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Ah! If only ALL "made-for-TV" works were like this one! They just don't
make them like this anymore. I doubt if they ever will. I've begun to
notice how the quality of the arts at any given moment seem to be
indicative of a culture's uprise/downfall.
I just finished watching Salem's Lot now in 2004, many years after it was made, and I still realize what masterpiece this film is. Excellent acting, intelligent scripting, intelligent direction, smart photography, professional editing, disturbing music, mysterious atmosphere, good and colorful dialogs "'ciao' is Italian for 'good-bye'.. hmm.. you learn something new everyday", many many ingredients.
This is what horror is truly all about. It has not to do with 'gore' or blood or visual effects substantially, but with an atmosphere that is reflected in all aspects of the story being told, that is, whatever you see and hear. It's an experience.
Then add to all of this nearly 4 hours for the whole thing to air on tv, which, instead of giving us a tiresome long and boring picture, gives us the progressive development of actions and situations that make this film what it is.
This film presents vampires as what they are, not stylish conversative and sometimes stupid sentient and pretty creatures, but meta-physical representations of evil in its superlative form, that is, SCARY, and I mean TRULY SCARY things to avoid like hell itself!
The vampires are not the twisted politically correct teenager role model vampires of the '90s. They are hideously mysterious, ethereal, chilling and extremely dangerous demonic things with human form. Foul, corrupt and evil aberrations whose eyes glow in the dark like some animals' do.
The actors, I'm sure, all gave their best in this effort. I don't know whatever Mr. Hooper said to them before filming, but I'd sure love to know.
This was money well spent by the makers. They have given us art. This is time well used by the viewers. You gain by watching Salem's Lot, you can't/won't lose. 10/10 anyday.
I first saw "Salems Lot" when I was only 10, and 20 years later I still
have the random nightmare because of it. "Salems Lot"- the book- was an
excellent tale of a small - town being slowly killed - off by vampires,
but the 1979 T.V. movie took the story to a whole new level. Tobe
Hooper stayed true to the nightmarish Stephen King novel when he
directed this movie for television. The movie is so scary (and holds -
up today), because of great cast and truly terrifying scenes of goulish
vampires. The actors who made up the small - town cast, looked like
your everyday working - class people that you might bump into at your
local supermarket. That element of quiet small - town folk mixed with
the absolute horror / evil of the Stryker character (played by an
unnervingly cold James Mason) and Mr. Barlow -- one of the most hideous
/ terrifying vampires since "Nosferatu"-- make "Salems Lot" one of the
best horror movies that I've ever seen.
I give it 10 out of 10 stars!!!!!!!!!
This movie is an odd cross between "Peyton Place" and "Nosferatu"...and it
works! Set in the small, isolated and somewhat inbred community of
Jerusalems Lot (called Salems Lot by the locals) this film is more about
small town dirty secrets which are really not secret at all. Everyone knows
everyone else's business, gossip is a way of life and the town's mistrust of
outsiders is both expected and justified when two men show up in town and a
little boy goes missing. This is a story about a small town that just
happens to have a vampire in it.
James Mason is elegance personified as the "Renfield" character who sticks out like a sore thumb in this tight-knit community and makes himself the object of suspicion when he moves into the local haunted house and opens up an antique shop. His European accent, expensive suits and somewhat prissy manners make him a hot item of gossip. So too does the arrival of Ben Mears also cause local tongues to start wagging. Mears was born and raised in Salems Lot, having moved away as a small child. He returns as a semi-successful author and a recent widower, haunted by childhood memories of the Marsten House - the local haunted house in which James Mason now resides. Yet another outsider is Mark, a new teen in town with a morbid collection of horror movie paraphernalia. These three characters are drawn together by force as more people go missing and the small town residents, with their narrow vision, cannot accept what is really happening. It is up to the outsiders - the author who knows, the teenager who believes and the human who is a monster - to solve the mystery.
