Rob Zombie speaks to Midnight Madness about the making of The Lords of Salem

Rob Zombie chose the Midnight Madness film screening at Toronto’s International Film Festival to premiere his latest movie The Lords of Salem.  He speaks to Robert A. Mitchell of the official Midnight Madness blog about how the movie was made.


THE LORDS OF SALEM marks Rob Zombie’s first time at the Midnight Madness programme at the Toronto International Film Festival. I don’t think Mr. Zombie is given enough credit of how good a filmmaker he is. THE LORDS OF SALEM shows a filmmaker who definitely growing as a storyteller. I have always believed Zombie is a consummate visual stylist. 

Lords reaffirms this for me — a film in which Zombie sits the camera down and sets up well composed shots influenced by Kubrick. His casting choices are always inspired and pay respect to the history of the horror genre. I recently had the opportunity to ask Mr. Zombie some questions.

Being born in Haverhill not far from Salem Massachusetts have the witch trails always a point of fascination? What was it about the witch trials that sparked your imagination and set in motion the writing of The Lords of Salem?

Growing up in Massachusetts I always thought the state had a cool spooky vibe and the reality of the witch trials certainly fed that vibe. The inspiration for the movie was an accident really. One day I just happened to buy a book on the witch trials in the gift shop of a hotel I was staying at. That book got me thinking about it and that was the beginning of the project.

You shot the film, then went on tour and then returned to edit the film as well as produce your next album. How did that gap between production and post help you approach what you shot as opposed to jumping right into an editing suite? What were some of the benefits of the challenge of balancing both projects?

In some ways it drove me crazy because I really just wanted to keep working on the film until it was done, but in other ways getting away from it helped me to solve problems that you can’t solve sometimes just because you get too close and can’t get any distance from the project. All in all this method worked out great.

The cast you and Monika Mikkelsen have assembled is a who’s who of genre films. How do you approach casting? Do you write with certain actors in mind or seek out actors through more traditional methods, like auditions?

All of the above. For some roles I have a specific person in mind and for others I do typical auditions. Whatever it takes to find the right person for the role. One example of an audition that blew me away was Judy Geeson’s read for the role of Lacy.

Watching your films and videos over the years I believe you are a consummate visual stylist. How did you approach the look of this film with cinematographer Brandon Trost?

We basically just talked about it over and over and over then decided on a course of action. I was always a big fan of handheld camera work, but suddenly it started to look like TV to me since so many TV shows use that style. So I wanted to do the exact opposite. Very steady camera work with all the camera moves being motivated by the action on screen. No shakey camera just for the fuck of it.

How has your approach to directing evolved from House of Thousand Corpses to The Lords of Salem?

Well, with each film you hopefully develop a better set of skills that you can apply to the next film. If you watch those two films back to back I don’t think you would never think the same person made both films. Lords is a far more sophisticated production.

I have been reading that The Lords of Salem is your darkest film to date. Is there anything you can tell the audience of the experience that awaits them upon watching The Lords of Salem?

Be patient and pay attention. It is not what you think it is