The vampiric Stephen King tale returns to the small screen, 25 years after the first made-for-TV Salem's Lot, a Tobe Hooper-directed ratings hit. This time it's Rob Lowe as a successful writer who returns to his haunted ho... more »metown. As a kid, something awful happened to him in the spooky mansion on the hill; now that he's back, the mansion is once again buzzing with evil portents. The physical production (shot in Australia) is convincing, and it's fun to see old pros such as Donald Sutherland, Rutger Hauer, and James Cromwell cutting up in juicy roles. The storytelling, however, feels oddly disjointed, as though King's sprawl had been arbitrarily hacked away rather than adapted (a few big moments are bewilderingly left offscreen). The approach misses the basic assets of a vampire story: the disbelief, the lore, the sex appeal. Instead, it feels like a random collection of bits for short attention spans. --Robert Horton« less
Margaret S. (morgan2010) from GLENVIEW, IL Reviewed on 9/1/2009...
Like so many movies in the 80's-early 90's, this is a non-computer graphics, but stunt filled movie. It uses suspense, and character interaction...and I love it. Stephen King's story, Salem's Lot(which this is adapted from), it the best vampire evil story I have ever read. And while the tv movie could have been longer and more involved, it was still great. In the book though Rob Lowe doesn;t die ( so he and the boy could have come back to fight the vampires another day). Oh, and by the way, while we're on vampire movies, "Twilight", the vampire love story sucks! ( This all steams from that stupid Buffy the vampire show).
1 of 3 member(s) found this review helpful.
Severen | USA | 09/12/2005
(1 out of 5 stars)
"***Warning: Spoilers Ahead***
I've always loved the novel and the 1979 miniseries. When I heard they were doing a remake in 2004, I couldn't wait! Then I found out Rob Lowe was starring. Eeeh, he was in "The Stand" a decade earlier and that managed not to suck. So I gave him the benefit of the doubt and tuned in. And in all fairness to Rob Lowe he can hardly be blamed for how awful it turned out.
Now I can understand changing around elements for "dramatic purposes" and "updating" and "adapting for television". Let's not forget the novel was written and published in the 1970's when there were no cellphones, laptop computers or Internet. It seems the fellow who adapted the novel, Peter Filardi, and went hog-wild with it. The end result is that the only the movie characters have in common with their book counterparts are the names. Ben Mears was once held captive by the Taliban? Matt Burke is gay? Susan Norton is a waitress? Did Filardi even read the novel? Then there is the problem of the very minor characters getting way, way, waaayyyy more screen time than they deserve, as in they shouldn't have been in the movie at all. Sandy McDougall, Dud Rogers, Charlie Rhodes and Ruthie Crockett are all very minor throw-away characters who don't deserve a place in the movie. Ruthie didn't even have any dialogue in the book for crying out loud!!! What is so special about these characters that they managed to get on screen and take away precious time from the real characters? This is reason why Barlow is reduced to a cameo, because Peter Filardi felt the inexplicable need to cram in as many characters as possible.
My biggest complaint is the way they handled the scene where a vampire Mike Ryerson comes back to Matt Burke's house. Instead of being a terrifying encounter with the undead it winds up a truly bizarre homo-erotic/necrophiliac encounter so completely drained of any suspense that left me scratching my head and wondering 'what the hell was that about'? Hey people, if it ain't broke don't fix it! If you had $25 million to spend on this movie why didn't you hire a writer who could actually write a suspenseful scene!! Stephen King should sue! Excuse me, I'm going to watch the 1979 version and try to put this slop out of my memory for good."
Can't stand up to the original
J from NY | New York | 08/29/2006
(1 out of 5 stars)
"Rob Lowe is mildly okay as Ben Mears, but his performance goes nowhere near David Soul's angst ridden, really convincing portrayal from the 1979 original. Donald Suterland is disappointing, and I don't think it needs to be said that his performance is less than spectacular, even absurd. He's no James Mason.
Rutger Hauer gives a better performance than this series deserved. His portrayal of King's Barlow is more accurate than the Nosferatuesque Reggie Nalder, but somehow this seems to work to the film's detriment rather than benefit. Rent the original film, or miniseries. I had high expectations, maybe that they'd build on the original a little, but it's just rushed, badly acted, trying too hard to be modern, and in general, a waste of time."
This was 'salem's Lot? Purleeze.
Callidice | UK | 10/20/2004
(1 out of 5 stars)
"'Salem's Lot is easily the most terrifying of Stephen King's novels. A dark and evil tale that scares the crap out of you. The 1979 version although annoying to purists (including myself) for the monsterfication of Barlow and some dodgy scriptwriting had one thing in common with the novel - it too was terrifying, it positively traumatised some viewers.
Bottom line: This is no more frightening than a tame episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, it's an absolute pile of rubbish..... I find it extraordinary that a director can take such extraordinary material and turn it into something so utterly pedestrian.... and make no mistake here... the main problem was not the script, nor even the acting but the direction.