When the vampire finally appears, it is a frightening, exhilarating experience. Reggie Nalder as Barlow, the ancient Master whom James Mason serves, is a disgusting parasite, a physical homage to Nosferatu with his rat-like teeth, his long bony fingers and his hypnotic eyes. He is the frosting on the cake for this excellent film. By the time he makes his appearance, it is almost unnecessary. The paranoia has already decimated the town, and the fear of the unknown is the greatest monster of all. But though he may be unnecessary, he is not unwelcome. He is a wonderful vampire, a truly hideous beast, a fine salute to what a vampire should be - ugly, vile and obscene.
This is one of my all time favorite vampire films, right up there with Nosferatu and Subspecies. To hell with whining, pretentious vampire Pretty Boys - this is the real stuff, and it doesn't get much better than this.
As it really is a wonderful and suspenseful vampire tale! Stephen King - not normally my favorite horror writer - has created one of the absolute BEST modern vampire tales in this story, and this mini-series translation is absolutely true to the feel of his tale! Instead of splatterfest effects , this show hinges itself on a high-tension spiderweb of plotlines and sets up the vampire more as a behind-the-scenes controlling evil. The terror here is not in seeing the monster, it is in NOT seeing him and knowing that he and his minions are out there, somewhere, plotting and planning with the heros stumbling blindly after them like toddlers in the dark. Give this show a chance! It may just scare you!
Tobe Hooper's SALEM'S LOT is an engrossing, riveting tale of suspense. The
atmosphere makes this film. There is a foreboding creepiness that sucks
into Salem's Lot long before the true horror begins.
David Soul manages to become a vampire slayer in the tightest jeans imaginable. Even faulty jeep doors and vengeful plumbers can't hold him back from probing into the secrets of the old, suspicious New England town of Jerusalem's Lot. What compels him is as fascinating as what he uncovers.
The townsfolk range from a shapely boarding house owner to a deliciously smarmy real estate agent to a truly moving school teacher looking for a way out of nowhere. SALEM'S LOT makes you feel you are among friends, sadly, a community of doomed ones. Mood is everything. If you let it, SALEM'S LOT will get under your skin and seep into your nightmares.
There are moments of true horror: the floating Glick brother window knockers, the caretaker in the creaky rocking chair, Marjorie Glick rising from the dead, the vampires vying for Mark's tender neck. Just a few great scenes in a chilling, memorable film.
SALEM'S LOT is the perfect complement to a sleepy, rainy afternoon at home alone. By nightfall, dare to leave a window ajar as the fog rolls in and the undead fatefully rise to quench their thirst.
I was fourteen years old when this film was released, and it was really a
shocker for its time. Although I can see the points raised by detractors of
this film, nevertheless, it is, in my opinion, one of the most truly
terrifying movies I have ever seen. The scenes in which first Ralphie and
then Danny Glick appear in windows at night, scratching to be let in, were
utterly horrifying, as were the scenes with Mike Ryerson in Jason Burke's
guest bedroom ("Looooook at me ... I will see you sleep like the dead,
teacher") and Marjorie Glick in the mortuary. Along with the original
"Halloween," this is a film that really, really scared me, and I feel that a
key element was the lack of gore (which is probably a disappointment to
younger viewers used to explicit splatter). The nonverbal dialogue of
expressions and actions, the music, and the significantly occurring silences
resulted in the suspense which makes a film truly frightening in my
Having said this, I do feel that the book was much, much better than the movie, and I would recommend it as one of the best vampire stories ever written (sorry, Anne Rice, but it's true). But let's be fair and realistic. It's a rare film that excels the book on which it was based. Not one of Stephen King's wonderfully (and horribly) imaginative works has EVER been committed to film in a way that has equaled the written work. Never, ever, EVER. That is something that will just never happen. If it were possible, then nobody would bother to read his books, he would become a screenwriter, and that would be a real loss for the horror genre.
Excellent horror flick from Tobe Hooper who gave us Poltergeist (that's
Poltergeist 1, the GOOD one)...Lifeforce, Nightmares, The Mangler, Dark
Skies, The Others, and so many more!
Written for TV by Paul Monash, screenwriter who adapted the marvelous TV series, "V," and directed by one of the Masters of Horror, Tobe Hooper, this movie (in the extended version) closely follows Stephen King's original literary work much better than expected.
