The successful writer Benjamin "Ben" Mears returns to his hometown Salem's Lot, Maine, expecting to write a new novel about the Marsten House. Ben believes that the manor is an evil house that attracts evil men since the place has many tragic stories and Ben saw a ghostly creature inside the house when he was ten. Ben finds that the Marsten House has just been rented to the antique dealers Richard K. Straker and his partner Kurt Barlow that is permanently traveling. Ben meets the divorced teacher Susan Norton that is living with her parents and they have a love affair. Ben also gets close to her father Dr. Bill Norton and his former school teacher Jason Burke. When people start to die anemic, Ben believes that Straker's partner is a vampire. But how to convince his friends that he is not crazy and that is the truth?Written by
Claudio Carvalho, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
First let me suggest to see the original miniseries version if at all possible. The "movie" version is horribly chopped. The remaining pieces don't fit together and leave gaping holes (such as, "what happened to Susan?")
Salem's Lot is an almost unknown milestone in horror films. This superb combination of the talents of Tobe Hooper and Stephen King bridges the gap between the Hammer-style films of the 60's and the modern vampire films. Two things to especially note:
(1) This takes place in Everytown, USA and the cinematography reflects the ordinary turned extraordinary (which is the same effect achieved by Bram Stoker's original writing for the audience of his time.) It begins looking almost like a Rockford Files episode and goes dark from there. But even the climax in the evil Marsten house looks *real*, just as you would imagine an old decrepit house to look. You can almost smell the dust. Hey, this was the seventies, the decade of naturalistic lighting. Everything coming out of Hollywood now looks just that - like Hollywood.
(2) It is a shame that anyone today viewing Salem's Lot already knows that is about vampires because when it first aired on TV, the unknown aspect is what made the first half so creepy. Now you just sit there waiting for the vampires to show up. (If I thought that even one person might read this without knowing it was about vampires, I wouldn't write this.) The advertising for the show made no mention of vampires and the effect worked well. I was ten years old when I first saw this. I had seen at least a dozen other vampire flicks - Noseratu, Lugasi, the Hammer films - and I had no clue that this was about vampires. All I knew was that something creepy was going in this town and it was getting creepier and creepier. Only in the second episode when you see someone get bit in the neck did it finally click, "Oh my god, they're vampires." You realize it right about the same time that the main characters do. Highly effective.
Also, superb performances by David Soul, Lew Ayres, James Mason.
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