Friday, September 18, 2015

Short Attention Span Review - Salem's Lot (1979)

While the decision to go with a Nosferatu type vampire is a wild departure from Stephen King's novel, the 1979 television adaptation of Salem's Lot still succeeds in bringing that terrifying book to life.  There are other differences and this miniseries is surely vastly inferior to the vampire-filled pageturner that I rank as King's best, but it still has a lot going for it.  David Soul doesn't look anything like the main character that King described, a haunted writer named Ben Mears, but he excels in the role.  I think his presence is perhaps the most impressive thing about this adaptation, though the ghastly Marsten House is also beautifully realized.  The effects are solid throughout and the score is sheer perfection.  Soul is surrounded by worthy performers like James Mason, Bonnie Bedelia, Elisha Cook Jr., George Dzundza, and Geoffrey Lewis, among others.  In addition to putting together a nifty cast, this production also nailed the quaint setting of Jerusalem's Lot, a neat little town that is drained of all life by the horrors that lurk in this imaginative shocker.  When King wrote the book, he set out to bring Dracula to Maine, and that premise works as well on the screen as it did on the page.  The 2004 remake starring Rob Lowe was downright dreadful, but I'm a big fan of this 1979 spookshow from the mind of the most demented author of our time.  As with any of King's adaptations (and adaptations in general), the book is better, but Tobe Hooper's take on Salem's Lot is cool, creepy, and lots of fun.

Final Grade: B

Though he looks nothing like the character that Stephen King described, David
Soul's work as Ben Mears is the biggest strength of this TV mini-series from 1979.

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