The Lords of Salem

discs stories we tell

Welcome back to This Week In Discs! As always, if you see something you like, click on the image to buy it. Stories We Tell Sarah Polley, best known for her work both in front of and behind the camera for feature films, turns her eye onto her own family in documentary form as she explores a part of their history from varying perspectives. Through interviews and home videos she goes back in time to explore her parents lives, her own childhood, and a secret they all think they know. What starts as a focus on a mystery becomes something more as stories, recollections, and memories differ from person to person. In a year filled with fantastic and powerful documentaries, Polley’s film remains the warmest and most wondrous thanks both to the content and the film’s structure. She’s on this journey with us, equally unsure of her own motivations and delighted by the results. It’s a personal story, even her family members wonder why anyone else would care, yet it speaks to a universal truth about how we share our stories and make them our own. Each person has their own tale as well as a piece of everyone else’s, and it’s amazing to see them play out onscreen. Plus, the stinger here puts Marvel films to shame. [DVD extras: Trailer]

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cc the lords of salem

Rob Zombie‘s latest film is a bit of a surprise. It’s horror, but it’s a completely different beast from his previous movies. There’s a real (and mostly intentional) sense of humor about it, too. And perhaps most surprising? It’s actually a pretty fun watch at times. (My review.) The Lords of Salem made the festival circuit for several months before getting a limited release this past April, and one of its stops was Austin’s SXSW Film Festival with both Zombie and his wife/the film’s star Sheri Moon Zombie in attendance. The audience response wasn’t quite what the couple had hoped for, leaving the director to tackle a post-screening Q&A solo when Sheri bolted for the exit. But rather than accept defeat, Zombie proved himself an incredibly entertaining speaker with a great sense of humor about himself and the business as well as an endless stream of anecdotes. His tale of witches in modern day Salem who try to bring Satan’s spawn into our world is a wacky one, but his vision remains clear. Granted, it’s clearer in the way he describes it than in the way it actually unfolds onscreen, but you’d be surprised how much good will a little dancing turkey demon can buy you.

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The Lords of Salem

Editor’s note: My review originally ran during SXSW earlier this year, but we’re posting it again as the film hits theaters this weekend. Some filmmakers, no matter how hard they may try to appeal to the masses, can never escape the label of acquired taste. Others don’t even try though instead preferring to speak to a smaller and more receptive core audience. Kevin Smith is a good example of the former. Rob Zombie is a better example of the latter. Zombie makes movies for himself, and he’ll be the first to tell you that not only will the majority of viewers hate his films but that he simply doesn’t care. That’s more than evident in his four previous features as they presented worlds filled with ugly and foul violence while being devoid of humor and joy. His new film, The Lords of Salem, continues that trend of not giving a damn, but something is visibly and unexpectedly amiss. Rob Zombie has discovered how to have fun…even if some of it is unintentional.

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1-the-lords-of-salem-060712

“50% of you are going to love this movie, while the other 50% of you are going to hate it,” writer-director Rob Zombie said to the SXSW crowd at the midnight screening of his newest film, The Lords of Salem. That’s not something we often hear filmmakers while they intro their film, and the same goes for most of what we heard at his highly entertaining Q&A. Zombie, who wore splashy blue pants and what looked like over-sized crocs to the event, was correct when it came to the reaction. For the 50% of the people who hated it, he doesn’t care too much. Zombie knows his work isn’t for everyone, and the idea that he can get half of an audience onboard with his films or music sits well with him. According to Zombie (and David Bowie), getting a reaction is all that matters. We discussed that reaction, as well as how the film’s producers were only interested in lunch and more, with a candid and relaxed Mr. Zombie.

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trailer lords of salem

Rob Zombie‘s four previous features have left audiences divided between those who find them dull in their barrage of uninteresting, poorly acted, white trash characters meeting bloody and blunt endings and those who, well, are wrong. I kid! His latest film, The Lords of Salem, hits theaters in April and was just announced today as one of the Midnighters premiering at next month’s SXSW film fest. The story follows a woman (Sheri Moon Zombie) with bad hair and worse fashion sense who gets caught up in supernatural events occurring in modern-day Salem, MA. Ghosts, demons, cults and more slowly envelope her world until only darkness remains. Check out the trailer after the break.

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sxsw youre next

The main lineup at this year’s SXSW Film Festival was announced last week, and while it features a ton of great-looking content it wasn’t complete. The list was missing the dozens of shorts that will be playing next month, but more importantly it was absent any hint of the Midnighters that some of us look forward to all year long. That changes today. SXSW have revealed the films from both categories, and the nine Midnighters look to be a fun and exciting mix of established names and interesting newcomers. One of the stand-outs is the highly praised and long-delayed You’re Next from Adam Wingard and Simon Barrett, which I’m hoping lives up to the hype and the wait. We’re also getting two Sundance holdovers with The Rambler and S-VHS (curiously called V/H/S 2 here). Rob Zombie’s The Lords of Salem will be making an appearance too, but more exciting are the presence of new films from Vincenzo Natali (Cube, Splice) and Dennis Iliadis (The Last House on the Left remake). SXSW 2013 runs March 8th-16th, and the complete list of shorts and Midnighters can be found below.

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Lords of Salem

There’s nothing about the new teaser trailer for Rob Zombie‘s The Lords of Salem that hints at the story. Mostly it’s a parade of production, costume and make-up design in service of odd religious symbols and the prospect of a Satanic baby being born. According to the official synopsis, the story focuses on Heidi (Sheri Moon Zombie), who DJs at a local radio station and receives a strange wooden box with a record in it. As the song becomes a hit, the alcoholic Heidi is driven further into despair, and further boxes from the band promise a return from The Lords of Salem. Early reviews, like this one from Arrow in the Head, call it Zombie’s most ambitious film, noting that it’s less of a grindhouse splatterfest and more of an art house flick that gets bizarre. Which seems sort of obvious now that a teaser is out (via Deadline Hollywood). Check it out for yourself:

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