Salem's Lot (TV Series 2004– ) Poster

(2004– )

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Why the bad reviews? - this is a great movie
Nick Faust23 October 2004
Just watched the DVD and was gripped from beginning to end. Why all these bad comments? King's book reaches into the well worn bag of Vampire clichés and recreates the myth. Instead of a wild, exotic location, his vampire tale happens in our own back yard - small town USA. The movie, like the book, details characters - typical types, but uniquely drawn to perk our interest - setting up ordinary and recognizable patterns of action and behavior. Enter the vampire; strange things happen, the patterns shake and change; the town goes from sunlit Americana to moonlit nightmare. This movie changes many of King's original notions, but maintains the heart and soul of his book. The first fifteen or twenty minutes, introduced by the Lowe character with a steady and pointed commentary,

brilliantly introduces the story's characters while it's signaling the movie's main conflict. For me, this was seamless storytelling; convincing, entertaining, and, with the overall dark mood reflected in the words and Lowe's voice, a foreshadowing that's all the more ironic because what we're looking at is so ordinary. Being a TV mini series, the film makers didn't have to cram the book into a two hour box. Time is taken to develop characters, relationships; action unfolds at a pace that seems steadily natural - nothing is pushed. Knowing more about the characters means we feel more for them when bad things happen. At least, I did. Rob Lowe's measured, low key performance anchors the movie. I believed he was a writer, who's guarded, repressed nature was rigidly calculated as if all things in life progressed like words in a well written sentence. I found all the Vampire stuff genuinely spooky - mainly because it all seemed so sad. With only a few misguided gestures along the way (the incest bit, for one, seemed unnecessary), this director focused the movie with care and respect. Even when "bad" characters are "changed" we feel a kind of empathy that is all but nonexistent in Horror movies these days. Maybe watching it in one sitting, as I did, with no interruptions, is why I could follow and appreciate things that others (based on the majority of these comments) seemed to miss. My opinion is firm: this is a great movie.
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Very enjoyable *SPOILERS*
Mister_Anderson30 June 2004
First off, let me say that I have read the original novel and seen the 1979 miniseries. Both are great in their own right. The novel is scary and foreboding. The '79 movie captures that feeling even though it changed a good amount of the story.

This 2004 adaptation doesn't attempt to mimic the feelings the '79 movie conveyed. In my opinion, this is a good thing. Although many posters seem to indicate they want to see the same scenes that were in the '79 version, what would this accomplish? The '79 version is on tape, so if you want to be scared in the same way, watch that.

The critics I've read so far have criticized this film for not being close to the novel. I guess I had a different expectation. I have long since given up on the expectation that novels translate perfectly to film. This does not happen (the rare exception being Lord of the Rings, yet even that had changes). Nevertheless, here are their main arguments. I'll respond to each one:

1) The ending of Father Callahan. - This is a 3 hour movie, and as such, plot points and characters need to be wrapped up. While Father Callahan may survive in the novel (only to reappear in The Dark Tower), this would leave more questions than answers to those who are watching the miniseries and getting the story for the first time. Remember how ridiculous the truncated version of the '79 movie ended--without knowing what happened to Susan? Films need to wrap up their loose ends.

2) The modernization of the story. - Salem's Lot was set in the mid-seventies not for any particular reason but only because that was when King wrote it. Obviously the original film took place in the seventies (as it was shown in 1979). Why must the new miniseries take place in the 70s? There's nothing in the book that requires the 70s to be the setting, and more people will be able to adapt to the current time. They don't sacrifice any of the story elements to do this. But since we are modernizing it, we do need to add some modern touches (i.e. email, cell phone, etc.) None of these take away from the story.

3) It's not scary / doesn't scare me as much as the '79 version. - Again, the '04 version isn't attempting to imitate the earlier film, and rightfully so. We don't need a shot by shot of what made the '79 classic horror (and it is) - this is how the remake of "Psycho" got panned. The original is a classic, and you can't remake a classic. So instead the director here (Saloman) decided to focus not so much on the fear but on another aspect of King's novel that was not focused on in the '79 version, and that is the entity of the town itself. The '79 version eliminated, combined, and truncated many characters, so that in the end, the only really main ones were Ben, Mark, Susan, and Straker. It worked, but this was a far cry from King's novel. The 2004 version gives us much more, including Dr. Cody, Dud, Ruthie, Father Callahan (in a larger role), Barlow (in the real role), and many other minor characters (i.e. the bus driver).

