Salem’s Lot (1979)
Next up for Halloween Horror Fest 2018, an absolute horror classic! Based on the book by horror master Stephen King, directed by the great Tobe Hooper, Salem’s Lot really is a fantastic piece of spine chilling story telling.
Originally a TV mini series, Salem’s Lot manages to cram in a great deal of the detail from King’s exceptional novel. Although it’s been released as an edited version, it was the full 3 hour plus version that I indulged in.
Ben Mears (David Soul), a slightly successful writer, returns to his home town of Salem’s Lot. There he intends to write his next work, inspired by the local haunted house. That particular building has recently been bought by newcomers to Salem’s Lot, antique dealing duo Mr Barlow and Mr Straker (James Mason).
Before long, the town is plagued by disappearances and then deaths, as the populace become victims of a tide of – vampirism! Can Ben and his cohorts destroy the menace before it’s too late?
Salem’s Lot is a definite favourite of mine. I first saw a short segment when I was a kid, only to have my mum switch the TV off in shock when confronted by a particularly startling moment! I don’t think I slept for several nights afterwards. Years later I managed to make it all the way through, though Salem’s Lot still has an almost uncanny power to chill.
Seeing the entire movie, I was also inspired to read King’s novel – it became the first volume of his that I’d read. It’s still my favourite.
Both James Mason and David Soul are excellent in their roles. Mason you know will be top class; watching Soul the viewer realise how good an actor he really is. Both are ably supported by a talented cast who create some of the huge tapestry of small town life that’s integral to both book and film.
Tobe Hooper weaves all this together with incredible skill, resulting in a film which although made for TV, still has plenty of chills. Hooper can’t rely on gore or any shocks that would have been allowed in the cinema. He’s forced to use other tricks to create an air of suspense – or outright horror – and Salem’s Lot is all the better for it.
All these years later, Salem’s Lot is still spectacularly entertaining – and very, very frightening. I still don’t sleep with the curtains open. Do you?