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 Posted:   Aug 15, 2014 - 5:16 AM   
 By:   Richard-W   (Member)



Last night I thoroughly enjoyed watching the mini-series I couldn't stand to read. I'm at odds with Stephen King's prose. I don't understand how people can get interested in a writer who takes everything out of the subtext and puts it into the clear text, and then explains it. I just don't think expository writing is good storytelling in fiction. And yet he's been selling millions of books for forty years, so he must be doing something right. Even though I think his writing stinks, it is frequently the source of good scriptwriting. With all the fat cut away, a Stephen King story lends itself to cinema. The films, and the mini-series I've seen, are better than the books.

SALEM'S LOT (1979) is superbly done. Tobe Hooper adopts a modern Gothic atmosphere and style and a methodical build-up in suspense to tell a fairly traditional story about vampirism spreading through a small New England town (with San Pedro, California standing in for Massachusetts). As vampirism spreads, Hooper delays in bringing out Mr. Barlow, the vampire loosely inspired by NOSFERATU, until a few key scenes in the third act. Mr. Barlow gets the money-shots, and he does not disappoint. With all the excellent performances, James Mason shows actors how to steal a scene by underplaying those around him. He is impeccable, and genuinely creepy. As the story threads pull together, there is one thread I don't respond well to, and that's the fate of Bonnie Bedelia's character. An endearing and subtle actress, and a minimalist in approach, I wanted her and David Soul to go on and fight vampirism together. Her fate irritates me.

Harold Sukman provides a full-blooded score that should be worth a listen on CD.

SALEM'S LOT is the sort of thing I hoped DARK SHADOWS would grow into on the big screen but never did. No one can deny it is influenced by the soap opera. I miss this kind of traditional horror film in which good triumphs over evil. It's scary, fun and harmless.

With his usual disregard for quality, the fans, and the titles that don't interest him personally, George Feltensein at Warner Home Video re-issued the 1999 DVD in April 2014. Same old transfer. No commentary, no supplements, no behind-the-scenes featurette (I seem to recall there was one). The least Feltenstein could have done was offer customers a new transfer on blu-ray. There is such a thing as being too stingy.

 
 Posted:   Aug 15, 2014 - 7:22 AM   
 By:   Francis   (Member)

There is a new book out covering Salem's Lot production and featuring interviews etc. I've ordered it but haven't received it yet:



The 1979 miniseries is excellently cast and it adapts the book just right; the later 2004 adaptation with Rob Lowe gave Barlow more of a personality (portrayed by Rutger Hauer) but failed to capture the mood of the book which I did enjoy. I feel most succesful King adaptations have been those that added new elements to the strength of the book and didn't follow it verbatim. Both adaptations do have excellent scores, if you don't own the intrada release of Salem's Lot, I highly recommend it, same goes for the Christopher Gordon score.

 
 Posted:   Aug 15, 2014 - 9:25 AM   
 By:   Freejack   (Member)

Thanks for the recomendation of the book Francis, just went online and bought it. smile

 
 
 Posted:   Aug 15, 2014 - 10:24 AM   
 By:   Richard-W   (Member)

Yes, thanks for the alert on the book, Francis. I see the writer has put out other film books. I expect I'll pick it up.

Let us know what you guys think of the book after you've read it.

Anyone else think the mini-series is better than the book?

Anyone listened to the score?

 
 
 Posted:   Aug 15, 2014 - 12:48 PM   
 By:   MikeP   (Member)

The 1979 mini series is very effective in a number of scenes, but is creaky in some sections and misses the mark in a few key moments.

Geoffrey Lewis is freakishly scary big grin




plus, Danny Glick scratching at the window, Mark's mother rising from the table... all stuff that was scary back then and is still creepy now.

But the Nosferatu version of Barlow is too boogeyman for me, and Susan's fate ( like in the 2004 mini series ) is poorly handled. It worked much better in the book, then again I am a fan of King and think the book is excellent.

The movie still delivers chills through. It works very well and remains one of the best adaptations of a King novel. It'd be nice to see a restored version. The score was never a favorite of mine but it has a solid fanbase.

 
 
 Posted:   Aug 16, 2014 - 11:35 AM   
 By:   Richard-W   (Member)

Which sections are creaky and which sections miss the mark? I'm curious to know.

 
 
 Posted:   Aug 16, 2014 - 12:35 PM   
 By:   joan hue   (Member)

I was hooked on the book. It scared me into not opening my drapes for a long time. I also liked the mini series. It seemed like a decent adaptation, but I was more "creeped" out by the book.

