Salem's Lot (1979)

TV Movie   |  PG   |    |  Horror

Salem's Lot (1979) Poster

A novelist and a young horror fan attempt to save a small New England town which has been invaded by vampires.

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  • Geoffrey Lewis in Salem's Lot (1979)
  • Salem's Lot (1979)
  • Fred Willard in Salem's Lot (1979)
  • George Dzundza and Fred Willard in Salem's Lot (1979)
  • Brad Savage in Salem's Lot (1979)
  • Reggie Nalder in Salem's Lot (1979)

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Reviews & Commentary

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User Reviews

2 July 2002 | t_pellman
See the mini-series version if at all possible
First let me suggest to see the original miniseries version if at all possible. The "movie" version is horribly chopped. The remaining pieces don't fit together and leave gaping holes (such as, "what happened to Susan?")

Salem's Lot is an almost unknown milestone in horror films. This superb combination of the talents of Tobe Hooper and Stephen King bridges the gap between the Hammer-style films of the 60's and the modern vampire films. Two things to especially note:

(1) This takes place in Everytown, USA and the cinematography reflects the ordinary turned extraordinary (which is the same effect achieved by Bram Stoker's original writing for the audience of his time.) It begins looking almost like a Rockford Files episode and goes dark from there. But even the climax in the evil Marsten house looks *real*, just as you would imagine an old decrepit house to look. You can almost smell the dust. Hey, this was the seventies, the decade of naturalistic lighting. Everything coming out of Hollywood now looks just that - like Hollywood.

(2) It is a shame that anyone today viewing Salem's Lot already knows that is about vampires because when it first aired on TV, the unknown aspect is what made the first half so creepy. Now you just sit there waiting for the vampires to show up. (If I thought that even one person might read this without knowing it was about vampires, I wouldn't write this.) The advertising for the show made no mention of vampires and the effect worked well. I was ten years old when I first saw this. I had seen at least a dozen other vampire flicks - Noseratu, Lugasi, the Hammer films - and I had no clue that this was about vampires. All I knew was that something creepy was going in this town and it was getting creepier and creepier. Only in the second episode when you see someone get bit in the neck did it finally click, "Oh my god, they're vampires." You realize it right about the same time that the main characters do. Highly effective.

Also, superb performances by David Soul, Lew Ayres, James Mason.

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Did You Know?


Stephen King had Ben Gazzara in mind when he wrote Ben Mears.


Dr. William 'Bill' Norton: We haven't completed our tests, yet but it could be... and I'm trusting you to keep this to yourself... it could be pernicious anemia.
Ben Mears: Coming on overnight?


Straker tells Crockett to have Mike and Ned padlock all the doors on the Marsten house after they deliver the "sideboard", and to leave all the keys to the locks on the basement table. Crockett never stops to think to ask Straker how Straker would have gained entry to the house had this been done.

Crazy Credits

The text of the opening credits appear and dissolve piece by piece into each other in a jigsaw puzzle fashion.

Alternate Versions

A total of 4 different versions exist. The original CBS broadcast version, the CBS re-broadcast version shown a year later, the European theatrically released version, and the DVD/Blu-ray version. The original CBS broadcast version ran a total of 200 minutes. The CBS re-broadcast version shown a little while later was edited down to 150 minutes. The European theatrically released version which was edited even more down to 112 minutes (and cropped to 1.85:1) not only omitted a bunch of scenes but also had slightly more violent alternate takes of others. (like the infamous scene where Sawyer forces Crockett to put the shotgun in his mouth, in the original TV version he simply just holds it against his face) This version has only ever been released on VHS. Finally there's the DVD/Blu-ray version which runs a total of 183 minutes. This version contains the original unedited miniseries but it edits out the end credits of part 1, a lengthy recap at the beginning of part 2, and the opening credits of part 2 (which were the exact same as part 1). So on this version instead of it being shown in its original 2 part format, it's instead shown in an edited together 3 hour long movie. Despite this there are no actual scenes edited out and is still the original unedited CBS version seen in its original broadcast.

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