I know this is a classic Stephen King mini-series but I just could not get into it. This was back before crazy CGI and makeup artists and talented special effects artist so I would say it fell in the middle of quality special effects. The storyline was slow and boring at times for me BUT many others have enjoyed this series so you should give it a shot if you like Stephen King movies and are a horror fan!
Laura R. (HappyTales) from DOUGLASVILLE, GA Reviewed on 9/6/2008...
My favorite scary movie! I had nightmares for 10 years after I saw this movie (close to 30 years ago) Of course it's pretty dated, but it's still scary as hell and very little gore.
3 of 3 member(s) found this review helpful.
Effective Vampire Thriller
M. Nichols | West Chester, OH United States | 10/16/2000
(4 out of 5 stars)
"SALEM'S LOT is without a doubt the best miniseries adaptation of a Stephen King novel, and it rivals studio films like CARRIE, CUJO and THE SHINING. While not necessarily a fan of King's fiction, I appreciate that he weaves intricate relationships between key players into the fabric of his stories and builds characters with depth instead of just presenting one-dimensional folks dealing with scares. The best film adaptations of his work, those mentioned above, preserve these little details and SALEM'S LOT is no exception. With this in mind, consider only the definitive 183-minute version available on double VHS or DVD, as nearly every second of the film is essential and alternate VHS versions rob the viewer of nearly 70 minutes of film.
SALEM'S LOT is an exceptional triumph in that it doesn't really tell a new story, but it keeps the viewer's attention for a full three hours. The plot is basically the old standard: a vampire has settled in Salem's Lot and is quickly infecting the entire town. A brave few hunt the vampire and his minions down. The final confrontation between our hero, Ben Mears and Barlow made me wonder why people always try to stake a vampire in his coffin just as sunlight is waning - why don't they do it first thing in the morning with hours of daylight to spare? The dramatic tension is the obvious answer, and it works well in this film. In addition, the vampire make-up was remarkably well-done and James Mason deserves special mention for his incredibly evil performance as Barlow's henchman, Straker. A fine supporting cast is composed of TV actors as well as Hollywood names like Elisha Cook and Marie Windsor.
As cinema, the film has a deliberate, steady pace. Tobe Hooper's direction is not particularly innovative, but he does manage to create an eerie atmosphere throughout and provide more than a few real scares, despite the limitations imposed by the television format. The only drawbacks are necessary full screen presentation and the obvious commercial breaks which sometimes disrupt climactic points in the film. These minor irritations aside, SALEM'S LOT has a true cinematic feel.
All in all, one of the better vampire films I've seen. Highly recommended for purchase on DVD - you'll not get a better vampire film for your money."
You'll enjoy Mr. Barlow. And he'll enjoy you...
Joel R. Bryan | Athens, Georgia United States | 06/13/2001
(3 out of 5 stars)
"Directed by Tobe Hooper (who would go on to helm "Poltergeist"), "Salem's Lot" is a better-than-adequate condensing of Stephen King's classic horror novel. It's made all the more effective when you consider this is material originally shown on network television. David Soul ("Starsky and Hutch") plays Ben Mears, a writer who returns to his hometown to write a novel about the local haunted house, and ends up dating Susan Norton (Bonnie Bedelia, future star of "Heart Like a Wheel"). Then evil James Mason comes to town, and pretty soon 70s character actors like Fred Willard, Geoffery Lewis and Elisha Cook, Jr. are dropping dead due to... mysterious circumstances. Okay, enough phony suspense. It's a vampire movie. Vampires... in modern-day Maine. And it works better than it has a right to. Soul's not exactly tortured enough, and Lance Kerwin's a little too old to play a monster-obsessed youth, but the supporting cast, which includes Ed Flanders ("St. Elsewhere"), Lew Ayres (Paul, from the classic 1930 "All Quiet on the Western Front"), Kenneth McMillan ("Ragtime," and "Dune") and George Dzundza (everything else) more than make up for it. They're sincere, and that counts for a lot. James Mason makes a perfectly urbane villain; he's suave and dangerous, and much smarter than his undead master, who's something of a disappointment in the chills department when finally revealed. This disk contains the entire miniseries, which manages to maintain a level of suitable creepiness, despite some dated sexual innuendo and a some "made-for-tv" scenes that aren't quite as menacing as they could be. Still, a few sequences are effectively chilling, and it's well worth your time, especially around Halloween."
