Salem's Lot (TV Movie 1979) Poster

(1979 TV Movie)

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I'm trying to figure out why so many horror fans don't like this show...
Odysseus-59 September 1998
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!
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Frightfully Fun Fare
Kennybee19 December 2003
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 you 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.
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Gafke3 January 2004
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.
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lilyriver12249 October 2004
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!!!!!!!!!
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This is one of a handful of truly scary films
Vibiana1 September 2003
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 opinion.

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.
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Atmospheric adaptation
Elswet4 September 2003
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 :.
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Best Vampire Movie in Existence
the_grove_man8 February 2007
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.

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..
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Remember "Atmosphere?"
Trannon Goble20 January 2011
Warning: Spoilers
There is something that makes a great horror film other than special effects and gore. It's called atmosphere. Many of the legendary horror films had this element. Salem's Lot is definitely one of them! Music build-up, subtlety, and the great acting of David Soul and James Mason make this mini-series one of the greatest horror flicks of the 70s (and beyond).

Scenes that gave me nightmares as a child such as the Glick boys floating up to the windows and scratching on it; Mike Ryerson in the graveyard and sitting in the rocking chair; Ben Mears describing his childhood memory of the Marsten House to the "teacher"; the delivery of Barlow's crate ... etc..etc. All these scenes were built on atmosphere.

Anyone can make a film to shocks and grosses people out, but only the great ones know how to create memorable scenes and give millions of kids nightmares just on suspense and atmosphere all.

Salem's Lot has what it takes. Tobe Hooper did a fantastic job on this film and it is one of my favorites of all-time.
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Without doubt, THE BEST vampire film ever.
lee fewtrell20 December 2011
There's something about this movie that has never been matched by anything in the same genre. This film drips atmosphere and builds a sense of uncomfortability, due to its domestic and ordinary setting. The characters ( as mentioned in many other reviews ) are utterly perfect- David Soul and James Mason pull something fantastic out of their acting bags and complement each other beautifully, whereas the creepy scenes are exactly that- the window and rocking chair moments in my opinion are terrifying- both are burned into memory from seeing this film as a child. For a TV mini series, this was something truly special and set the benchmark for many films to come.
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Bathed in eerie portents
chaos-rampant20 October 2011
This is one of the most richly atmospheric films in horror, an article of pure latenight seduction and phosphorescent darkness.

Atmospheric not in the sense that a dry ice machine has pumped a catacomb full of haze and cobwebs are strategically placed in some dark corner, but as a place lived, with naturally dark corners and tangible portents: the old dark house on the hill breathing evil, the antique shop downtown, all velvety smell and musty colors, the small town lined with porticoes bathed in the quiet of a lazy night, yet harboring secrets and vice from inside. Prying eyes staring from behind a curtain.

Oh, at some point vampires come flying through the window, and it's still fine by me, it's one of the better vampire films and at 3 hours it's better fleshed than most of them; but I am just not attuned to the whole vampire lore so I leave this part to be enjoyed best by the traditional horror fan. It is actually one of the more potent retellings of the most familiar story in this field, I was pleasantly surprised to see that it was not quite Dracula but that older film with longer shadows, so I will not spoil the discovery for you.

But the first part intrigues me in stranger ways, more suggestive, with menace that goes unspoken. The small-town facade that would later resurface in Twin Peaks.

There is a notion that matters in all this, but which is not pursued at all; the writer who feels from his perspective that it was his presence that awakened evil, it's fitting that it's coming from a writer because it's a self-centered, imaginative notion, but which from our end we know is bogus. Evil was already afoot, and was never centered around him. But he wistfully imagines himself at the center so he can write about it.

So I don't know what happened with Tobe Hooper. He was never very elegant with a camera, the way Argento was or occasionally Carpenter, but he was unmatched in his feel for the aural qualities of film. He could make a room hum with evil. My guess is that, being an intuitive maker, the feel came and went, or he forgot how to tap into it (you can see as early as Eaten Alive how he seems to be desperately trying to capture again the muse that gave him Texas Massacre). Or he plainly stopped actively chasing after the right material.

This was just right for him. Only Kubrick has better adapted Stephen King to my mind.
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A truly horrifying film.
ozthegreatat4233011 April 2007
Warning: Spoilers
This was a masterpiece of adaptation from what is still, after all these years, my favorite Stephen King novel. But you are greatly cheated if you get only the two hour theatrical version. It is only in the full 184 minute version that the complete horror of the piece hits you. I am not a big fan of David Soul but he was well cast in this feature. James Mason, as always conveys menace in a low and even tone with that proper British snobbery in his voice as only he can. But it is Reggie Nalder's Barlow that truly scares the bejesus out of you. His character makeup hearkens back to the early film "Nosferatu" by F.W. Murnau, and the character of Count Orlok. I was a teenager when I first read the book, and had to sleep for several days with my light on after reading it. When I first watched the movie, I was living in an apartment complex and every sound outside made me jump. This film has everything one could ask for in a scary movie, without being a slasher film.
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A masterful horror epic!
AngryChair26 July 2006
Fantastically creepy mini-series adaptation of Stephen King's classic vampire novel is simply one of the best made for TV horror movies ever!

