The Horror Dads in SALEM’S LOT

The Horror Dads reconvene for a roundtable discussion of Tobe Hooper’s 1979 miniseries SALEM’S LOT, an adaptation of the bestselling novel by Stephen King about a vampire plague in a quiet (and growing steadily quieter) New England town.  We’ve got the whole band back together today: Jeff Allard, Dennis Cozzalio, Greg Ferrara, Paul Gaita, Nicholas McCarthy and yours truly.  We bid you welcome…

RICHARD HARLAND SMITH:  Going into this, what is everyone’s perception of the state of the vampire art before the publication of Stephen King’s ‘SALEM’S LOT in 1975? DARK SHADOWS was long gone.  The Hammer cycle of Dracula films had run its course. What else was out there?

PAUL GAITA:  Horror circa 1972 to 1979 seemed more interested in films about demonic possession. zombies and masked killers – not very different than today. I guess one could make a case for GANJA AND HESS (1973) but so few people saw that, and you’d be hard pressed to call it a vampire movie per se. It seems like the vampire’s cycle of popularity was on the wane during this period, and didn’t really swing back into fashion until ‘SALEM’S LOT.

NICHOLAS MCCARTHY:  There are some interesting 70s vampire movies that explored the mythology in unusual ways — the two COUNT YORGA films (1970/1971) take their monster fairly seriously.  And I’m a big fan of GRAVE OF THE VAMPIRE (1974) which David THE SOPRANOS Chase wrote, probably the most inventive vampire movie of the period I can think of.

PG:  Wow, I completely forgot about GRAVE OF THE VAMPIRE – that is probably the most inventive take on the vampire movie of the period.

RHS: My memories of GRAVE OF THE VAMPIRE are too vague for me to say yay or nay but I’d short list Richard Blackburn’s LEMORA: A CHILD’S TALE OF THE SUPERNATURAL (1976) for that title.  It places the vampire mythos in the context of a storybook/scriptural understanding of good and evil while blurring those distinctions.

DENNIS COZZALIO:  Genre parody and revisionism a la the Paul Morrissey movies was just getting into full swing when GRAVE OF THE VAMPIRE came out, so it makes it all the more impressive as a relatively straight modernistic rendering of a vampire tale that takes the specifics of the vampire legend seriously.

JEFF ALLARD:  As a kid I knew very little about what was going on with new vampire films. Vampire movies were mostly from another era.  They felt safe to me. The iconic image of Dracula had been neutered of any lingering fright potential, having been adopted by kid’s programs with “The Count” appearing on Sesame Street and the live-action Saturday morning show THE MONSTER SQUAD.  My biggest exposure to a “serious” contemporary vampire prior to Tobe Hooper’s SALEM’S LOT was the “Curse of Dracula” storyline that ran as part of NBC’s CLIFFHANGERS series early in ’79 with Michael Nouri as a suave, seductive Count, posing as a college teacher in present-day San Francisco.

PG:  Another TV movie on the subject, VAMPIRE (1979), aired on ABC about a month before SALEM’S LOT ran on CBS. It’s a pretty traditional vampire movie, with a great performance by Richard Lynch in the title role. But it was totally forgotten in the wake of ‘SALEM’S LOT.

JA:  I remember being excited for VAMPIRE but it didn’t do much for me and nothing about it has lingered in my memory.  So after growing up with more or less “soft” vampires, SALEM’S LOT really blew my mind. It wasn’t campy, it wasn’t romantic, it wasn’t a period piece – it was just scary in a way that no other vampire movie had ever been for me.  In almost every modern vampire movie prior to SALEM’S LOT, the very idea of the vampire is like a giant hurdle that the storyline has to leap to overcome for fear of appearing corny or not in on the joke but SALEM’S LOT doesn’t have to do that – it simply presents the presence of the vampires as an evil infestation – and I think that’s why it’s so effective.

DC:  COUNT YORGA, VAMPIRE and THE RETURN OF COUNT YORGA establish their adherence to the familiar vampire mythology and stick to it.  These were very important movies for me growing up – as important as the Hammer Draculas. I also think BLACULA (1972) deserves some mention for taking its mythology seriously enough to generate some real emotional gravity.

RHS:  The King book came out just ahead of Anne Rice’s INTERVIEW WITH THE VAMPIRE and seems to me to be the last major American vampire novel to steer around the notion of the undead as antiestablishment role models who are, however perverse, desirable.  King’s vampires are right out of folklore – dirty, loathsome, a travesty of humanity.  Interestingly, between the publication of ‘SALEM’S LOT and the TV movie, George Romero made MARTIN (1976), which is about being so disenfranchised from real life that you cling to a fantasy of Otherness cobbled together from folklore, movies and religion.  And then, thanks in large part to Anne Rice, vampires became America’s go-to outsiders.  And look where we are today… TWILIGHT, TRUEBLOOD, THE VAMPIRE DIARIES and, God, I’m already falling asleep.

NM:    I remember that when NEAR DARK arrived in 1987 it was heralded as an exciting new way of looking at vampires.  But ‘SALEM’S LOT feels as though it was on its own way back in 1979.

JA:  ‘SALEMS LOT presented vampires as an evil to be vanquished, with no gray area given as to whether these undead bloodsuckers were just misunderstood. Since INTERVIEW WITH THE VAMPIRE, it’s become – with rare exception – unfashionable to be staunchly on the side of the vampire hunters.  Maybe it has to do with people wanting more and more to live any which way they choose and wanting to regard themselves as exceptional just for being, rather than from any particular accomplishment that has helped make vampires into such appealing figures. The tagline to THE LOST BOYS was “Sleep all day. Party all night. Never grow old. Never die. It’s fun to be a vampire.”

PG: I wonder if we should pre-date the shift in vampire lore from monster to Byronic hero a few years before INTERVIEW WITH THE VAMPIRE to Frank Langella in the Broadway production of DRACULA? The John Badham film was released the same year as SALEM’S LOT aired and for both the play and the film the draw was the handsome and decidedly romantic Langella as Dracula. Van Helsing is presented as decrepit and comical, and Jonathan Harker such a drip that Mina would be foolish to choose him over her undead lover.

GREG FERRARA:  I watched it again about two years ago and couldn’t stand it.  I mean, it looked great!  Beautiful!   But it was dead.  Not undead, just dead.  Langella wouldn’t even wear fangs for the part, nor adopt an eastern European accent and so his Count Dracula simply comes off as a debonair gentleman.  A Caucasian, well-bred, English gentleman.  Which, of course, spoils the entire original intent of the character as a sexually charged foreign intruder, corrupting Victorian society with his vile diseases of the blood.  That was one of the points of the novel: Dracula was a strong, virile swarthy foreigner, emasculating the English men.  It played on the same fears so many have today of the “other.”

RHS:  I read the Stephen King novel when it was published as a paperback, so I was really ready for the TV miniseries back in 1979.I remember thinking then that the TV movie wasn’t a patch on the novel, that the book was such a Thornton Wilder meets Bram Stoker sort of experience, very rich, very specific about small town living, and the movie is in so many ways so dry – those Northern California locations look so literally dry – and that’s not Maine, where I used to spend my summers.  I enjoyed Hooper’s SALEM’S LOT but I was at a remove from it.  I was 17 or 18, a senior in high school, and with at least ten years of horror experience under my belt it didn’t have much of a shot at scaring me.

