(Review originally written at 5 November 2008)

This review is of the longest available 184 minutes uncut version.

Being not the biggest fan of movies based on Stephen King novels, I must say that this movie was a rather good one within its genre. Especially when considering that this movie got made as a made for TV mini-series. This means that the movie is not as gory as other genre movies from the same time period but this doesn't mean that the movie isn't just as atmospheric and scary than any other movie.

The movie has a great atmosphere that is both mysterious and scary. Even though not a whole lot is happening within the movie, it still knows to be constantly perfectly atmospheric. Tobe Hooper is of course really a director who understand the genre (at least in the '70's he still did) and he directs the movie with lots of class and knowhow.

It's a quite original vampire movie. To be honest, in advance I even had no idea that this movie was going to be a vampire movie, while first watching it. I had heard about the title "Salem's Lot" and also about the Stephen King novel but in all honesty I had no idea what it was all about. In that regard the movie pleasantly surprised me with its concept and the overall handling of it.

But also it needs to be said that the movie isn't exactly the genre masterpiece some people make it out to be. It's way too flawed for that. For instance the pace. Well, I've watched the longest available 3 hour+ version, so perhaps it has something to do with that but the movie has a bit of a slow pace and has lots of points within the movie in which just basically nothing is ever happening. Also when looking back at it, the first hour of the movie or so seems pretty pointless afterward. Also some characters just come and go within the movie. The first halve of the movie is still mostly about the citizens of Salem's Lot, while the second halve is only mainly about the main character Ben Mears. Seems like all other characters are just simply being forgotten and abandoned within the script, without reaching a satisfying conclusion for them. A shame really, also since a lot of characters showed some good potential. Some characters are some typical good trademark quirky Stephen King type of character.

You could say that the movie is only truly good once the horror starts to kick in. The movie is effective with its horror and has a couple of memorable moments in it.

It's also made great by the musical score from Harry Sukman. It's a real great genre score and also quite well known in the horror circles, which is of course quite an accomplishment for a score composed for a TV mini-series. It was the last musical score he ever composed as well. He didn't died until 5 years later, so I guess he thought it was time to enjoy his retirement after finishing the score for this production. A great way to end his career!

A surprising good genre movie, once its horror kicks in, that also deserves some more recognition.


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About Frank Veenstra

Watches movies...writes about them...and that's it for now.
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