Lords of Salem, The (Blu-ray) (2012)

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Released 4-Dec-2013

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Horror Theatrical Trailer-Only God Forgives
Theatrical Trailer-You're Next
Theatrical Trailer-Machete Kills
Rating Rated R
Year Of Production 2012
Running Time 100:44
RSDL / Flipper No/No Cast & Crew
Start Up Ads Then Menu
Region Coding 4 Directed By Rob Zombie
Studio
Distributor
Alliance Films
Icon Entertainment
Starring Sheri Moon Zombie
Bruce Davison
Judy Geeson
Dee Wallace
Patricia Quinn
Meg Foster
Andrew Prine
Richard Fancy
Jeff Daniel Phillips
Ken Foree
Maria Conchita Alonso
Case Standard Blu-ray
RPI $44.95 Music Griffin Boice
John 5


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English DTS HD Master Audio 5.1 (448Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 2.40:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 1080p
Original Aspect Ratio 2.40:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English for the Hearing Impaired Smoking No
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits Yes, Title 4:30 into action.

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

     The Lords of Salem, is the third film from Haunted Films, produced on the successful heels of Paranormal Activity and Insidious. This 2012 production is being given an Australian Blu-ray and DVD release by Icon Home Entertainment.

     From the creative mind of American musician, film director, screenwriter and film producer, Rob Zombie, the screenplay begins pre-credits with a youngish woman driving her car through the black of night. We cut abruptly to a 17th century priest, reverend Jonathan Hawthorne (Andrew Prine) chronicling his conflict with a coven of Salem witches, led by the witch Margaret Morgan (Meg Foster). We witness a satanic ritual with half a dozen hags frolicking around a fire, and Margaret Morgan consumed by flames and bringing down a curse upon Hawthorne and his descendants. After the film's title we are in modern day Salem; it's Monday, and we find the motorist from the opening, Heidi, played by the director's wife, Sheri Moon Zombie, sleeping naked in bed. Later in the screenplay we discover that Heidi is a recovering drug addict who has found employment in Salem Massachusetts as a disc-jockey at a hard rock radio station, along with co-workers Whitey (Jeff Daniel Phillips) and Herman (Ken Foree). As Heidi leaves the radio station after her shift the girl at reception hands her a package left for her, a mysterious, ancient-looking wooden box. Heidi discovers that the box contains an album from a band called The Lords. At home that evening Whitey plays the album for Heidi, the album turning out to contain weird female chanting. Hearing the music causes Heidi to fall into a trance and have a vision of witches killing a new born babe. Heidi is also troubled by odd happenings around Apartment #5 on her floor, which her landlady assures her is vacant. Heidi becomes convinced that there is some malevolent force in that apartment, a force which is out to attack her.

     The next day on her program Heidi interviews Francis Matthias (Bruce Davison), author of a book on the infamous Salem witch trials. During the course of the interview they play The Lords' album over the air. At home Heidi receives an invitation from her landlady, Lacy (Judy Geeson), which she accepts. Heidi is introduced to Lacy's sisters, the smiling Sonny (Dee Williams) and the intense Megan (Patricia Quinn). Megan's palm reading and discussion of fate and destiny trouble Heidi, who excuses herself and returns to her apartment. The screenplay becomes weirder and more frightening, involving Margaret Morgan's satanic curse from the past. The climax takes place at the venue of a concert to be given by The Lords, a performance which evolves into a satanic ritual, with mass female nudity culminating in the birth of a very peculiar offspring.

     A cursory investigation of the work of Rob Zombie will disclose the eclectic nature of his creativity. He is immensely influenced by the work of other filmmakers, such as David Lynch, Ken Russell and Stanley Kubrick, with music also playing a large part in his creative process. On the soundtrack we hear at various times the music of Manfred Mann, Rick James, Lou Reed, Johann Sebastian Bach, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart and Vic Damone. As a result we get a film here that is certainly arresting to behold, and to listen to. Visuals are frequently stunning, with beautifully composed, static images juxtaposed with erratic and out-of-focus shots. The hallway scenes here are almost as impressive as those in The Shining, and there is excellent location shooting in the streets of Salem. This very composed and deliberate photography is contrasted with the out-of-focus, erratic scenes of the witches and their rituals. The music employed by Zombie is tightly aligned with the images making at times incredibly dramatic screen moments, frequently orchestrated for shock value. Unfortunately these shock moments are not all that important to the plot, such as it is. This is a very interesting filmmaker who succeeds in making a quite engrossing horror flick out of rather mundane material.

