A little bit about the Lords of Salem first. The story goes something like this. There's a lonely metal/hard rock DJ in the town of Salem who receives a rather strange record album, unmarked save for the name The Lords. On said record there exists an ambient rhythmic pulse of sound; the music equivalent of a chant that seems to set in motion a phantasmagorical series of events that drive our beloved DJ into a pit of Madness, self doubt and pure, old Evil (you capitalize evil when it's this old). She is about to discover who she is, from where the music originates and how she is connected to old time witchcraft circa the ever famous witch trials Salem is so famous for.
Before we get started here's my first review of The Lords of Salem upon viewing it theatrically:
The Lords of Salem (2013): The Euro-Horror Guidebook as Told by an American Filmmaker
Lords of Salem watches like a piece of superior Euro Horror. That's not to say that Zombie is working with incredible budgets with which to create better pictures. This movie embodies some classic Italian, German, English and Spanish horror. Everything from Mark of the Devil and Witchfinder General to Fulci's The Beyond or House by the Cemetery and Argento's Suspiria to nods from surreal Franco. That iron mask, the one you see in the trailer and on the poster, doesn't that feel like a nod to Bava's Mask of Satan aka Black Sunday? It's pain on your face. Lords of Salem captures a time in film where horror people were playing with scary; learning what it meant to terrify in color with color. It's in the lighting and the high camera angles or just the selection of shots taken from corners or overhead. American horror seems to be a straightforward racing narrative to the end without consideration for mood or tone. A few standout that truly work that dont feature lavish exorcism. Maybe the best example of honest evil in a horror picture from American is the Devil's Rain, and you could feel it's weight on this picture. Lords of Salem is paced correctly to induce a sense of mystery and to allowed a certain tension to rise up from underneath your seat. At times you'll feel like you may have stepped into Kubrick's The Shining with each day punctuated by a title card or an overbearing light source. Other times you recognize that even though I may recognize from where certain shots or concepts might have originated, this is a uniquely Zombie film. This isn't a rehash or strict homage to the devil movies of Europe during the 1970's. This is a story that can take old ghosts and demons a stream them through a modern eye to make them relevant to even the most skeptical of audiences.
I've been an adamant fan of the music featured in Lords of Salem whether it be The Spirit of Radio by Rush, Venus in Furs and All Tomorrow's Parties by the Velvet Underground or John 5's brilliant compositions created for the film that echo the lighter side of progressive rock featured in horror and Gialli of the 70's. Whether we're talking about the music of the "Lords of Salem" or the fake death metal band, Leviathan The Fleeing Serpent I'm drawn in, raptured and sincerely haunted by the music. From the moment I knew that the title of Rob Zombie's new film was going to be The Lords of Salem, I listened to his song title of the same name. I'm highly susceptible to sonic influence. Since we're now talking about watching this on the small screen I can say that you have to play it loud to get the same profound punch as my initial theatrical viewing. I guess that should go without say, but I can't stress enough the importance that modern horror is placing on the score and soundtrack. Zombie, no stranger to the importance of music, uses sound like a blood soaked paint brush filled with used syringes and no sharps container in sight.
The Blu-ray is a solid technical release featuring a DVD and Ultra-Violet copy. The film holds up and the visual experience, while it is difficult to be as impressive as it was in an auditorium with patrons gasping, the release does not detract from that great first viewing. Again, the audio quality is fine, but make sure to pump up the volume to actually feel the audio in the seat of your pants. Let is tickle you as if William Castle showed up for a midnight showing of The Tingler.
Lords of Salem is available now on Blu-ray, VOD or DVD. Make sure to grab it HERE. I'd strongly advise you to grab the soundtrack as well. It'll make damn fine music for this year's Halloween party and the film itself is ripe for October viewing. This movie may not be for everybody though Euro Horror fans should rejoice as well as the practical effects worshippers (myself included). It's creepy. It will put you out. It will make you uncomfortable and mostly because you keep thinking there's a little devil right behind you waiting to take straight to a Hell.