Salem's Lot - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

Salem's Lot Reviews

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Super Reviewer
May 11, 2008
Classic horror . . you either hate it or like it.
Super Reviewer
January 4, 2012
Now a pretty ancient vampire film and it certainly looks its age these days, made one year after I was born and I've only just got round to seeing it.

Adaptation of a well known King novel of which I saw the film version which is simply all the episodes of the mini TV series stuck together into one movie. As said this was originally a TV series and you can see how it has been put together for this film version but that doesn't detract really, it kinda adds a little charm to the proceedings. Its not terribly scary by today's standards but there is a nice spooky atmosphere throughout which feels good on a cold dark rainy night.

Its a slow slow burner that's for sure, I must admit I was getting really quite bored in places as the film is three hours long and there's a lot of dialog all the way through, not much vampire action to be honest. What action there is is now quite quaint and harmless really, not much blood on show and some pretty amusing melodramatic acting as people fall foul of 'Kurt Barlow', but the makeup is still very good, especially the eyes of the vampires.

The film is well made and a good adaptation I think as it does seem encompass a lot from the original source, I haven't read the novel but there is a heck of a lot of info packed into the plot with good back stories and character development.

Must mention the legend James Mason here as his calm gentlemanly demeanor accompanied by his smooth, eloquent, perfectly pronounced voice works wonders for the evil vampires right hand man, Hopkins and Price eat your heart out hehe.

A curious addition to vampire lore which is slightly dull but altogether well crafted, the look of the main vampire obviously has been designed after the classic 'Nosferatu' look but in turn you can see how many future vampire films have also used this style and look.
Super Reviewer
June 9, 2010
As a TV movie, Salem's Lot is a stunning film that generates effective chills. Directed by horror master Tobe Hooper, Salem's Lot adapted from Stephen King's novel of the same name is a terrific tale of vampires. This is among the classic vampire films and is a must see for fans of the genre. Well acted and directed, this is a powerful and terrifying horror film that is quite impressive because it was made for TV and it has the chilling, eerie tone of a big budget theatrical release. This was Tobe Hooper at his peak. It among one of his strongest films and it remains an essential film for vampire lovers everywhere. This is a stunning film that relies on old school horror trick to create its tension. The result is an effective, creepy film that generates genuine terror for the viewer. Salem's Lot remains one of the best vampire films ever made and some scenes in the film are truly terrifying and one of a kind. A brilliant, well acted film, this is a must see for horror fans and is sure to appeal to Stephen King fans and Hooper fans alike. This is an atmospheric film that will certainly terrify you. As far as the vampire genre is concerned, this is among the best the genre has seen. Not only that, but as Stephen King adaptation, it ranks among the best. Salem's Lot is a standout horror film, and is a classic of horror. The story is engaging and creepy and the directing is effective and the cast are terrific as well. A must see for genre fans. .
Super Reviewer
October 16, 2011
Straker: You'll enjoy Mr. Barlow. And he'll enjoy you. 

"The ultimate in terror."

Salem's Lot is Stephen King's take on the vampire story and it is a pretty good one. A lot of what made the story so scary didn't translate well to the screen, but I still consider this a good adaption of the book. Tobe Hooper is a skilled horror director and while this isn't his best work, it's still a solid entry into the vampire sub-genre. 

The movie took me somewhat be surprise. I didn't expect the acting to be nearly as good as it is because it was a made-for-tv film. The cast isn't spectacular, but they do a good enough job. The film isn't at all scary or even creepy, but it was still a fun movie to watch. I probably had more fun watching it than I should have.