Writer returns to his New England hometown to discover that the local haunted house is now occupied by a mysterious antique dealer and that the locals are falling victim to vampirism!

This wonderfully made mini-series is a film that I owe much to. Not only did this film make me a big fan of author Stephen King, but a fan of horror films period!

Story-wise this adaptation differs from King's novel in some ways, but it still comes off as an engulfing and down right scary tale. Director Tobe Hooper (who made the great Texas Chainsaw Massacre in 1974) proves that his talent for creating good horror is not just limited to the big screen. As always Hooper sets up a great atmosphere of darkness and dread that makes this movie captivating. There's scenes of terrific suspense and plenty of hair-raising chills to be found here. High kudos must be given to the makeup department on this film. The vampires in this film are simply frightening thanks to the eerily good makeup work. I have yet to see a vampire film where the blood-suckers are more disturbingly spooky than in this film. Some sequences are just unforgettable - the 'night visitors' tapping at the bedroom windows, an undead Geffory Lewis coaxing his former teacher to look at him, the horrifying attack on the Petrie household, and the taught claustrophobic cellar climax. Special mention should also go to composer Harry Sukman for his powerful music score.

The cast is another strong hold for this film. David Soul does a good performance as the writer returning home to face evil. The late-great James Mason does an astonishing turn as the sinister stranger in town. Lance Kerwin is strong as a young teen, Bonnie Bedelia is charming as Soul's love interest, Lew Ayres is confident as an old school teacher, and Reggie Nalder makes for one terrifying vampire!

An excellent and underrated classic through and through, Salem's Lot is a film not to be missed by true fans of the genre! Beware of edited versions of the film though, the full-length mini-series is the best way to see this one!

Followed by a loose sequel in 1987 and a mini-series remake in 2004.

**** out of ****
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Underrated to the max.
drewgilbert21 July 2011
Warning: Spoilers
This Stephen King miniseries is my favorite out of them all. It's a good old-fashioned horror film that proves that gore and shocks aren't necessary. It may not be the best adaptation of a novel, but the changes made did not harm the story. The music score and settings were perfect. The Marsten House is the ultimate dwelling for any evil being to inhabit. People seem to forget the age of this film and attack the dated special effects. They aren't terrible, and a vampire tale shouldn't have to rely on them much in the first place. All of the actors were believable in their parts, and they helped fuel the tension of the "plague" that engulfed the town. The vampires were ghastly and nightmare-inducing. My only complaint was the ever-changing wardrobe of Ralphie Glick. Straker was obviously a sicko who could've possibly had a liking for young boys. Therefore, he dressed him in pajamas. Later, he is shown in the clothes he was murdered in before the house is set on fire. I just thought that was very insignificant. As for Barlow's appearance, it doesn't matter if the look was "copied" from Nosferatu. What about Count Yorga and Christopher Lee's vampire roles resembling Bela Lugosi? Of course, it would've been better if Barlow had've arrived alone at The Petrie House. Reggie Nalder had a creepy Austrian accent so it would've been plenty effective. All in all, it's one of the best well-rounded horror films ever made. Too bad there aren't more like this one. It might be long, but stick with it. Avoid the "movie" version. It's too choppy and comes across as a completely different film.
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Worth a Look
BaronBl00d14 July 2000
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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The ultimate in terror
Jamie Spraggon25 January 2014
With Salem's Lot, a blood curdling shocker based on the novel by Stephen King, director Tobe Hooper sends the time-honored vampire legend soaring on bat wings into the modern era. Sinister events bring together a writer fascinated with an old house, a suave antiques dealer whose expertise goes beyond bric-a-brac and the dealer's mysterious, pale skinned "partner". The solid supporting cast of vampire victims and fighters includes Bonnie Bedelia, Lew Ayres, Elisha Cook, Ed Flanders, George Dzundza, Lance Kerwin, Geoffrey Lewis and Marie Windsor. It's Hard to keep the undead down. And so easy to be scared in Salem's Lot.

This film starred David Soul, James Mason & Lance Kerwin.

I highly recommend this film it is my favourite thing by Stephen King, this film is on for 3 hours but so worth it, you won't want to get up until the 2 discs are over.

