Salem's Lot Reviews
I also think rob lowe made a better ben mears than david soul. the boy playing mark was excellent as well. there was a vulnerability to him that was not present in the 70's version. Rutger hauer was a nice change too as barlow. he resembled the one from the book much more closely than the hideous nosferatu-like creature in the other. Donald sutherland is much less successful as straker. he sorely lacks the cold sophistication of james mason.
But enough comparisons. what i objected to the most about this version in particular is that it took king's premise that small towns aren't as innocent and pure as we think (an idea he shares with doyle's sherlock holmes) and magnified it by a hundred. king was subtle. here they hit you over the head with it. the biggest crime though is that they can't even allow the "heroes" to be relatively pure. they actually go so far as to INVENT guilty secrets for each of them (with the possible exception of mark) which were NOT in the book. I feel this is a mistake. if they are just as flawed as everyone else in town how can they triumph against the evil threatening it ? but then three of them don't. in the end only mark and ben survive to fight another day, so maybe they aren't too far off king's point after all.
It saddens me to say that much of Stephen King's work is adapted so... dare I say cheap? With the exception of a few major studio motion pictures (The Shining, Shawshank Redemption, The Green Mile, The Mist), most of King's novels are adapted in the form of a miniseries, or a b-movie. It is a shame, because many of the novels, including this one, have the backbone to carry a movie with a budget. So... I am forced to put special effects aside, and review 'Salem's Lot for its story and performances.
Having read the novel long before I saw this adaptation, I was already familiar with the story and setting. Regardless, the characters are remarkably fleshed. The plot concerns a writer named Ben Mears, who returns to his home town of Jersualem's Lot following a lengthy absence. As a child, Ben witnessed a murder/suicide in the notorious Marsten house, which looms over the town like a gargoyle. Upon his return, Ben sees that he was not the only one whose life was destroyed. Jerusalem's Lot is a cesspool of bad marriages and broken souls just waiting to be torn apart long before anything supernatural arrives. The characters are given great reason to want to kill each other right from the start, and Ben begins to understand that the Marsten House is a beacon for evil. A centuries old vampire has been summoned to 'Salem's Lot, and when the plague begins to spread, the monsters who already live in the town are finally given the power to act out their sick fantasies.
I consider 'Salem's Lot to be one of the best Stephen King miniseries adaptations. The story takes its time picking up, but the characters are so incredibly detailed and believable that the wait is well worth it. The whole vampire aspect is merely a metaphor for the decimation of a broken town; we feel the emotion in every death, and the murders seem to be a long time coming. If you can ignore the TV quality special effects, which are the films primary and solo downfall, then you just may find that this is one of the greatest vampire movies ever made.