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I actually feel embarrassed for Michael Moriarty. He has never had the really good roles he deserves. And he did not deserve this. It is obvious that the studio wanted to exploit the popular "Salem's Lot" without "shoveling" out the cash to do a decent job. This film cannot even in good conscience be called a sequel. There was nothing left of the town at the end of the last film, and suddenly all new characters are coming home to a place that isn't even supposed to exist. I really felt as if my intelligence was being insulted, by this truly poor representation of the subject. If you are renting the film OK, you just wasted a couple of bucks, no big deal. But if you bought it, you've just been bitten big time. This movie deserves an early grave.
Adapting a great book to the screen is no easy feat, but it can be done
if the people making it happen have their hearts in it. What's also
very difficult is trying to make a sequel to the adaptation, especially
if it turned out rather well. 'Children of the Corn' was no smash, but
developed a cult following and did well on video, leading to a slew of
sequels. Trouble is most of them are junk and deserve to collect dust
on the shelf. 'Salem's Lot' has an even bigger following and has had a
greater impact on people in terms of scares. So when a sequel comes
along you'd think it too would scare the wits out of you, but when
seeing this "sequel" you'd be in for quite a shock. Whether or not
that's a positive thing is up to the individual.
Pros: An interesting cast was assembled here, and everyone does a fine job. Nicely scored. An interesting premise, which is a fresh take on the vampire legend. Well-paced. Beautiful countryside. Some good moments of satire. A few really creepy scenes and images.
Cons: Has kind of a rushed feeling, which may be because this film was shot simultaneously with 'It's Alive III.' Lacking in the scare department. Cheap looking effects.
Final thoughts: This film is the definition of a sequel in-name-only. The town name and the involvement of vampires are the only ties to Stephen King's novel and the 1979 mini-series. But if you put that out of your mind while watching this film and expect something different you may find yourself liking it. Like a lot of Larry Cohen's work it's one of those films that doesn't quite meet it's potential, but has enough going for it to be better than average.
My rating: 3.5/5
But not as bad as others might have you believe either. Michael Moriarity returns from South America to get his mal-adjusted son and brings him to a house he inherited in Maine in the cozy little town of Salem's Lot. This film has no bearing on the original source, nor is it a similair film in any way. Larry Cohen directs and creates his vision. He shows us a town where vampirism is an accepted and seemingly normal lifestyle. The story has plenty of flaws, and sure does ask you to do a lot of suspending belief, but it has at its core a pretty interesting story of a father and a son bonding amidst their own weaknesses and a horde of vampires. Moriarity is good and some of the character actors are in fine form, especially Samuel Fuller barking out one-liners and Andrew Duggan(his last film) as the head vampire with New England grace and charm. Some exceptionally weak areas are special effects. The evil vampire face is absurd-looking, like a mask from a shop! All in all, I enjoyed this very flawed film for its heart.
A good story can survive all but the worst treatment. Unfortunately,
this really is the worst treatment.
The acting is terrible. The editing is worse--choppy and inept. It's the kind of editing that's so bad you have a number of those "What? How'd he get over there?" moments. It's hard to believe that Larry Cohen had ever directed anything before this, it's so amateurish. I would have guessed this to be a first film, if I didn't know better. It looks as if the director just didn't get the shots needed to cover the action and left the editor scrambling to stitch together a movie.
Similarly, lines of dialogue come out of nowhere, completely unmotivated, almost nonsensical.
The sad thing is, there are good ideas buried in this mess: vampires trying to run a sustainable community by feeding on cows' blood, their attempts to recruit a journalist to record the details of their lives for future generations, the protagonist's perpetually-17-years-old childhood sweetheart seducing him into the Devil's bargain. They're good elements for a story.
But the details don't hang together. None of it quite makes sense. And the one or two good special effects are overwhelmed by all the lousy ones.
If, like the inhabitants of Salem's Lot, you plan to live forever, you might want to take a look at this movie. But for the living: Believe me, you don't have enough time to waste two of your precious remaining hours on this one.
This is just so bad. The acting is absolutely appalling. The entire cast sound as if they're reading unfamiliar dialogue from an idiot board. Ricky Addison Reed doesn't appear to have done any other film or TV work before or since, & it's not at all surprising. In fact, a quick check through the database shows that quite a few cast members have only ever appeared in other schlock horror movies by Larry Cohen. The monster special effects are laughable. Just check out the ridiculous "true face" of the head vampire, it's on a par with those cheap & cheesy 50's horror/sci-fi B-Features. The script is an insult to Stephen King. Another reviewer stated that this movie isn't as bad as others have made it out to be. I disagree. It is really, really that bad.
This movie had a good idea, that is, how a colony of vampires might live,
what they do to survive, etc. However, it just didn't work out right.
pacing and performances were not up to snuff, and any movie in which you
have characters standing in a barn full of Holstein cattle, and explaining
that "Jersey cows make richer milk", obviously had problems in the design
Just a bad film...
Father and son take a trip to Salem's Lot, Maine where they discover
that the locals are all vampires - who want the two travelers to write
a bible for them.
This disappointing theatrical sequel to the excellent 1979 mini-series Salem's Lot has pretty much nothing to do with the original or the novel that it was based on. This film is shamefully flat on scares and the vampires aren't even remotely frightening. For the most part we just get old people running around with plastic fangs in their mouths. Story-wise we get little suspense to sustain the audience.
