Schlocktoberfest VII – Day 11: Salem’s Lot

 

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Salem’s Lot (1979)

Trailer:

*Spoilers Throughout*


What’s It About:
 A writer returns to his hometown in Jerusalem’s Lot, Maine (of course Maine) and discovers people are turning into vampires.

Here are some of my observations as I watched the film:

  • So apparently the holy water at a church in Ximico Guatamela is exceptional.
  • Rest In Peace Tobe Hooper.
  • Hey! Fred Willard! In a horror movie. Weird.
  • Our hero, Ben Mears, is a writer. What a fucking shock.
  • A very young Bonnie Bedelia. She’s quite the cutie.
  • What is Ben Mear’s obsession with that spooky old house?
  • This police chief reminds me of Chief Wiggum from The Simpsons.
  • Hey! Geoffrey Lewis!
  • Why does Geoffrey Lewis always look like he’s drunk off his ass?
  • So Ben Mears is writing about the creepy old Marsten House that he keeps staring at. So I’m assuming that it has a sordid history. Something that Mears knows all about.
  • Bonnie asks him about what he’s writing and he tells her the Marsten House but she apparently doesn’t give a hot shit because she doesn’t ask why he’s writing about it.
  • I don’t think I’ve ever seen Ben Willard act dramatically. It’s really weird.

Excuse me if this off the subject a little bit, but just take a guess at how much I can bench press. Come on, what do you think? Take a guess. 315 pounds, at the top of my game, maxing out at 500!

  • Fred Willard sure is anxious to meet Mr. Barlow.
  • This is one shitty school play. Short too.
  • This movie sure knows how to drag on. RuPaul doesn’t drag this bad.
  • Bonnie Sawyer is such a slut. Her husband suspects her infidelity and is staking her out in their own home in the chance that she’s going to cheat on him…in their own house. And he’s got a six-pack of beer while he watches. Is it just me or does that seem odd?
  • Quarterly taxes? Who sits down and figures out their quarterly taxes? Is he like an accountant and this is how he gets his kicks in a Friday night?
  • Hubie Marsten? Where does King get these names?
  • Yes, even the plaster in the ceilings is evil Ben Mears.
  • This was made in 1979 but boy does it feel like 1959 with its pacing, music and camera movement and placement.
  • OK, either James Mason is exceptionally strong or the boy wrapped in plastic weighs just 16 pounds because there’s no way it looked like a 9-year-old was in that plastic as Mason carried him down to the cellar. Unless James Mason is exceptionally strong.
  • Hahahaha. George Dzunda barges in his bedroom with a shotgun to confront his cheating wife and Fred Willard and she immediately says that Willard broke in and tried to rape her. Perfectly plausible.
  • I thought this was movie about Vampires!? It’s been over an hour and so far not much in the way of horror is happening.
  • Now don’t get me wrong this scene in the kid’s bedroom is creepy as hell but why would he kid sleep at night with his shades wide open?
  • Is the kid in the bedroom not going to question how his brother is floating outside his second story window? He’s just going to gawk at him and open the window so he can float on in?
  • Has Geoffrey Lewis been looking for his dog, Faithful, all night into the day?
  • “Not quite. Just about.” Huh?
  • Why is Mason pronouncing Kurt like Court?

He’s behind me, isn’t he?

