Since his directorial debut of House of 1000 to his recent Halloween films, Rob Zombie has always been a polarizing filmmaker. Love him or hate him, the man gets people talking.
His latest work, The Lords of Salem, is no different. Many viewers praised it as his best film to date, while others found it to be an incoherent mess. Personally, I lean with the former; while The Devil’s Rejects remains my favorite Zombie effort, I think The Lords of Salem showcases his most ambitious work as a director. Even if you aren’t a fan of the (admittedly disjointed) story, it’s impossible to deny how visually stunning the picture is.
Opinions aside, one of my favorite things about Zombie’s movies are his audio commentaries. They’re always informative, giving insight into the creative process, and never dull, thanks to his dry sense of humor. When The Lords of Salem recently hit DVD and Blu-ray, I was eager to hear what he had to see. Some of the information was known beforehand, but there are plenty of interesting tidbits. Here are 12 facts I learned about the movie, straight from Zombie:
1. Although Zombie had complete creative freedom, the film’s limited budget and short shooting schedule prevented him from bringing his complete vision to the screen. He calls the film “22 and a half days of chaos.” As a result of the short production, many scenes were cut from the film. Some were never shot at all, while others were removed for pacing issues.
2. Sid Haig, Michael Berryman, Clint Howard, Barbara Crampton, Daniel Roebuck and Udo Kier are among the actors whose scenes were reduced to small snippets or removed altogether. Unfortunately, they deleted footage is nowhere to be found on the disc. However, knowing Anchor Bay, I wouldn’t be surprised if we saw a “deluxe” re-release in a year or two. In addition to the missing scenes, I’d love to see an expansive making-of feature for which Zombie is known.
3. The dog’s name was Steve in the script, but the dog used in the film was named Troy, so Zombie changed his character name to Troy as well. The animal made shooting difficult, so he becomes less prominent as the film progresses. On the other hand, Zombie calls the goat, Noodles, easy to work with.
4. Richard Lynch was originally cast as Reverend Jonathan Hawthorne, but his poor health during production lead to him being replaced by Andrew Prine. Lynch ultimately passed away in 2012.
5. The production only shot on location in Salem, Massachusetts for three days, during which it rained most of the time. They largely shot exteriors to establish locations, while the rest was shot in California.
6. The coven prologue sequences were shot at Sable Ranch in Santa Clarita, California, where Zombie also shot The Devil’s Rejects and his Grindhouse trailer, Werewolf Women of the S.S. It was an extremely cold day, but none of the disrobed actresses complained. Zombie knew it was time to stop filming when Meg Foster could no longer pronounce the word Satan.
7. The first two days of shooting were the WIQZ radio station scenes, which were filmed in the famed recording studio The Village. Although Zombie himself has not recorded there, it has been home to such legendary artists as Ozzy Osbourne, Johnny Cash, Alice Cooper, Bob Dylan, Aerosmith and Elton John.
8. Heidi’s apartment is decorated with iconic imagery from the 1902 silent film A Trip to the Moon, because, as Zombie states, “I immediately wanted to establish that there would be a surreal-ness to everything that took place in her apartment.”
9. Due to the controversial script, the production was not allowed to shoot at certain locations. Most notably, no church would allow them to film inside. Additionally, they weren’t allowed to shoot at a wax museum in Salem, because the script is not historically accurate “like Bewitched,” Zombie quips.
10. Dee Wallace and Patricia Quinn (who portray witch sisters Sonny and Megan, respectively) were at each other’s throats on set. Zombie does not go into detail as the reason behind it, although he mentions that their acting processes differ. He does say the tension worked for the movie – and it was entertaining.
11. In addition to composing the film’s score, John 5 (guitarist of Rob Zombie’s band) appears as Halvard The Guardian (a member of the fictitious black metal band Leviathan the Fleeing Serpent) and as one of the demonic doctors.
12. Despite what some people think, the film does not employ any digital effects. Everything was accomplished practically on set; a refreshing change of pace for a modern horror film.