THE MOST EERIE MINI-SERIES TO EVER BE SHOWN ON TV
HorrorMan | 08/20/1999
(5 out of 5 stars)
"First of all, don't be fooled-only watch the full length mini-series. The "cut-to-shreds" movie version is not worth the blank video it was taped on. I first watched "Salem's Lot" as a kid of about 9. I then bought the video 3 years ago and I was just as terrified watching it as a 20-year-old as I was 11 years previous.What makes "Salem's Lot" different from many horror 'classics' is that it doesn't have to rely on blood and gore to scare the wits out of the viewer. The eerie tenseness of the presence of Straker, Mears' return to THAT house and the ultimate battle with the elusive Mr.Barker results in a constant shiver down your spine. My favourire scene, though, is one that freaked me out as a kid - when Danny Glick is visited for the first time by his now vampire brother, hovering in a cloud of smoke at his bedroom window. Believe me, you'll be checking behind the curtains of every window in the house for weeks to come, especially if it's a foggy night!!! Living in Ireland, I bought the UK release of "SALEM'S LOT THE MINI-SERIES" which, I believe, contains a few additional scenes not included in the American 'full- length version.' Everyone should see this mini-series at least once in their life-time....it's something that you will never forget!!!!"
"Ah, yes, well, I can assure you that people will find Mr. B
HorrorMan | The Marsten House | 10/03/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"About this time every year, I always like to think of the greatest horror movies of all-time, and watch them during the month of October, to celebrate my favorite holiday which is Halloween of course. One of the first two or three movies that always comes to my mind every single time is Tobe Hooper's adaptation of the Stephen King vampire novel called "Salem's Lot". Ironically enough, "Salem's Lot" is a made for T.V. movie, which is unique for horror movies because most people erroneously believe that you have to have all of this blood and gore in a horror movie to create a truly scary movie. Those of us sophisticated and intelligent horror movie fans that appreciate really scary movies know that this is not the case. Tobe Hooper's "Salem's Lot" is a perfect example of a perfect piece of cinematic horror in every sense of the term, and yet there is minimal to zero blood in it. How can this be? How is this possible? Well, the short answer is that you do not need a lot of blood and gore to make a scary movie. In other words, the special effects are not what makes a movie scary, but it is the atmosphere, mood and the story itself that creates a pure horror movie that is really scary.
Thus, the reason "Salem's Lot" is such a great horror movie is because of the atmosphere created in this movie, the setting, the mood and theme, the scary music, the terrifying looking vampires that are in this movie (whomever did the make-up job on these vampires really did do a fantastic job when you think about it), and the way the movie really draws the viewer into the world that is "Salem's Lot" and shows the audience the unspeakable evil that resides in the Marsten House. Salem's Lot is just like any other small town in America...it is small, the air is filled with petty rumors of infidelity, it has small-town people, and it has its haunted house. What a great setting for a horror movie!
"Salem's Lot" is about a writer named Ben Mears, who grew up in Salem's Lot (short for Jerusalem's Lot), who returns to his home town to write a book. Mears, played quite well by David Soul, is an accomplished writer, but he has a dark secret, a deep-seated fear, the origin of which lies in Marsten House. It is Mears' obsession with this fear and evil that resides in the Marsten House that drives Mears' character throughout the movie. The small town of Salem's Lot is not used to strangers, and Mears is not the only stranger in town. Another stranger by the name of Straker, played brilliantly by James Mason, is truly a stranger in every sense of the word. Moreover, there is something dark about Straker and his mysterious partner Mr. Barlow, something unspeakably evil.
In the interest of not giving the movie away, it is sufficient to point out that Salem's Lot is in for a rude awakening, an awakening of pure evil that grips the town with terror, and it is this same terror that captures the audience and grips the audience with fear. The audience is able to empathize and/or step into the shoes of the characters in this movie, and experience the same fears along with the characters. "Salems' Lot" is a simple yet brilliant movie about darkness versus light and good versus evil. The darkness and evil which is so inherent and rooted in the Marsten House spreads like wildfire throughout the town of Salem's Lot. The question is whether Ben Mears, Dr. Norton, Jason Burke and a boy named Mark can stop this evil from taking over Salem's Lot, and destroying life as they know it.