*****/***** Outstanding
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Horror without Mercy
bencoates5731 October 2011
Warning: Spoilers
Salem's Lot (1979) is horror without mercy. You need to get cleared by a cardiologist before you commit to THIS ONE. This is the scariest film of all time despite having been a made-for-TV miniseries. Knowing they could not rely on gore forced the makers of this film to commit to developing a super-creepy atmosphere -- an overtone of the grave -- that ran throughout the entire film. Unlike horror films that rely on shock through violence or on startle, Salem's Lot creates images so frightening that even after the initial startle has worn off, you still can't bear to look at them. But even in scenes absent a vampire, director Hooper manages to stir the depths of your soul as when Susan Norton takes in a view of the Marsden House. Even in what I could only imagine is the mid-day sun, the dynamic movement over the facade of the shadows from passing clouds instills a feeling of being some place utterly unholy. These feelings are a dim apprehension of something completely foreign to any state of being you've ever experienced and yet while it transcends the life you know it is in its essence cruelly untranscendent -- a state of being that for the lack of a spirit can never rise above its primal materiality to achieve the kind of Faith, Love, Hope, Creativity with which we are familiar through cultural sources and divine inheritance. This feeling warns you about a looming threat to your soul much in the same way pain is designed to warn people against threats to the body. That is my best but woefully inadequate effort to capture what the makers of this film manage to stir within me -- and what it means to be a vampire in Salem's Lot. No matter how pure or decent or determined you are (not to be a vampire), you know that if victimized by one of these vampires, who is most likely a recently deceased loved one infected by the bite of a vampire, you will succumb as surely to Barlow's (Satan's) bidding as you would to a heavy dose of general anesthesia.

There was a time when I thought the filmmaker added a heartbeat to the audio until discovered the heart I was hearing was MY OWN. Do not let others tell you the film is dated (it is) and that it is slow to develop (it is). This film is a real treat in that you get into some really amusing characters, which is important to films of the vampire genre where human relationships are the path of transmission for what is a contagious disease. Hooper creates a slow escalation of anxiety that makes the frightening moment all that much more impactful. (SCENE SPOILERS COMING) Ned Ryerson approaching and standing over the grave of Danny Glick before he surprises everyone by jumping in. The sound of the rocking chair from the upstairs bedroom prompting Jason Burke's ascent up the stairs. Milky mist-draped Ralphie Glick floating outside his brother's bedroom, scratching eerily at the window. (My wife makes me mute the film because the scratching sends chills down our spines).

For vampire iconography, nothing compares to Salem's Lot (1979). Not Fright Night. Not Lost Boys. Not Buffy. Not Twilight. Not True Blood. Not Underworld. Not Interview with a Vampire. Not Return to Salem's Lot nor Salem's Lot (2004). If you want a truly supernatural vampire -- the essence of evil not of this world -- this is the film for you. Vampires do not attend high school proms or make business deals in this film. These vampires are wholly, and by that I mean unholy, inhuman, but nor are they animals. They are supernatural agents. For a so-called dated film, the effects (those fluorescent contact lenses and fangs) are superior to anything I have seen since.

So if you are looking for a couple hours of sustained creepiness, this film delivers like none other.
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The best vampire movie of all time.
ElectricWarlock15 June 2013
I believe this horror film is perfect in every way. If it had any flaws, I certainly didn't notice them. The characters were interesting and likable for the most part. I especially identified with Mark Petrie because at times I felt the character was based on me. We have similar personalities because we both are the quiet, introverted type who enjoys being alone and both love horror films and writing. I think the most important thing any film could do is make you care about the characters and what happens to them. This film did that very well. Each character felt like a real person rather than a cardboard stock character existent only to have a cool death scene like many other horror movies. All the actors and actresses playing the characters did a brilliant job as well. Lance Kerwin was perfectly cast in the role of Mark Petrie and gave a wonderful performance. Ronnie Scribner also managed to be genuinely creepy in the role of Ralphie Glick and his great performance in the film resulted in one of the most memorable moments I've ever seen in any horror film. Anyone who's seen it knows exactly what scene I'm talking about.