GF: I was barely into my teens when it first aired and having not read the novel, really enjoyed it.  I thought the Glick brothers were by far the best part of the whole thing and what struck me and my brother was the scratching on the window.  That really heightened the sense of creepiness for us.  The locations didn’t look odd to me as they do now.  Still, I’ve gotten so used to California subbing for every part of the world that seeing dust and scrub brush along the side of the road looks normal to me now for everything from Sherwood Forest to Civil War Georgia.

NM:  I’m pretty sure I never caught the entirety of the miniseries on broadcast TV since I was too young to stay up late for stuff like that.  I would’ve just turned 9 when it was aired.  I remember that at the time, the image of vampire Ralphie at the window was talked about by some kids at school as one of the scariest things they had ever seen.  I read the book when I was about 12, and finally caught up with the movie via the 2-hour VHS release, a few years after that.  I had actually never watched the entire miniseries until I saw it a few weeks ago.  It takes forever for the plot strands to congeal, and I wouldn’t blame anyone for impatience.  But I found that since it was obviously following a fairly faithful adaptation to the book, it gave this wonderful “airplane novel” feel to the experience, unique in my horror movie travels.  It was just so languorous and open, and frankly I felt like I could’ve just sat there forever soaking in the whole 1979 made-for-TV vibe.   When Ralphie finally shows up at the window after an hour has passed — without commercials! – I was amazed by the set piece.  This is King’s imagination at its best, a truly weird and poetically creepy moment, and visualized here it’s really powerful.  The details on the set of the hanging model airplanes around this floating boy in his jammies turns the shot into a sort of visual pun on itself.  I thought the whole sequence was fairly astonishing.

DC:  I can’t help but feel that where King’s novel, with all its obvious wish-fulfillment and sometimes head-smacking dialogue, felt fresh and invigorating in its detail and pace in luring us into a story that constantly teetered on the edge of the overly familiar, Tobe Hooper’s movie just feels too flat in comparison, kind of half-assed and sloppy. Whether that’s the fault of the casting or whether it’s Hooper wobbly touch, or whether it’s simply that even at three hours there’s just not enough time to pack in the kind of layered atmospheric narrative that really made the book shine, I just don’t think SALEM’S LOT ranks mentioning in the same breath as LEMORA or VAMPRES (1974) or DAUGHTERS OF DARKNESS (1971). I’m less enamored of the ’80s contact lenses and oversized fangs approach than some of you guys might be, so for me Reggie Nalder’s makeup, though evocative of vampire iconography of the past, is just too much, and I feel the same way about the way the twins look too (though I would count the young boy’s first appearance at the window as one of the movies’ best moments). All of these pictures did a better job navigating around in the world of vampires than Tobe Hooper, even though Hooper had some of the genre’s strongest source material since Bram Stoker.

GF: I got my 9 year-old daughter, Elle, to watch SALEM’S LOT with Laura and me.  Elle has watched plenty of horror with us before but most of those were made pre-1960 and I wondered if this might be too scary or creepy for her.  Well, I needn’t have worried as SALEM’S LOT is just mild enough to be a perfect transition movie to modern horror for the little ones.  In fact, with each passing minute of the first third my main worry was that she would be bored – and she was.  There’s a lot of exposition.  Necessary, no doubt, but it does drag for the first forty minutes.  But then, once Mike Ryerson’s dog gets killed and the crate gets picked up Elle’s interest increased.  By the time Ralphie Glick showed up at the window she was really liking it.  She, and Laura, thought the Ralphie window effect was quite creepy but the more interesting thing for me is how incredibly good kids are at picking out continuity errors.  After Ralphie comes to the window and everyone was sufficiently spooked, Elle says, “How’d he get into his jammies?”

PG:  Like so many of Tobe Hooper’s movies, it’s full of real high points – the Glick boys at the window, Mike Ryerson confronting Matt Burke (the way Geoffrey Lewis gets out of that chair has always unsettled me), the return and destruction of Mrs. Glick, and the appearance of Barlow in the Petries’ kitchen, which is like a malevolent reverse of the Wicked Witch’s demise in THE WIZARD OF OZ (1939). Those moments have lost none of their power over the past few decades, I think. And James Mason’s performance is like eating a very rich dessert – you just want to savor every moment.  Then there are awkward moments where you feel that he’s just floundering.  There are a lot of stiff, stagey performances, maybe because he wasn’t sure how to handle them. David Soul is the chief problem, but Lance Kerwin also comes across as mechanized until the scene where he talks to his dad about why he loves monster movies.

JA:  Over thirty years later, I think the movie holds up pretty nicely. The floating vampires are just perfect – there’s no amount of modern FX wizardry that could better those moments. And I’ve always dug the contacts they used for the vampire’s eyes that make them look as if they’re glowing.   I also think that, Tobe Hooper’s contribution aside, that producer Richard Kobritz is the one who really made SALEM’S LOT what it is by changing Barlow from the handsome, articulate character of the novel into an unspeaking Nosferatu-like creature. I’m in my early forties now and I’ve watched SALEM’S LOT all the way through at least ten times over the years but Barlow never gets any less scary to look at. That purple, rat-like face is so perfectly hideous and so devoid of any humanity that it’s hard to remain blasé about his appearances in the film

GF:  Both Elle and Laura liked that the master vampire wasn’t some suave debonair Dracula or Barnabas Collins type but a monster with big rat teeth!  And the big climax in the basement of the Marsten house had everyone on the edge of their seat.  It took some time to get there, but once it started rolling we all enjoyed the ride.

PG:  It’s interesting to note that in the two subsequent adaptations – the 2004 TNT version and the slavishly faithful BBC Radio adaptation – the portrayal of Barlow as more human than monster simply couldn’t compete with Reggie Nalder’s turn, despite having two good actors (Rutger Hauer in the former and Doug Bradley in the latter) in the role.

JA:  The human depiction of Barlow just comes off as being weak, no matter how good the actor. In the book it works but once you’ve seen Reggie Nalder, there’s no going back.

DC:  I will say that the “reverse Wicked Witch melting” appearance of Nalder is very effective. But I just don’t find him all that scary– this is the kind of stuff that, I think, requires a subtler hand than Tobe Hooper — and I say that as an unrepentant worshipper at the altar of THE TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE (1974) — or that CBS was willing to supply. I’d much rather they went this way than, say, casting Jamey Sheridan as Randall Flagg– there’s the proof to the theory that Barlow-as-average-human-a-la-Straker would have been even less successful.  The movie needs its otherworldly, supernatural, freak imagery but all Nalder did for me was make me think of Max Schreck and neither he nor Hooper are going to win that contest.

RHS: What did everyone think of Bonnie Bedelia in this?  I found something deeply strange about her performance – and I mean that in a good way.  Those downcast eyes betrayed a note of sadness that was never really ameliorated throughout her romantic subplot in SALEM’S LOT, which added a layer of melancholy and regret to what was otherwise a sort of one-note character.

NM: I also found Bedelia’s performance striking.  There’s a melancholy dimension to her character that seems to get sadder when her and Ben’s relationship is threatened with her new job.  In this way she’s a familiar characterization — the girl with big dreams who want to leave her small town.  And who can blame her?  Most of the other people in town we meet are kind of like backwater dolts.  Beyond that though, Bedelia is simply beautiful here, dressed so plainly.