To sum up - No, it's not scary, but it isn't trying to be. There's a '79 version that did that very, very well. We didn't need them to remake that; it's good on its own. What we needed was an interesting story. Salem's Lot '04 gives us that. Don't expect it to win any Emmys, but hearing people say they wasted 4 hours of their lives makes me laugh. This is one of the best adaptations of a King work, and there are far, far worse.
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Revisiting the "Lot"
0932225 June 2004
Another film adaptation of Stephen King's masterpiece 'Salem's Lot, one of the scariest novels ever written. Presented by TNT as a two part mini-series.

Ben Mears returned to ‘Salems Lot, the small New England town where he was born, hoping to write the novel that just might put to rest what had happened to him as a boy in the old Marsten House. Unfortunately, Richard Straker and Kurt Barlow had other ideas.

A bit different than the 1979 version, mainly due to modern computer generated enhancements and Peter Filardi's loosely adapted teleplay.

Comparing the two mini-series, neither followed the book closely, although Tobe Hooper's earlier version was the scarier. Rob Lowe was more believable as Ben Mears than David Soul, but neither Lance Kerwin nor Dan Byrd fit the book's impish image of 11 year old Mark Petrie. Donald Sutherland's Richard K. Straker character never had a chance to develop, but it could never have compared to James Mason's portrayal, he was much more sinister.

The second part was filled with great performances by the cast and fantastic special effects and was far more enjoyable to watch with Rutger Hauer as vampire Kurt Barlow, while James Cromwell as Father Callahan gave the best performance.
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What was that all about?!!
MrsSherman8 August 2005
Warning: Spoilers
Well, what can I say, apart from disappointing.

Although this version of the book took on a different slant, and referred to characters missing from the 1979 version,I personally do not think it was for the better.

Unfortunately, I found Rob Lowe's performance as Ben Mears unconvincing, Donald Sutherland seemed to have been taking some form of medication and made Straker seem more like Father Christmas than terrifyingly chilling, Susan was unrecognisable from the book or 1979 version (now working as a waitress in her family's café rather than teaching at Holly Elementary), and as for Matt Burke, what can I say apart from his part obviously made the film politically correct.

The ridiculous upbeat version of 'Painted Black' at the end of the film was the worst thing and made a mockery of the whole story, it would have been far better to stick with something chilling that would have done this version justice.

I didn't find this a compelling film to watch like the 1979 version and it seemed to miss some of the 'edge of the seat' ingredients which the first one had.

I always thought a new version would be different, however in my opinion was certainly not better. All of the characters in the original were more believable and better cast.

I just live in hope that the next version is not only horrifying, chilling and full of suspense, but manages to be more true to the book.

I still think David Soul rocks, sorry Rob!
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mjones72322 June 2004
I loved this book so much and watched the original movie on t.v. When it aired as a kid. The original has always been one of my favorite vampire movies and i was totally jacked up to see this remake. God did it suck! Donald Sutherland was very good as crazed a Straker, but overall this was half the quality of the original. VERY Disappointing! I always thought the original was special because it was actually frightening for a t.v. movie. I wish so much that HBO had remade this film. The story is incredibly spooky and could have been sculpted into a fine remake, but i was thoroughly disappointed in the cheesy way they ended up making this film. It just has that "made for TV" feel to it. The casting was one of the many things i had a huge problem with. It seemed that the character's were all too young. Why make Matt Burke a gay man? That certainly wasn't in the book at all. ugh! Well, at least the star wars trilogy will be out soon on DVD. I sure hope that lives up to expectations...
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A Horror Movie With No Horror -- How Can This Be?
amado31-125 July 2005
Warning: Spoilers
Having watched "Salem's Lot" that had David Soul as the main character, I wanted to see this remake for comparison. Many said that it was truer to the book than the 1970's version. That may be the case, but two very important things were missing: 1) the true character development and depiction and 2) the element of horror. When a movie tries to portray suspense and horror, viewers should be left with some feelings of uneasiness. The original "Salem's Lot" did that for me. The remake just left me with my mouth open.

I remember the original "Salem's Lot" with Danny Glick coming to Mark's window in the fog. The music, the fog, and the claustrophobic atmosphere of the scene were chilling. I was a kid when I watched the original and I begged my parents to cut the limbs on the tree outside my window so they'd stop scratching against the window when the wind blew. And you could sense in Mark the fear of what he was afraid was happening and the pain of having lost his friends. In the remake, the scene seemed almost done for good measure. I also remember Barlow entering the prison cell in a fog to get Tibbits. Just watching Tibbits face showed enough horror without any gore. Watching him crawl through the ventilation in the remake was simply comedic.