 
 Posted:   Aug 16, 2014 - 2:30 PM   
 By:   TominAtl   (Member)

The book is by far my favorite of Kings. It scared the crap out of me. The tv movie also scared the crap out of me as I saw it before reading the book. Seeing the film now...well, to be honest, it hasn't aged well. The "stinger" scenes are a little silly but Danny Glicks window scratching scene is still a classic horror moment, with that wonderful music with it.

**** for the novel
**1/2 for tv movie.

 
 
 Posted:   Aug 18, 2014 - 5:57 PM   
 By:   Richard-W   (Member)

Cinefantastique is now defunct, but for many years it gave the most professional coverage to genre films. Fans of SALEM'S LOT will enjoy this cover story from 1979:















 
 
 Posted:   Aug 18, 2014 - 9:12 PM   
 By:   Richard-W   (Member)




















 
 Posted:   Aug 19, 2014 - 1:40 AM   
 By:   Francis   (Member)

Thanks for sharing! That set design for the interior of the Marsten house (the photo with Bonnie Bedelia) was amazing. Even though the focus is on Straker/Barlow and the vampires, the Marsten house is as much a character in the movie as it was in the book. I remember watching the movie as a kid and whenever they'd go in there I'd be freaked out, it just looked so eerie, definitely a contender for best haunted house! Another plus point for the Hooper version is that it didn't go into the backstory of the Marsten place as much as the 2004 version did and left it to our imagination and David Soul's performance.

 
 
 Posted:   Aug 21, 2014 - 10:53 PM   
 By:   Richard-W   (Member)

I agree the Marsten house is a character and contributes a lot to the film. It's a treat. Amazing what a good set design can do.

I agree David Soul delivers a good performance but his pageboy haircut drives me nuts. It belongs on Jane Wyman. I have to try to not notice it when I'm watching the film.

I just bought:



I've always liked Larry Cohen's low-budget indy genre films. He created The Invaders in 1968, to this day one of the most suspenseful and enduring sci-fi / horror programs ever made for television and he's made several very effective genre films since then. I haven't seen his riff on Salem's Lot in ages, but I recall that it was a legitimate vampire film in its own right even though it didn't observe the book too closely. Plus it's the only time legendary maverick film director Samuel Fuller got to star in a film. As I recall he was pretty funny, too.

Has King written a sequel?

He probably wouldn't like what Cohen did with his story.

 
 
 Posted:   Aug 22, 2014 - 8:01 PM   
 By:   Richard-W   (Member)

Joan Hue:
I was hooked on the book. It scared me into not opening my drapes for a long time. I also liked the mini series. It seemed like a decent adaptation, but I was more "creeped" out by the book.


I'm going to give the book another try. My first try was over thirty years ago. I could pick up a used paperback for a buck or less but I don't like paperbacks as much as hardcovers. I'm shopping for a 1st edition hardcover with a Very Good dust jacket. It has to be a 1st edition hardcover with a Very Good dust jacket or I won't be able to enjoy it. It doesn't have to be signed, though. I'm not an autograph collector.



 
 Posted:   Aug 23, 2014 - 1:29 AM   
 By:   Francis   (Member)


Has King written a sequel?


Salem's Lot has a prequel story "Jerusalem's Lot," as well as a sequel story "One for the Road," both included in King's 1978 short-story collection Night Shift. Also, there is a character who appears in his Dark Tower V: Wolves of the Calla book. The 2004 tv version of Salem's Lot features him more prominently and if they'd ever get to adapting The Dark Tower, I would hope that actor would reprise his role.

As for Return to Salem's Lot by Cohen, I liked it when I was a kid (especially the concept of the vampires feasting on cattle and not the locals), but whenever I see it now it is a rather silly movie.

 
 
 Posted:   Aug 26, 2014 - 6:03 AM   
 By:   Richard-W   (Member)

Thanks for the info on NIGHT SHIFT, Francis. I'll pick it up.

 
 
 Posted:   Aug 29, 2014 - 9:11 AM   
 By:   Richard-W   (Member)

What are Stephen King's best books? his top 3? his top 5?

 
 
 Posted:   Aug 29, 2014 - 10:02 AM   
 By:   joan hue   (Member)

His best books? Hard question for me. I used to read all of his novels, but in the past few years, I've only read a few of his.

Also, due to all the movies that have been made of his novels, people tend to be over familiar with his works.

Of all the books I've read, I thought his very best was THE DEAD ZONE. It has such heart as well as creepiness.

For sheer terror, I'd nominate SALEM'S LOT.

My other favorites are MISERY, THE GREEN MILE, and the book that started it all, CARRIE.

I loved plowing through the thousand pages of THE STAND, only to feel frustrated by what I consider a cop out ending.

(Never liked THE SHINING. I liked CELL which is now being made into a movie.)