JA:  I thought she was really good. Like you say, there’s a sadness to her that brings some depth to what would’ve been a kind of nothing character. Just by her demeanor, you can believe this is someone who’s suffered a few setbacks in life.  I didn’t really care for her death scene. The fact that she’s lying on the bed the whole time as Ben is approaching her seems like such an undramatic way to stage that scene. She might as well already been holding the stake in place for Ben with an ‘X’ painted on her night gown.

NM:  You know when I first watched it I had to rewind because the way she was posed made it look to me that she was pregnant.  Which would’ve added another dimension to her staking, to say the least.

PG:  I think that sad quality is what she brings to all of her performances. If you take a look at her career, you see that same sadness throughout, from early stuff like THE STRANGE VENGEANCE OF ROSALIE (1972) to PARENTHOOD. Even DIE HARD (1988), to an extent.  She’s less effective after being vampirized, when she’s tricked out like one of The Brides of Dracula. Otherwise, she lends a lot of credibility to the picture.

RHS: She seems, more than anyone else in the movie, to be trying to connect an undeniably pulp sort of story with something more substantial… but without making her performance precious or to elevate it above the material.  Or the execution, which is often a bit perfunctory or flat.

GF:   I agree, it’s flat.  I do wish more had been done with lighting and mood.  Darker scenes would have been a good start.  A lot takes place in the bright, bright California sunshine and you wish they’d done more shoots at the magic hours of dusk and dawn for maximum shadow effect.  Certainly the interior scenes could have been darker but they were pretty evenly lit too.   Also, when you first see Mark’s bedroom Laura and I both remarked that must have been what Richard’s bedroom looked like as a teen.

RHS:  It actually does look a lot like my childhood bedroom!  All the models and masks and stuff and the rubber hand.  I had some of the same posters, the reprints of the Universal films.  But didn’t all of our rooms look like that?

PG:  Fewer models and magic, but plenty of posters. Speaking of Mark’s room, anyone notice how huge it is? He has an easy chair in there, for crying out loud. It’s like the whole top floor of the Petrie house.

JA:  I wish my bedroom looked like Mark’s. I had a lot of magic props – as much as my parents could afford to get me – but I never had the patience for models and when I was young and my mom would’ve balked at horror movie posters on the wall – even ones as innocuous as FRANKENSTEIN (1931). I always thought Mike Baldwin’s bedroom in PHANTASM (1979) was every bit as cool as Mark Petrie’s. Now there’s two kids that should’ve hung out together – if only they weren’t separated by the entire US.

DC:  As for Mark Petrie’s bedroom, not only was it frickin’ huge, but there’s not enough stuff in it! Cool Captain Company rubber masks– check. Standard-issue Universal classic horror posters– check. I had the whole series too, Richard! But where were the Aurora model kits?! The life-sized Vampirella posters? The stacks of dog-eared copies of FAMOUS MONSTERS OF FILMLAND ! Come on, some verisimilitude, people!

JA:  Aren’t his models where Mark gets the crucifix to ward off Danny Glick? As for the lack of Vampirella and FM, maybe licensing rights had something to do with that. Just a guess.

DC:  Jeff, I had completely forgotten about the plastic crucifix. Maybe because it came from a kit that looked so generic. I wanted to see Lugosi coming out of the crypt, or the Bride of Frankenstein laying on the adjustable operating table, or the Prisoner hanging from his shackles, all bone-white with a rat nibbling on his fleshless feet. Maybe there were rights problems here too?  Another failure of either the film’s budget of the production designer’s imagination. Or maybe back in 1978-79 folks that did TV just didn’t know the degree to which monsters and such permeated the day-in-day-out existence of a whole generation of movie nerds the way they do now, thanks to the Internet’s ceaseless promoting of all the usual Spielberg-Lucas-Famous Monsters-oriented legends. I certainly could relate to Mark’s uneasiness with his dad though. Mine was disdainful of anything movie-related, but he especially hated horror and monsters and routinely let me know it.

RHS:  I think the relationship of Mark Petrie and his quietly disapproving father is why the Horror Dads are discussing SALEM’S LOT in the first place.

PG:  I think that aspect of the story carries a lot of resonance for former Monster Kids and current Horror Dads. I’m sure we all had similar conversations to the one that Mark and his father have as to why he’s interested in “that stuff – magic and monsters.” Mark’s reply is a lot cooler than anything I might’ve come up with – “I just am.” It’s very self-assured, which smells a bit like what most former FAMOUS MONSTERS collectors wished they’d said to their doubting fathers. I’m sure my own response was more along the lines of “I don’t know,” which was closer to the truth. I had no real idea at 10 or even 15 why I really liked horror movies , but I knew they resonated for me more than most other things, including a lot of people. I guess, in retrospect, my answer WOULD have been a lot like Mark’s – I didn’t know which I liked them, but I just did.  And of course, the scenes with Danny Glick at the window play like the sweetest sort of justification for ponying up our allowances and paper route money for Aurora models or Super-8 movies or the like – Mark’s love of horror saves his frigging life! If he hadn’t had that cross on his work table, and hadn’t known about vampire lore, he’d have been floating outside a window himself. That scene is one big “TOLD YA!” to everyone who ever asked the same question as Mark’s dad about “that stuff.” I’m still hoping that repeat childhood viewings of ATTACK OF THE GIANT LEECHES (1959) or ZONTAR, THE THING FROM VENUS (1966) will prepare me for some future crises.

NM:  I think Paul nailed it here.  Ben Mears’ character in SALEM’S LOT feels a lot like wish fulfillment for King, the Misunderstood Genius Writer, so it’s appropriate that he ends up becoming a father figure to Mark Petrie since Mark’s character is another idealized version of King — the Misunderstood Genius Boy.  I’m sure all of us can’t help but root for Mark, and his father’s lack of understanding about his interests in horror movies places him squarely in that same romantic outsider role as Ben.  Mark witnessing the death of his parents I find to be extremely powerful.  The way Barlow cracks the head of his parents like they were dolls feels like just the sort of nightmare a child would have.

DC:  I had those conversations with my dad and I’d like to think my answers where more articulate than a simple “I dunno” when asked why I liked monsters and things like that. The question was always posed to me so that it was clear to me that the “things like that” were looked on as symptomatic of some kind of perverted way of looking at the world, an enjoyment of the agony and violence that is part and parcel of the world of monsters and horror. Of course I “enjoyed” these elements– I’d be lying if I said I didn’t. But I never felt guilty about my attraction toward this kind of material, just as I never felt my love of it went unbalanced by my appreciation for other kinds of movies, other aspects of life.  This is something I don’t think my dad ever understood or believed about me. I think on some level he really thought that my intense interest in movies, especially horror movies, was a sign that something was wrong, specifically that he’d done something wrong or was somehow being gypped by God in not having a son who wanted to go out with him hunting and fishing every weekend.


JA:  It’s a classic Dad and Monster Kid relationship in that the dad just doesn’t get it and worries about his son’s strange interests. From the moment that Mark’s dad frowns on his son’s hobby, it’s clear that he’s doomed. Mark’s dad might be a whiz at crunching numbers but that isn’t going to help him as much as an Aurora model kit would.

