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The Lords of Salem(2013)
A local DJ plays a cursed record and unwittingly unleashes a coven of 300-year old witches who were secretly imprisoned and tortured during the Salem Witch Trials.
For more about The Lords of Salem and the The Lords of Salem Blu-ray release, see the The Lords of Salem Blu-ray Review published by Martin Liebman on September 5, 2013 where this Blu-ray release scored 3.5 out of 5.
Starring: Sheri Moon Zombie, Dee Wallace, Ken Foree, Maria Conchita Alonso, Meg Foster, Sid Haig
Director: Rob Zombie
» See full cast & crew
The Lords of Salem Blu-ray Review
Rob Zombie at his moody, bleak best.
Reviewed by Martin Liebman, September 5, 2013
The Horror genre has deteriorated in recent years, moving far, far away from the truly great and disturbing pictures of the 1970s and early 1980s and morphing into something nearly unidentifiable since, embracing both ends of the extreme -- the excess gore for gore's sake of the Hostel and Saw films and the "play it safe" PG-13 and teenagers-in-peril pictures -- while largely ignoring the value of the true under-the-skin, creep-out, relentless Terror picture. Director Rob Zombie wants that to change. His House of 1000 Corpses and The Devil's Rejects hearken back to a grittier time and place in genre history while his Halloween and Halloween II reshape a classic in his own darkened, disturbing image. His latest, The Lords of Salem, is closer in tone and style to Zombie's earlier pictures, and it's another winner. The bleak, dingy, gritty, grimy, and impressively crafted tale of old evil rediscovered in nondescript modern times may be his most fundamentally unsettling and structurally sound picture, a true throwback to the days of Horror as an unwelcoming and unnerving but undeniably alluring experience that foregoes the plotless gore and modern cliché and instead embraces what is oftentimes a creepy combination of sight and sound that will have audiences remembering what it really means to fall into a movie, experience the atmosphere, and feel the terror settle deeply inside.
Salem, Massachusetts' late-night radio waves are filled by the heavy strums and deep percussions of modern Rock and Metal music and the light banter of a trio of agreeable DJs, Whitey Salvador (Jeff Daniel Phillips), Herman Jackson (Ken Foree), and Heidi Hawthorne (Sheri Moon Zombie). One evening, a package arrives at the station, addressed to Heidi. Inside is a mysterious record from a mysterious music group known only as "The Lords." The music thereon proves unsettling and, through playback, begins to negatively influence Heidi and other women around town. Heidi frequently hallucinates and returns to an old drug addiction as she attempts to sort out the evil that may be behind a vacant apartment in her building, an evil that seems persistent in its wish to get her inside. Meanwhile, a local man (Bruce Davison) slowly uncovers the truth behind the music and its connection to the killing of witches in Salem centuries ago.
With The Lords of Salem, Rob Zombie has crafted an intimate, dark, dangerous, and absorbing picture about a slow descent into hell, combining historical precedent and religious lore with a highly reserved modern flavor that eschews almost anything that can get in the way of the budding and building terror. There are no computers, no fast-paced technologies, no people scrambling about. Zombie creates a slow-paced and darkened world, one in which there are no distractions to interfere with the pending terror. The height of technology comes in radio broadcasts and recorded music, and even the latter is seen in the form of cassettes and vinyl, not some form of digital media. Everything in the film reinforces the grittiness, and that slower pace and absence of technological or modern commotion allows the audience to absorb the atmosphere in a true throwback style that embraces the grit, grain, and wholly unwelcoming and unsettling sensations of the tightest, most terrifying Horror movies of several decades prior.
The picture's incredible mood and atmosphere are just as much a result of Zombie's eye for filmmaking and deep understanding of the genre in which he works as it is lighting and film stock. Zombie has made The Lords of Salem a Horror picture in an art house style with its bleak thematic undertones and also through his absorbing and atmosphere-shaping photography. He manages to make the picture visually low-key but at the same incredibly satisfying on a number of levels. It's Horror as art -- macabre, bizarre art to be sure -- and certainly a welcome departure from lesser, boring point-and-shoot "Horror" experiences that flood today's multiplexes and Blu-ray cases. Zombie builds a picture with and appreciation for and understanding of the art, not to service as wide an audience as possible. The film most certainly won't satisfy audiences who have become accustomed to feasting on cinematic Horror junk food, but it will please, at least on an artistic level, genre aficionados in search of something that breaks the modern mold and captures a throwback essence that visually, aurally, and psychologically grates at the nerves and dazzles in pure genre artistry.
