(US/UK - 2013)
Written and directed by Rob Zombie. Cast: Sheri Moon Zombie, Bruce Davison, Jeffrey Daniel Phillips, Ken Foree, Judy Geeson, Dee Wallace, Meg Foster, Patricia Quinn, Maria Conchita Alonso, Andrew Prine, Richard Fancy, Sid Haig, Michael Berryman, Julian Acosta, Torsten Voges, Lisa Marie, Barbara Crampton. (R, 101 mins)
Rob Zombie's stylistically ambitious THE LORDS OF SALEM is a departure from his sick hilljack horrors of the last decade or so, which seemed to indicate the origins of a career-long tribute to 1986's THE TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE 2. Zombie managed to deliver a modern horror masterpiece with 2005's ferocious THE DEVIL'S REJECTS, a sequel to his awful 2003 debut HOUSE OF 1000 CORPSES, but he's been floundering since. His 2007 prequel/remake of John Carpenter's HALLOWEEN was passable but unnecessary (do you ever feel the urge to revisit it?), and its 2009 sequel HALLOWEEN II was probably Zombie's career nadir. It seemed as if Zombie said everything he had to say with THE DEVIL'S REJECTS, a disturbing, nightmarishly savage piece of white-trash horror that felt like Sam Peckinpah remaking THE TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE. THE DEVIL'S REJECTS established some much-needed bona fides for Zombie as a serious horror filmmaker rather than the object of fanboy adoration from the cult-horror scenesters. Unfortunately, Zombie hasn't built on the momentum of REJECTS, and an element of sameness has crept in: you'll get the same cast of B-movie horror and comic-con fixtures, a '70s aesthetic, several hundred F-bombs, and Sid Haig in a gravy-stained wifebeater. There's no denying Zombie is a huge fan of the genre and loves what he does, but with each new film he makes, it's become increasingly evident that he may very well just plan on coasting on REJECTS forever.
RACE WITH THE DEVIL, THE BROTHERHOOD OF SATAN, and MESSIAH OF EVIL. The framing, the long tracking shots, the production design, striking visuals, and the droning score are all straight from THE SHINING (listen to the music when Heidi goes into Apt. 5 for the first time; it's that same repetitive beat when Jack goes into room 237 and finds the woman in the bathtub), and there's even some EYES WIDE SHUT stuff going on in a couple of scenes. There's other bits that are blatantly cribbed from Roman Polanski (there's a big ROSEMARY'S BABY influence here), Dario Argento, Lucio Fulci, and even Michael Winner, as the finale recreates some imagery from 1977's THE SENTINEL.