Andy Gould

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The Lords of Salem Review


Good

Rob Zombie has matured as a filmmaker, as witnessed by this well-structured horror shocker, which plays with both historical events and familiar movie imagery to keep us unnerved even if it's ultimately rather silly. Best of all is the way he remembers the value of schlock both to entertain and to gross us out. And it's his old-style touches that make the film much scarier than the usual shock-and-go horror movies.

The story draws on the 17th century Salem Witch Trials, at which women were brutally executed for suspicion of witchcraft. In present day Salem, free-spirited DJ Heidi (Moon Zombie) receives a mysterious record from an unknown band called The Lords, and when she plays it people start behaving strangely. Historical expert Francis (Davison) takes an interest in the record due to its odd tones, but he begins to worry that something nasty might be afoot. Indeed, Heidi starts having freaky dreams and visions. And it becomes apparent that she's the fulfilment of a dark prophesy involving the spawn of Satan himself.

Moon Zombie is terrific as the confused heroine who thinks what's happening is related to her recent decision to give up hard drugs. But of course, we know better. And we also know that she certainly should not trust the three cackling sisters (Geeson, Quinn and Wallace) who live downstairs. In addition, we see flashback scenes from 1696 in which a preacher takes on a coven of naked witches who dance around a bonfire led by their witchy leader (Foster). Yes, Zombie packs the movie with nutty ceremonies, grisly apparitions and naked, blood-soaked women.

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Halloween (2007) Review


OK
Halloween's Michael Myers has seen many incarnations during his 29-year reign of terror. While he hasn't yet seen the vastness of space (boldly not going where most horror franchises eventually go), he has met a similar fate -- the remake. Although the majority of horror moviegoers are just looking for the next gore-fest, true horror fans are as rabid as Christians looking to crucify the latest blasphemously-filmed story of Christ. Luckily, director Rob Zombie is a member of the horror genre cult and treats his Halloween remake with the utmost respect, while amping up the intensity for a post-Saw audience.

From the 90-minute Abercrombie and Fitch ad that was 2003's Texas Chainsaw Massacre to the abysmal The Hills Have Eyes in 2006, classic horror films have been turned into exploitive, empty filler for the benefit of the box office. Zombie, on the other hand, explores the mythology of the original Halloween by psychologically deconstructing Michael Myers, instead of exploiting the original idea of "The Shape" -- the personified evil of the original. Zombie's film opens with the Myers family; of course, this is a Zombie film, so they are a white trash, long haired clan whose cursing would put sailors to shame. In this Halloween outing, we see Myers' transformation into the infamous serial killer.

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The Devil's Rejects Review


Excellent
House of 1000 Corpses, the last song on Rob Zombie's 2001 album The Sinister Urge, also served as the title track to the metal frontman-turned-filmmaker's 2003 directorial debut, but the cut's country twang-inflected ghoulishness would have made a more apt musical accompaniment for Zombie's The Devil's Rejects. Less a sequel than a spiritual follow-up, the director's latest revisits House's serial-killing Firefly clan as they're cast into the backwater dustbowls of rural America by a sheriff (William Forsythe) intent on exacting vigilante revenge for the murder of his brother. A gritty Western-via-grindhouse modern exploitation flick imbued with the ferocity of independent '70s horror, Zombie's splatterfest wisely alters virtually everything (narratively, stylistically, thematically) that characterized his campy, cartoonish and awkward first film. And from its coarse, graphic visual aesthetic, profusion of classic Southern rock tunes, and portrait of unrepentant mayhem, his film reverentially exults in the deranged spirit and impulsive, unpredictable energy of seminal genre masterpieces The Texas Chain Saw Massacre and The Hills Have Eyes.

The Devil's Rejects diverges from its predecessor beginning with its opening frames, in which the depiction of the Firefly residence - no longer a remote, forest-shrouded funhouse of horrors but, rather, a dilapidated structure situated in a stretch of open land - speaks to the film's rejection of atmospheric claustrophobia in favor of wide-open anarchy. A fascination with rampant disorder certainly fuels the tour de force intro sequence, a bullet-strewn siege on the Firefly home by Sheriff Wydell (Forsythe) and an army of police officers heightened by Zombie's sly use of freeze frames, Sergio Leone-esque close-ups, and The Allman Brothers' "Midnight Rider." Exhibiting a directorial maturity devoid of his former MTV-ish gimmickry (no hyper-edited montages with varying film stocks or bludgeoning industrial heavy metal here), the director orchestrates the chaotic events with feverish abandon, his shaky handheld camera set-ups and scraggly, sun-bleached cinematography (courtesy of Phil Parmet) placing us directly inside the carnage. By the time murderous siblings Otis (Bill Moseley) and Baby (Sheri Moon) escape their now overrun home to seek shelter in the rotting, blindingly white desert, Zombie has demonstrated a newfound adeptness at lacing nasty action with a breakneck thrust and vicious wit.

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House of 1000 Corpses Review


Terrible
Maybe I'm just a little wimp who can't stand bad movies... but shouldn't I get hazard pay for seeing a movie this bad? [No. -Ed.] I'm symptomatic. This movie should come with a warning - this movie will cause nausea, boredom, the general feeling of constipation and a headache by banging your head against the seat in front of you about 1000 times.

The auteur debut of gothic icon Rob Zombie (think Puff Daddy in metal and with talent), I wasn't really hoping for much with House of 1000 Corpses -- schlock horror was anticipated and would have even been enjoyed -- but this is just ridiculous. House of 1000 Corpses is perhaps the most un-scary "scary movie" I've ever seen. It's not funny. It's not even really that interesting to look at.

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Andy Gould

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