First of thank you all once again for voting for this week's review. With that being said, this week we are going to be going over Salem’s Lot.
The film, which was originally presented as a mini series and based on the novel of the same name by Stephen King, was written by Paul Monash and directed by genre legend, Tobe Hooper.
David Soul, James Mason, Lance Kerwin, Bonnie Bedelia and Lew Ayres.
The mini series was originally released in two portions, the first half being aired on CBS November 17th while the final part was aired on November 24th of 1979 and edited into a feature length film the following year which once again aired on CBS. It has since been released for home consumption on DVD and most recently on Blu Ray.
The story follows a writer who has returned to his hometown in order to write a book about the Marsten House, an older gone which has been said to be haunted but finds the town suffering from a much worse fate. The threat of a vampire attacking, killing and transforming his victims into vampires themselves.
I've been looking forward to watching this film for a while just due to its history and have heard great things about it. The problem which I had one I announced that I was going to review it was that people closer to me who have seen it stated it either wasn't as good as I've been told or that they were never able to fully get through it due to it's length. Although it should have put me off, I felt it to be more like a challenge than anything and decided to watch it in two separate sittings. This not only allowed me to get through it, it allowed me to enjoy it as it was originally intended to be. As a two parter.
I was taken into the storyline immediately but was surprised that what they were presenting to me was not actually anything close to an important aspect of the film and was merely used to progress things in the slightest way possible.
Most of the characters from the first half of the show were either unimportant or quickly killed off which leads me to believe that in an edited version to get to a properly standard film time, most of these characters could be ignored or have had their backstories minimized or removed completely in order to save time.
Although there are a few key factors in the first half that aid in the build up, the second half of the film is where things start to pick up and where all the action comes to take place. We are subjected to the newly created vampires who, in my opinion, look freaky as all hell. It was roughly a light mix of Linda Blair from the Exorcist and what would one day be the looks the Deadites have in the Evil Dead.
Say what you will about makeup or practical effects from the 70’s, but they creeped me the hell out! Enough so to give me the chills any time one would come up on screen.
As for the lead vampire, Barlow, I appreciated the way they used him to set the tone of the scenes but when the camera we be approaching him too closely, you could easily tell that the makeup work wasn't as good as it could have been. But speaking of seeing a tone, the final act which took place in the basement of the Marsten house, gives off not only an eerie feeling, but one which matches what you would find in a Vincent Price film. A grim, ancient Castle look which takes the film and viewer to another place altogether. If there is one single time to be paying any attention to Salem's Lot, this is the scene to make sure you're doing it for!
As a fun fact, if you've never seen the film prior to this, you may recognize a striking resemblance in the scene where Barlow is being killed. If this is the case, you're likely thinking of a certain Simpsons Treehouse of Horrors episode, one including a undead Mr. Burns.
But, back to the review!
The final scene shows the two main characters on the run from the remaining vampires which leaves the film open for a sequel.
One has been planned and was to be created by NBC but it never came to fruition and although a film under the name Return To Salem’s Lot was made, it shares nothing but it's similarities in name.
If you have the time to spare the three hours in order to watch the film, I would suggest to give it a try keeping in mind that the first half likely isn't going to wow you in any way, shape or form and if you want to skip to the halfway point, all you'll be missing is a bit of the lead character as well as a secondary character or two being built up and some of the story behind the house.
6 out of 10
Check out the Trailer for the 2016 blu ray release