While there are campy moments, and the effects could have been much, MUCH better (it WAS post-Star Wars, after all), there are edgy, frightening moments; moments where you literally hold your breath, if you've allowed yourself to be drawn into the movie. Riddled with "scare you" and "edge of the seat" moments, this film, while a bit dated, is still scary.
I previously owned the "cut" version which aired on cable in 1979.
In writing this review, I purchased the full-length version and I must say that I was delightfully surprised. This version was so much better, followed the original work more closely, and added the depth of character development which the "short" version completely obliterated.
In the wake of the remake to be aired in 2004, I thought a fresh viewing of this movie was in order, and so it was. If you have never seen "Salem's Lot" in its 184 minute presentation, please do. It's a classic in the horror genre and will enrich your perspective of the plot by 100%.
Suspenseful and actually scares you from time to time.
It rates an 8.4/10 from...
the Fiend :.
Creepy little vampire flick is based on the bestselling Stephen King
novel about a small town that becomes overtaken by an "infestation" of
vampires who begin terrorizing the townspeople. Tobe Hooper creates a
chilling atmosphere by using thick fog and after-rain streets to give
us a claustrophobic and frightful feeling. The script is top-notch and
although not as close to the book as the dreadful 2004 TNT remake, it
is obviously much better. I waited years to see this film after staring
at it all the time at the video store, and I haven't regretted renting
it since I picked it up that day. It's definitely up there with those
other Stephen King miniseries and the theatrical films as well. 4/5
Rated R for violence and scary moments
Even with great actors starring in the re-make of Salem's Lot I was
very hesitant that it would be able to even touch the original. As I
guessed after watching the new re-make (which was OK and filled in some
gaps to an already 3 hour original), it still couldn't hold a candle to
The original captures a time when there was no internet, no cell phones. It was an eerie town, a spooky house and a time that if such an evil could infest a town, it probably would spread fast as in this film.
As naive as I am after all these years, I was actually doing searches for Salem's Lot in Maine and was surprised to know that no such place actually exist. It was just a hypothetical place created by Stephen King. However, the location was in Ferndale California where the infamous "Marsten House" still stands on a road where no other houses are and has "No Trespassing" signs everywhere. Doesn't look quite the same from what I'm told and Hollywood dressed up the outside just for the film.
Classic film, one of my brothers still refuses to watch this movie because of the memories of it scaring the hell out of him. I can't even tell you how many times I have seen it. The original actors were absolutely fantastic, David Soul, James Mason and the whole crew.
I still see the best acting in the world when Ben Mears (David Soul) is telling the story in the bar to his old school teacher (that inspired him to be a writer) about entering the house as a kid on a dare. David Soul shines on this role as if he was meant to do this part.
The same can be said about James Mason. He played the part as he was born just to do this movie.
Great movie, a classic, but why in the world does the DVD not have special features like "interviews"? I would love to see pics of the "Marsten House" today..
You take a 5-Star Horror movie and have no special features. That was my only disappointment..
Without a doubt this television movie based on Stephen King's grand horror opus pales in comparison to its literary counterpart. But isn't that usually the case? Although missing some subplots, many characters, and having some major script changes here and there, Tobe Hooper's Salem's Lot is indeed enjoyable. I watched it right after having read the book, and although I spent a lot of time seeing what it did not have...I have to confess that there were many good points. For starters, let me list some of my major complaints. The whole framed narrative story in the movie is ridiculous and very clumsily made. I also have a big problem with the gaping holes in the script with regard to characters popping up here and there with little or no expository introduction. Some characters were used to help move the plot and then discarded. Names were needlessly changed from the novel. That being said there was a great sense of style to the picture which must be credited to Hooper. Overall the acting is quite good. David Soul is very credible in his leading role, as are Lance Kerwin, Bonnie Bedelia, Lew Ayres and Ed Flanders. James Mason makes a stunning villain. Mason uses charm as a weapon and eats up the scenery with subtlety and wit. The vampire is played by horror veteran Reggie Nalder, and although he says not one word...he is very effective. The make-up on him is very reminiscent of Nosferatu. The lead-ins to commercials show the film to be dated by today's standards, but it has enough in it to be an entertaining diversion. However, PLEASE read the book first as it is one of the best of its kind and will make the film all the more enjoyable if for no other reason than seeing its defects.
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