Hard to love but easy to appreciate. Those colors! Delicious acting, fun camerawork and corny wipe transitions. Will notes that it “feels about a million years long” – maybe cutting into episodes of about a half hour long would’ve helped. Anyway it’s time to rewatch Lords of Salem.

Our three lead murderers were definitively killed at the end of The Devil’s Rejects, gunned down in slow-motion, so how will Zombie make a sequel? They’re not dead, they were just wounded, and all better now! Sid Haig, alas, didn’t stay better for long, so he gets a brief scene before being replaced by Baby and Firefly’s half-brother Midnight Wolfman.

A decade after the previous movie ends, Wolfman springs Firefly (they murder a cameoing Danny Trejo along the way), then they threaten the cartoonishly facial-haired warden into freeing Baby, and the three run off to Mexico. That’s about a half-hour’s worth of movie – the rest is them deciding to fuck with strangers, then murdering them, or getting in trouble because strangers recognize them, then murdering them. It’s not a bad movie, surely a step up from the terrible 31, but it’s pretty unnecessary, and there’s no tension – the stakes are always low in a movie where no lives matter. Zombie exercises his TV/film texture fetish in the news footage covering the escaped outlaws, and builds to a big showdown in Mexico when the son of Danny Trejo comes with twenty armed dudes.

The Howling star Dee Wallace plays the vindictive prison guard in chage of Baby (Sheri Moon Zombie, always good in these things). Richard Edson (Sonic Youth, Stranger Than Paradise) is the dude in Mexico who puts them up (and turns them in). Bill Moseley was in about 40 movies between Zombie’s Halloween and this, mostly crappy horrors, and Wolfman Richard Brake played the only person Cage doesn’t kill in Mandy.


Watched this again over a couple days… the Grindhouse version with trailers and interstitial stuff, not the extended director cuts released separately. I’m usually a nut for director’s cuts and extended versions, which is why I keep re-buying The New World and Michael Mann movies, but for some reason I’m satisfied with the theatrical edits here – maybe because the two “missing reels” are the best jokes in the movie.

Replacing my original writeup, which was pretty worthless. I didn’t know who most of these actors were at the time… going through ’em now with too many screenshots.


Planet Terror (Robert Rodriguez)

I really enjoyed this the first time around, but conventional wisdom from critics in the intervening decade has been “Death Proof is a masterpiece, too bad it’s attached to that garbage Planet Terror.” So this time I was expecting to be disappointed in Planet Terror, to admonish my stupid youthful self for ever having loved it, but nope, still awesome.

Introduces a bunch of great characters in the first half, then brings them together at BBQ joint The Bone Shack, which gets invaded by zombies and catches fire in the missing reel, followed by the all-action showdown finale.

Pole dancer Cherry (Rose McGowan) is reunited with her ex, legendary biker El Wray (Freddy Rodriguez, “lopsidedly muscled” in Lady in the Water)… while scientist Abby (Naveen Andrews: Sense8, Lost) gets double-crossed by militia monster Bruce Willis

Scientist w/ wicked knife:

Fergie (of the Black Eyed Peas) stops at JT’s Bone Shack, talks to proprietor Jeff Fahey:

Dr. Josh Brolin and his anesthesiologist wife Marley Shelton (Sin City, Pleasantville):

Sheriff Michael Biehn (Kyle Reese in The Terminator) and Deputy Tom Savini:

Drama: Cherry loses her leg in a car crash and gets a machine gun replacement. Brolin catches his wife cheating, sticks her hands full of numbing meds, then their young son shoots himself and her Southern gentleman dad (the late Michael Parks) joins up. Willis turns into a giant mutant and his colleague Tarantino gets severe eye trauma. Most everyone dies, the survivors retreat to Mexico.

Marley with messed-up hands:

Fahey and Cherry:

QT, staked:

Werewolf Women of the SS (Rob Zombie)

This was actually kinda overlong and uninteresting and I was forgetting why I thought it was so great, and then came those magic words, “and Nicolas Cage as Fu Manchu” and suddenly I remembered.

Still love the voiceovers on Don’t (Will Arnett) and Thanksgiving (Eli Roth).

Death Proof (Quentin Tarantino)

Opens with a great replacement-title gag, then there’s some editing humor and surface noise, and another “missing reel” right when something sexy’s about to happen, but then QT chills out with the self-reflexive filmmaking gags as his movie gets darker.

