Rob Zombie has put out some interesting horror films, but The Lords of Salem remains one of the director’s most unique projects.

Rob Zombie has had to face a bit of an uphill battle during his career as a horror filmmaker. The director was met with a lot of criticism for his reboot of the Halloween series, along with its sequel, but the filmmaker absolutely has a clear voice, which is more than a lot of names in the genre can say. Sometimes Rob Zombie can get lost in his own tropes and stereotypes, but the director is at his best when he’s telling a purely original story and not trying to remake something else or deliver a challenging sequel. Lords of Salem is one of those occasions and it’s a situation where Zombie gets full creative control to run wild with a wholly new idea.

Lords of Salem effectively incorporates many of the gritty themes that fascinate Zombie and fill up his works, but it dips into the territory of witchcraft and the Satanic Panic. The film looks at Heidi LaRoc (Sheri Moon Zombie), a troubled radio DJ from Salem, Massachusetts, who becomes the obsession of a coven of witches after she plays a Satanic record by a band called, The Lords. Soon this demonic music takes over the community and these witches set their sights on Heidi as their offspring vessel. The film plays with some exciting Satanic ideas, but there was originally also a tribute to an old-fashioned style of horror movies, which sadly didn’t make the cut.

Rob Zombie Shot A Film-Within-The-Film Called “Frankenstein And The Witchhunter”

Rob Zombie’s filmmaking style may come across as a little crude to some, but he’s a director who undeniably pulls inspiration from classical places and has a lot of respect for the traditional projects that helped the genre get started in the first place. A perfect example of this is that Rob Zombie originally had a loving tribute to the old exploitation-style Hammer films of the past. The original cut of Lords of Salem features Salem witch trial author, Franchis Matthias (Bruce Davison) and his wife, Alice, receive free movie tickets from Heidi’s radio station. The feature that’s playing is a fake horror film called “Frankenstein and the Witchhunter.”

It’d be one thing to just have a tribute to Hammer era horror films, but the most interesting detail about “Frankenstein and the Witchhunter” is that Zombie shot the faux film himself. There have been occasions in the past, whether it’s Scream 2 or Inglourious Basterds, where movies-within-movies are shot by the director’s friends. However, Zombie wanted to lovingly recreate these older horror films and create one of his own. Zombie gets the talents of Clint Howard, Udo Kier, and Camille Keaton to act in the fake movie, but with Lords of Salem’s runtime already at over an hour and forty minutes, all of the “Frankenstein and the Witchhunter” material was removed from the final film. Hopefully a future Rob Zombie film—whether it’s a Lords of Salem sequel or something completely new—will find a place for Zombie’s tribute to exploitation horror.

Next: Rob Zombie’s Lords Of Salem Cut Down Sid Haig’s Role