Saturday, April 20, 2013

Lords of Salem: a bad trip


Lords of Salem?  More like the lords of lame, man.

Yeah, I saw this last night with my wife.  It was to be our monthly "date night".  Even though she didn't hate it (she still claims that Wallstreet 2: Money Never Sleeps wasn't that bad)

Rob Zombie's new film kind of snuck up on me.  I knew of it beforehand from perusing Fangoria or Rue Morgue months ago, but there was no advertising.  I wasn't expecting the media blitz that Evil Dead got, but there seemed to be nothing behind LoS.  Just a review in The Onion (which rarely lets me down) Beyond that, I tried to see if there was a more convenient location... only to realize that LoS was playing in one theater only in the city of Madison, WI.  And now I know why there was no advertising and but a single cinema took enough pity on the film to screen it:  Lords of Salem mostly sucked.

Just as House of 1,000 Corpses and the Devil's Rejects were influenced by Texas Chainsaw Massacre, LoS is heavily influenced by Rosemary's Baby.  And while Rob Zombie can approximate the down and dirty grindhouse terror of Tobe Hoober, the audience unfortunately learns that he can't hold a candle to Roman Polanski.  Most of the raw elements are there, but the crafsmanship of meshing everything together seamlessly is lost on the undead director.

Edited down, it would have made a fantastic 5 minute video for one of Rob Zombie's songs.  As an hour and 40 minute movie?  It's way too long, too meandering, too pointless, and too alienating.  The plot is there, but there's not much emotional force behind it.  Most movies know the rules, and only try breaking them when they have superior material or an ingenius plan.  This movie wasn't so lucky.  LoS just kind of shows us the broad outline of what's happening with vague impressions of why without making anyone care what happens to Rob Zombie's wife... I mean Heidi LaROK, no I mean Adelaide Elizabeth Hawthorne, or is it Heidi Hawthorne?  Whatever she's called, her striking beauty is one of the few redeeming features of Zombie's Halloween remake and LoS, too - only she's made to look like a dread-locked, 70's fashion trash, junkie, crackhead!  So, her hotness is all but obscured!  Epic fail, Sheri Moon Zombie's husband!

Top that off with all the 60 - 80 year old naked women.  Yes, you read that correctly.  There was more aged, out of shape, unattractive flesh on display than a nursing home on wash day.  Yikes!  And the camera doesn't just glance at that saggy and/or wrinkled eyesore - it wallows in it!

What else?  Remember how cool House of 1,000 Corpses was, except for just a couple glaring issues - principally, in my mind, the overuse of the name Doctor Satan?  Well, expect to hear Satan invoked just as many times in LoS.  Why do that?  Doesn't Rob know that every time he is named, it lessens his power, it lessens the overall effect, and just makes it seem hokey and dumb?  Three times should be the max for a full-length film.  More than that and you've turned it into a drinking game.

I'm going to just end this review short.  There are other things that alienated me and the rest of the 10 people audience on opening night - like the oppressive and repetitive music/sounds throughout the film, the spitting (more than once!) on a newborn baby, the lack of understanding about Satanism, witchcraft, and effective filmmaking, and all the other shit I mentioned above.  Done in the right way, I can enjoy the kind of transcendent alienation of David Lynch.  But imagine a Lynch movie attempted by an amateur?  That's the kind of disjointed mess we have in LoS.

If this had been a 5 minute video - or even a half hour short film before his next cinematic masterpiece, I might have been dancing in the aisle.  Alas, this full-length bad trip might ensure that every Rob Zombie movie after LoS goes straight to video.  For me personally, I'll need to read a couple reviews before giving my precious time and money to see another of his films.

VS