100 Days of Horror welcomes you to ... SATANFEST 2013

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"Y'all know me, know how I earn a livin'. I'll catch this bird for you, but it ain't gonna be easy. Bad fish! Not like going down to the pond and chasing bluegills and tommycods. This shark, swallow ya whole. Little shakin', little tenderizin', and down you go. And we gotta do it quick, that'll bring back the tourists, that'll put all your businesses on a payin' basis. But it's not gonna be pleasant! I value my neck a lot more than three thousand bucks, chief. I'll find him for three, but I'll catch him, and kill him, for ten. But you've gotta make up your minds. If you want to stay alive, then ante up. If you want to play it cheap, be on welfare the whole winter. I don't want no volunteers, I don't want no mates, there's too many captains on this island. Ten thousand dollars for me by myself. For that you get the head, the tail, the whole damn thing."

Thursday, October 3, 2013

SatanFest 2013 - Day One: "The Lords of Salem!"

Yes, I know this is two days late. You don't have to remind me, I'm well aware of my late-ass, hangdog
status. Don't say a word to me. Don't say a fucking word to me, or I'll stab you through the heart with a fuckin' pencil ...

Now that we have made our tribute to the late, great Dennis Farina, we can get down to the business at hand.

Yes, it's true - SatanFest got off to a lackluster start on my part. Too tired to write after Tuesday's kickoff film, and too utterly ridden with depression the last two days to give much of a shit about it. I know, it's pathetic - so sue me. I ain't perfect, in fact am far from it, and sometimes - despite my best intentions - I bottom out. Can't be helped. And I shan't explain further, because you don't give two flying fucks do you?

No, you sure don't.

Anyway, I am excited to have finally mustered the energy to talk about this provocative and polarizing film. So lets get right to it!

The Lords of Salem (2013): Directed by Rob Zombie. Written by Rob Zombie. Distributed by Anchor Bay Films.

Starring: Sheri Moon Zombie, Meg Foster, Jeff Daniel Phillips, Ken Foree, Patricia Quinn, Dee Wallace and Judy Geeson.

The DL: A mysterious record shows up one day at a radio station in Salem, Massachusetts, and its haunting tune starts to have a strange effect on the women of the town - in particular Heidi (Zombie), a DJ at the station with a link to Salem's infamous past.

The Hotness: I attended this movie with my three children - daughter aged 19 (now 20), and my sons, 15
and 16. It's important to note here that, while my boys are acclimated to both Rob Zombie's music and movies in general, my daughter was adopted by another family when she was born and only recently came back into our lives. I say all this because she - unlike my heathen brood - is a good Christian girl who isn't so much a fan of horror movies. At least, not to the level the rest of us are. I thought we would be okay, since Zombie's movies tend to run more towards the disturbing end of things, tinged with a smattering of horrible violence.
Yeah, bitch - ride it ...

I was oh-so wrong.

"The fact that I know you watched this, in a theater, with all three of your kids, makes this experience that much more pleasurable," said our loyal friend and staff member Shannon during our viewing on Tuesday. And I am glad it enriched the experience for her - for me, it was a disturbing flashback and a questionable moment in my career as a father.

When crafting this film, it's obvious that Zombie did his research. The movie at times apes the look and style of a number of renowned directors - among them Stanley Kubrick, Ken Russell and David Cronenberg. And that isn't to say that he ripped them off: it's certainly more homage than any attempt at blatant lifting. But one can't help but feel like they're watching outtakes of "The Shining" or "Altered States" at times, with its monstrous and shifting religious imagery and long, ominous takes of the hallway leading up to the mysterious Apt. 5 in Heidi's apartment.

Your children probably worship this man ...
Again, these are all things that are appealing to me - I love all of the directors mentioned above, and so far I love all of Zombie's films (well ... not so much "Halloween 2," but even he admits it shouldn't even be considered one of the canon "Halloween" films). And I actually enjoyed this movie immensely - it has atmosphere, it has a number of compelling performances (Patricia Quinn is mesmerizing, to say the least), and as usual a fantastic must-have soundtrack with the score composed by longtime Zombie collaborator John 5. And while the details of the story fall apart under deep scrutiny - one minute, it seems like men are unable to physically play the record, then ... they are? - it is a good story nonetheless, and at times it's a downright spooky mess of a movie, filled with dread and a creeping paranoia that pervades the whole production.

But let's get to the rough stuff ...

Jesus ....
As Heidi descends into madness and addiction due to the machinations of the so-called "Lords of Salem,"
Zombie subjects us to her dreams and subconscious images. I think. I have no idea - maybe he is just fucking with us. But when it gets to the final moments, with melting Gothic Jesuses and faceless monsters stroking pink jelly cocks, and Sheri Moon Zombie riding on the back of a goat while German actor Torsten Voges dry-humps her from behind ... shit, I don't even know what to say here. Was there a point I was making?

Like I said, I actually enjoyed this movie. And I think most of you will, too. It isn't bad by any stretch, it's just
not for every taste. Again, it's more disturbing than scary - but that isn't to say there aren't some terrifying moments. And thankfully, Zombie eschews the "startle/scare" tactics so highly valued by many modern horror filmmakers. Also, like Kubrick at his best, Zombie makes the viewer feel a part of the proceedings, as opposed to watching the horror unfold before the character's eyes. It's a deeply personal film, cemented by solid performances - including Sheri Moon Zombie, who gives her most convincing performance to date. It also has some of the most realistic witch burnings I have ever seen - to the point that I swear these women are truly being burned alive at the stake.

The Devil, You Say?: Yeah, pretty much. Although not as the antagonist, nor even as a visible character in the movie. Rather, this is a classic Witch Tale and we have to assume that these gals have actually made some sort of pact with the devil to extend their powers from beyond the grave (cue creepy Theremin music). So even though Satan never makes an appearance, some of his cohorts do, including Beelzebub.

Cool stuff someone said: "I think you've come here to get inside my dear little Heidi's head. Get inside her head and fuck her brain. Have you come here to stick your nosy cock inside her head and fuck her brain, Mr. Matthias?"

Side Notes: The best thing about the movie just might be the performance of Voges as Count Gorgann, lead singer of Leviathan The Fleeing Serpent, in the video for their song, "Crushing the Ritual." It's hilarious and you just know there are people out there who this is a real band and are dying for a record. Video below, and you HAVE HAVE HAVE to watch it.