Film Review: Salem’s Lot (1979)

Also known as: Salem’s Lot: The Movie (cable TV title), Blood Thirst (video title), Phantasma 2 (Spain), Stephen King’s Salem’s Lot (Netherlands), Salem’s Lot: The Miniseries (Germany)
Release Dates: November 17th, 1979, November 24th, 1979
Directed by: Tobe Hooper
Written by: Paul Monash
Based on: Salem’s Lot by Stephen King
Music by: Harry Sukman
Cast: David Soul, James Mason, Lance Kerwin, Bonnie Bedelia, Lew Ayres, Ed Flanders, Fred Willard, Elisha Cook Jr., Marie Windsor

Warner Bros. Television, CBS, 184 Minutes (uncut), 183 Minutes (DVD), 200 Minutes (TV), 112 Minutes (theatrical version)

Review:

“You’ll enjoy Mr. Barlow. And he’ll enjoy you.” – Straker

The last time I watched this wonderful film/TV miniseries was just before the 2004 remake came out. So it’s been a really long time and because of that, I guess I forgot how incredibly fantastic this was.

While I’ve never read the book, I know about what changes they made in this adaptation and frankly, I’m fine with all the major tweaks.

For one, the vampire is not some Eastern European dandy of the Bela Lugosi variety. Instead, Tobe Hooper gave us a vampire that is more reminiscent of Count Orlok from the 1922 film Nosferatu. And the late ’70s were a great time for vampire movies, especially lovers of F. W. Murnau’s Nosferatu between this picture and the Nosferatu remake by Werner Herzog.

Another change that was made is that the final confrontation with the heroes and the vampire took place in the creepy basement of the vampire’s house, as opposed to one of the heroes’ homes. The vampire house was truly a character all its own in this film and it made this movie a mixture of classic vampire fiction and a traditional haunted house story.

What’s really great about the finale, is that the house that was created for the film is absolutely terrifying and enchanting all at the same time. The set designers created an incredibly creepy mansion for the final showdown and it truly brought the dread onscreen to a whole other level. A level that this film couldn’t have reached had they kept the story true to Stephen King’s novel.

The vampire mansion is just one part of this movie’s mesmerizing atmosphere, though.

All the scenes that feature some sort of supernatural element take on a strange life of their own. The scenes where the vampire children come to the windows and float into the rooms at night with fog billowing in are f’n incredible!

Honestly, for its time and maybe all-time, Salem’s Lot takes the cake for creating a perfect ambiance for a horror picture on the small screen. Honestly, I’d love to see this on the big screen, if it is ever showing somewhere near me.

The vampire kids at the window was so well done that it became a bit of a trope following this film. It was used in other movies like The Lost Boys and Buffy the Vampire Slayer.

Plus, this film has a moment where a character is impaled by deer antlers mounted on the wall. This would go on to be seen in other movies as well.

Additionally, this would inspire vampire movies in other regards. Fright Night borrows from Salem’s Lot in different ways. That film even has a big finale in the vampire’s home and while it isn’t as incredible as the finale of Salem’s Lot, it is still a great sequence that is a nice homage to it. Fright Night is a classic in its own right, which also spawned a sequel, a remake and sequel to the remake. I even heard a rumor that it may be turned into a television show in the future.

But while this film would go on to inspire countless others, Tobe Hooper, the director, also had his own homages to other films in this, primarily the work of Alfred Hitchcock and his masterpiece Psycho. The vampire mansion has a very similar appearance to the house on the hill above Bates Motel. Hooper also employed similar shots.

For a TV movie, this also has some pretty good acting but no one else quite kills it like James Mason. He absolutely owns every frame of celluloid in which he appears. I’ve always loved Mason but seeing him truly get to ham it up while being terrifying was so damn cool. And honestly, Mason looked like he was loving this film, as he was so committed to the role that he breathed life into it that no other actor probably could have.

Salem’s Lot is a bonafide classic and pretty close to perfect. My only complaint about it is the running time. The film does feel a bit slow in parts but it was a two-part miniseries and had a lot of characters and subplots. In fact, those were all greatly trimmed down from the original novel and some characters were combined to simplify the story. But honestly, I’m still okay with the final result and I wouldn’t trim much, as almost every scene featuring the main characters feels necessary.