There's rarely a moment in the film that doesn't in some way unsettle or upset, whether through its creepy story, bleak visuals, or use of negative religious symbolism to further its devilish plot. The film features superbly horrific, soul-scratching industrial sort of music that perfectly underscores the themes and defines the satanic plot. Zombie's film blurs the line between reality, fantasy, and terror; it's never quite clear which is which, whether at its seemingly most serene and "normal" and particularly when the film is at its most bizarre or unnerving. Zombie's picture is stocked with uncertain metaphor, regular confusion, and all sorts of negativity, all of which heighten the sense of peril, doubt, fear, and fundamentally disquieting spirit. All of the oddity swirling about the picture helps to define it rather than hinder it. The Lords of Salem escapes the clutches of straightforward horror in favor of a more wayward tone that accentuates, rather than undermines, all of the other positive characteristics that make it a winner of the oddest but most satisfying variety.
The Lords of Salem Blu-ray, Video Quality
In a word: gorgeous. The Lords of Salem delivers a stunning, faithful high definition presentation. No, it's not glittery and vibrant, but a Blu-ray need not a plethora of colors and standout brilliance to dazzle. This is the peak of dark, moody, gritty visuals recreated on Blu-ray. The picture is heavy on grain, but it's balanced and consistent, accentuating every surface and detail and adding to the picture's grimy, scary façade. Details are naturally sharp underneath, even in the relative darkness. Everything from skin details and hair to clothes and the wallpapered hallways in the apartment building appear naturally textured and wonderfully defined. Colors are largely limited to low background light and bursts of neon, with a few scenes showing a more regal, diverse palette, albeit briefly. The colors look fantastic within Zombie's visual parameters and translate beautifully to Blu-ray. Black levels are excellent, though a couple of early shots appear a touch too bright. Flesh tones, too, are well balanced under the restricting lighting conditions. This is a splendid presentation that shows what Blu-ray can do for a dark movie.
The Lords of Salem Blu-ray, Audio Quality
The Lords of Salem's Dolby TrueHD 5.1 lossless soundtrack plays wonderfully, whether considering its tight atmosphere and music or the deliberately scratchy and industrial sounds from hell. Bass does overwhelm to start, playing so deeply that it rattles and vibrates rather than offer a more evenly potent rumble, resulting in something of a sensory overload sensation at reference level. It cleans up nicely thereafter, though, never playing quite so low and destructive again. Musical delivery elsewhere is great, whether tunes played at the radio station and Heidi's apartment or the demonic, horrid sounds of The Lords' record. Light ambience nicely defines a few environments, and some heavier, scarier themes and elements are reproduced with excellent power and stage presence in the more demanding scenes. Dialogue plays evenly and clearly from the center, rounding a high quality track into near-perfect form.
The Lords of Salem Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
The Lords of Salem features only an audio commentary track with Writer/Producer/Director Rob Zombie. A DVD copy and a UV Digital Copy code are also included in the case.
The Lords of Salem Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
The Lords of Salem is a moody and visually and aurally enticing picture. It may not build up the finest story, but what it lacks in cohesion it gains in atmosphere and throwback style to a time when Horror films were truly horrific, unnerving, unsettling, and artfully made. This is arguably Zombie's most fascinating film to date, if not his best. The Lords of Salem's Blu-ray release, courtesy of Anchor Bay, features superb video and audio. Supplements are limited to a high quality commentary track with Rob Zombie. Highly recommended to connoisseurs of classically styled Horror films.
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The Lords of Salem Blu-ray, News and Updates
• This Week on Blu-ray: September 3-10 - September 3, 2013
For the week of September 3rd, Lionsgate and Summit Entertainment are releasing Now You See Me, Louis Leterrier's surprise hit about bank-robbing magicians. Other titles include Rob Zombie's The Lords of Salem adaptation, the final season of Starz's Spartacus, ...
• The Lords of Salem Blu-ray - June 26, 2013
Anchor Bay Home Entertainment will bring to Blu-ray Rob Zombie's The Lords of Salem (2012), starring Sheri Moon Zombie, Bruce Davison, Jeff Daniel Phillips, and meg Foster. The release will be available for purchase on line and in stores across the nation on September ...
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