However the best performance in the film has to be Reggie Nalder in the role of Kurt Barlow. He is without a doubt the most terrifying vampire I have ever seen in any film before. His makeup effects are absolutely wonderful and have yet to be outdone. The musical score also deserves recognition for contributing to the suspenseful, chilling atmosphere that the entire film has. The film is over three hours long but you are so engaged and captivated while watching it, that the time length goes by quickly and ends up only feeling half as long as it actually is. It felt like the perfect blend of classic horror style and modern horror. The atmosphere was so perfect that it felt like you were actually living the events of the film along with the characters. Very few films have that effect for me. Based on the novel by Stephen King who is a mastermind of the horror genre and directed by the legendary Tobe Hooper, there is no way this film could possibly be anything less than amazing. It is truly a perfect horror film and there are very few like it.
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Still scary after all these years...
Dandy_Desmond2 November 2009
Warning: Spoilers
I don't think there is a more horrifying vision from my childhood than the moment the youngest Glick brother first appears at his brothers bedroom window. Eyes cold, manic smile on his face, floating in the fog and tapping on the window. Like Ben Mears says 'I was sweating scared", but I would say I was Sh*t scared myself. I still get a buzz when I see the vampire moments in this series, it is still yet to be beaten for the creepy vampire effects. Of all the Vampire movies (unfortunately now days there are mainly now sexy vampire dudes who are tortured and need a little love - boring!)this one is by far the best. I would recommend this to any horror fan but you must have patience, the long version is very much character based for the first part and as it was a TV show made in the seventies moments have dated, not many but some. Just make sure you close your curtains when you go to bed. ho ho
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Scary. Seriously.
Neil Welch8 January 2012
Warning: Spoilers
Tobe Hooper's 1979 adaptation of Stephen King's early yarn about a vampire epidemic in small-town America still carries a great distinction - notwithstanding the flared jeans and mullets, it is very scary.

The scariness is particularly notable given that this was a TV miniseries - there was therefore never going to be anything particularly gory or visually horrific in it (although Reggie Nalder's Nosferatu-style head vampire Barlow is pretty nasty). But the claustrophobic atmosphere of slowly escalating horror, which made King's original novel so effective, is well duplicated here in audiovisual form. As the vampiric influence spreads, there is a genuine sense of prejudice.

David Soul is an adequate protagonist and Bonnie Bedelia is an attractive damsel in distress, and all the cast do well in the many, many incidental roles. But the film belongs to James Mason, playing a role - essentially, the vampire's "familiar" - unlike anything he had played before, and playing it with gleeful and malevolent relish.

This was strong, strong stuff for telly back in 1979, and still packs a scary wallop.
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A great atmospheric horror movie.
JPaparella23 October 2005
This is one of my favorite horror Felix, mandatory every October, preferably late at night, with some popcorn and the lights off. I will admit it is a bit dated now, and occasionally the fact that it was made for TV shows, but overall it is quite effective and scary. The reason for this, I think, is the pacing.

One of the chief criticisms of this movie, which was actually aired as a 2 or 3 night miniseries, is that it is too long. To appease the critics and fans who thought so, a version was produced, trimmed down to 2 hours. I think it was called "Salem's Lot: The Movie". I can tell you from personal experience that if you watch that version, you are not going to get the full effect. The miniseries is slow, deliberate, and does a great job of quietly ratcheting up the horror until the final climactic scene.

So if you like good horror, and especially if you've had it with the "touchy, feely" romanticized vampire that we seem to have in over abundance these days, then this movie is a must see. If you don't want to devote 3hrs to it in one sitting, watch it over 2 nights, as it was originally intended.
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This kind of stuff is fun
JOHNBATES-126 August 2003
Engrossing, effective, lightweight adaptation of King's excellent novel. To avoid some disappointment, read the book after the movie, not before.

Besides the wonderful job done by the cast, much of the movie's success can also be attributed to the believable and intelligent dialogue between the characters.

One puzzling plot hole: Knowing full well that they had to get to their prey before dusk, why did the hero and the doctor wait until so late into the day? Wide-awake vampire slayers go into action at the crack of dawn, don't they, unless they are in the land of the midnight sun? Or it's convenient for plot development.

And how about that door on the Jeep. Was that an intentional running gag?

For a television movie this will stand up well over time and already has.
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See the mini-series version if at all possible
t_pellman2 July 2002
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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Incredible tension!
Alan Grant-125 April 2002
Unlike a lot of other horror films that rely on blood & guts and sex, this made-for-TV movie is a gem.

The novel "Salem's Lot" by Stephen King, happens to be my favourite novel of all time. And the adaptation to the small screen was not disappointing.

The main vampire, Barlow, doesn't appear till three-quarters into the film. This movie is scary because you do cannot see the Master vampire (not till much later of course). It is very eerie, thinking that something, somewhere is behind the scenes, sucking their blood. The protagonists in the story have no control over this, and eventually, Salem's Lot is turned into a ghost town.

The tension is incredible at certain points. I like the scene when Mears (David Soul) is preparing a handmade crucifix whilst the doctor is making a phone call in another room. Marjory Glick rises from the operating table and turns on Mears! Brilliant!

The acting is good, and I am a bit puzzled why a lot of critics say that David Soul was not ideally casted as Ben Mears. I have to say in his defense, that I thought he was a very good choice. Perhaps the critics however were thinking of "Starsky and Hutch" whilst writing their review of this movie.

I rated this movie 9 out of 10: it is one of my favourite horror movies of all time!!!
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