In the end, I love this movie; more so than I remembered. I’m glad that I revisited it after all these years and I feel like it’s a film that I will go back to fairly often now that I’ve been reminded as to just how damn good it is.

Rating: 9.25/10
Pairs well with: Werner Herzog’s Nosferatu remake, as well as other vampire films of the ’70s and 2000s Shadow of the Vampire.

TV Review: Star Trek: Discovery (2017- )

Original Run: September 24th, 2017 – current
Created by: Bryan Fuller, Alex Kurtzman
Directed by: various
Written by: various
Based on: Star Trek by Gene Roddenberry
Music by: Jeff Russo, Alexander Courage (original theme)
Cast: Sonequa Martin-Green, Doug Jones, Shazad Latif, Anthony Rapp, Mary Wiseman, Jason Isaacs, Wilson Cruz, Anson Mount

Secret Hideout, Roddenberry Entertainment, Living Dead Guy Productions, CBS Television Studios, 29 Episodes (so far), 37-65 Minutes (per episode)

Review:

I didn’t want to subscribe to CBS All Access just to have access to this show. There wasn’t much else on the service that I wanted to watch. So I figured that I’d wait till this was out and then I’d binge watch the first season.

However, based off of what I heard about the first season (and later, the second season) I refrained from subscribing, even for a month.

Well, I finally got to check it out on a Delta flight. I figured I’d watch the first two episodes and figure out if I wanted to continue on. I didn’t.

This show is a fucking abomination. My worst fears were true and this was just a shittier version of J. J. Abrams’ mostly shitty modern Star Trek stuff. Throw in a bunch of identity politics nonsense to boot and I’d rather wipe my ass with a sharp spoon than watch another episode.

A guy at work kept telling me, “Don’t believe all the negative hype, it’s not that bad. Give it a shot. I think you’ll like it.” I put in a formal request to have this guy fired. I don’t think that my employer will approve it just based off of my comments, so I also included a thumb drive with clips from the show.

On a side note, I really like Anson Mount. Dude is a stellar fucking actor but I couldn’t get through two episodes of this Dumbo-sized shite to even make it to his episodes. Between this fucktard show and Inhumans, dude might need to fire his agent.

The special effects aren’t as good as people have said yet this show is insanely expensive to produce.

Also, what the fuck is up with the Klingons? No, seriously? They don’t look like Klingons, they look stupid. I think that somewhere down the line, these Klingons reproduced with that tar monster that killed Tasha Yar on Star Trek: The Next Generation.

This is NOT Star Trek. It’s some fan fiction by a fan that isn’t even a fan, who got all their Star Trek lore from some drunk old hippie at the corner bar.

This is to Star Trek what Applebee’s Riblets are to A5 Wagyu.

It’s unwatchable, unexciting and will turn most people into somnambulists.

It’s fitting that this show is abbreviated as STD. I should have bought two condoms and just put them over my eyes because this is certainly the genital warts of the franchise.

All that being said, I hated this show like a vegan bitch hates Longhorn Steakhouse.

Rating: 1.5/10
Pairs well with: a bladder infection or anal fissures.

TV Review: Dungeons & Dragons (1983-1985)

Original Run: September 17th, 1983 – December 7th, 1985
Created by: Kevin Paul Coates, Dennis Marks, Takashi, Mark Evanier
Directed by: Bob Richardson, Karl Geurs
Written by: various
Based on: Dungeons & Dragons by TSR
Music by: Johnny Douglas
Cast: Willie Aames, Don Most, Katie Leigh, Adam Rich, Tonia Gayle Smith, Teddy Field III, Sidney Miller, Peter Cullen, Frank Welker, Bob Holt

Toei Animation, Marvel Productions, Dungeons & Dragons Entertainment Corporation, TSR, CBS, New World Television, 27 Episodes, 24 Minutes (per episode)

Review:

I used to watch the shit out of this cartoon when I was really young. It was one of my favorite Saturday morning treats. However, I haven’t seen it since at least the early ’90s.