Three girls are out for drinks in Austin: local DJ Jungle Julia (Sydney Poitier of last year’s Too Late and Netflix horror Clinical), Shanna (Jordan Ladd of Cabin Fever) and out-of-towner Butterfly (Vanessa Ferlito of Spider-Man 2). QT and Eli Roth are in the house, then their friend Lanna Frank (Monica Staggs, Daryl Hannah’s stunt double in Kill Bill) finally shows up and the girls take off. Meanwhile, Stuntman Mike has been stalking them, agrees to give a ride to drunken Pam (Rose McGowan again) at the bar, then kills everybody. I remembered Pam getting bounced around in his open passenger area with Mike in the protected driver’s seat, but forgot the rest – he rams the other girls’ car head-on, just destroying it, and the movie jumps back in time to show each death in detail. Except for this gruesome couple of minutes, it’s practically QT’s most wholesome movie, 80% talking and 20% car chases.

Up front: Shanna, Lanna, Jungle Julia, Butterfly:

Pam at left, with bartender QT and patrons:

Planet Terror characters cameoing in Death Proof’s hospital scene:

And about that car chase… next, a bunch more girls, and I can’t maintain much interest in the dialogue after he’s just Psycho’d his entire cast and expecting us to care about a whole new one, but here goes. This time they’re all in the film business: makeup artist Rosario Dawson, actress/model Lee (Mary Elizabeth Winstead, the girl with hair like this), and two stunt women, Kim (Tracie Thoms of Rent, Wonderfalls) and Zoë Bell (as herself, lately of The Hateful Eight). Lee is left with some redneck while the others test drive his Vanishing Point car. Kim drives while Zoë does poses on the hood, then suddenly Stuntman Mike starts running them off the road. Some of Zoë’s hood antics here are unbelievable, and the chase goes on nearly forever, then at a stop Kim shoots Mike, who drives off crying until they catch up and beat the shit out of him. Mike is one of my favorite QT creations, a super-tough, scar-faced pervert predator who becomes an absolute whiny little bitch when the tables are turned.

What a disappointment after the great Lords of Salem. All I can think is that Zombie was contractually obligated to deliver another full-length movie by the end of 2016, and after touring his band nonstop he ran out of time, so threw some actors and makeup artists in an abandoned factory and said “go nuts, we’ll film it and add some Malcolm McDowell scenes later to explain what’s happening.”

Sheri Moon and beardy Jeff Phillips and Meg Foster return from Salem, minus Ken Foree and Dee Wallace, plus two new black guys to be killed first (to be fair, Lawrence lasts quite a while). Malcolm in foppish powdered wig gambles on annual deathmatch with Jane Carr and Judy Geeson, sending waves of killers into the factory after our abducted carnival gang until only Sheri and “Doom-Head” (Richard Brake of Halloween II, whose makeup keeps changing in the opening scene) remain. Dialogue is mostly “fuck, fuuuuck” and camerawork is handheld garbage. Insultingly, the movie only got a single showtime and was billed as a “special event” with higher ticket fees, but joke’s on the theater since only six people showed up.

AV Club:

31 is set almost entirely within a smoky, leaky, dimly lit factory, like something out of a bad hair-metal video, and it has the structure of an especially half-assed video game, as the survivors creep from one boss battle to the next, confronted by assassins of escalating formidability: a little person done up like Hitler, slinging insults in unsubtitled Spanish; two clowns with chainsaws, cackling about “fucking all your holes”; a flirtatious Harley Quinn clone with a giant European partner … a messy mishmash of shit he’s done better before.

“Bleed us a king”

Whoa. The witchiest, most satanic movie of our time. House of the Devil cries back home to its mother while Lords of Salem goes out and burns down the neighborhood. Zombie knows how to build atmosphere, but his movies have also had portions of gleeful camp and self-awareness until this one, risking playing it straight up to a final burst of 1970’s psychedelia.

Sheri Moon Zombie is a Salem radio DJ alongside her sometime-boyfriend, beardy Jeff Phillips, and Rob Zombie regular and Dawn of the Dead star Ken Foree. But she starts to have headaches and experience weird visions and dreams after receiving a record by the titular Lords.

Meanwhile in way-back-story, Sheri’s ancestor Reverend Hawthorne (Andrew Prine, deputy of The Town That Dreaded Sundown) tortured and burned a bunch of suspected witches to death. In typical movie fashion, the modern witches (led by Sheri’s landlady and her “sisters”) now want revenge through the Reverend’s descendant, using her to summon some great evil. But atypically, they succeed. Local historian Bruce Davison (deadly dreamer of The Lathe of Heaven, mighty morphin’ senator in X-Men) learns more and more about the history and current events then is suddenly killed by Sheri’s landlady (Judy Geeson of To Sir With Love) and her two “sisters”, Dee Wallace (House of the Devil, The Frighteners) and palmreader Patricia Quinn (Rocky Horror). The Lords “concert” begins, everyone in attendance ends up dead with Sheri missing, and the Devil only knows what happens next.

