“Lords of Salem” proved that Rob Zombie was capable of more than just gore

The big picture

  • Rob Zombie’s movie The rulers of Salem deviates from his usual gruesome fare and takes a more reserved and experimental approach.
  • The film follows radio DJ Heidi, who experiences disturbing hallucinations after receiving a mysterious record from an anonymous listener.
  • The rulers of Salem is a visually stunning and character-packed film that explores addiction, trauma and the cycle of abuse using supernatural metaphors.

As one of the most prominent horror authors of the last two decades Rob Zombie has developed his very own style. His films are heavily based on the horror and exploitation of the 70s in the tradition of films like The Texas Chainsaw Massacre And The last house on the left. Basically, Rob Zombie is for grindhouse horror Quentin Tarantino it’s about dark westerns and blaxploitation. However, “Zombie” deviates a bit from his typical gruesome carnival and is more atmospheric The Lords of Salemthe continuation of his two extremely controversial entries in Halloween Franchise. Lords of Salem The film dances gently between an homage to the classic tropes of Satanic Panic and a more reserved, even slightly experimental approach not seen in any of Zombie’s films before or since.

The Lords of Salem poster

The rulers of Salem

Radio DJ Heidi receives a box with a record – a “gift from the Lords”. The sounds in the grooves trigger flashbacks to their city’s violent past. Will Heidi go crazy or will the Lords return for revenge on Salem, Massachusetts?

Release date
September 10, 2012

Rob Zombie

Sheri Moon Zombie, Bruce Davison, Jeffrey Daniel Phillips, Judy Geeson, Meg Foster, Patricia Quinn


Main genre

What is “The Lords of Salem” about?

In true Rob Zombie fashion, The Lords of Salem is a heavy metal fever dream. The film is about Heidi, played by Zombie’s wife and muse Sheri Moon Zombie, a radio DJ and recovering drug addict who experiences disturbing hallucinations when an anonymous listener sends her a record to play on her show. The record is attributed to a group known only as the “Lords.” Heidi and her fellow DJs (one of whom is played by genre character actor and Rob Zombie regular). Ken Foree) listen to the recording on their talk show. The music is inharmonious and aggressive, and they are immediately put off by it. Although Heidi only hears a few seconds of the recording, she is immediately deeply moved by the strange music. She goes home and begins to have torturous nightmares (or visions?).

The film spends a lot of time patiently getting to know Heidi and the overwhelming sense of doom she faces on a daily basis. We see that as a recovering addict, she copes in different ways and struggles not to isolate herself from her colleagues and friends. This proves difficult as Heidi seems deeply dissatisfied with her place in life. The film is full of atmospheric long takes who essentially just accompany Heidi in her daily hustle and bustle as she walks her dog and lives a life she would rather not have. Only when the film takes a dark and sinister turn does she finally return to her the true, life-destroying horrors of addiction.

How is Lords of Salem different from other Rob Zombie films?

While The rulers of Salem Although this film has a lot of gore and some of the most graphic imagery in any of Rob Zombie’s films to date, there is an undeniable restraint here that sets it apart from his Firefly trilogy or its follow-up to The Lords of Salem, 31. These films all have a blatant brutality and, as critics of Zombie often point out, aren’t exactly subtle in their delivery. Lords of Salem, on the other hand, has a patient, melancholic tone that builds tension and forces the viewer to live in the world that Rob and Sheri Moon Zombie have constructed. Of all his films The rulers of Salem sees Zombie at his best when it comes to world building. Even the score is a simple yet brooding theme that somehow pulsates subliminally, never drawing attention to itself but still effectively building tension.

The rulers of Salem is also by far the finest Rob Zombie film (which on the surface might seem like an oxymoron). The camera work is truly breathtaking at times, showing Zombie’s clear affection for the city of Salem and its infamous history. The film is also much more character-driven than his previous films. The Lords of Salem takes time to develop and understand Heidi’s character. The horrors she experiences at the hands of witches are clearly metaphorical of her own struggle with addiction, as well as her unspecified but obvious trauma. The way she isolates herself and becomes a powerless vessel for evil is perhaps the most disturbing part of a film that contains several scenes in which babies are born and condemned in truly grotesque ways. The film goes to dark places, and the edges of the abuse Heidi endured are cleverly hinted at rather than blatantly shown.

“The Lords of Salem” is Rob Zombie’s most surreal film

Rob Zombie's Lords of Salem
Image via 20th Century Studios

The rulers of Salem goes to artistic and stylistic places that the director had previously only hinted at. The final act of The rulers of Salem is a thoroughly blasphemous fever dream. It’s deliciously perverse and revels in its ugliness. It contains some really twisted and memorable images that will make you feel like you’ve just had a bad trip. The film undeniably draws heavily from classic occult films such as: Rosemary’s baby, but it takes story elements that have existed before and tells them in a way that only Rob Zombie could tell. The kaleidoscopic horrors that unfold in the final act are truly terrifying on both a spiritual and psychological level. The manifestation of evil that has characterized the entire film explodes in a way that is both ambiguous and satisfying.

The rulers of Salem has real impact on its characters, particularly Heidi. Zombie has often been criticized for its lack of substance and recycling of genre conventions. However, with The rulers of Salem He’s really developed creative muscles that most people wouldn’t have suspected. The horrors fought in the film are much more real in this film, despite the countless fantastic occult images. Like all great horror films The rulers of Salem lasts real fears and struggles and explores them with supernatural metaphors. In the great tradition of films like the one mentioned above Rosemary’s baby or even contemporary classics like The Babadook And Hereditary, The rulers of Salem is a surprisingly thoughtful film from a director who is often accused of hiding the hideousness of his films for a little too long. The film is a substantive look at addiction, trauma and the cycle of abuse that continues despite the desire to move on. Heidi is one of Zombie’s most empathetic characters, if not its most empathetic. Sheri Moon Zombie sells the character and proves that she is much more than just Rob Zombie’s wife, but a talented actress in her own right. The rulers of Salem is a true gem not only in Rob Zombie’s filmography, but also in a decade that produced some of the best and most innovative films in the genre.

The rulers of Salem can be streamed for free on Tubi.

Watch on Tubi

Dustin Huang

Dustin Huang is a 24ssports U.S. News Reporter based in London. His focus is on U.S. politics and the environment. He has covered climate change extensively, as well as healthcare and crime. Dustin Huang joined 24ssports in 2021 from the Daily Express and previously worked for Chemist and Druggist and the Jewish Chronicle. He is a graduate of Cambridge University. Languages: English. You can get in touch with me by emailing: dustinhuang@24ssports.com.

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