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.
The Lords of Salem (2013)
Commentator: Rob Zombie (writer/producer/director)
1. The goat’s name is Noodles.
2. Richard Lynch died during filming, so additional scenes were filmed during post-production with a new actor.
3. The early scene with the skanky witches disrobing was filmed in near freezing temperatures. It was truncated once Zombie realized the actresses were freezing and Meg Foster could no longer remember the word “Satan.”
4. Only two to three days of the movie were filmed in Salem with the majority of the rest being shot in Los Angeles.
5. Zombie spends the entirety of his wife’s (Sheri Moon Zombie) introductory nude scene talking about the dog, Steve, whose real name is Troy.
6. The scene where they first try to play the record took a while to film as they struggled with how to create the effect of the needle jumping across the LP. As the effects guys worked on a line of filament another crew member suggested simply removing the needle from the arm.
7. The flashback to Foster’s character delivering the baby went on awhile as she milked the scene for all it’s worth, but by the time she pulled the child from between the woman’s legs, the prosthetic infant’s batteries had died.
8. Footage was shot with Daniel Roebuck as a serial killer being interviewed on TV, but Zombie decided to go with clips from old movies featuring characters in masks instead.
9. Several scenes and subplots from the script were never filmed due to budgetary and time issues. Most of them were flashbacks of the Salem witch trials.
10. Zombie has been asked why he used CGI to create the rats in the hallway. This confuses him as the rats are 100% real.
11. The only time they “locked up” the street for filming an exterior shot was the scene where Moon Zombie’s character makes a drug buy. Too many people were wanting to hoot, holler and take photos, so they had to block the area off from the public.
12. Zombie wanted an original representation of Satan to avoid the usual big guy with horns, and the result was something that resembles “a cross between a deformed baby and an over-cooked turkey.”
13. Dee Wallace truly enjoyed playing her character once she reveals her true, evil self. “She was always complaining that she hates playing nice moms.”
14. Judy Geeson has a line during the three witches’ chat with Bruce Davison‘s character that all three of the women wanted to say. “Have you come here to stick your nose and cock inside her head and fuck her brain, Mr. Matthias?”
15. The wig Ken Foree wears in the film was a never-ending source of frustration so Zombie had a character refer to it as a wig so audiences wouldn’t question it.
16. The nutty finale in the theater required Zombie to have three cameras rolling at once throughout the building. He would run from one to the next ensuring certain shots were achieved, and he acknowledges that it drove his crew bonkers because he was the only one who knew exactly what he was after.
17. The fake blood used during the birthing scene smelled “rancid” and nearly caused Moon Zombie to vomit.
18. Zombie always knew the last shot in the movie would be of Heidi in a happier time to show just how far she had to fall.
Best in Commentary
- “This is the longest since I’ve ever finished a movie and then a director’s commentary, so bear with me with what I can still remember about this movie.”
- “We just came up with the idea of spitting on the baby and licking the baby as it was happening. The baby looked pretty real. We should have just spit on a real baby.”
- “No church would let us film inside of it. Every time they saw the script they were like ‘No way.’”
- “It’s one thing to pile up 25 naked ladies, but trying to get them all to remain still is not easy.”
Zombie’s commentary track isn’t quite as entertaining as his SXSW Q&A session, but even without audience participation he’s a funny guy. His stories about cast spats, production troubles, and budget woes offer a rare, honest glimpse into the world of filmmaking, and through it all he remains self-deprecating and fair about the work onscreen. Beyond the laughs he also clears up a few plot questions that may have bothered some viewers. Why the goat indeed.
The Lords of Salem is available on Blu-ray from Amazon.
Check out more commentary commentary in the Commentary Commentary archives