Salem’s Lot
Director: Tobe Hooper
Year: 1979
TRT: 3:03

Reviewed: 1/13/24

Well shit, I shoulda planned better. I kinda remember seeing some of this as a youngin’ on the TV, it was a made-for-TV movie apparently, based on a Stephen King book. But a Long one, a two-parter, hence the long run time. And overall a little on the clean side all things considered. I know I’d have been screamin’ some Fucks and Shitcockers at some sonofabitch vampires even if it was the 70s, but alas, only ‘internal’ sweary dialogue used here. Vampires are koontz.

Author Ben Mears (very decent job by David Soul [aka Hutch from Starsky & Hutch for those that remember that, who just passed so RIP, man), returns to the town he grew up in. Drawn back to Salem’s Lot, Maine (of course) after a traumatic event as a kid, he knows there’s some bad mojo at the old Marsten house. He just means to write about it and expel some personal demons I imagine, but even so many years later the place still gives him the heebie-jeebies. Like, bad. Apparently not too many therapists back then to deal with that kinda shit. But they did have pinball machines, so that was almost equivalent. Then of course other events take precedence, and shit’s gotta be dealt with, even by a left-winger like himself (hey man, the FBI file on him even said so). Luckily he’s more reliable than the door on his Jeep.

Not bad overall, has some clunky parts with some of the locals to fill the time. Having read a lot of early Stephen King way back when, he’s great with characters but sometimes a little suspect with overall story arc. That kinda plays out here but decently done by Tobe Lifeforce Hooper who started with that Chainsaw movie and made an odd front for a totally not directed by Steven Spielberg Poltergeist, has a few decent scenes that step up the creep factor. A nice tribute to the old-school vampire mythology, with some modern nods to classics via the younger protagonist kid. While the opening ‘bookend’ to the film is intriguing, I’m mixed on it as it tells you off the bat who lives. Maybe they had to, given it was a TV movie? It’s been so long since I read the book but pretty sure it didn’t start with a “2 years earlier/later” kinda scenario. There’s been some sequels/remakes apparently, including a recent film that’s apparently so bad even though it’s in the can from a year or two ago the studio won’t release it. Ouch. I’ll consider John Carpenter’s Vampires the natural progression of the story.

Great Scene: There’s a pretty iconic scene with scratching at the window. One in particular had to be shot completely in reverse considering the time the film was made, great reveal of what until that time was only mostly hinted at.

Media Notes: Warner Brothers blu-ray, with commentary by Hooper. I haven’t listened to any of his before, if I did it would be for a shorter film.


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