RHS:  There’s something inexorably sad about Mark’s relationship to his father, especially in the miniseries, where you can see the physical distance between them, the disinclination to connect or to even physically touch.  I didn’t suffer from that affection gap with my Dad but you’re never as close to your parents as you want to be and we went through some years of not really understanding one another.  I’m sure my parents worried about me, and were concerned about my interest in morbid things.  I was worried about them, too, and there were nights I’d lay awake in my bed full of dread and hurt and there was nothing my Dad could do about it.  Forty years later and I feel sadder for him than I do for myself, but that’s because I’m a dad now.  Anyway, it’s from those gaps, from those empty places between us and out of the shadows that fall there that fear rises and spreads and isolates people and I think SALEM’S LOT speaks to that disconnect and that’s why it remains, for all its faults, relevant and worthwhile so many years later.

 

Horror Dads logo courtesy of Greg Ferrara.

53 Responses The Horror Dads in SALEM’S LOT
Posted By Alan : March 25, 2011 8:23 am

You guys forgot to mention perhaps the best vampire movie of the time period you discussed: The Night Stalker (1972).
It earned the highest ratings of any TV movie at the time (33.2 rating – 54 share), had a stellar cast (Darren McGavin, Ralph Meeker, Simon Oakland, Carol Lynley, Lew Ayres) and one of scariest vampires (Barry Atwater). It certainly deserved a mention.

Posted By Alan : March 25, 2011 8:23 am

You guys forgot to mention perhaps the best vampire movie of the time period you discussed: The Night Stalker (1972).
It earned the highest ratings of any TV movie at the time (33.2 rating – 54 share), had a stellar cast (Darren McGavin, Ralph Meeker, Simon Oakland, Carol Lynley, Lew Ayres) and one of scariest vampires (Barry Atwater). It certainly deserved a mention.

Posted By rhsmith : March 25, 2011 10:38 am

The Night Stalker got a mention and some high praise (deservedly) in the full roundabout discussion, which was edited down from more than 12,000 words to 4,500. That sidebar was cut for brevity and I didn’t really miss it because the landmark telefilm (which is everything you say it is but did not boast Lew Ayres in its cast) fell just out of range in my opening remarks of what was going on in vampire-dom between the publication of Stephen King’s ‘Salem’s Lot and the Tobe Hooper telefilm. Now, the Dan Curtis movie that we should have brought up is his adaptation of Dracula with Jack Palance, which aired in 1974 or 1975. I do regret that oversight.

Posted By rhsmith : March 25, 2011 10:38 am

The Night Stalker got a mention and some high praise (deservedly) in the full roundabout discussion, which was edited down from more than 12,000 words to 4,500. That sidebar was cut for brevity and I didn’t really miss it because the landmark telefilm (which is everything you say it is but did not boast Lew Ayres in its cast) fell just out of range in my opening remarks of what was going on in vampire-dom between the publication of Stephen King’s ‘Salem’s Lot and the Tobe Hooper telefilm. Now, the Dan Curtis movie that we should have brought up is his adaptation of Dracula with Jack Palance, which aired in 1974 or 1975. I do regret that oversight.

Posted By Bob Gutowski : March 25, 2011 12:10 pm

As ‘Salem’s Lot and its various adaptations are among the passions of my life, I loved that you had this discussion. My own dad was not too emotionally available but, hell, he started me on the Aurora models, and FM of F as well. monster – one thing we did have in common! BTW, I’d bet they couldn’t use the actual Aurora sets in the film due to copyright issues. I remain torn on the question of Barlow as a clone of Nosferatu. On one hand, Mason’s delivery of what had been Barlow’s lines in the book in that eerie kitchen scene is unforgettable. On the other hand, Barlow’s silence means, to me, that Mason becomes the true villain of the piece (and Nalder’s physical frailty is evident in some shots). After Straker’s death, Barlow, fearsome as he is to look upon, is merely the big blue bug in the basement who needs squashing (and like HORROR OF DRACULA, we only see a shorter version of his dissolution than was shot). This last section is weakened, I believe by the decision to move Susan’s demise to the end of the film (“Hey, I get to be the PRETTY vampire!), robbing Ben of true motivation for revenge against Big Blue (this was repeated, with variations, in the remake). May I throw in that the film borrows from not only NOSFERATU, but THE EXORCIST (the rattling kitchen cabinets and the generally horrid appearance of the vampirized – except Susan!), and, of course, PSYCHO (Ed Flanders’ fatal walk up the stairs and the superimposition of an image on the moon at the film’s end). ‘Salem’s Lot – a nice place to visit, but you wouldn’t want to die there.

Posted By Bob Gutowski : March 25, 2011 12:10 pm

As ‘Salem’s Lot and its various adaptations are among the passions of my life, I loved that you had this discussion. My own dad was not too emotionally available but, hell, he started me on the Aurora models, and FM of F as well. monster – one thing we did have in common! BTW, I’d bet they couldn’t use the actual Aurora sets in the film due to copyright issues. I remain torn on the question of Barlow as a clone of Nosferatu. On one hand, Mason’s delivery of what had been Barlow’s lines in the book in that eerie kitchen scene is unforgettable. On the other hand, Barlow’s silence means, to me, that Mason becomes the true villain of the piece (and Nalder’s physical frailty is evident in some shots). After Straker’s death, Barlow, fearsome as he is to look upon, is merely the big blue bug in the basement who needs squashing (and like HORROR OF DRACULA, we only see a shorter version of his dissolution than was shot). This last section is weakened, I believe by the decision to move Susan’s demise to the end of the film (“Hey, I get to be the PRETTY vampire!), robbing Ben of true motivation for revenge against Big Blue (this was repeated, with variations, in the remake). May I throw in that the film borrows from not only NOSFERATU, but THE EXORCIST (the rattling kitchen cabinets and the generally horrid appearance of the vampirized – except Susan!), and, of course, PSYCHO (Ed Flanders’ fatal walk up the stairs and the superimposition of an image on the moon at the film’s end). ‘Salem’s Lot – a nice place to visit, but you wouldn’t want to die there.

Posted By Marty Barrett : March 25, 2011 1:12 pm

This is my first time visiting Horror Dads. What an excellent column, and comprehensive without being a reckless show of geek prowess (though there’s some serious geek prowess here).

I love that the movie was such an homage to “Nosferatu” as well as something firmly rooted in its own idiom, like Tobe Hooper was trying to imagine his “Texas Chainsaw” characters up in Maine. Everyone was a little blunted.

And the book (as well as its excellent prequel and sequel, “Jerusalem’s Lot” and “One for the Road” in the collection “Night Shift”) was itself a great tribute by Stephen King to his own heroes in addition to yet another example of his assured but gleeful storytelling.

Posted By Marty Barrett : March 25, 2011 1:12 pm

This is my first time visiting Horror Dads. What an excellent column, and comprehensive without being a reckless show of geek prowess (though there’s some serious geek prowess here).

I love that the movie was such an homage to “Nosferatu” as well as something firmly rooted in its own idiom, like Tobe Hooper was trying to imagine his “Texas Chainsaw” characters up in Maine. Everyone was a little blunted.

And the book (as well as its excellent prequel and sequel, “Jerusalem’s Lot” and “One for the Road” in the collection “Night Shift”) was itself a great tribute by Stephen King to his own heroes in addition to yet another example of his assured but gleeful storytelling.

Posted By Chris : March 25, 2011 3:56 pm

Since someone mentioned Southern Calif. being a poor substitute for Maine, did anyone mention the lack of Maine accents. This could’ve been in the Midwest from the sound of the voice. Also, one vampire story worth taking in from the ’80s would be the “Monsters” episode from the ’80s version of The Twilight Zone. Ralph Bellemy stars as a vampire who moves to a nice quiet suburb. It explains why you don’t see too many vampires these days.