In the original, I could understand Mark going up to the "house" to try to kill the vampire. After all, Barlow had killed his parents. In this remake, Mark was a brave little vigilante to go up to the house in advance of his mother getting killed. It would have made sense for him to go to kill Barlow "after" Barlow had murdered his mother. Then, that may have been to much like correct.

To delve into the character revisions would require too much investment in time. I was surprised to see how Ben Mears had been redefined from revered and misunderstood to being the object of animosity and misunderstood. Matt Burke's redefinition from a believable elderly, white male to a young, gay black male smacked of literary license gone mad. Burke's revision helped add a level of poor taste to the scene with him walking in on Mike, who had been turned into a vampire. "You want to touch me." In the original, the character told Matt Burke, "Look at me." That's what vampires want you to do -- look at them. Homoerotic or not, the scene added no value.

Anyone who watched the original remembers "The Master." Granted, Barlow looked very Nosferatu, that was quite effective. When he came through Mark's house and was just a cape on the floor before rising up to kill the parents, that was shocking to see something so horrific. When Barlow came into the house in the remake and was clinging to ceiling, I felt let down. And Rutger Hauer is such a great actor. And changing Straker from a smarmy, secretive watch dog to a severely underutilized Straker that was practically cast as a cameo was just wrong.

While it is impossible to have a movie conform in totality to any book, style can never replace substance. The remake of this movie could have used the mild Alfred Hitchcock flare of the original to instill fear in viewers while indeed focusing on the major characters as the book did to tell a captivating story. If I were a post teenager who had never seen the original, I would have been clapping my hands and pumping my fist in the air at the wonderful display of CGI graphics and fast-editing (ala Danny Glick's little brother quickly fading in and out when Danny was in the hospital).

With the removal of some superfluous scenes -- the beginning with Mears homeless style having his episode with the priest -- and continuity -- read above comment about Mark going to the Marsten house for the kill before he had a reason to do so -- what was a tolerable movie could possibly have been an okay movie. For the 70's I can accept the flaws that came with movie production during that time as compared to today's movie-making. But to try to best a movie of that time and fall short, well, it's a shame.
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Be very afraid! (Of this movie)
JusticeTalion5 June 2005
Warning: Spoilers

Oh dear. Where do I start with this horrific remake offering of the 1979 classic based upon Stephen King's 1975 novel 'Salem's Lot? I guess the beginning is good enough.

I have read 'Salem's Lot more than a dozen times and it has never failed to draw me in and entertain me. It has never been a "scary" book for me, the only one of King's books that drew me in enough for that was The Shining, but I always enjoy the images that it conjures. I enjoyed the original 'Salem's Lot with David Soul, Bonnie Bedelia, Lew Ayers, James Mason, et al, very much. It had a good script, was well paced for the most part, well chosen actors who could actually act, scares, good FX and suspense. It strayed from the book but was close enough that the omissions were a minor distraction one only looked for to nitpick. Overall, I would give it a B+ and that was well deserved for four years after the novel hit the shelves.

When this mini-series started on TV I had to wonder if I actually was watching the right movie. The beginning is so foreign to the book and the original movie that it doesn't even register as 'Salem's Lot until Ben Mears' name is mentioned. In the book the writer and the boy are in Los Zapatos, Mexico trying to recover from their ordeal in Jerusalem's Lot. The movie begins with Ben trying to kill the priest. Give me a break! The priest, Father Callahan lives and shows up in The Dark Tower VII: The Dark Tower for crying out loud. And that is only the first glaring deviation from the novel, but certainly not the last, that dooms this movie from the start.

The most outrageous character change is Matt Burke. In the novel he is an elderly teacher at the local high school. In the original movie he is played admirably by Lew Ayres but in this remake he is a black man and that would be an acceptable politically correct nod to our time but what was up with the "alternative lifestyle" (read: gay) garbage? The narrative by Lowe states he is accepted as long as he stays in the closet. Being gay adds nothing to the story or his character but was deemed important enough to tell us about. Who cares? Certainly not me.

So many other characters were butchered so badly it would take forever to name them all but Father Callahan must be mentioned. In the novel he loses his faith and does succumb to Barlow's ministrations but he runs away from Barlow and his parish. He DOES NOT become Barlow's new familiar. This seemingly explains the opening of the movie although this revelation is left for the last 15 minutes and leaves one wondering about the opening for the entire movie. And that is the crux of this worthless mini-series' problem. Someone suggested it was paced too fast but I don't think that is it. Continuity is.