Yet despite these obvious flaws our leading stars do OK performances and there's a fine music score.
Even still, this doesn't save this sequel from being poor.
* 1/2 out of ****
Return To Salem's Lot fits into a select category of films I like to
label ONE A.M. HBO Specials. These were the films HBO showed to death
between 11pm and 6am during the mid-to-late 80s, when there weren't 500
other movie channels to choose from. HBO never showed Casablanca or
other TCM-type classics, so their stable was somewhat limited. Some
were cheap teen-sex comedies (Summer Job, Bikini Car Wash Company),
while others were cheapie underground horror flicks (Clownhouse,
Student Bodies, Night of the Creeps). RTSL falls into the latter
category. If you watch this film the way it was likely intended to be
seen (as a campy drive-in special, worth viewing at 2am simply because
it beats watching Sha-Na-Na), then it can be quite entertaining in its
way. Many of these 1am cheesefests also featured unknown up-and-coming
stars (Clownhouse had Sam Rockwell, RTSL has Tara Reid), as well as
established actors at the tail-ends of their careers (Andrew Duggan is
downright wonderful in RTSL).
Granted, not every horror film is The Shining. But movies like RTSL definitely have their place.
A lot of people! and so do I. Seeing this movie at first made me think this looks good... infact I think it started good then gradually got worse then it just buried itself. Michael Moriarty (who I'm a fan of) was in his typical horror movie role similar to movies like "The Stuff". The movie dies right after Joe (Moriarty) gave Van Meer (Fuller) the book about who the people of the town were, The Vampires. A lot more could have been put into the plot it was like it was made up as it goes along. I actually purchased this movie simply because Moriarty was in it, absolutely for no other reason.
Joe Weber an anthropologist returns from South America to be with his
son Jeremy and they travel to a small, quiet New England town, know as
Salem's Lot, where he grew up as a child and that he has inherited a
house, which he plans to fix up and live. But soon he discovers the
town's horrific secret, it's populated by vampires who live a normal
life and the town's judge Axel, wants Joe to write a bible for their
Drum roll please shock, horror! What do you know? I liked it, quite a bit. Okay, okay it doesn't come close to Hooper's superior 'Salem's Lot', but I found this cheap looking quickie to be hugely enjoyable and I liked that it was ridiculously quirky. Cohen's touch is evident here with the comedic black humour that underlined the story, which translated into plenty of his films that featured Michael Moriarity. Those two just seem to click when they come together. Cohan's got his own sort of style that distinguishes his films from the rest of the genre and that's why he's a cult b-grade filmmaker. For lot of people I can see why it's a big disappointment and why it was put down, but this is really only a sequel by name, as there weren't any real connections from what I grasp between the two films. If you think you are going to get something in the same vein as the classier Hooper film, you'll be sorely mistaken. It's just unfavourable to compare it to "Salem's lot", as it hasn't got a real chance. They should have had a different movie poster that didn't feature Barlow (from the first film), because he is nowhere to be seen, I guess that was one the other disappointments for people. But that's just advertisement for ya.
From watching the 'Island of the Alive: It's Alive 3' (1987) commentary not too long ago, which was shot-back-to-back with 'Salem's Lot'. Cohen originally went to Warner Brothers in the interest of getting the rights for 'House of Wax', but instead they suggested that they would back him for a 'Salem's Lot' and 'It's Alive' sequel. Where Larco production took control and many of the same cast and crew were involved in both products. Both films actually shared the same intro, with its multi-coloured lava effect. Is that saying something about the budget, or did Cohen just liked it and wanted to reuse it again? These double features were intended to be release on Warner Brother video, but they got a small cinema release. Just a bit of trivia for you.
The production is pretty rough, which goes for disjointed editing and the shabby makeup and tacky effects. They might not be up to scratch, but in all, those certain aspects don't destroy the fun and heart of this flick. But one thing did stand out and that it was a well-shot picture. Daniel Pearl's (Texas Chainsaw Massacre) camera work ups the ante and a touch of professionalism. Sadly the score didn't have that approach, it was at times just a bit too much. Cohen might have executed some of the action scenes sluggishly, but that didn't dampen the reasonable thrills that flowed with some nice bloody moments and grubby make-up effects. Slow to get going, but when it kicks in, everything picks up with a sudden burst. What's a Cohen film without the trademark offbeat dialog and campy performances. The script was light on material, but the biting wit and maniac language shined through. The outrageous humour seems to be there to counter-punch the corny horror side of things. The flawed plot has some virtually impossible actions taken or done. But my attention was held throughout and I just went with things. I thought it had some incredibly intriguing ideas in the mix and bizarre aspects that pull you in. I was even thinking of 'The Howling', which the same idea is covered in this film. At least it wasn't a retread. Fine performances are heralded from the cast. Moriarity's versatility shows, and there's fun to be had when he's on screen. Also Samuel Fueller hams it up as a grisly old Nazi hunter and Andrew Duggan plays the Judge Axel with a touch of class and hidden menace. Ricky Addison Reed was painful as a foul mouth brat, Jeremy Weber. There's a notable performance from a very young Tara Reid too. What we get here is a dreary atmosphere that adds a nice pinch of satiric macabre, which kept me in a trance.
Addictively off the wall horror from Cohen, which might be too much for those who aren't into very cheap, campy b-grade horror.
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