Posted By Chris : March 25, 2011 3:56 pm

Since someone mentioned Southern Calif. being a poor substitute for Maine, did anyone mention the lack of Maine accents. This could’ve been in the Midwest from the sound of the voice. Also, one vampire story worth taking in from the ’80s would be the “Monsters” episode from the ’80s version of The Twilight Zone. Ralph Bellemy stars as a vampire who moves to a nice quiet suburb. It explains why you don’t see too many vampires these days.

Posted By rhsmith : March 25, 2011 4:04 pm

Geoffrey Lewis made a real attempt at a Maine accent and Kenneth MacMillan occasionally worked the inflection into his dialogue but by and large the principal players just plowed ahead with standard American. It would be something to see a production of this or any of King’s better books done with Maine regionals, low budget – I bet that would be something.

Posted By rhsmith : March 25, 2011 4:04 pm

Geoffrey Lewis made a real attempt at a Maine accent and Kenneth MacMillan occasionally worked the inflection into his dialogue but by and large the principal players just plowed ahead with standard American. It would be something to see a production of this or any of King’s better books done with Maine regionals, low budget – I bet that would be something.

Posted By Bob Gutowski : March 25, 2011 5:06 pm

Mike, the excellent Mr. Lewis (who easily walks off with his section of the film) is clad in a pajama top and jeans for his confrontation with Jason (why “Jason” and not “Matt?”) Burke (and not naked and marble-like, as in the book). AS Elle noted, Ralphie Glick is mystifyingly in his jammies when he comes to call. Seems that pjs is what were in fashion for the undead in The Lot that year.

Posted By Bob Gutowski : March 25, 2011 5:06 pm

Mike, the excellent Mr. Lewis (who easily walks off with his section of the film) is clad in a pajama top and jeans for his confrontation with Jason (why “Jason” and not “Matt?”) Burke (and not naked and marble-like, as in the book). AS Elle noted, Ralphie Glick is mystifyingly in his jammies when he comes to call. Seems that pjs is what were in fashion for the undead in The Lot that year.

Posted By Rod Labbe : March 25, 2011 5:19 pm

I live in Maine and read Salem’s Lot when it was released as a hardcover edition, early winter of 75. There was a local commercial for it, showing someone reading the book by candlelight. It ended with a voice saying (off-camera), “let me in!” The reader jumps, looks over her shoulder, and the screen goes to black. Great stuff! Anyway, I eagerly looked forward to the mini-series, shown (I think) in two parts, one week apart. Unlike a lot of guys here, I wasn’t a child when I saw this, so it doesn’t hold a nostalgic place in my youth. I was already 27, and therefore viewed it with a much more critical eye. There are a LOT of problems with Hooper’s version. For one, the look. As most people here have said, the lighting is flat, and again, California is aping Maine. The Maine landscape is very distinctive, with lots of pine trees, fir trees, maples, oaks and ash–plus, rolling hills and foliage that changes in the autumn. None of that was evident in this film. Secondly, though I loved Barlow’s make-up, making him basically a monster who had a “keeper” that spoke for him ISN’T Salem’s Lot. No matter that people here have said it works better that way, it just isn’t what King wanted or had in mind. Thirdly, Lance Kerwin was just terrible as Mark. He was way too old. The kid’s supposed to be 12, if I remember correctly. I never liked him as an actor, anyway–by 1979, he was over-exposed, what with his “James at 15″ TV show and so many other things. The return of Susan as a vampire really bothered me (she also returns in the TNT version). Obviously, they did this so Ben and she could have one final goodbye, but her destruction in the novel is powerful–echoing Lucy’s staking in Dracula. And it’s interesting to read here that the filmmakers took the book seriously, without adding camp–yet, the sight of Fred Willard running around in silk boxers with hearts on them ruined what is played VERY seriously in the book. The Glick boy’s appearance at the window is eerie, until you realize the entire scene’s been filmed in reverse. To me, the two very best scenes in Salem’s Lot are when the gravedigger open’s the coffin and sees a reanimated Glick, and when he returns to the teacher’s house as a vampire. Very effective and frightening. Overall, though, I thought this was a flat, rather uninspired treatment. The TNT version was also pretty bad.

Posted By Rod Labbe : March 25, 2011 5:19 pm

I live in Maine and read Salem’s Lot when it was released as a hardcover edition, early winter of 75. There was a local commercial for it, showing someone reading the book by candlelight. It ended with a voice saying (off-camera), “let me in!” The reader jumps, looks over her shoulder, and the screen goes to black. Great stuff! Anyway, I eagerly looked forward to the mini-series, shown (I think) in two parts, one week apart. Unlike a lot of guys here, I wasn’t a child when I saw this, so it doesn’t hold a nostalgic place in my youth. I was already 27, and therefore viewed it with a much more critical eye. There are a LOT of problems with Hooper’s version. For one, the look. As most people here have said, the lighting is flat, and again, California is aping Maine. The Maine landscape is very distinctive, with lots of pine trees, fir trees, maples, oaks and ash–plus, rolling hills and foliage that changes in the autumn. None of that was evident in this film. Secondly, though I loved Barlow’s make-up, making him basically a monster who had a “keeper” that spoke for him ISN’T Salem’s Lot. No matter that people here have said it works better that way, it just isn’t what King wanted or had in mind. Thirdly, Lance Kerwin was just terrible as Mark. He was way too old. The kid’s supposed to be 12, if I remember correctly. I never liked him as an actor, anyway–by 1979, he was over-exposed, what with his “James at 15″ TV show and so many other things. The return of Susan as a vampire really bothered me (she also returns in the TNT version). Obviously, they did this so Ben and she could have one final goodbye, but her destruction in the novel is powerful–echoing Lucy’s staking in Dracula. And it’s interesting to read here that the filmmakers took the book seriously, without adding camp–yet, the sight of Fred Willard running around in silk boxers with hearts on them ruined what is played VERY seriously in the book. The Glick boy’s appearance at the window is eerie, until you realize the entire scene’s been filmed in reverse. To me, the two very best scenes in Salem’s Lot are when the gravedigger open’s the coffin and sees a reanimated Glick, and when he returns to the teacher’s house as a vampire. Very effective and frightening. Overall, though, I thought this was a flat, rather uninspired treatment. The TNT version was also pretty bad.

Posted By bill r. : March 25, 2011 11:31 pm

Well done, fellows. I’ve been wanting to watch SALEM’S LOT again for a very long time, as it was a powerful bit of business in my early years. I’m afraid it wouldn’t hold up, but man, that goddamn Glick kid really sunk his nails into my brain. Part of the greatness of that scene is how he’s talking to his brother, just politely asking to be let in, well those hideous nails tick, tick, tick at the glass. Then he floats in on the fog…indelible’s not even the word, if you watch that scene as a kid.

Also, hey, what about doing a series called “Horror Fans Who Write, And Are Childless”? Tell me that doesn’t have a ring to it.

Posted By bill r. : March 25, 2011 11:31 pm

Well done, fellows. I’ve been wanting to watch SALEM’S LOT again for a very long time, as it was a powerful bit of business in my early years. I’m afraid it wouldn’t hold up, but man, that goddamn Glick kid really sunk his nails into my brain. Part of the greatness of that scene is how he’s talking to his brother, just politely asking to be let in, well those hideous nails tick, tick, tick at the glass. Then he floats in on the fog…indelible’s not even the word, if you watch that scene as a kid.