You might find this movie mildly entertaining if you've never read the novel or seen the original movie however it isn't marketed towards newbies. It is made to generate interest from established King fans and fails miserably. In the mini-series Ben Mears is said to have found Birdie Martsten in the bathroom of the Marsten house and then witnesses Hubert Marsten hang himself. In the novel Marsten kills his wife in THE KITCHEN and hangs himself in 1939. Ben enters the house, being nine years old, and sees Hubert hanging in an upstairs bedroom a full 12 years AFTER the deed. It is not until he is in his 30's that he returns to Jerusalem's Lot to confront his demons.

Things like this were explained in the original movie but were embellished for the mini-series to no good end. I never once felt terror for anyone in the movie. In fact, the "scariest" moment came when Mark is in the boarding house kitchen, appropriate music is playing to denote suspense and burnt toast pops up out of the toaster. There is nothing before that to draw a person in to such a point that a "gotcha" like that might work and that pretty much explains why this movie bites nothing but the big one. (pun intended).

I am not a big fan of remaking movies or reworking characters into today's world. The one notable exception was the remake of the ghastly 1980 Stanley Kubrick vehicle 'The Shining'. Don't get me wrong Jack Nicholson is a great actor and Shelley Duvall may be the penultimate Olive Oyl but Wendy Torrance she ain't. The mini-series had the time to let us all know that Jack Torrance was ALREADY crazy when he entered the Overlook. The hotel just helped him walk a little farther down that road. 'Salem's Lot did absolutely nothing to explain, enhance or improve upon the original movie. Save the three hours of your life this thing consumes and read the book. If you can't do that then watch The Shining mini-series instead. You will be spending your time wisely compared to watching this dreck.
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Oh dear god, I have wasted four hours of my life.
bigwang-127 June 2004
I am a big Stephen King fan, however I have never read or seen the original Salem's Lot movie, so I came into this with no preconceived notions.

I was drawn to the movie by some positive reviews and the casting of Andre Braugher and Rob Lowe. The former proved that you can't act without good writing and the latter proved that good writing can make you act. Braugher's performance seemed aimless. Lowe's was just bad.

The thing that bothered me the most about the movie was how the mood keep shifting. At times it tried to be scary, other times it tried to be funny, some times it tried to be deep, and a few times, whether it was intentional or not, it was campy.

It's a horror movie, a total fantasy, so of course you have to suspend disbelief, but some of the "scientific"/"medical" dialog was just embarrassing.

The two subplots (Matt Burke's homosexuality and Doctor Cody's indiscretion) thrown in to modernize or "spice-up" the story were transparent and contrived.

Speaking of throwing in things for no good reason, the special effects were totally superfluous. The superfluity might be forgiven if the effects were at the very least decently done, but these effects were not.

If, and that's a very spurious chance, there was a bright spot in the film it was Dan Byrd's portrayal of Mark Petrie.

And, by writing this review, I have lost another half hour of my life I will never get back.

So there's the horror of this movie. Can't you see? This movie is unstoppable! Like the Hulk! It will suck your life because it can't have a life of it's own!

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Headache inducing nonsense, toothless and pointless
Chris Covenant20 July 2006
Warning: Spoilers
What were they thinking? This is terrible, I suppose they tried and it may have even worked had they subtitled this 'masterpiece' a film loosely based on characters from Stephen King's Salem's Lot: Any resemblance either to the 1979 film or the novel is purely incidental.

Where do I start? The names are the same, but the characters seem to have been pulled from an entirely different book also called Salem's Lot not the classic by Stephen King. Here are some head scratching examples, Ben Mears witnesses Hubie Marsten's murder of his wife and his subsequent suicide, why? What is the point of this? It adds absolutely nothing to the film. The hopelessly miscast Rob Lowe's Ben Mears writes about Afghanistan (what?) Matt Burke is black and gay (why?) Father Callaghan joins the vampires and murders Matt Burke (Good grief) Dr. Cody has an affair with one of his patients and is blackmailed (Hey?) Mark Petrie is a troubled child from a single parent family (mamma mia!) Am I supposed to sympathise with him, I can't think of more contrived rubbish.The characters seem to be cardboard cut-outs from some awful daytime soap opera not real people. So when they die, you don't really care.The acting is atrocious, there is no chemistry whatsoever between the actors. The editing is deplorable, it's almost like watching a music video on MTV from some terribly bland and anonymous band.