Tobe Hooper employs great acting, a terrifying story, a very scary atmosphere and absolutely horrifying looking vampires to draw the audience into the dark world that is "Salem's Lot". True, so much of what happens in Tobe Hooper's "Salem's Lot" involves what the audience does not see, and it is this method that Hooper utilizes to perfection to haunt the imaginations of his audience. There are so many great scenes in this movie that I do not even want to discuss them in this review because the viewer should see these scenes without any warning. Suffice it to say that the vampires in this movie really are quite morbid, deathly, and absolutely horrifying. The mannerisms of the vampires in this movie are absolutely as you would expect such a demon/creature of the night would have. These are not rock n' roll vampires...these vampires are creatures of death, evil, and spawns of Satan himself from the very pits of Hell. Pure evil is what we are talking about here folks, and one look at Barlow's face will impress upon you what a vampire would really look like. Barlowe is a monster, he is not interested in romance, but he is evil incarnate, an unnatural creature symbolic of evil itself. The terror that Barlowe inspires upon the audience by his mere presence is incredible and much more than you could ever hope to garner from all of the blood, gore and guts of tasteless and spiritless horror movies of today. "Salem's Lot" gets you where the fear is...it penetrates your mind and sucks you in to a realm of the unknown, a realm of darkness, and it allows the viewer's imagination to run rampart into the fear that is "Salem's Lot".
As a final note on this great movie, I would like to take time out to warn all horror movie fans to STAY AWAY from the re-make of "Salem's Lot" starring Rob Lowe. In short, the remake of "Salem's Lot" (which first aired on TNT) is the worst movie I have ever seen in my entire life, and that is no exaggeration. Also, not to take anything away from Stephen King who is a great horror novelist but, like Stanley Kubrick's adaptation of "The Shining", Tobe Hooper's adaptation of "Salem's Lot" is clearly superior in every way to Stephen King's novel. And, yes, I have read both of these books. While both are good, Tobe Hooper and Stanley Kubrick revise, refine and simply give "Salem's Lot" and "The Shining" something more that accentuates the horror to audience to utmost degree that the novels simply are unable to do.
The direction, acting, production values, special effects or lack thereof in Tobe Hooper's "Salem's Lot" are all carefully calculated and presented to the audience to bring you the ultimate in terror, the ultimate in horror, the ultimate scary movie experience. You will NOT watch this movie in an unfamiliar and dark two story house by yourself with the lights off on Halloween night. You would not be able to do it without being scared. This movie is the embodiment of what every horror movie should strive to be, a truly scary experience for the viewer, and Tobe Hooper's vampire masterpiece in "Salem's Lot" is one of the top two or three scariest movies of all-time and garners HorrorMan's HIGHEST RECOMMENDATION as one of the very greatest horror movies ever made!!
As an interesting piece of hodge-podge, Lew Ayres played Jason Burke in this film...Ayres also starred in another great horror movie called "Damien: The Omen II" and he also starred in the the 1930 World War I classic, "All Quiet on the Western Front"...interesting selection of movies there! "
Quite Interesting, Time Consuming TV Movie
Bryan A. Hicks | Heidelberg, MS USA | 04/10/2000
(4 out of 5 stars)
"After purchasing "Salem's Lot: The Movie" for 9.99 a few years back (without watching it first), I felt cheated. I felt as if there was something missing. When I looked into it, I discovered that this had been a television mini-series that aired in 1979. I found out that the film was originally released as a 2-parter at approximately 200 minutes. It was, then, later cut to about 150 minutes. Due to it's success, Warner Bros. decided to release it as a theatrical film overseas and trimmed it considerably. (They cut approximiately 1 hour and 11 minutes of footage.) The finished product was the 112 minute, "butchered" version of the mini-series. Well, when I found out that Warner had released the full mini-series on DVD, I had to scoop it up to get the whole story. And, man, what a change! While the European theatrical version runs 112 minutes, the DVD runs 183 minutes. It fleshes out the characters and restores, what I think, is vital information that was missing from the 112 minute version, making it illogical and confusing. So, by all means, avoid the 112 minute version and watch this one. Although, it is fun to watch the short one first to see what changes there are. This DVD is presented very well. The sound is crisp and the colors have a much "browner" feel to it than the VHS version. Warner Bros. has only put a international trailer on the disc in the special features department, but probably because there wasn't much else that existed. The only reason this one didn't get 5-stars is because the film is not perfect and is extremely dated. But, if you are a Stephen King or a Tobe Hooper fan, by all means, watch this one at least once!"