Salem's Lot [1979]

Director: Tobe Hooper
Stars: David Soul, James Mason, Lance Kerwin, Bonnie Bedelia, Lew Ayres
Genre: Horror, Mystery, Thriller
Rating: PG (Parental Guidance Suggested)
Runtime: 183 minutes

The vampiric Stephen King tale returns to the small screen, 25 years after the first made-for-TV Salem's Lot, a Tobe Hooper-directed ratings hit. This time it's Rob Lowe as a successful writer who returns to his haunted hometown. As a kid, something awful happened to him in the spooky mansion on the hill; now that he's back, the mansion is once again buzzing with evil portents. The physical production (shot in Australia) is convincing, and it's fun to see old pros such as Donald Sutherland, Rutger Hauer, and James Cromwell cutting up in juicy roles. The storytelling, however, feels oddly disjointed, as though King's sprawl had been arbitrarily hacked away rather than adapted (a few big moments are bewilderingly left offscreen). The approach misses the basic assets of a vampire story: the disbelief, the lore, the sex appeal. Instead, it feels like a random collection of bits for short attention spans. --Robert Horton

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