  • The doctor tells Ben that the Glick boy might have Pernicious Anemia and Mears actually knows what that is. But hey, even if he does knows what that disease is, I’m sure 87% of the audience, me included, don’t. So they should’ve had Mears not know what it is so the doctor could explain to him (& us) what it is.
  • So the younger Glick boy is a vampire and apparently bit his brother making him go to the hospital. A few days later the younger brother again visits his brother at the hospital and bites him again. Was it just to make sure?
  • Also why did Barlow or Straker transform the younger Glick boy but just killed (or scared to death) Fred Willard? Why didn’t they transform him too? Did I just realize that Straker and Barlow are pedovampires?
  • A day ago, the police chief asked Mason that he wanted to see his black suit. Mason said he would bring it in the next day. Sure enough, the next day, Mason brings the suit to the chief. Mason also asks if he’s under suspicion. After he leaves, the chief examines the suit with the small piece of evidence of a torn black fabric. All Mason had to do was bring him another suit that had no flaws or tears. So dumb.
  • I just learned that Bonnie Bedelia is Macaulay Culkin’s aunt. Never knew that. The more you know.
  • Why is this 3 hours long?! It most certainly does not have to be.
  • According to IMDb trivia for this movie, the fact that this is Jonathan Davis’ (lead singer for the shitty metal band Korn) favorite horror movie speaks volumes.
  • I love the “commercial break” freeze-frame shots whenever someone is attacked. It’s quite amusing.
  • Hahahaha. I was right that Mark’s dad is an accountant. 
  • Why do vampires bite the neck at the jugular where anyone can see it? There’s other good veins in the body right?
  • That’s a lot of customers for even a chic antique shop. Who goes shopping for a birthday present at an antique shop?
  • “You’ll enjoy Mr. Barlow. And he’ll enjoy you.” Umm. Very poor choice of words. Who says that between adults?
  • See this is one reason I’m not a huge King fan. His premises are simple and usually unoriginal. Case in point, this story is just a vampire story. Mears just asked his doctor for a crucifix while he stays overnight at the hospital. So King is even keeping the old myths about his monsters without much twist to them. Silver Bullet‘s werewolf was killed by a silver bullet. It’s just kinda lazy to me.
  • The now vampiric Geoffrey Lewis is staring back at his friend and keeps hissing for him to “look at me” all the while his friend is totally staring back at him. It’s quite funny. 

Look at me!

  • The friend beats Lewis back with a cross and after Lewis jumps out the window and leaves the scene, the friend suffers a heart attack. Sheesh.
  • Finally we see Barlow in all his Max Shrek Nosferatu glory. And it’s easily one of the scariest shots I’ve ever seen.
  • Pernicious Anemia should’ve been the name of the novel and movie.
  • Another thing I don’t much for King for: an utter lack of comic relief. Maybe his novels have them but I’m struggling with coming up with any in the movies. Good and intentional ones anyway.
  • Whenever they mention Danny Glick I keep thinking of Jiminy Glick.
  • Why would Barlow crash through the family’s kitchen window like that when he could easily sneak up on them while they slept?
  • Barlow just headbutted Mark’s mom and dad’s heads together to knock them out. Hahaha. Later we find out that this headbutt actually kills them. Daaaym.
  • Mason keeps saying “Face the master, throw away the cross. Faith against faith” to the priest in regards to Barlow. What faith does a vampire have? Is Vampirism a religion?
  • Is Mears really taping together two tongue depressors to make a crucifix? Desperate times call for desperate measures I guess.
  • This film does have decent sinister visuals.

    Ahhh!

     