I realise that books and films are two totally different mediums and it's not always possible to replicate what's in print on screen, but surely it's not that difficult. For heaven's sake, this is your basic vampire story, why the social commentary? Why rewrite the story? Why change the characters? I can only assume Stephen King was paid a hefty fee to give the go-ahead for this ham-fisted butchering of his classic novel. I had my problems with the 1979 film, but it now looks like a classic compared to this effort.
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Spend the 3 hours reading the book!!
Silent_Oracle326 January 2005
I recently finished reading Salem's lot by Stephen King. I loved the book so I thought it would be fun to see the film version to compare my vision with someone else's. The local Blockbuster didn't have a copy of the 1980's version so against my better judgment I opted for the 2004 release complete with Rob Lowe. I should have saved my $4.50!!! The screen play writer turned one of King classics into a clichéd late '90's goth kid fantasy(complete with too much sexual innuendo and a nu-metal soundtrack). The only real similarity in the story lines were the character names. I have never been a big fan of books turned movies but this is the worst conversion I have ever seen. If you want to see one of the most boring horror movies ever rent this flick. However if you are looking for an accurate and likable adaptation of one of your favorite books don't waste your time. My recommendation is spend the $4.50 on a used copy of the book and spend the 3 hours reading it.
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phillcook8 June 2006
Warning: Spoilers
I am watching this mini-series on TV now having recently finished reading the book.

It's terrible. Not only is it a terrible adaptation of a great book, it's also a terribly dull feature in it's own right.

What annoys me about it is that little things have been changed that really don't need to be. For example, in the book, Ben takes a snow globe from the house, in the feature, he takes spectacles. In the book he sees Hubie Marten's body hanging (or the ghost thereof) and thats what scares him off, in the feature, he actually sees the man hang himself.

If you really can't read the book, and have to watch a film version of 'Salems lot, watch the 70s one. it's better, by a long long margin!
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Dreadful remake - stick with the original David Soul version
se-mcq5 July 2005
Warning: Spoilers
I have to say that this version of the classic David Soul one was atrocious. It was too slow in the story line and I kept waiting for some action to happen. The original, I felt was edge-of-the seat frightening (and I love to be scared not just entertained) with the vampire flying in through the window and displaying the big fangs - where were the fangs in this version? As regards the "Master", Rutger is not a patch on the "nosferatu" aka Mr Barlow: he oozed terror and you just knew he was going to get "stuck right into someone", Rutger - sorry mate you just ain't the same.

I guess that when the Americans decide to remake a perfectly good shock horror movie, we should be only too wary of what occurs - lack of suspense, lack of good horror and altogether a boring movie.

See it for yourself - this is only my opinion and it may not be the best - I just like to be scared out of my wits not bored to death.

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What if they filmed a movie and nobody knew how to act?
bregund26 June 2004
Rob Lowe has all the intensity of a bassett hound. Moping through the movie with sad puppy-dog eyes, he slowly comes to the realization that there are, gulp, vampires in Salem's Lot. The acting in this movie is horrible, it's as though the director told the actors to ad-lib everything, and to do it in a snarky California accent and roll their eyes all the time. This is Maine? I don't think so, especially since it was filmed in Melbourne.

There are basically three special effects in the entire four-hour movie, and not even good effects at that. Even Barlow's death was disappointing. Look, this is 2004, you fx guys have access to the most sophisticated equipment since the dawn of movie-making, and the only thing you can come up with is the vampire gently disappearing into the ceiling in a puff of smoke? What a rip.

Who wrote the screenplay? "Did you bring a stake"? One of the characters actually asks that, with all the sincerity that an unknown actor can muster. Only James Cromwell manages to elevate himself above the mess, gamely uttering his lines in his rough but convincing voice.

The 1979 version is far and away much scarier than this remake. It is more atmospheric and concentrates on the story and the plot, as well as building the characters. Barlow is scary, especially in the kitchen scene. In the remake, Barlow isn't scary at all, you don't believe for one moment that he's a vampire; he just looks like some angry drifter. In the original, James Mason could make your flesh crawl by raising an eyebrow, but Donald Sutherland looks like a high-school math teacher on a bender. I'm convinced the director ordered Sutherland to eat nine boxes of krispy kremes before filming.

This movie is a huge disappointment.
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If you like the book, run from this movie!
wyckydwoman28 August 2006
Warning: Spoilers
OK, we all understand that when you adapt a novel for a movie, there are going to be cuts and changes. For King fans, The Stand is a perfect example of how it can be done well. This version of Salems Lot....oh my. Entire sections of the book were completely changed. Starting with the intro, which never existed in Kings mind. I think the most horrific change, aside from the 20 minutes at the end which never existed in the novel, was Sue Norton not being staked in the basement, so that she could be around for a 10 minute monologue on love in the end. If you know nothing about the novel, it might be an OK movie. But if you watch movies based on books expecting to see a true representation of the novel, then all I can say is stay away from this one.
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A misfire on every level (possible spoilers)
jhs3927 June 2004
Warning: Spoilers
New Salem's Lot adaptation is surprisingly awful, in spite of its strong cast and the fact that it's based on maybe Stephen King's best horror novel.