Three of the major scenes in the book and '79 version were ruined by the director here -- Danny Glick at the window, Marjorie Glick in the mortuary and the return of Mike Ryerson. How can you possibly ruin these scenes? A child holding the camera couldn't ruin these scenes.
Thoroughly disappointing, even more so because now Salomon has queered the pitch for everyone else -- no one else will be able to make this again for the next twenty years."
Trixie | Ohio | 10/30/2005
(3 out of 5 stars)
"Stephen King has not been treated kindly by the movies. For years, his books were turned into films. Most of them bad. None of them on par with the books. This has been remedied in the past few years by the television miniseries, the only format that can do King justice. For while he may be a horror writer, it's King's gift for prose and characterization that makes him shine above others in the genre. The Shining and especially The Stand fared well as miniseries. Now Salem's Lot has been remade. The Tobe Hooper version (also made for TV) was flawed in that it made some unwise changes to the book and had a silly ending but it was genuinely scary. And to that end, this remake largely falls short.
(This review is written from the perspective of someone who has read the book and I assume most viewers will have read it or are familiar with it.)
I don't know why every writer who takes a crack at King has to change plot and character needlessly but it seems they do. This version has far too much setup before anything really happens. Some of the good stuff includes an updated backstory for Ben Mears and a much more sinister history for him with the Marsten house (in this version, he actually witnesses the suicide death of Hubie Marsten instead of only imagining it years later.) This version also includes Dr. Jim Cody and Father Callahan-one of whom was eliminated from the original and the other serving a much truncated role. The Barlow character is also a full-fledged one instead of a speechless Nosferatu that relied on the Straker character (played in the original by James Mason) for a voice and personality.
Alas most of the new material is unnecessary padding and I was largely bored by the first half. For example, a new story line about Dr. Cody having an affair with a patient and getting blackmailed that was not in the book and totally unnecessary. These revisions on the original become particularly annoying when some of the best moments from the book are left out later on or not fully explained. One of the creepiest moments in the novel was when the team breaks into the Marsten House only to find Barlow had already relocated and left them a letter correctly guessing and urbanely threatening each team member. That was completely omitted. They do add a nice touch though with the subsequent discovery of Susan there that I won't reveal.
By failing to stick to the book and venturing out on his own, the screenwriter (Peter Filardi) also introduces a number of noticeable logic gaps. The characters make a point of saying vampires can't enter a home unless they are invited only to have Barlow later do just that without explanation. Later, after their leader is killed the vampires all seem to turn into zombies with one significant exception. While this made for a poignant interaction between two main characters, it made no sense. Certainly many horror films have idiosyncracies and you the viewer must at a certain point just let go and enjoy but the material must rise above them to make this possible. This miniseries was also filmed in Australia and it's evident from the accents of the minor characters that something is amiss as their ill-fitting American accents occassionally slide all over the map. At one point, I wondered if one character had been changed to an Eastern European only to have her accent wander back to New England a few sentences later.
As for the cast, Donald Sutherland is brilliant in an over-the-top performance as the fey yet ominous Straker. He is easily the best part of the movie. Rob Lowe fares well as Ben Mears and Andre Braugher adds gravitas as Matt Burke. I also liked Samantha Mathis-where has she been hiding?-as Susan Norton and Dan Byrd as Mark Petrie, in a role that is closer to the book than the original film. Rutger Hauer was miscast, however, as Barlow in my opinion and as this is such an important part it's yet another flaw that fatally affects the movie. Overall, the second half somewhat redeems the first but this book is still waiting for better treatment.
(This DVD is well-made but contains no extras. Some deleted scenes might go a long ways toward rectifying the plot gaps but as it is the mystery of why this version had to reinvent a perfectly fine wheel will remain unsolved.)"
A Very Good Modern Adaptation Of A Classic Horror Tale!!
MUZIK4THAPEOPLE!! | Orlando, FL | 03/24/2008
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I remember the original 1979 TV version of this modern gothic vampire mini-series (starring David Soul) that was well-recieved and scared the you-know-what out of me as a 15 yr old kid!! So when TNT first aired this more modern version in 2004, I was kinda skeptical and prejudiced towards it because like a lot of people, I kind of hate it when studios of today try to "remake" a classic of the past, because it usually doesn't make the grade! I must say though, I was pleasantly suprised and loved the way they implemented the newer technology for special effects which made it even more scary! They also tweeked the original story as far as content, giving it a more contemporary spin, even though it still keeps its evil in a small town premise. Rob Lowe and a stellar cast of good actors did an excellent job in my opinion of bringing this tale to a new generation of short attention span horror fans. Of course, there will be those who prefer the original..which still has it's charm, though the special effects are laughable looking at them through today's eyes! All-N-All though, I would and did pay money to add this to my DVD collection!"