You’ll hear it said often, “The book is better than the movie,” and in most cases, I would agree, especially in horror. Directors tend to take what they believe to be the best parts of a novel and combine it all with a lackluster companion plot, leaving out key points that would draw it all together. At least that has been my experience before, but in the case of Rob Zombie’s The Lords of Salem, well, let’s just say that the book and the movie absolutely go hand in hand.
The Lords of Salem was first released as a book by Rob Zombie with author Brian Evenson on March 12, 2013, shortly followed by the movie on April 26, 2013.
It is unclear exactly how much of the book was written by Zombie himself, but regardless, it’s an excellent read.
Unlike many who first saw the movie, I did read the book first. It was one of the most fascinating reads for me. The scintillating story of Heidi Hawthorne, a 37 year old radio DJ and recovering drug addict, who suddenly received an anonymous gift from a band that called themselves The Lords.
She plays it on the show, basically as a joke, but unknowingly awakens evil bloodlines and thus begins the horrifying string of events.
Obviously, the movie has the same plot. Of course it does. Fortunately, having read the book first gave me a bit of an advantage, in my opinion. Due to timing, Zombie had to do away with several key scenes, scratching them down to bare minimum in order to fit the required time frame for filming.
The biggest, and quite possibly the most notable of differences is at the very beginning. In the movie we meet Heidi almost immediately and are thrown into her world. When she receives the package and the terrible events begin taking place, we’ve only seen brief glimpses into the past and have little knowledge of what it all means.
The first (approximately) forty pages of the book however, gives us an in depth look into the past, completely explaining the deadly dispute between the Hawthorne family (Heidi’s ancestors) and a coven of witches led by Margaret Morgan. We learn that Morgan cursed the entire Hawtorne bloodline, which ultimately led to the events taking place in Heidi’s life in the movie.
Another key moment that is explained more in depth in the book is the moment that Heidi plays The Lord’s song on the radio. We watch as several women are keyed in on, each stopping the current tasks and just well, standing there. In the book we learn that each of those women were descendents of the Hawthorne’s and when the music plays, they are put into a trance that forces them to kill their significant others. These scenes are incredibly descriptive and lengthy but show the true nature of exactly how the music affects them all.
There are multiple other “kill scenes” described in the book, which in my opinion would have added more depth and understanding to the movie as well.
Finally, the last thing I noticed in comparison is the ending. Honestly, neither the book nor the movie make much sense. I’m not saying either are bad, but they’re both pretty jumbled, the movie filled with some phenomenal imagery and the book filled with excruciating detail, but I will say the book ending is much gorier and Herman, who simply disappears from the story in the movie, actually dies trying to save Heidi.
So, all in all, I would say that as always, The Lord’s of Salem, the book, is much more detailed (as expected) and does show a much more comprehensive understanding of the events that take place in the movie, but to say that one is better than the other, is wrong. I would say the book is an excellent companion to the movie. Read the book for a better background understanding but watch the movie to witness it all play out!