What went wrong?

Well, let's see. While adapting the novel as a two part 4 hour (with commercials) mini-series might make sense from a business standpoint creatively it means keeping way too many unnecessary characters and subplots. This Salem's Lot has too much build up and, unfortunately, not much in the way of pay-off.

The dialogue is consistently hackneyed and unconvincing--a supposedly playful early exchange between Rob Lowe and Samantha Mathis in a diner actually made me wince. Mathis who is usually a likable and reliable actress appears particularly lost here, without the slightest idea of how to play the material. She seems to be doing an impersonation of a very bad 1950's B movie actress, which I doubt was the intention.

Rutger Hauer and Donald Sutherland are both good but neither has nearly enough screen time to register as an effective villain.

The biggest sin probably is that this version of Salem's Lot just isn't scary. The vampires aren't creepy at all and the digital effects used to create images of them flying and turning to dust upon being staked are awful and give the monsters a too artificial feeling that makes them seem more cartoon than flesh and blood threat.

The most telling scene here is the one where Danny Glick wakes to find a dead schoolmate floating outside his second floor bedroom window. This sequence was the scare highlight both of the novel and of Tobe Hooper's far better filming of the material. Here the scene isn't scary at all--there's no atmosphere, no creepiness, not much sense even that the bedroom is on the second floor. The whole scene is completely mishandled, like everything else in the movie.

Strangely, after the head vampire is dispatched the film seems to turn more into a Dawn of the Dead rip-off than a vampire film, with the remaining townspeople shuffling through the streets like zombies. I have no idea what the filmmakers thought they were doing.

My recommendation would be to avoid this crap and either read the book or rent the much better Tobe Hooper version.
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One of the worst remakes ever.
atlanticcanuck27 January 2009
Terrible and boring from start to finish. The style and atmosphere of King's book and the original 1979 mini series are gone. I like Rob Lowe and I like Sutherland, but this film begs the question what the hell were they thinking????

Sure the first film uses all the classic vampire clichés, but it does so with admiration and tradition. The 2004 reinvisioning loses touch with its roots and it just does not work. Other books and movies have taken vampires into the 2oth century and done so very well. Take Anne Rice for example. This movie falls flat trying to accomplish the same thing.
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Disappointing: read the book, watch the Hooper version
Dan Phillips3 January 2005
I was expecting to like this movie. Salem's Lot remains one of my favorite King books, and the earlier adaptation by Tobe Hooper was really very good. James Mason was wonderful, and a lot of other talented actors did a good job of bringing King's humor and chills to the screen.

So, if they were going to remake it, they must have had an idea of how to make it even better, right? Keep the good, and improve?

Evidently not.

Allow an analogy: Why did Peter Jackson mostly succeed with his Lord of the Rings trilogy? Because he knew he was working with wonderful material. When he respected it, the result was masterful. (When he didn't... yow!) The forces behind this can't have thought much of King's book. Perhaps they mused, "Say, Stephen King's a big name. He wrote some book about vampires in Maine, didn't he? Let's find someone who read the book and knows the names in it, then let's make up a story using those names. And let's mix some of them up!" Result? Gone are King's wry humor, deft observations, and most of the chills and thrills of the story. You won't recognize Straker, nor just about anyone else. It's just a dumb, dumb movie.

Do yourself a favor: read the book, get the full version of the Hooper movie. It's by no means perfect, but it is MUCH better than this mess.
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A really crummy, stupid remake.
Jeremiah_Wozabblefrog22 August 2005
When did people forget how to make watchable, visually interesting movies? I'm guessing it started around the time Michael Bay became popular. You look at a movie like this worthless remake, made by people who seem to have no idea about how to tell a story through visuals, how to set a mood or establish a cohesive narrative and how to stage individual scenes to enhance audience involvement, suspense, emotional impact, etc, and all you can think of is Armageddon, another spazzy, hyper-edited, visually obnoxious, in your face mess that eschews any attempt at careful storytelling in favor of the now-popular psychotic "SHOVE EVERYTHING IN THE AUDIENCE'S FACE AS FAST AS YOU CAN SO THEY DON'T HAVE TIME TO THINK" approach to film-making.

