It's not that none of the actors or actresses had screen presence (a few did); it's just that none of them had characters. 

What does make things interesting as the movie progresses is the spaced out imagery that gradually overrules any further character development or complication. 

In fact, the trippy second half where a bunch of bizarre acid trip scenes are strung together makes the movie worth watching. I have no idea what half of it was supposed to mean, but it was interesting. Kubrick Zombie is not, but I could certainly see him channeling a little bit of Kubrick. 

And the use of The Velvet Underground in this movie helped, too. 

Will I return to Zombie for another? Yeah, sure. He surprised me a bit with this one. It's far from great and he really needs to work on his pacing and his choice of actors and screenplays in order to make better movies, but I'm sure he's got a something really good left in the tank that he hasn't fully realized yet. This just isn't it.  

The world won't end if you don't watch this movie, but it's not as bad as you might think. 

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