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Salem's Lot (2004)
Written by: The Arrow
Director: Mikael Salomon

Starring:
Rob Lowe/Ben
Samantha Mathis/Susan
Robert Mammone/Dr. Cody
James Cromwell/Father Callahan
PLOT-CRUNCH
Disheveled author Ben Mears (Lowe) heads back to his childhood home town to write a book and faster than you can say “Scooby Snack” it gets overturned by bloodsuckers. Can you pass me that hammer? Thanks. Oh, hand over that stake too…thanks a lot….KILLLLL!!!!
THE LOWDOWN

Town looks a little dead today. - Nollie Gardner

Although I adore Stephen King’s early work, I never got around to reading Salem’s Lot and all I know about the original 1979 Tobe Hooper directed TV Miniseries is that the head vampire is a Nosferatus knock-off. So I walked into this town solely with my back-pack and an empty stomach. How were the bacon and eggs at the diner? How was the hospitality? Let’s find out.

Although most critics won’t admit to it, one’s state of mind can influence to various degrees as to liking a movie or not. When I viewed Salem’s Lot, it was 3 in the morning, I couldn’t sleep, I was bummed out (life is rough these days) and I didn’t give a shit about much other than that fine drink resting in my hand. Yes, my ideal lullaby is hearing ice cubes jangle! But the second my Player kicked in the Salem’s Lot disk, much like devouring a good Stephen King book, I got absorbed into the immense, Gothic world of the picture and simply didn’t want to leave. That’s what I dig about a well made Miniseries; it has the time to concentrate on characters and if done right, that gives us, the viewer, the opportunity to get attached to people and situations on a deeper level. Salem’s Lot did it right!

Props to screenwriter Peter Filardi (writer of Flatliners) for capturing what King is all about through his tightly written screenplay. Filardi more often than none, managed to cover his vast ground evenly and taking into account the multitude of players he had to wrangle, that was quite a feat. The same went for director Mikael Salomon’s polished show! The man succeeded in making his film look and feel like classic Stephen King. Although it wasn’t shot in Maine (it was filmed in Australia), the grayness of it all, the damp feel and the endearing, oppressive bleak atmosphere sure fooled me…I WAS IN MAINE! Scratch that…I WAS IN STEPHEN KING’S MAINE!

Suspense wise, well since I gave a choco-fudge about everybody in this pet shop, I was often on the edge of my sofa chewing on a pillow in antsy-ness. It surely helped that the visual effects were top notch (now that was some creepy vampires) and that Salomon knew how to build momentum to then smack me on the head with healthy doses of fright. For my semi jaded ass to feel “anticipation” during a flick these days, it must be doing something right! Lastly, any opus that has kids in it and isn’t afraid to slay them gets my respect. The way I looked at it, if children can check out, anybody can! You got to love King! He adores venturing into those darkest corners and you know what? I cherish following him there.

On the stale side of the fangs, running at 3 hours, the story did get repetitive in places. I didn’t sense that the town’s folks reacted quickly enough to their severe problem. We get it vamps are taking over…can the story move forward now? Furthermore, some subplots didn’t get enough attention for my liking. The Ben/Susan thing and the main villains (Hauer and Sutherland) were underused in my futile opinion. And why was the finale so rushed? Everything was solved way too straightforwardly and I didn’t fully grasp what that last “baddie’s” intentions were. Oh well…you can’t win them all!

