Salem’s Lot (1979) (Blu-ray Review)
Directed By: Tobe Hooper
Starring: David Soul, James Mason, Lance Kerwin
Rated: PG/Region A/1:33/1080p/Number of Discs 1
Available from Warner Home Video
The successful writer Benjamin “Ben” Mears returns to his hometown Salem’s Lot, Maine, expecting to write a new novel about the Marsten House. Ben believes that the manor is an evil house that attracts evil men since the place has many tragic stories and Ben saw a ghostly creature inside the house when he was ten. Ben finds that the Marsten House has just been rented to the antique dealers Richard K. Straker and his partner Kurt Barlow that is permanently traveling. Ben meets the divorced teacher Susan Norton that is living with her parents and they have a love affair. Ben also gets close to her father Dr. Bill Norton and his former school teacher Jason Burke. When people start to die anemic, Ben believes that Straker’s partner is a vampire. But how to convince his friends that he is not crazy and that is the truth?
Salem’s Lot has finally made its long await Blu-ray debut and I’m happy to report that this is the entire story that goes over 3 hours. You may recall that way back in the day (before my time) this was a two night deal on TV and then later on it hit both VHS and DVD in a cut-down version. I’m very happy to report that this is the whole thing and while it might come across a little long in the tooth on perhaps a re-watch, I still very much dig this creepy vampire movie. For starters, it combines two things I’m a big fan of, that being Tobe Hooper and Stephen King. You have the story of King’s meet with that weird little vibe and atmosphere that Hooper always seems to bring to the table. They combine here for a very moody and dark vampire story. If you want proof of this look no future than the scenes involving kids floating outside windows in the foggy night. The movie also can take something as twisted as a man holding a gun on another man who has been sleeping with his wife and put a funny twist on it as well. The movie really does take its time to establish characters and that might be one of the best things that work for it. Of course, the movie is a bit of a slow burn but it is a slow burn that only builds interest and never does bore you. It is also a movie where you just never know what will happen next because nobody is safe. Not men, women, children, or dogs in this film. It seems to do the right mix of everything it needs to do, of course, now we have the benefit of not having to see a stinger and the wait for commercials to end before we move on to the next thing.
This is also a movie that gives you a vampire that it right down my ally. I think if you want to see one hell of a cool looking vampire then you need to look right at Salem’s Lot and the vampire here that goes by the name of Kurt Barlow. This is a mix of Nosferatu and something else. That something else can chill you to the bone in some scenes and if I were a kid and watching this in the dark I’m sure it would be freaking me out. The look I’m talking about mixed in with some of the ways scenes are set-up really go hand in hand together to make for a very nice looking and eerie movie. A look that I think gets helped out a lot with the transfer here in HD. If you’ve seen the old DVD then you won’t have to look anywhere else but the opening scenes to see why this is a great upgrade for anyone to make. And we even get a really cool commentary with director Tobe Hooper tossed on this disc to go along with it all. Warner really made my day with this release and if you are a fan of this movie I’m sure you’ll want to own this one as soon as you possibly can.
– Audio Commentary with Director Tobe Hooper
Quality of Transfer: 91%