For all the apparent attempts to inject some kind of contemporary "style" into this woeful update of Tobe Hooper's very decent TV movie, this ends up as just another bland, forgettable Michael Bay-clone. Pointless close-ups and excess cutting dominate proceedings, killing any possibility of establishing atmosphere and setting. Every shot is so static, so badly set up, so tight and cramped, the actors virtually have to be crushed together or overlapped over each other to remain visible in the frame, leaving no room for any kind of interesting visual detail. The result is a movie, like far too many new movies these days, that seems to take its visual cues from TV soap opera-style direction, rather than a style of direction and visual storytelling appropriate to widescreen cinema.

Throw in some really goofy CGI effects, over-reliance on a crappy soundtrack, an awful, confusing, sepia-tinged slo-mo flashback sequence that makes no sense whatsoever and isn't the slightest bit scary, poor performances, totally miscast actors, and some of the most godawful dialog and narration ever voiced in a TV movie... and the best thing you'll be able to say about this movie is that it's completely forgettable.

Well, you might remember how BAD it was, but besides that...
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Surprisingly well done and engaging adaptation...
lathe-of-heaven24 June 2013
I've pretty much given up trying to understand what people here consider good films or find entertaining. Seriously...

I was not expecting much because the original 1979 version is a bit of a minor classic in a way. And truthfully, MOST Stephen King adaptations are pretty poorly done. BUT... I was quite amazed at how involving and engaged I was with the way they did the story. It was not done in the same traditional mold as the original mini-series, and it was somewhat 'updated' in some ways which some may consider unnecessary. But, even so, the quality of the writing, acting, and direction were quite good, really. And most surprising was ol' Rob Lowe did a pretty decent job!

At first I was kind of put off by both Donald Sutherland and Rutger Hauer playing the parts of Straker and Barlow (mainly because of strong images of James mason and 'Nosferatu' from the original) But, after reflecting on it, I do feel that using them DID work in this updated version, making them seem a bit more contemporary as opposed to the traditional feel of the original version - and I really DO like Rutger Hauer anyway : )

So, if you can buy into the updating of the story, mood, and look of the film and you appreciate good writing, acting and execution of the story (which happens RARELY with Stephen King) then you should indeed enjoy this gripping, updated version of the classic story!
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Meeting Halfway in the Middle....
warhog08012 October 2004

Sad but true, Stephen King novels cannot be turned into movies without losing some of the authors original intent. The 2004 attempt to bring 'Salems Lot to the "little screen" suceeded in some aspects, but failed miserably in others. Where as the 1979 version of the film scared the living be-Jesus out of us (I still cannot sleep with the shades open at night), I can truthfully say that I don't think I ever read our 18th century or earlier vampire villain Barlow screeching something like a person who has had one to many Macnonalds cheese burger at 4:00 in the morning (wheeeee). I don't know about the rest of the known universe, but I've always envisioned Barlow as a blood thirsty sophisticant. An individual of unspeakable evil, yet a person cultured and refined. I don't think Rutger was able to achieve that definition. It seemed to me that he carried his role from "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" (Donald Sutherland????) over to this production. Don't get me wrong, I've enjoyed most of Rutgers' work, Blade Runner especially, but I really think he kinda missed the mark with this role. As far as meeting in the middle. I think the 2004 version of the film somewhat stayed true to the original book, but lacked the overall psychological punch of the 1979 version. Which leads you to the question...Can we ever achieve a fine balance with regards to a Stephen King novel brought to the big or small screen.....
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Ill-advised remake of classic original
Libretio15 February 2005

Aspect ratio: 1.78:1

Sound format: Dolby Digital

Whilst researching material for a new book, a writer (David Soul) returns to his home town and finds it infested by vampires operating from within a creepy old house overlooking the area.

Mikael Salomon's ill-advised remake of Tobe Hooper's classic TV miniseries tells much the same story, but fails in almost every respect. Peter Filardi's script takes fewer liberties with Stephen King's novel than the original, but Salomon demonstrates no great empathy with the material, and the results are turgid and uninvolving. There's very little urgency in the depiction of a creeping menace which threatens to overwhelm the eponymous town, only a sense of indifference as Salomon consistently fluffs many of the ingredients which distinguished the original: The crate-delivery to the Marsten house is resolved in a perfunctory manner; Marjorie Glick's return from the dead occurs too quickly and lacks even the most rudimentary elements of suspense; the climactic showdown between Good and Evil inside the Marsten house unfolds in routine fashion, etc.