  • So Mear’s tongue depressor crucifix works and when he touches vampire mom’s head with it, she screams in pain as it burns her and after a few seconds she disappears. It’s just that easy?
  • The one thing I like about this story’s premise is that the vampire master has a human keeper. Meaning, while the vampire can’t go out in sunlight and has to sleep in a coffin he has someone watching over him so he’s not so vulnerable. That’s unique from what I gather.
  • The kid mark actually picked the padlock with a pair of tweezers.
  • There’s an awful lot of Psycho reminders in this flick. The Marsten House almost looks like the Bates house. Instead the house has a lot of taxidermy. Even Bonnie Bedelia kinda looks like Vivien Leigh a little bit. Sometimes the musical score has a Psycho feel to it. I don’t know if it’s just me or if this was done intentionally.
  • I didn’t mention this before but the police chief is actually a constable. A. What exactly is a constable? and B. Who still uses the term? Was there American towns still calling their police constables in 1979?!
  • As Mears enters the hospital and meets his doctor friend, there’s a huge sign that says “The Red Cross will help you” behind the doctor. Would be funny if somehow the Red Cross or a Red Cross was responsible for defeating Straker and Barlow.
  • Wait a tic. How do the doctor and Mears know Susan is in the Marsten House? Did I miss something?
  • Straker apparently has superhuman strength because he picks up the doctor like he’s a load of laundry and impales him onto a wall of antlers. Decent kill by the way.
  • Yet he’s dead by a few gun shots from Mears. How thrilling.
  • Speaking of the cellar, Mark entered the house through the cellar first and when Bedelia followed him Mark was nowhere to be found until later when he was upstairs. Isn’t the cellar the place to find a sleeping vampire? Why did he go upstairs?
  • Dumb ass Mears drops and breaks his vial of holy water. Great work Van Helsing.
  • Why are they not wearing garlic necklaces?! Bunch of fucking amateurs.
  • Now I’ve never had the pleasure of driving a wooden stake into a person’s chest but I would like to think I would do a better job at it than Ben Mears is. 
  • Maybe Barlow was wearing a stake-proof vest.
  • C’mon Hooper. I know this is on a televisions budget but surely you can do a better job showing a rapidly decaying vampire skull, no? This is as state of the art as Lon Chaney Jr’s Wolfman transformation.
  • Now it’s 2 years later in the same Ximico church as the beginning. What was the point of showing us that in the beginning?
  • It’s been 2 years and Mark hasn’t aged a bit!
  • The movie ends with Ben finding Susan in Guatemala and having to stake her to death. The sad part is he didn’t realize she was a vampire until she opened her eyes. All before that she’s lying down talking about staying young and being together forever. He’s been on the hunt for vampires for the past 2 years! Plus wouldn’t her just showing up in Guatemala send up any red flags? He’s such a dolt.
  • I guess for network TV in 1979 this movie would’ve been considered edgy and scary but now it’s more or less a 3 hour boring Scooby Doo episode.

 

Scare Level: I’ll give credit where credit is due and say despite how boring this movie is, it does have some decent scare imagery. The classic Nosferatu look is a classic for a reason, because it still gives people the willies. And that was in black and white. Now Barlow looks similar and he’s in full color. And seeing the floating kid outside the window is a great shot. 

Gore Level: Well, because this was TV, it’s practically gore-free.

Nudity Level: Again, this was a CBS mini-series. Although Julie Cobb who plays Bonnie Sawyer is quite fetching in late 70s hot pants. 

More like Salem’s Hot Pants

Best Line: Again, I’m no King literary expert in the least but it’s very hard to find really clever conversations or quotable lines in his films. But I liked this exchange:

Straker: Ciao, Constable.
Constable Parkins Gillespie: Chow?
Straker: Ciao. It’s a familiar Italian expression meaning goodbye.
Constable Parkins Gillespie: I didn’t know you were Italian.
Straker: I’m not. The word is.

Best Scene: Easily when the Glick boy is floating outside the window. It’s such an iconic scene and even with limited effects for a TV miniseries in 1979, it’s done very well.

Worst Scene: I can probably say this for about 98% of the King movies but it’s always the finale. It’s just down so straightforward and without much twist, shock, originality or even tension. Mears shoots Straker and kills him, then Mark and he find Barlow and after a minute of hammering away at his chest, Barlow finally just dies. As Mears is hammering a few vampire minions in the cellar slowly come after an unsuspecting Mark. But Mark wises up and has plenty of time to shut and latch the door before they get him. It’s just boring and lackluster.

Stephen King References: Main character is a writer/novelist.

Overall: I’ve seen this once before but fairly recently and didn’t care for it much then. I can see the appeal somewhat but ultimately it’s too long and dull. I do like the idea that the Vampire is pretty much a monster and has a keeper to protect him. He being more monster-like is a good change of pace from the typical human-like and sexually attractive type of vampire. But my main gripe is the length and that its boring.

Score: 5 Tongue-Depressor Crucifixes (out of 10)

 

For our other Stephen King movie reviews, check out:

The Dark Tower

Thinner

Children of the Corn

Tales From the Darkside

Creepshow 2

The Night Flier

Cat’s Eye

 

One thought on “Schlocktoberfest VII – Day 11: Salem’s Lot

  1. It pains me that this isn’t a better movie because the book is so good. The tension builds perfectly, the pace makes it hard to put down, it’s great story. But for some reason what’s written just doesn’t translate to screen well here. I’m okay with a straight up vampire story, that doesn’t turn the genre on its head if the atmosphere and essence is captured properly. Book = A+ , movie = D

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