A writer returns to his hometown that he left when he was 10 or 11 years old. He is obsessed with an old house that stands there, that is also rumored to be haunted. He makes it the subject of his next book. Shortly after arriving, weird occurrences begin and he suspects that whatever is going on has to do with an antique dealer, his partner and that house. The plot is solid enough, but it is nowhere near King's best work. Salem's Lot falls somewhere in the middle when it comes to King adaptions.
Super Reviewer
June 23, 2011
Another child trauma. That vampire outside the bedroom's window...thanks...stupid curiosity.
Super Reviewer
September 6, 2010
A good vampire movie from Stephen King. It's suspenseful and spooky for the most part, but the scary parts are really scary too. I really liked this movie, it's a classic King story, so if you like his work or just vampires, you'll enjoy it.
Super Reviewer
½ January 20, 2008
I am really quite embarrassed to admit I screamed out loud at one point here (will not disgrace myself further by revealing which part!). Needless to say, it should not have happened as the special effects and make up are really not that convincing in this 70's horror, and I have certainly seen worse with less of a response.
What can I say, I blame it on a throwback to my childhood - the original Amityville Horror still scares me as well because I was so scared of it as a child, even though watching it, I can see it's crappy. I didn't actually ever watch this one before, but it has that feel to it.
At 3 hours it is very long and does drag out a little in places, but I enjoyed it. It's nothing amazing, but I do tend to like Stephen King's stories, and 70's/80's movies in general, so I guess the era appeals to me as much as the story. Anyone with similar taste should enjoy this, I think.
Super Reviewer
½ July 27, 2009
Stephen King's repertoire of books turned into films isn't all that good on the whole, but the list does have a few solid entries; and Salem's Lot is one of them. The cut that I saw was the cinema version, which has been cut down from the three hour TV version. Because of this, the film is overlong in places and incoherent in others; but if you ignore that little fact, what you have here is a nice little vampire flick. The story takes place in the small town of 'Salem's Lot'. If I were to name a town, I wouldn't call it 'Salem's Lot' because with that name, something evil is bound to happen. It's like calling your town 'Werewolf Creek' or 'Demonic Possession Falls' - you just wouldn't do it! Anyway, Salem's Lot becomes a town of vampires after the local weirdo orders a strange package from somewhere. The plot follows a writer that has gone back to Salem's Lot to finish his book. Once murders start occurring, the inept police sergeant suspects the local weirdo, but the writer has more imaginative ideas about what's going on...and sees that it may be down to vampires!

The special effects in Salem's Lot are very cheesy - so cheesy, in fact, that I got the impression that they were like that on purpose. The way that the small town is presented is good, and it gives director Tobe Hooper lots of chances to create an atmosphere around the story. He handles the atmosphere side of the film with great skill, and that makes up one of the film's best assets. There's a reason why many fans consider this Hooper's only good movie besides The Texas Chain Saw Massacre, and the atmosphere is probably it. The story does take a while to get going, but the way that it introduces the characters is good and through it's atmosphere and the way that the story moves; the film never gets boring. I haven't read the book of 'Salem's Lot', so I cant comment on how the film relates to the writing; but I can say that it's nice to see the man that is probably the best contender to the crown of 'modern master of horror' handling a story about vampires in a traditional way. I loved the way that King didn't try to distance the story from the genre clichés, and it's nice to see a 'true' vampire film. Overall - good stuff and highly recommended!
Super Reviewer
March 27, 2009
Another Stephen King 3 hour miniseries. I'd say overall it's successful. The chills and tactics used are still fairly impressive, though some have dated horribly. Like Stephen King's IT the film has an excellent slow build up, but an underwhelming pay off. I love getting to know the characters and slowly see how the story progresses, but still I want something a little more by the end. The acting is brilliant, thumbs up to both the casting of James Mason and James Mason himself. He adds that unrivaled talent and star quality to a sinister role. Also great to see Fred Willard in a serious role, lately he seems to always be a bit mad. The story is very similar to Dracula (and not just the vampire elements), but these references are handled with respect and adapted, rather than just chucked in, to fit an excellent story.
Super Reviewer
August 22, 2008
I hate reviewing movies that meant a lot to me as a kid, especially when they're not actually as great as they seemed at the time; it's so difficult to be honest! Part of me wants to pull this movie to pieces, yet I absolutely refuse to give it any fewer than four stars. My brother and I were allowed to stay up and watch the original two-part version of "Salem's Lot" some time in the mid-'80s, and it had a profound effect on us both. Terrified but blown away by it, we spent the better part of the next decade taping subsequent, variously truncated TV screenings in the vain hope of seeing that full version again, complete with its meandering subplots and silly Guatemalan epilogue. It took me 20 years to see the full thing again!

Looking at it now, the main problem with the long version is that, though there's more than enough exposition to make us question what the hell most of it has to do with the main thrust of the story (the answer: not much), there's still not quite enough to give us a credible feeling of an entire community being decimated in the second half. I used to think that David Soul was super cool in this but, watching it now, his Ben Mears is pretty surly and unappealing; his first meeting with Susan Norton (Bonnie Bedelia) is ridiculously corny, and would surely have earned him a liberal Maceing and a kick in the balls in the real world. The brilliant idea of a fantasy-horror nut (Lance Kerwin) using his expertise to battle real-life vampires is disappointingly squandered; though I hate to admit it, "The Lost Boys" makes better use of the same theme. Anyway, I'll wrap this up before I start getting hypercritical. Great cast, great music. Sayonara!

