Thursday, January 05, 2012

Salem's Lot

Directed by Tobe Hooper in 1979 based on the novel by Stephen King.
Salem's Lot is one of the scariest horror films ever produced. Made as a CBS TV movie, Salem's Lot shocked America when it was first broadcast in November 1979. Unlike the scores of vampire films which followed it, there's nothing sexy about the vampires in this film. Upon watching this film, any illusions or desires about wanting to become a vampire are extinguished.
Ben Mears (David Soul) is a successful writer who returns to his hometown of Jerusalem's Lot, Maine. Ever since he was a child, Mears has been haunted by the Marsten House which sits atop a hill overlooking the town casting a dark presence. The Marsten House, named after Hubie Marsten, had been vacant since Hubie killed his entire family decades in the past. Now however, the house has two new occupants Mr. Straker (James Mason) and the mysterious Mr. Barlow (Reggie Nadler). Straker and Barlow open an antiques shop in town.
A series of strange and diabolical events take place in town beginning with the disappearance of Danny Glick. A strange plague afflicts the residents of Salem's Lot one by one. 12 year old Mark Petrie (Lance Kerwin) is obsessed with horror and gore and a fan of the famous illusionist Harry Houdini. Mark becomes the first one to be aware of the presence of vampires in Salem's Lot. Petrie and Mears are drawn together in their confrontation with the vampires.
Salem's Lot disarms the viewer with its slow pace and never ending creeping intensity which hypnotises and lulls the viewer ever deeper into the plot. A few scenes are particularly unnerving, especially the confrontation between Father Callahan, a Catholic Priest and Kurt Barlow. 
Salem's Lot does deviate from the original novel plot from Stephen King (Salem's Lot is now considered to be King's best literary work and deemed to be a classic), but considering the gruesome intensity of the novel, director Tobe Hooper did a remarkable and impressive effort in capturing the essence of the story. This is Hooper's best film for which he will be most remembered for, which is saying much with his rather impressive resume (Texas Chainsaw Massacre, Poltergeist, Life Force).

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