Funny that Bruce Davison’s role was suposed to be played by Bruce Dern since I thought Meg Foster rather looked like Dern – until she got naked, which she did often. Saw Sid Haig’s name in the credits and kicked myself for not having recognized him, but IMDB says he was cut. It also says there were no digital effects, but I guess that doesn’t account for the melting-Jesus animation in one of the freakout scenes. Good use of a couple VU & Nico songs, speaking of those.

“Put your filthy paws on me, you damn dirty ape”

A silly, often stupid, pornographic parody horror cartoon indebted to Ren & Stimpy (for gross-out detail drawings), Tenacious D (for the music) and Looney Tunes (for the ever-present caricatures). References just about everything, including Halloween (Myers is hit by Superbeasto’s car), House of 1000 Corpses (Captain Spaulding as himself) and even Werewolf Women of the S.S. I am an idiot, because I loved it.

Superbeasto (voiced by head writer Tom Papa) is a mexican-wrestler superhero, but his eyepatch-sporting huge-breasted sister (Sheri Moon Zombie, with a perfect voice for cartoons) does most of the hard work along with her super-horny robot (Brian Posehn). It seems a scrawny nerd with a devil head (Paul Giamatti) and his intelligent screw-headed ape (Tom Kenny) has found the foretold badass girl with the mark of Satan on her ass (Rosario Dawson). Dr. Satan needs to marry Dawson in order to become all-powerful, which should be a problem since he’s a satanic nerd, but once she finds out he’s rich she steps right up. A fight ensues, Superbeasto gives Satan a monster wedgie, and order is restored. I love the music – during the big Carrie ripoff scene, the song is “Why’d you have to rip off Carrie?”

Lots of good voices – I didn’t recognize Elvira, Harland Williams, Clint Howard or Dee Wallace, but noted Danny Trejo as Superbeasto’s boss buddy back in the neighborhood, and John “Bender” DiMaggio as a lagoon creature.

I figure since Zombie made the already kinda boring Halloween series even more boring by going nuts on the psychological back story, this sequel was his chance to cut loose, to make a proper slasher picture. But no, more psychological crap, more fuckin’ Dr. Loomis, and another undistinguished movie. This time instead of Michael’s background and trauma leading to his becoming an indestructible serial killer, we focus on sister Laurie’s Michael-caused trauma leading to her becoming a serial killer (one assumes – I’m not gonna watch part three).

Dourif, an island of cool in the horror-movie muck:

I’m glad to see Sheri Moon Zombie as Michael’s mom, but I’m not glad that she’s dead, appearing in Michael’s mind along with his own child self and sometimes a white horse (the psychological significance of which is spelled out by the opening titles). Also glad to see Brad Dourif, but I spend the whole movie feeling bad for him, since it’s bookended by the torture and almost-killing of his daughter two years earlier, and the final torture and killing of his daughter. Not even slightly glad to see Malcolm McDowell, but only because he’s playing Samuel Loomis, the least appealing regular character in any horror series.

McDowell admiring himself:

Picks up right where Halloween left off. The coroners truck carrying Michael hits a cow in the road, Michael wakes up and kills the surviving coroner, disappears for two years before rampaging back to Sunnydale or wherever on Halloween night to torment Laurie, who finally goes over the edge and kills (I hope) egomaniac Dr. Loomis.

Oh right, Haddonfield:

There’s an awfully long dream sequence (or WAS it) in a hospital where pretty much everybody is killed except Laurie. Lois Lane plays Laurie’s therapist, with a giant extremely-white-horse-looking inkblot painting on her wall, saying things like “he’s objectively dead, but he’s living in your mind and he’s living in your heart and your emotions.” Some movie talk: Brad Dourif gets excited over Lee Marvin and Cat Ballou. A dude gets his head stomped, and lotta people get killed from brutal, brutal pounding and knives aplenty. The girls’ slutty friend is predictably killed. Lots of unmotivated camera angles. And as Halloween night approaches, the movie starts getting boring right when it should not be getting boring.

The girls work at an indie coffee shop, a rare look at Rob Zombie the junkman collector who I’ve been missing ever since his first movie:

Scout Taylor-Compton (who filled time between Halloween movies appearing in a direct-to-video horror called April Fool’s Day) returns as Laurie and Danielle Harris (no stranger to crap horror videos herself) is her buddy Annie (Dourif’s daughter). Sabretooth returns as Michael. “Love Hurts” plays over the final scene, the final dumb nail in the stupid coffin.

Michael and his imaginary friends: