Archive for October 13th, 2010

Salem’s Lot

by on Oct.13, 2010, under Daily Review

Some films have such a reputation, a pedestal so high, impossible to climb down from. Not only amongst vampire films, this Salem’s Lot is recognized as one of the creepiest and greatest horror films ever made. As a young lad, many of my friends would talk about this one, famous scenes but for some reason, I never got to see it as a kid and ever since, it’s just passed me by. So here we are and this is the primary reason for the project, to watch all the greats I never got around to and revisit those I remember being great.

Ben Mears (David Soul) a horror novelist seeks inspiration in a small New England town, he soon finds he’ll have more than enough material for his next release as it becomes more and more apparent that vampires have moved in to an old house on the outskirts. Slowly, the residents become victims.

Simple plot, based on the novel by Stephen King, this tale focus’ on the small American town and all the inhabitants, something Kings revisits over and over in his work. His eye for small detail and interesting quirky characters is exceptional and works on any level, be it Zombies in the town, Martians or Vampires. It’s always how these characters react to a threat of something different and how they learn to believe in the fantastical. So, what better a director to take on this movie than the king of small town America, Tobe Hooper. Once again, Hooper takes on a film with a small group of antisocial villains who prey out of sight on the locals of the town, same as Chainsaw, same as Fun House, same as Eaten Alive.

Does it work and does it deserve it’s reputation? I’m not convinced. Maybe it had a bigger impact back then, but watching it today is not an easy task. It’s long and steady and builds plenty of character; we get to know pretty much everyone in the town, but the scares are few and far between and the overall plot is pretty common. Maybe it’s just become common. I don’t know really.

Saying this, it’s not bad though. The cast are great. Soul is perfect in the lead. James Mason is a brilliant addition to any cast. Bonnie Bedelia is a great love interest and with George Dzundza and Ed Flanders in support. The script works well as expected, but the overall length could have done with cutting down slightly. Hooper adds some great direction, some classic camera work too. Highlights for me are Ben standing over the grave as the camera sits in low, POV; very nice. I love the vampire too, non of this beast inside business, here the vampire is a monster and very spooky looking. The legendary floating kid at the window is also genius and brilliantly done. One of my other fave moments is when Ben is staking the vamp, unstoppable, monstrous and crazy, questioning just what is going on inside the novelists mind. The scene goes on and on and he just keeps swinging that hammer, then it becomes apparent that more vamps, turned victims are crawling along the corridor in the distance. Very nice. Lastly, great ending.

So, overall, is this worth the reputation? I’m still not sure. Of cause it has some great scenes, great cast, great script and brilliant direction, but a great film should still stand up against today’s standards, should landmark and break barriers and have something to say. This one is entertaining, but feels dated and doesn’t really do anything different with the vampire genre. I know hundreds of vampire films never both with anything new, but this one is basically the same plot as Dracula but in America. Is it worth watching? I’d say yes, purely to make up your own decision and to experience the floating kid.

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