“The whole movie started in reality with the Salem Witch Trials. This fanatically puritanical religious group suddenly (decides) if you did anything outside of what they thought was the way you should behave, you were a witch, a heretic, or a devil. That’s obviously why there’s such a religious overtone to the whole thing,” Zombie shared.
The Lords of Salem tells the story of a radio DJ named Heidi (Sherri Moon Zombie) who receives a mysterious package as “a gift from the Lords.” She opens it to find a vinyl album which, when played, has a strange hypnotic effect on her. When the record is played over the air, it affects all the women of Salem, Massachusetts the same way. Is the album connected to a curse put on the town by a coven of witches or is it just Heidi’s imagination?
While The Lords of Salem will no doubt cause a ton of controversy and have many religious groups up in arms, I tend to look at Zombie’s work as pure fiction and horror entertainment. Stylistically it’s his best work yet and serves as a poignant homage to the Satanic Panic films of the 1970s like Rosemary’s Baby, The Exorcist, and The Shining. I hate to even call it an homage, because if it were handed to an uneducated viewer in a stack of DVDs with those other films, the person would think it legitimately came from that time period minus the cell phones and music videos.
“I try with all the films to make them timeless in the sense of not relying too much on anything modern day to be crucial. I try to create everything out of time,” he stated.
Don’t get me wrong, there’s plenty in The Lords of Salem that made me uncomfortable as someone with firm religious beliefs. That’s why I had to interview Zombie about the film. I had to know where he stood on religion and where his ideas for the movie came from. I’m aware most people just watch a movie and move on, but I don’t work that way when there are spiritual matters being addressed.
“I think my mom was very religious, I think at one point she thought she might become a nun. I don’t remember ever going to church when I was a kid. That was pretty much out of our lives by that point,” Zombie reflected.
You can listen to the entire 15 minute interview with Zombie right here. He was extremely nice and answered my questions with sincerity, which I completely appreciate. As you’ll hear, Zombie doesn’t really take any religious beliefs seriously. He was still respectful of my queries and didn’t get belligerent or condescending like many people might when their personal work is being prodded at.