Sheri Moon Zombie talks The Lords of Salem, debuting on Blu-ray and DVD September 3rd
After director Rob Zombie revisited Haddonfield in the 2007 remake Halloween and its 2009 sequel Halloween II, the filmmaker decided to explore an idea he had in between the Halloween movies about a radio DJ in Salem, Massachussets. After teaming up with producer Jason Blum (Sinister, Paranormal Activity), The Lords of Salem began to take shape. The writer-director's wife Sheri Moon Zombie starred as the DJ, Heidi Hawthorne, who receives a strange audio recording that triggers violent flashbacks to the town's violent past. I recently had the chance to speak with Sheri Moon Zombie over the phone about this thriller, arriving on Blu-ray and DVD September 3 from Anchor Bay Home Entertainment. Here's what she had to say.
I read that Rob had the idea for this between the two Halloween, but there was a a song he did in 2006 with the same name. Was there any kind of correlation between the two, or was he just inspired by the title?
Sheri Moon Zombie: I actually don't know. You might have to ask him about that, but I think he wrote the song first, and the movie came after. I know he was inspired by... we had gone to a wedding in Massachussets, and while we were sitting around bored (Laughs), he went to the gift shop of this hotel and he found this book about the Salem Witch Trials. I know that was part of the inspiration.
Was there any research that you did about the daily life of a DJ?
Sheri Moon Zombie: Well, actually, I did have a radio show show with Rob in L.A. a few years ago. We did that once a week, so I had that experience. I also went to broadcasting school and had that background. As far as prepping for the movie itself, a few of us went down to KLOS in L.A. and sat in with them for an hour, just to get a feeling for how it works.
I saw you shot this both in Salem and in L.A., and I know a lot of productions would have easily faked another town for Salem. Was it important to witness that culture and be there while you were shooting something like this?
Sheri Moon Zombie: Oh yeah, I think it added so much to the movie. I mean, the majority of the film was shot in L.A. I only think we shot in Salem for two or three days, all exteriors, but it did just bring that East Coast sense to the film. I thought it added so much. Salem is such a cool little town, that's very touristy. It's fun to walk around all the shops and get the feeling there. Yeah, that added so much.
That history with the Witch Trials is still a big part of their culture, I believe.
Sheri Moon Zombie: Oh, it is. They live it there every day. It's a town that's basically a tourist town, and those attractions are open and you can go on tours. It's year-round, yeah.
A lot of the cast have worked on Rob's movies before like Ken Foree, but then you have people like Dee Wallace coming in for the first time. Do you get a sense of when you get back to work with all these people, that it's a familial environment, and when new people come in, does it feel like you're adding to the family?
Sheri Moon Zombie: It kind of does, actually (Laughs). Rob has his core crew that he has worked with on several films, so that is very familiar, and a lot of the actors, Rob likes to bring them back. It's always great to have "new babies" come on, they're not babies, but the new actors. It's fun. It's great. We keep in touch with everyone, even people who get edited out of the movie, which is an inevitable process during editing that happens sometimes, we keep in touch with pretty much everybody.
I read that Rob was really drawn in by the creative freedom he was offered in working with someone like Jason Blum. Did you find it was a different creative environment on this one, without the big studio claws coming in all the time?
Sheri Moon Zombie: Well, we didn't have the big studio claws coming in, but, definitely, every day was a time crunch. Every minute of the day was like, 'What do we do? What's the next set-up?' Rush through this, rush through that, because it was a low-budget movie, and to get the scope and the feel that Rob wanted on a low budget, we had to work really fast and furious. Kudos to the crew and everyone who did that. It was quite a challenge every day.
Did you find there is any sort of creative rejuvenation when you are so crunched for time? Obviously, every filmmaker wants more time, but did you find there is something that comes out of everyone, creatively, when you're pressed for time like that?
Sheri Moon Zombie: To a certain degree, yes, because everyone is thinking on their toes, and the pressure of getting the day done. But, then there are also things like, because we don't have the money to do this, Rob will re-think an idea and re-work it, and he's inspired and something better happens. So, yeah, it's a fun process working like this, but I'd rather have a little bit more money so we could have a little more freedom to do more than two or three takes.
Was there a particular moment that, when you saw it scripted, you weren't sure how it would play out, especially with a budget like this, that you were pleasantly surprised with when you saw the finished product?
Sheri Moon Zombie: Oh, yeah. When I first read the script, I was unsure about a lot of things, how certain things were going to look. As an actor, I don't have the vision of the final product, like Rob has. When someone is writing it and directing it, they know what they're going for, and I just couldn't see it. I couldn't see how some things were going to work, and I had questions about a lot of things. Then, of course, you film everything and the editing process is a whole other layer added to the situation too. You start with the script, and I can just imagine it how I imagine it. Then, when you film, you actually see what you're filming, but once you see it edited together, it's reworked so differently. It's a huge undertaking for Rob, that's for sure.
We reported about a year ago that Rob is doing a hockey movie next Broad Street Bullies. Is there a role he has set aside for you?
Sheri Moon Zombie: I don't know. He is sitting in his office right now, trying to shorten the script up, trying to tighten it up. I read the first 30 pages, and it's awesome. I haven't read the full script yet, so I don't know what's going on.
I'm a big hockey fan, and I've been looking forward to another great hockey movie. They are few and far between.
Sheri Moon Zombie: I know! We're huge hockey fans too. When we lived in L.A., we would go to the Kings games all the time, season tickets. They sucked for so many years, and as soon as we moved to the East Coast, there they go and win the Stanley Cup (Laughs). We did get to go to a playoff game in Jersey, though, so that was exciting.
Is there anything you'd like to say to anyone who didn't see it in theaters and who might be on the fence about it, about why they should check out The Lords of Salem on Blu-ray and DVD?
Sheri Moon Zombie: Oh, I think most people watch movies now on Blu-ray and DVD and Netflix. I think less and less people are going to the movie theater, so it's actually pretty exciting now that it's being released because more people will be able to see it. Either you're going to love it, or you're going to hate it. I don't think people will be like, 'Eh, it's OK.' You either love it or hate it (Laughs).
That's my time. Thanks so much, Sheri. It was a pleasure.
Sheri Moon Zombie: Thank you, Brian.