But like most animated series that were productions involving Japan’s Toei studio and Marvel, it was top quality stuff for its time and it has aged really well.

Sure, it’s hokey and goofy like kid’s cartoons are but it has a real charm about it and that charm is still effective.

I love the character designs of the show, especially in regards to the villain Venger and the five headed dragon, Tiamat. Also, Venger was voiced by Peter Cullen, best known as the voice of Optimus Prime while Tiamat was voiced by Frank Welker, best known as Megatron.

The show followed six Earth kids, their little unicorn named Uni and the impish Dungeon Master. The Earth kids were magically transported to the Dungeons & Dragons dimension through a theme park ride. I know, it sounds ridiculous but you didn’t care about stupid details or coherent plot when you were five years-old. Frankly, I don’t care about it now because the show works for what it is: a kid’s magical adventure.

Unfortunately, the show never had a proper ending and the kids never actually made it home within the episodes produced. I guess it can be assumed that they eventually saw their parents again but hopefully that happened before they were in their forties.

Anyway, this is still a really cool show. I even showed a few episodes to my nephew and he dug it with his discriminatory 2019 standards.

Rating: 7.5/10
Pairs well with: other ’80s fantasy cartoons like Masters of the Universe, Captain N the Gamemaster, Jayce and the Wheeled Warriors, Visionaries, ThundercatsSilverhawks, etc.

TV Review: Supergirl (2015- )

Original Run: October 26th, 2015 – present
Created by: Greg Berlanti, Ali Adler, Andrew Kreisberg
Directed by: various
Written by: various
Music by: Blake Neely
Cast: Melissa Benoist, Mehcad Brooks, Chyler Leigh, Jeremy Jordan, David Harewood, Calista Flockhart, Chris Wood, Floriana Lima

Berlanti Productions, DC Entertainment, Warner Bros., 42 Episodes (so far), 45 Minutes (per episode)

Review:

*originally written in 2016.

After the success of other DC shows like Arrow, The Flash and Gotham, CBS wanted to get into the mix. So, they gave us Supergirl.

I really wanted to like this show, in the same way I love The Flash and also really like Arrow. It seemed to have that lighthearted essence of The Flash but after seeing it, it is missing the soul.

Melissa Benoist is cute and entertaining and even though I care about her version of the character to a degree, I just don’t care about everything else that is happening around her. Also, she can go from pretty stellar acting in one scene to completely being off the mark in the next. Also, her narration is pretty awful and that is mainly due to her monotone delivery and strange annunciation.

The other characters on the show are pretty generic and don’t have much to do other than giving Supergirl someone to talk to while she figures out her own drama. Her sister, played by Chyler Leigh is an okay character but for as bad ass as she is supposed to be, she really does nothing. Jimmy Olsen is played by Eggs from True Blood and anyone who was a fan of that show rejoiced when he died – he was terrible. Granted, he’s much better here. Calista Flockhart also accents the show as Supergirl’s boss and like Benoist, is sometimes on point and other times, pretty far off point.

Also, the show relies a lot on Kara/Supergirl’s relationship with her cousin, Superman. The problem is that their relationship is told over text messages and then when Superman shows up, he is just an obscured blur and not clearly seen on camera. It is laughably bad.

One cool thing is that Dean Cain (Superman from Lois & Clark) and Helen Slater (1984’s film version of Supergirl) play her adopted parents.

The show tries to have heart but it doesn’t. That doesn’t mean that it isn’t trying to convince the audience of that. Ultimately, Supergirl is too cutesy for its own good.

I will finish out the first season, as I am already more than halfway but something miraculous would have to happen for me to care about season two. This is the worst DC Comics television show out of the current batch.

Update:

Since writing this review, the show has found its groove and it has improved significantly. I may rewrite this review after the season concludes. But if you want to start watching it, be prepared for about ten really mediocre episodes before it starts to improve.

Update 2:

I write this update after completing two seasons. The show does find its footing, it figures out where it fits in the scheme of things and improves drastically, especially after leaving CBS and moving over to the CW where it shares continuity with The FlashArrow and Legends of Tomorrow. Benoist and the rest of the cast get really good and develop a solid chemistry. Looking back, I was probably too hard on the show, initially.