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Ben Mears, a writer returns to the small Maine town of Jerusalem's Lot (also known as Salem's Lot), where he spent the first few years of his life, to write a book. Little does he or the townfolk realize that a couple of other new residents are coming...Straker, a antiques dealer, and his partner and master Barlow, a ancient and malevolent vampire bent on making Salem's Lot his new home. Written by
I'm a big fan of the original, although I did recognize room for improvement. I was hoping that the TNT remake would be more faithful to the book than Tobe Hooper's 1979 film, which took some liberties with the characters and plot. Although this new version is a more faithful adaptation, it's definitely not an improvement.
I'm not crazy about the fact that "Salem's Lot" keeps getting made for TV. Luckily, the 1979 version was quite scary, and it played out just like a theatrical film in spite of its television limitations. Sadly, the new "Salem's Lot" is pure telefilm through and through. It would have been beneficial to the film if they could have made this a three-part instead of a two-part miniseries; maybe that way the director would have had some time to slow down and build some suspense. This movie speeds along so fast that we don't even have time to think about what's happening. It's like watching a trailer for a much longer movie. The same thing happened with the 2002 TV remake of "Carrie", which was very close to the book but suffered from being to hurried.
I'll also take this time to complain about the CGI effects, something I do in all of my reviews where it's appropriate--the dancing vampires in this movie are just plain stupid, although I did like the way they made the vampires climb on the ceiling. It was also good to see some of the characters that got cut out of the first adaptation, namely Jimmy Cody and Charlie Rhodes, the crazy bus driver. The most interesting thing about the new version was the way they portrayed Barlow. It was faithful to the book, as opposed to the 1979 film, which rendered him as a blue-skinned gargoyle. Now that they've done it the "right" way, I'm actually finding that I like the shock of the blue monster better.
There are a few original touches in this movie and they mostly work, like the framing story that shows the final fate of Father Callahan (as well as Ben Mears). I suppose if I was completely unfamiliar with the story I would have enjoyed this a lot more, but there were scenes where I couldn't stop comparing it to the original film, like the scene where Matt Burke confronts the newly-vampirized Mike Ryerson in his house. It was so scary in the original film that I couldn't get over how UN-scary it was in this one. I was a little surprised to find comments remarking on the homoerotic overtones of Matt Burke's character. While this was never explored in the book, there was another character (a shopkeeper?) in the novel who was gay and the vampires used it to get him the same way.
Overall "Salem's Lot" is so fast-moving that it's painless. I also can't imagine anybody ever wanting to see this movie a second time, or remembering it in years to come.
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