On the plus side, Rob Lowe is an inspired choice for the role originally taken by David Soul (his love-hate relationship with the Marsten house is clearly established this time around), and there's a memorable scene in which an unpleasant school bus driver (Andy Anderson) gets his comeuppance at the hands of his former 'victims'. Elsewhere, Andre Braugher essays the role of a gay teacher whose sexuality fuels his first encounter with the living dead (rough-trade beauty Christopher Morris), a huge turnaround from the original version. But the movie is labored to the point of redundancy, and seems to last an eternity. With his white hair and beard, Donald Sutherland's villain comes off looking like a demonic Santa Claus, and Rutger Hauer (Anne Rice's original choice for the role of Lestat in a film adaptation of her novel 'Interview With the Vampire') is barely on-screen long enough to make an impression as the lead vampire, though his portrayal is thoroughly undistinguished. Production values are fine, and Ben Nott's photography makes a virtue of the bleak landscape and wintry locations (the movie was shot in Australia, doubling for New England), but the characters seem totally disconnected from one another, and the film isn't remotely frightening. It doesn't simply fail in comparison with the original miniseries, or even with the novel; it fails on its own terms, and has few redeeming virtues.
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Shame on you TNT. . .
slonej754 October 2005
I picked up last year's TNT adaptation of 'Salem's Lot on DVD today. To be quite honest, it made this Stephen King fan hurt deep down inside. How is it that the 1979 made-for-TV adaptation was actually scarier than this 2004 update. The teleplay sunk everything I'd hoped for in a 'Salem's Lot remake with its senseless morphing of Matt Burke, the nonstop barrage of digital age references, and dialog so bad that I actually laughed out loud when I was apparently supposed to have been scared. I won't even get into the laughable, homo-erotic Mike Ryerson scenes that were actually two of the most frightening scenes in the Tobe Hooper original. The only highlight of the film was Rutger Hauer's portrayal of Barlow. Too bad he only had about seven minutes of screen time. ATTENTION PETER FILARDI (screenwriter): The dialog in your teleplay is so unrealistic that it almost turned a horror movie into a comedy. Shame on you TNT for greenlighting this teleplay.
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massguy197022 June 2004
I expected this remake to be much closer to the original (much like the TV remake of The Shining much more closely followed the book than the 1980 version). In this case, both the 1979 and the 2004 versions of 'salems Lot deviated from the book to a large degree. First of all, the filming locale in either version does not even closely resemble southern Maine. In this 2004 version, it takes place in November with obviously fake snow everywhere. The book took place in September and October of 1975. They should not have had it set in 2004--the book took place in 1975, and should have stuck with the time. So many other deviations from the book bothered me.... so many that I can't even go into each individual one.
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slc_2255 August 2006
If you've had the good fortune of missing this movie, consider yourself lucky. However, if you are even *toying* with the idea of watching it, consider yourself...*warned*! Remakes, for the most part, are pretty bad, but *this* Lowe-grade film *really* stinks. I don't know *when* I've seen a worse cover of a movie. Oh, wait a minute. There *was* that horrid little TV version of "Carrie" from a few years ago. But I digress. This "Salem's Lot" is *so* boring, you couldn't sell it on ebay! And slow? I've had bowel movements that were less painful! The tagline for this movie *should* be changed to, "Friends don't let this movie!" If you want a really *good* scare, watch the original, starring James Mason, David Soul, and Bonnie Bedelia. It is absolutely...*terrifying*!
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tommx22 June 2004
aside from the fact that the writers tried to ham handedly bring the story into the 21st century with allusions to the internet, the gulf war, et al. (which seem stuck in there more than anything else) this simply wasn't scary. in fact, it wasn't even creepy. the original movie, while flawed, at least was creepy. in this one, the character of straker is turned from an elegant older gentleman who generates an aura of menace into a crazy wild haired old man that just as well may wear a sign around his neck saying "haha, i'm a bad guy!" there is no chemistry between ben mears and sue norton. the marston house doesn't seem to project the image of a "sounding board for evil" that king described in the novel.

rutger hauer was somewhat effective as barlow, but was largely a disappointment because he was underutilized. while barlow may have not had a lot of appearances in the book, the ones that he did have were memorable.

finally, the special effects were just far too cliché'd. all the business of vampires climbing walls and ceilings...what is that supposed to be? scary it isn't.

i long for someone to take a steven king story and be genuinely creepy with it. all of these horror genre directors are so "in your face" with the supernatural and with their effects that they seem to forget that the most terrifying things are the things that you can't see or see dimly for most of the time, and when they are seen full face, they must project the appropriate menace in order to answer the buildup.

thus, another bad vampire movie bites the dust. trust me, you're better off with buffy the vampire slayer. the writing is certainly better!
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