Also, hey, what about doing a series called “Horror Fans Who Write, And Are Childless”? Tell me that doesn’t have a ring to it.

Posted By Rod Labbe : March 26, 2011 12:00 am

There’s no dialogue between the Glick boys when Ralphie comes to Danny’s window (both at home and in the hospital–identical windows, too, except for the curtains). The same windows apparently existed in Mark’s bedroom! It’s there where we hear dialogue between Mark and Danny Glick (the older brother). He asks to be let in, that the “master commands it.” Mark almost does and then turns away. Danny says, “No, Mark!” Then, Mark notices a plastic crucifix on his model of a cemetery, breaks it off and holds it to the window. Ralphie hisses and moves back slowly into the mists.

Posted By Rod Labbe : March 26, 2011 12:00 am

There’s no dialogue between the Glick boys when Ralphie comes to Danny’s window (both at home and in the hospital–identical windows, too, except for the curtains). The same windows apparently existed in Mark’s bedroom! It’s there where we hear dialogue between Mark and Danny Glick (the older brother). He asks to be let in, that the “master commands it.” Mark almost does and then turns away. Danny says, “No, Mark!” Then, Mark notices a plastic crucifix on his model of a cemetery, breaks it off and holds it to the window. Ralphie hisses and moves back slowly into the mists.

Posted By bill r. : March 26, 2011 12:08 am

Ah yes. Well, combine those two scenes into one mega-scene, and my point stands.

Posted By bill r. : March 26, 2011 12:08 am

Ah yes. Well, combine those two scenes into one mega-scene, and my point stands.

Posted By suzidoll : March 26, 2011 9:49 pm

SALEM’S LOT may be my favorite mini-series of all time. I actually own this on VHS, and I rarely bought anything on VHS. I still have it. And, I definitely think the production holds up. It’s superior to the remake, that’s for sure. I thought David Soul was pretty good; he seemed to take the material seriously, and he made a decent heroic protagonist. And, I am pleased you included a still from the scariest scene for me, as mentioned above, which is when the Glick kid hangs outside the window beckoning his friend to come outside. This played on my childhood fear that if you look outside your window at night, something horrible will be looking back at you.

Posted By suzidoll : March 26, 2011 9:49 pm

SALEM’S LOT may be my favorite mini-series of all time. I actually own this on VHS, and I rarely bought anything on VHS. I still have it. And, I definitely think the production holds up. It’s superior to the remake, that’s for sure. I thought David Soul was pretty good; he seemed to take the material seriously, and he made a decent heroic protagonist. And, I am pleased you included a still from the scariest scene for me, as mentioned above, which is when the Glick kid hangs outside the window beckoning his friend to come outside. This played on my childhood fear that if you look outside your window at night, something horrible will be looking back at you.

Posted By Bob Gutowski : March 27, 2011 12:01 pm

Ah, Lance Kerwin. He occasionallly morphs into Katherine Hepburn, if you pay attention, blithely goin’ New Englandish when no one around him is: “I cahn’t!” Has anyone refelcted upon how ghastly Mark’s school pageant is? Mr. Burke, PLEASE step in. Concerning Bedelia, I’d just like to mention the Village Voice reviewer who said of her performance as Susan that if she’d have walked around with her mouth open any more flies could’ve used her tongue as a landing strip. Still, mouth and all, I am knocked out by the (not from the book) scene between her and Marie Windsor as Eva, who gives her such a dark, doomed look as she goes to rest after recounting her dreams of having her neck kissed (!) that it convinces Susan that her nutty new boyfriend Ben might really be on to something, re: vampires in ‘Salem’s Lot. Oh, and composer Harry Sukman’s opening theme is very similar to that of Herrmann’s MYSTERIOUS ISLAND, no?

Posted By Bob Gutowski : March 27, 2011 12:01 pm

Ah, Lance Kerwin. He occasionallly morphs into Katherine Hepburn, if you pay attention, blithely goin’ New Englandish when no one around him is: “I cahn’t!” Has anyone refelcted upon how ghastly Mark’s school pageant is? Mr. Burke, PLEASE step in. Concerning Bedelia, I’d just like to mention the Village Voice reviewer who said of her performance as Susan that if she’d have walked around with her mouth open any more flies could’ve used her tongue as a landing strip. Still, mouth and all, I am knocked out by the (not from the book) scene between her and Marie Windsor as Eva, who gives her such a dark, doomed look as she goes to rest after recounting her dreams of having her neck kissed (!) that it convinces Susan that her nutty new boyfriend Ben might really be on to something, re: vampires in ‘Salem’s Lot. Oh, and composer Harry Sukman’s opening theme is very similar to that of Herrmann’s MYSTERIOUS ISLAND, no?

Posted By JC : March 27, 2011 2:14 pm

Great piece, guys.

Maybe you can help me out with this…when I was very young, I caught on TV a movie about a sort of hippie shaman that also happened to be a vampire. Rather hefty guy, dressed in strange kimonos. Long hair, bearded. A sort of Bud Spencer / Demys Russo love child. Can’t remember much about it, except that it scared the wits out of me. He becomes the leader of a commune of sorts.

The movie starts – I think – and ends with a shot of his coffin floating in from the sea. In the middle, there is a scene where a bonfire party on a beach, where he reveals his fangs – and true nature. The party turns into a bloodfest. I think!

Can’t give you more info. I caught it on TV in Nicaragua in the very early 80s, dubbed into spanish, which means that by then, it would have been at least a couple of years old. Looking back on wardrobe and cultural tropes, it might be an american, mid-70s production. Low budget or made for TV. I think.

Any of you guys have any idea of what movie this is?

Posted By JC : March 27, 2011 2:14 pm

Great piece, guys.

Maybe you can help me out with this…when I was very young, I caught on TV a movie about a sort of hippie shaman that also happened to be a vampire. Rather hefty guy, dressed in strange kimonos. Long hair, bearded. A sort of Bud Spencer / Demys Russo love child. Can’t remember much about it, except that it scared the wits out of me. He becomes the leader of a commune of sorts.

The movie starts – I think – and ends with a shot of his coffin floating in from the sea. In the middle, there is a scene where a bonfire party on a beach, where he reveals his fangs – and true nature. The party turns into a bloodfest. I think!

Can’t give you more info. I caught it on TV in Nicaragua in the very early 80s, dubbed into spanish, which means that by then, it would have been at least a couple of years old. Looking back on wardrobe and cultural tropes, it might be an american, mid-70s production. Low budget or made for TV. I think.

Any of you guys have any idea of what movie this is?

Posted By Richard Harland Smith : March 27, 2011 2:37 pm

JC, it sounds as though you’re thinking of Deathmaster, which stars Robert Quarry… though he’s not fat, he does turn up in a floating coffin. There may be (it’s been a while since I last saw it) a vampire among his blood cult that fits your description.

The movie is up on YouTube, so check it out and see what you think…

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tPWMlybDvJk&feature=related

Posted By Richard Harland Smith : March 27, 2011 2:37 pm

JC, it sounds as though you’re thinking of Deathmaster, which stars Robert Quarry… though he’s not fat, he does turn up in a floating coffin. There may be (it’s been a while since I last saw it) a vampire among his blood cult that fits your description.

