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Halloween Day By Day: Salem's Lot (1979)

Vampires.  Stephen King.  Halloween Day By Day.  Mike S.

A match made in heaven, right?

Writer Ben Mears returns to his home town of Salem's Lot to write about the local "haunted house"- the Marsten House.  His arrival seems to herald a plague: children disappearing... locals feeling tired and run down... and growing fear and suspicion.

Did Ben bring death to Salem's Lot... or did Straker, another mysterious stranger.

And who exactly is the never seen Kurt Barlow?

1979 saw Stephen King's novel "Salem's Lot" adapted for television.  This novel is one of King's more iconic works, and a great modern take on the classic, "Dracula".  I'll save a review of the book for another time.  Today, we're going to discuss the mini-series.

The story is essentially based on Bram Stoker's classic.  It is however nicely updated for a more modern audience, and set in a more grounded population.  It progressed nicely and tensely, and certainly kept me engaged from the start to end.

I have to say that the characters were well rounded, and each received screen time and development.  There were very few that didn't serve a purpose within the plot.  While I found the main character, Ben Mears kinda bland, I really quite enjoyed "Weasel", Mike Ryerson, and Larry Crockett.  These three were quite unique and quirky enough to like them.  The rest were a bit more interesting than Mears, but only marginally.

This could've been due to the acting.  For the most part, it's fairly typical of made for TV movies from the late 70's and early 80's- which is usually a little over the top.  Having said that, I have to also admit that I have always enjoyed the acting of Fred Willard (Larry Crockett), Geoffrey Lewis (Mike Ryerson), and Elisha Cook, Jr. ("Weasel") precisely for their somewhat overacting.  Probably because the overacting is perfectly keeping with the quirky characters they play.  Seeing all three in the same movie was a real treat for me.

There isn't much to say about the camera work in this mini-series.  It's the sort of angles, framing, etc you'd find in any other made for TV (or direct to DVD) project.

As much as I enjoyed seeing three of my favorite character actors in the same movie, and as much as I enjoyed the story itself... I feel that "Salem's Lot" is good for a single viewing.  Maybe a couple with sufficient time in between them.  Because of this fact, this Stephen King adaptation lands in "The Bad".


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