The following are just a few points that have puzzled me over the years, products of the fact that so much of the action happens off-screen. SPOILER ALERT: DO NOT READ ON IF YOU HAVEN'T SEEN THIS MOVIE!:-
1. Who kills Mike Ryerson's (Geoffrey Lewis) dog? Since Barlow hasn't yet arrived on the scene, Straker (James Mason) presumably. But why?
2. Who 'kills' Ralphie Glick? Although the health benefits of wrapping someone in plastic and placing them in the boot of a car are open to question, I think we have to assume that Ralphie is still alive when Straker carries him into the cellar of the Marsten house; though still in transit at the time of Ralphie's abduction, only Barlow could turn the lad into a vampire at this stage.
3. Whose is that scrap of black fabric, found by Ben Mears when searching for Ralphie Glick? Straker's or Barlow's? Of course, we only have Straker's word for it that the two black suits he presents to the police constable are his only two. Sloppy police work, if you ask me!
4. Who dumps Larry Crockett's (Fred Willard) body by the lake, and for what reason (other than to tie a largely superfluous subplot to the main storyline)? The supposition is that two vehicles were used for this piece of mischief, one presumably driven by Straker, the other by Barlow, which seems reasonable enough at the time - until we actually meet Barlow, that is. For all we know, he may wear sensible driving shoes and his clutch control may be second to none, but at risk of exposing a lack of imagination on my part, I find it impossible to visualize Reggie Nalder's Nosferatu clone driving that car. Given that his wife's lover has died in suspicious circumstances, I also find it incredible that the police allow Cully Sawyer (George Dzundza) to leave town so swiftly.
5. What happens to Jason Burke (Lew Ayres) after his heart attack? Helpless in a hospital bed as vampirism and fire rage though 'Salem's Lot, the old man's uncertain fate is perhaps the bleakest and most unnecessary loose end in the whole movie. Why couldn't he just die of that heart attack? Similarly, what happens to Susan's mother when her husband and daughter fail to come home?
Super Reviewer
February 2, 2008
I pre-disposed to liking this movie, as I love the story and am always biased to the positive when the protagonist is a writer (myself being one). In this movie, the writer character is well played, very empathetic, and so is the young kid who 'crusading' with him against the vampires.
This is not a 'bloody' vampire movie, but it is extremely 'creepy', specifically in terms of the vampire make-up designs. This movie may move too slow for those not pre-disposed to the story and desiring a scare at every turn. When this film does scare, it does it well, and is always worth the wait. The end was brilliantly executed, and I think few people will forget the first time the "master vampire" popped up with his animalistic bulging yellow eyes, or when the kid came scratching at his friend's window (not the first kid, but the protagonist kid).

All good things said, I think Hooper could have done better in terms of cinematography and editing.
Super Reviewer
½ May 8, 2007
This made for TV adaptation of the ubiquitous Stephen King's vampire novel is actually a good deal better than many of it's big screen counterparts. Directed by Tobe (Texas Chainsaw Massacre) Hooper.
Super Reviewer
December 24, 2006
Some of the casting is off (I like David Soul, but he doesn't cut it as Ben Mears), and the Nosferatu-style vampire is a bit off-putting, but otherwise this is an excellent adaptation. Tobe Hooper did a great job, working as he was within the restraints of television.
Super Reviewer
September 24, 2006
The population of a home town turned to living death, but thanks God for two survivors, a writer and teenage boy.
Super Reviewer
October 24, 2012
Based on a Stephen King bestselling novel, Salem's Lot is a morbid and eerie tale of evil. The story follows a small town with a cursed house that lures in a vampire, who then proceeds to sire the townspeople. The storytelling is poor, and kills whatever mystery and intrigue the plot builds. Additionally, the acting is especially weak with no engaging performances. Salem's Lot is a monotonous film thatâ(TM)s atmospheric and moody, but doesn't deliver.
Super Reviewer
November 12, 2007
I've only seen the roughly 2hr video version of this, and it's an alright vampire tale, a little slow moving at first but interesting enough. One thing this film has going for it is the vampire that freaks me right out, no matter how ridiculous I tell myself it looks. Tobe Hooper got something right post TCSM.
Super Reviewer
½ March 10, 2008
i originally thoyught this was scary however re watching i thought diffrently, but all the same its worth a watch
Super Reviewer
½ July 5, 2007
I hid behind my Grandpa's chair because I wasn't allowed to see it and it scared the hell out of me. That vampire kid at the window... Watching today, it isn't really scary but I'll never forget how I felt as a kid cowering behind that chair.
Super Reviewer
May 21, 2007
Cool book to about some creepy old bloke bringing a vampire into the small town of Salem's Lot.A few scary moments and a good story.
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