The movie is up on YouTube, so check it out and see what you think…

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tPWMlybDvJk&feature=related

Posted By David Del Valle : March 27, 2011 9:09 pm

Hey Richard…once again a very conversations on a personal favorite of mine. I have such mixed feelings about the 1979 SALEM’S LOT mainly because of Tobe Hooper. I was very close to Reggie Nalder during the time he made this and my experience with Hooper was rather negative because of his behavior and in particular his comments about Reggie in print.

Reggie and I went to the Warner Bros lot for the first industry screening of the film shown without the breaks for commercials. The effect of seeing it this way at the time was overwhelming and I remember going over to Forry Ackerman’s the next day telling him it was the best Vampire film in years. My feelings of course changed a bit with the passage of time. I liked the South American prologue with David Soul and Lance on the run…the first scene showing Barlow’s hand in the jail cell caused the whole room to jump at the time as did the Glick brother at the window. The subplot involving Willand and his secretary fell flat even at an industry screening so that should have been lefdt on the cutting toom floor.
My personal feelings regarding Lance’s relationship with his Dad were consistant with the way my own Dad felt about Horror films always concerned I would fall short if I didn’t develope other interests etc…..The remake with Rob Lowe was superior in many ways since it was mature adapation updating some characters like the high school teacher being gay etc….Mr Barlow has yet to be done as King wrote him so perhaps the thrid time will be the charm……

Posted By David Del Valle : March 27, 2011 9:09 pm

Hey Richard…once again a very conversations on a personal favorite of mine. I have such mixed feelings about the 1979 SALEM’S LOT mainly because of Tobe Hooper. I was very close to Reggie Nalder during the time he made this and my experience with Hooper was rather negative because of his behavior and in particular his comments about Reggie in print.

Reggie and I went to the Warner Bros lot for the first industry screening of the film shown without the breaks for commercials. The effect of seeing it this way at the time was overwhelming and I remember going over to Forry Ackerman’s the next day telling him it was the best Vampire film in years. My feelings of course changed a bit with the passage of time. I liked the South American prologue with David Soul and Lance on the run…the first scene showing Barlow’s hand in the jail cell caused the whole room to jump at the time as did the Glick brother at the window. The subplot involving Willand and his secretary fell flat even at an industry screening so that should have been lefdt on the cutting toom floor.
My personal feelings regarding Lance’s relationship with his Dad were consistant with the way my own Dad felt about Horror films always concerned I would fall short if I didn’t develope other interests etc…..The remake with Rob Lowe was superior in many ways since it was mature adapation updating some characters like the high school teacher being gay etc….Mr Barlow has yet to be done as King wrote him so perhaps the thrid time will be the charm……

Posted By JC : March 27, 2011 9:10 pm

Richard, that’s the one!

You’re right, he’s not actually fat. Funny how memory alters perception…or maybe that old Sharp TV I saw the movie in was busted. Now I’m afraid to see the movie and find it dated…and not as scary as I remember. But I totally will. Thanks a lot! The question of which movie it was haunted me for YEARS.

Since you seem to be very deft at this game: late sixties-seventies movie. British. Young kids, brothers and sisters…kill their mother, or something like it. Live in some sort of big old, runned-down country house. I only remember daylight scenes. The boys dressed in dark jackets and ties in some scenes, as school uniforms. I found that very striking, since they were very different from my own uniform. Yes, I also found striking that they would want to kill their mom! It played as an afternoon feature on a weekday, like an after-school special. Probably the programmers didn’t see it before scheduling it.

I promise you I won’t keep bothering you. That’s my last big unknown scary movie from yesteryear.

Warm regards,

Posted By JC : March 27, 2011 9:10 pm

Richard, that’s the one!

You’re right, he’s not actually fat. Funny how memory alters perception…or maybe that old Sharp TV I saw the movie in was busted. Now I’m afraid to see the movie and find it dated…and not as scary as I remember. But I totally will. Thanks a lot! The question of which movie it was haunted me for YEARS.

Since you seem to be very deft at this game: late sixties-seventies movie. British. Young kids, brothers and sisters…kill their mother, or something like it. Live in some sort of big old, runned-down country house. I only remember daylight scenes. The boys dressed in dark jackets and ties in some scenes, as school uniforms. I found that very striking, since they were very different from my own uniform. Yes, I also found striking that they would want to kill their mom! It played as an afternoon feature on a weekday, like an after-school special. Probably the programmers didn’t see it before scheduling it.

I promise you I won’t keep bothering you. That’s my last big unknown scary movie from yesteryear.

Warm regards,

Posted By Rod Labbe : March 27, 2011 10:11 pm

Oh, that’s an easy one–you’re talking about “Our Mother’s House,” released in 1967 and starring Pamela Franklin and Dirk Bogarde. It’s about a mother who dies, leaving behind her children. They decide to bury moms in the back yard and pretend like everything is normal, as if she’s still living. They didn’t want to kill her, she died of natural causes. I believe it was directed by Jack Clayton, of The Innocents fame. Dirk Bogarde either played the good-for-nothing dad who discovers their secret or an old boyfriend, can’t recall.

Posted By Rod Labbe : March 27, 2011 10:11 pm

Oh, that’s an easy one–you’re talking about “Our Mother’s House,” released in 1967 and starring Pamela Franklin and Dirk Bogarde. It’s about a mother who dies, leaving behind her children. They decide to bury moms in the back yard and pretend like everything is normal, as if she’s still living. They didn’t want to kill her, she died of natural causes. I believe it was directed by Jack Clayton, of The Innocents fame. Dirk Bogarde either played the good-for-nothing dad who discovers their secret or an old boyfriend, can’t recall.

Posted By Richard Harland Smith : March 27, 2011 10:57 pm

Rod’s got it.

Posted By Richard Harland Smith : March 27, 2011 10:57 pm

Rod’s got it.

Posted By JC : March 28, 2011 11:51 am

Awesome!

Thanks, guys. Now all the mysteries from my film-crazy childhood have been solved, and I can go on living. Maybe I’ll even turn into an adult now!

Posted By JC : March 28, 2011 11:51 am

Awesome!

Thanks, guys. Now all the mysteries from my film-crazy childhood have been solved, and I can go on living. Maybe I’ll even turn into an adult now!

Posted By Darren Gross : March 30, 2011 1:25 am

I love the score and can’t fathom why it has never been released- not vinyl, cassette, CD, nuthin’!

Posted By Darren Gross : March 30, 2011 1:25 am

I love the score and can’t fathom why it has never been released- not vinyl, cassette, CD, nuthin’!

Posted By The View Beyond Parallax… more reads for week of April 1 | Parallax View : April 1, 2011 12:54 pm

[...] The Movie Morlocks Horror Dads reconvene to discuss Tobe Hooper’s Salem’s Lot. Greg Ferrara even took the opportunity to watch with his 9-year-old daughter, and happily reports that once the opening expository act is dealt with, things went swimmingly. [...]

Posted By The View Beyond Parallax… more reads for week of April 1 | Parallax View : April 1, 2011 12:54 pm

[...] The Movie Morlocks Horror Dads reconvene to discuss Tobe Hooper’s Salem’s Lot. Greg Ferrara even took the opportunity to watch with his 9-year-old daughter, and happily reports that once the opening expository act is dealt with, things went swimmingly. [...]

