By: Oberst Von Berauscht (Five Beers) –
Heidi Hawthorne (Sheri Moon Zombie) is a Rock DJ and recovering addict living in Salem, Massachusetts. One day, she notices a new tenant has moved into the vacant apartment down the hall, however her landlord denies renting the room out. Later that day at work, a vinyl record is left for her with a note that it is a “gift from the lords”. Upon playing it, she begins to experience strange hallucinations. Is it a product of her addict mind, or is hell on Earth nigh at hand?
Hint: This is not an AA meeting
Rob Zombie has a keen eye for visual details, and makes heavy use of truly unsettling imagery. The film’s visual style is heavily reminiscent of late 70’s italian horror, with Dario Argento’s thematic color palettes and production design blended with the grotesque shocks of Lucio Fulci. In spite of the obvious nepotism, Sheri Moon Zombie makes for a perfectly amicable lead character. At first her character is outgoing and upbeat, slowly coming unglued as the film moves along. Her reactions to the 5 note “Lords of Salem” song are particularly jarring.
Or maybe Rob just forced her to listen to “Dragula” on repeat…
The film’s dialogue ranges everywhere from workable to “train-wreck”. It is often difficult to tell if Rob Zombie was trying to be campy or serious. If he was trying to be serious, he failed, particularly in the Devil Worshiping ceremony sequences, which are laughable at best. On the other hand, if he was going for camp, than this throws the dark and moody atmosphere of the film into awkward contrast.
Herman “Munster” Jackson (Ken Foree), and Herman “Whitey” Salvador (Jeff Daniel Phillips) are the two radio DJs who work with Heidi. Both of the characters feel totally underutilized. Their presence might have not been missed so much if they were given less screen time early on, but the way they are set up hints at an arc that is never explored. Like a bad slot machine, it utterly fails to pay off.
“Social Security checks don’t spend themselves”
For a film that tries so hard to have a dark twist of an ending, I found it incredibly predictable. I won’t spoil it for you, but I will say that Rosemary’s Baby looks suspiciously like the Mandrake Root from Pan’s Labyrinth.
So, all this build up to meeting Satan himself, and what do we get? A naked, zombified, double-dicked Octavio from Scarface.
“Strangers in the niiiiiiiight…”
A movie that doesn’t seem to know what tone it’s supposed to take.
Take a Drink: every time they play the “Lords” music
Take a Drink: for any jump scare
Do a Shot: for cringeworthy nudity