     The cast is solid, with Bruce Davison (Longtime Companion) excellent and looking very distinguished. Judy Geeson is an arresting screen presence almost fifty years after To Sir, With Love and Here We Go Round The Mulberry Bush. There is interesting casting also with Dee Williams, the mother from E.T., Patricia Quinn , Magenta in The Rocky Horror Picture Show and as Bruce Davison's wife, Maria Conchita Alonso (The Running Man). It is a pity that Sheri Moon Zombie isn't a better actress, as her role is so pivotal. At times she is effective and even attractive - thanks to very flattering lighting, as in the early radio studio scenes - but there are other scenes where she is totally flat and uninteresting.

     There is quite a bit to enjoy in The Lords of Salem, but don't expect any big horror shocks. We are obviously in the hands of a filmmaker capable of creating vivid screen experiences of sight and sound, but unfortunately what he is working with here doesn't warrant the art employed. Still, I'll be looking forward to the next Rob Zombie opus.

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Transfer Quality

Video

     The Lords of Salem comes to us in a transfer that I would assume replicates the theatrical experience.

     The film is presented at the aspect ratio of 2.40:1, its original theatrical ratio.

     There are fluctuations in the quality, or clarity, of the image but that comes from deliberate choices made by the filmmaker. The images of satanic ritual from the past are monochromatic, fuzzy and erratically filmed. In contrast, the modern day scenes in Salem are captured in composed, controlled classic cinematography. The screen is filled with symmetrical compositions, and long, slow deliberate takes from cinematographer Brandon Trust (This Is The End), whose contribution along with that of editor Glenn Garland (Halloween) gives the film much of its hypnotic fascination. The palette ranges from the monochromatic look, not solely confined to the scenes from the past, to beautiful subdued street scenes of modern day Salem. In contrast to these subtle tones there is the occasional flash of vivid primaries, but this is rare. Most of the modern day images are sharp and packed with detail, with the real visual strengths coming in the shadow detail in the "spooky" interiors, as well as the cluttered residence of Bruce Davison's character. This is not a demo disc by any means, but the film and its tone are beautifully served by the transfer given to us.

     The excellent subtitles are at the foot of the screen, with a range of colours used to differentiate between various speakers, as well as effects.

Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

     There is only one audio stream : English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1.encoded at 48 kHz.

     The soundtrack, as with the visuals, serves the director's intentions beautifully. The dialogue is front and centred, is crystal clear and without any sync problems. There is a minimum of movement across the front, the major instances of front action occurring with vehicles and doors. However, in the satanic ritual scenes, and other "spooky" moments, the surrounds are employed most effectively. It is, however, with the music that the film becomes an immersive aural experience. From the first notes the subwoofer springs to life and thumps along consistently for the next ninety minutes. The music, more the catalogue music than the original - forgettable - music from Griffin Boice and John 5, becomes a vital part of the film. Get the sound levels high - but watch the bass.

Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

     Sadly there is nothing extra on this release.

Menu

     The menu is presented using the slick artwork, with minor animation, some live action and original music from the film.

Startup Trailers

     Only God Forgives (0:96) : 1080p and 1.78:1, You're Next (2:07) : 1080p and 2.40:1, Machete Kills (1:04) : 1080p and 1.78:1.

Censorship

    There is censorship information available for this title. Click here to read it (a new window will open). WARNING: Often these entries contain MAJOR plot spoilers.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

     The U.S. Blu-ray + DVD + Ultra Violet Combo release contains a feature length commentary by writer, producer, director Rob Zombie. It also has Spanish subtitles.

Summary

     This is a much better than average horror movie. There is not the gore that some might prefer, but there is suspense and some excellent filmmaking on the screen. Rob Zombie is better than the films we are getting from him - or that is how I feel. There is so much evidence here - and in his take on Halloween which I have seen recently - that this is a filmmaker in search of the right project. Until then admirers of his work should be pretty pleased with what he serves up in The Lords of Salem. If you're not yet a fan, it is time well spent to become acquainted with the work of Rob Zombie.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Garry Armstrong (BioGarry)
Tuesday, November 26, 2013
Review Equipment
DVDSONY BLU RAY BDP-S350, using HDMI output
DisplaySamsung LA55A950D1F : 55 inch LCD HD. Calibrated with THX Optimizer. This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 1080p.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to DVD player. Calibrated with THX Optimizer.
AmplificationOnkyo TX-DS777
SpeakersVAF DC-X fronts; VAF DC-6 center; VAF DC-2 rears; LFE-07subwoofer (80W X 2)

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