 
 Posted:   Aug 29, 2014 - 10:35 AM   
 By:   Francis   (Member)

His best books? Hard question for me. I used to read all of his novels, but in the past few years, I've only read a few of his.

Also, due to all the movies that have been made of his novels, people tend to be over familiar with his works.

Of all the books I've read, I thought his very best was THE DEAD ZONE. It has such heart as well as creepiness.

For sheer terror, I'd nominate SALEM'S LOT.

My other favorites are MISERY, THE GREEN MILE, and the book that started it all, CARRIE.

I loved plowing through the thousand pages of THE STAND, only to feel frustrated by what I consider a cop out ending.

(Never liked THE SHINING. I liked CELL which is now being made into a movie.)


I'd have to agree with Joan; I'm also not the biggest fan of "The Shining", but the others she mentioned I all enjoyed reading as well. I remember going to buy every individual volume of The Green Mile in the store, hooked on the story!

Of his recent books I enjoyed Duma Key and 11/22/63. Under the Dome was ok, but to me felt like he'd been there before. I still have to catch up on some of his more recent titles but have been debating to get a kindle instead of buying the hard copies.

All time favorites would have to be Misery, Insomnia, It and The Stand.

 
 
 Posted:   Aug 30, 2014 - 3:50 AM   
 By:   CinemaScope   (Member)

I've seen Salem's Lot a few times. It works so well, & is a classic of its kind. I remember trying to get into the re-make of it, but gave up, very underwhelmed. It would be great if Warner were to give it a new lease of life & release it in HD.
I've only read two King novels, The Stand, many years ago which I quite enjoyed, & The Dome, which I skimmed over the last third, one of the worse books I've ever (nearly) read.

I have a small stash of Cinefantastic magazines, I've just checked I have the Salem's Lot one, so I'll have a look at that...also issues of: the making of Carpenters The Thing, & Burton's Batman, & 20,000 Leagues Under The Sea, & Psycho, & Judge Dredd, & Conan, & a 3D special, & a Dick Smith special...& quite a few more.

 
 
 Posted:   Sep 1, 2014 - 6:51 AM   
 By:   Richard-W   (Member)

I thoroughly enjoyed A RETURN TO SALEM'S LOT last night. It's an under-appreciated sleeper and if not a classic vampire film it is certainly an excellent horror film. It's also a good example of how to use humor in a balanced way. Writer - director Larry Cohen allows humor to arise naturally out of a situation, but he doesn't emphasize it. He keeps the emphasis on the horror and a A RETURN TO SALEM'S LOT is first and foremost a horror vampire film, which improves on Stephen King in significant ways while being faithful to the spirit of his storytelling. It is also the only SALEM'S LOT to actually be filmed in New England the setting of the book. The film gains considerably in atmosphere and style from the Vermont location. Salem's Lot has already been conquered by vampires when archeologist Michael Moriarty and son arrive to take up an inherited residence. They soon find that the police are corrupted "drones" of the vampires. It's easy to accept Cohen's premise and exposition the way his story plays out. The idea of diverting school buses and tour buses into town to feed the hungry with their blood seems plausible and provides at least three strong and memorable horror sequences. The vampires are led by veteran character actor Andrew Duggan. I've seen Duggan in a lot of films -- mostly westerns -- but he's a revelation here. He'd been acting since the early 1950s but he'd never done anything like this and part of my enjoyment of the film is watching his idea of a centuries old vampire. Anyhow, the vampires want something from the archeologist, and he agrees to do it, tentatively, providing that his son isn't harmed. The problem is that he and his son are estranged and the boy is out of control and easily tempted by the adult pleasures the vampires throw in his path. Moriarty is tempted, too but in the end his love for his son returns him to the straight and narrow. Enter resourceful and no-nonsense Nazi hunter Samuel Fuller, who steals the film in a tour-de-force performance. Their fight with the vampires in the third act is some of the best vampire action I've seen. Perhaps the biggest surprise in the Warner Archive DVD-R is that A RETURN TO SALEM'S LOT really is shot like a feature film, not a movie of the week, in a widescreen aspect ratio. Although it shows evidence of being shot very quickly, with some abrupt transitions that could be cut footage or unfilmed pages, a full-blooded story is being told here and it's a good one. The real horror is in how people justify to themselves doing something they know is wrong, how easily they succumb to temptation and to evil. The production values and photography are first rate. The cast is excellent. I got a kick out of seeing Evelyn Keyes -- the bad sister in GONE WITH THE WIND -- playing an elderly vampire woman. One close-up of Evelyn getting a taste is priceless. I recommend the Warner Archive disc. The film merits a high-def transfer on blu-ray.

 
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