Posted By Scott Cameron : April 4, 2011 3:57 am

Sorry If I’m coming a bit late to the discussion but Did anyone mention Romero’s MARTIN ? . Its a contemporary take on vampires that has it own following as does most of Romero’s work.
Also in the literary stakes circa late 70s don’t forget INTERVIEW WITH THE VAMPIRE which I believe was first published around then even though I may be mistaken.

Posted By Scott Cameron : April 4, 2011 3:57 am

Sorry If I’m coming a bit late to the discussion but Did anyone mention Romero’s MARTIN ? . Its a contemporary take on vampires that has it own following as does most of Romero’s work.
Also in the literary stakes circa late 70s don’t forget INTERVIEW WITH THE VAMPIRE which I believe was first published around then even though I may be mistaken.

Posted By Richard Harland Smith : April 4, 2011 10:47 am

Yes, Scott, both Martin and Interview with the Vampire got mention in our discussion and you are correct that the latter trailed ‘Salem’s Lot into bookstores by a year or so.

Posted By Richard Harland Smith : April 4, 2011 10:47 am

Yes, Scott, both Martin and Interview with the Vampire got mention in our discussion and you are correct that the latter trailed ‘Salem’s Lot into bookstores by a year or so.

Posted By THE HORROR DADS’ VACATION IN SALEM’S LOT : Sinful Cinema.net : June 2, 2011 1:54 am

[...] a long holiday-inspired hiatus, the Horror Dads are back on the beat at TCM’s Movie Morlocks and we’ve cooked up a good ‘un this time. If you were a young horror fan in the [...]

Posted By THE HORROR DADS’ VACATION IN SALEM’S LOT : Sinful Cinema.net : June 2, 2011 1:54 am

[...] a long holiday-inspired hiatus, the Horror Dads are back on the beat at TCM’s Movie Morlocks and we’ve cooked up a good ‘un this time. If you were a young horror fan in the [...]

Posted By A FATHER’S INFLUENCE: GROWING UP WITH DAD, THE MOVIES AND MOVIE DADS : Sinful Cinema.net : June 18, 2011 6:53 am

[...] One of the central rifts in the new movie Super 8 (about which I will have more to say coming very soon) is the one separating a father and a son in the wake of a senseless accident that claims the life of the man’s wife, the son’s beloved mother. The relationship between the two is set in relief during a conversation we see that takes place four months after the tragedy. The father has taken the son to dinner, and while they sit at the counter rather than a table, pointedly not facing each other, the father presents the son with a pamphlet for a summer baseball camp which he would like him to attend. The son objects, telling his dad that he has to stay in town during the summer and help a friend finish making a horror movie they’ve been shooting on Super 8 film. The dad replies with a sentiment that will sound very familiar to the specific generation of movie geeks targeted by J.J. Abrams’ movie: “Don’t get me wrong. I like your friends, but I just think it’d be good for you to spend some time with kids who didn’t only care about movies and monsters.” For those of us who grew up in the ‘70s (my time was about five years or so before the kids depicted in Super 8) it’s the kind of refrain that repeated itself often among dads who didn’t understand their kids’ creepy obsessions and eventually found its way into the work of young monster fanatics like Stephen King and Joe Dante and others when they started producing their own creations. (The Horror Dads talked about this stripe of father/son conflict in detail during our discussion of Salem’s Lot.) [...]

Posted By A FATHER’S INFLUENCE: GROWING UP WITH DAD, THE MOVIES AND MOVIE DADS : Sinful Cinema.net : June 18, 2011 6:53 am

[...] One of the central rifts in the new movie Super 8 (about which I will have more to say coming very soon) is the one separating a father and a son in the wake of a senseless accident that claims the life of the man’s wife, the son’s beloved mother. The relationship between the two is set in relief during a conversation we see that takes place four months after the tragedy. The father has taken the son to dinner, and while they sit at the counter rather than a table, pointedly not facing each other, the father presents the son with a pamphlet for a summer baseball camp which he would like him to attend. The son objects, telling his dad that he has to stay in town during the summer and help a friend finish making a horror movie they’ve been shooting on Super 8 film. The dad replies with a sentiment that will sound very familiar to the specific generation of movie geeks targeted by J.J. Abrams’ movie: “Don’t get me wrong. I like your friends, but I just think it’d be good for you to spend some time with kids who didn’t only care about movies and monsters.” For those of us who grew up in the ‘70s (my time was about five years or so before the kids depicted in Super 8) it’s the kind of refrain that repeated itself often among dads who didn’t understand their kids’ creepy obsessions and eventually found its way into the work of young monster fanatics like Stephen King and Joe Dante and others when they started producing their own creations. (The Horror Dads talked about this stripe of father/son conflict in detail during our discussion of Salem’s Lot.) [...]

Posted By Rex Jones : January 25, 2017 6:21 am

This was first shown in mid / late Nov. 1979 ( Why it wasn’t broadcast a month earlier during the Halloween Season will always be a mystery to make me ponder, lol! ). Anyway I was 15 years old, and had never heard of Stephen King or the book Salem’s Lot. I had missed the first part as it was on the previous Sat. night and during my teenage years Sat. nights were rarely spent staying in, in fact that’s pretty much the same now. Funny how some things don’t change. Anyway the following Sat. night was an exception, I was spending the night at my grandmother’s house and she had gone to bed. She lived in a town smaller than Salem’s Lot AND in the middle of F’ing nowhere, now there’s a setting. So I was flipping through channels not that there was that many back then and I turned it to CBS just as the 2nd half was starting and they were showing pivotal scenes from the previous week’s episode. As I watched, it peeked my interest a bit but when the scene showing Ralphie coming thru Danny’s window and biting him came on…the last scene of the 1st episode if memory serves….I was riveted! Up till that time in my life I had never seen ANYTHING on TV that both scared the hell out of me while at the same time totally captivating me. I remember going to bed that night and making sure that both the window shades and curtains in my room and my grandmother’s room were pulled and shut, lol, not to mention all doors being locked. Didn’t have any nightmares but it was tough falling asleep that night. For the next week or so that movie was all me and the very few other friends of mine who had stayed home and watched it talked about. Others at school and / or just hanging out heard us keep discussing it, how good it was, how scary, how hideous the vampires looked especially of course Mr. Barlow etc. Soon we had a LOT of envious friends wishing they had seen it. In fact one of my friends dad had tried to record both parts on his new VCR, his family was the first of us to have one, but he screwed it up both times with the timer, ugh! Fast forward a few years later when we all had VCRs and stores to rent movies at and Salem’s Lot came out. My one friend was into it as much as I was and we rented it, got buzzed on some beer and weed and watched it. It was the chopped version and while it was still good, it just didn’t seem the same with all those scenes cut. At about this time I bought the paperback…1st and still favorite Stephen King book that I read…and it held me every bit as much as the original movie did or at least the 2nd episode. FINALLY in 1996 or so they released the whole 3 hour movie and I wasted no time getting my hands on it, finally enjoying after 17 years the original 1st episode in it’s entirety which I had missed. The 2004 remake wasn’t THAT bad, but, it did leave a bit to be desired. It had scenes from the book not in the 1979 version but then it omitted and added in scenes which should have been there or were not in the book at all, the prologue and epilogue is one specific example. My dream is that someone will do a 6-8 part mini series with everything in the book, nothing left out or added in and DEFINITELY set in the mid 1970′s of course. It won’t happen but I can always hope, lol!

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