On the whole though, Salem’s Lot was a captivating, fear-provoking and talent filled horror journey with a top notch cast on its side. You going to take a vacation in Salem’s? I recommend you do! Just don’t forget to pack lots garlic and hair gel for Rob Lowe! He needs them bad!
GORE
We get some chili; not too much but just enough! I’m talking impalings, stakings, vamp bites, an impaled pooch and random blood.
ACTING
Rob Lowe (Ben) has over time truly come into his own as an actor and his solid display here solidified my “Lowe Fan” status”. Samantha Mathis (Susan) always lends a touch of class to any project she’s in and here was no exception. Loved her! I didn’t know Robert Mammone (Dr. Cody) but I liked his work, very credible. James Cromwell (Father Callahan), Rutger Hauer (Barlow) and Donald Sutherland (Straker) all owned within their limited screen time. It was groovy to see Hauer do his thing again. Is it me or has been playing vampires left, right and center these days? Hey…I’m not complaining. The man is a fine actor…totally underrated.
T & A
We get Samantha Mathis looking like the sultry lady that she is and the gals get a couple of dudes shirtless.
DIRECTING
Mikael Salomon (who directed Hard Rain) should go back to features where he definitely has a flair for style, pacing, characters, suspense and mood. Loved his shite!
SOUNDTRACK
We get an eerie, low key score that worked in the film’s favor and a couple of background rock/pop songs.
BOTTOM LINE
If you tap-dance to Stephen King’s work and have 3 hours to spare, pack the Bourbon, get in the car, and head for Salem’s Lot. You won’t regret it! Sure the film’s pace lagged at times and I wasn’t 100% percent on the last block but for the most part this was a quality filled Miniseries on all counts. I got so profoundly involved in this grim tale that I practically leased a home in Salem’s Lot for 3 hours. Now that it’s over… I WANT TO GO BACK! Time to hunt down the Tobe Hooper version!
BULL'S EYE
Notice the nods to King’s other work in here? The “Stand By Me” ditty pops up and a dog is named Cujo.
Strikeback
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9:17PM on 10/30/2009
Awesome movie. While the 1979 has good atmoshpere I always found it dull as dirt. This not only follows the book better, but gets you involved in the story and characters much, much quicker.
Awesome movie. While the 1979 has good atmoshpere I always found it dull as dirt. This not only follows the book better, but gets you involved in the story and characters much, much quicker.
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7:13PM on 11/22/2007

Unbelievable

Normally the Arrow and I see eye to eye when it comes to remakes and horror films in general, but his review of this appalling remake couldn't me more at odds with my own feelings if he tried.

James Mason's calculating, intelligent watch-dog is replaced with a dopey, vaguely sinister Santa Clause lookalike in the form of Donald Sutherland. What the fuck in the dark was that all about!!?!!

Rutger Haur didn't scare me, Reggie Nalder did. Bottom line is this turgid remake has absolutely no
Normally the Arrow and I see eye to eye when it comes to remakes and horror films in general, but his review of this appalling remake couldn't me more at odds with my own feelings if he tried.

James Mason's calculating, intelligent watch-dog is replaced with a dopey, vaguely sinister Santa Clause lookalike in the form of Donald Sutherland. What the fuck in the dark was that all about!!?!!

Rutger Haur didn't scare me, Reggie Nalder did. Bottom line is this turgid remake has absolutely no redeeming qualities whatsoever. Although King wasn't happy with Hoopers decision to switch roles with Straker & Barlow, he did at least make a solid flick with an excellent narrative and an ensemble cast. Tobe Hoopers adaptation is light years ahead of this garbage.
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+0
7:16AM on 10/27/2006

Nosferatus

Even though this version feels more 'complete', nothing can take away from how creepy the kid vampires looked in the original Tobe Hooper movie. Now THAT is fucking scary.
Even though this version feels more 'complete', nothing can take away from how creepy the kid vampires looked in the original Tobe Hooper movie. Now THAT is fucking scary.
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11:04AM on 07/26/2005
This is a surprisingly good adaptation of Stephen King's classic. Having been very disappointed by Dreamcatcher, I didn't have high hopes for this, but I was impressed. Lowe was a great moody prescence as Ben Mears, and I just loved Rutger Hauer as Barlow. Sutherland was way over the top as Straker, but good fun nonetheless. Being a TV movie allowed it the running time to properly tell the story, and not skimp on the details (something that a lot of King adaptations do). There are some really
This is a surprisingly good adaptation of Stephen King's classic. Having been very disappointed by Dreamcatcher, I didn't have high hopes for this, but I was impressed. Lowe was a great moody prescence as Ben Mears, and I just loved Rutger Hauer as Barlow. Sutherland was way over the top as Straker, but good fun nonetheless. Being a TV movie allowed it the running time to properly tell the story, and not skimp on the details (something that a lot of King adaptations do). There are some really tense moments, and this is a lot of fun to watch.
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