Thoughts on “Salem’s Lot”

So, I was starting to watch some of the horror movies I’d singled out on Crave, but that was because what I really wanted to do was watch some of the horror movies that were more mainstream or well-known, starting with the collections I have of Stephen King movies, but the first one was “Salem’s Lot”, which was a whopping 183 minutes long, and I couldn’t figure out when I’d get a chance to watch it. And then I had a morning free where I had the time to watch it and decided to do so, which then would clear that out of the way and let me keep watching those collections. And then I went shopping and picked up a whole bunch of new cheap horror movies. So the long and short of it is: don’t expect any sort of consistency out of me wrt horror movies for the next little while other than that I’m going to be watching and commenting on them on a regular basis.

I actually have a history with “Salem’s Lot”. I read it when I was younger, and it actually gave me nightmares (I might have been a little young to read it at the time, but I read absolutely everything at the time and have always kinda liked vampires as a concept). But the book itself was overall interesting, and one scene stood out to me, when the priest who was converted to vampirism decided to reject it and pray to the old God, but couldn’t enter the church because of his vampirism.

That scene isn’t in the movie version, and is just one reason why the movie of “Salem’s Lot” highlights the difficulties of converting from one media to another.

In the movie, there are a lot of little events. The relationship between the teenage boy who loves horror movies and his parents. The real estate agent having an affair with his married secretary, with her jealous husband discovering them and a long scene about how that plays out. And the teenage boy and his parents being attacked by the vampire and the priest — whom we had barely, if ever, seen previously — sacrificing himself to save the boy. Many of these are the sorts of things that can establish a feel of an average, normal town getting corrupted and converted by an outside influence. This even seems to me to be something that Stephen King is generally noted for in his works, if I recall correctly (I’m not actually a huge Stephen King fan). The problem is that in a movie — or even a TV mini-series, as this seems to be — you don’t really have the room to do that, or at least you don’t have the the room to do that outside of the initial introduction. “Salem’s Lot” intersperses these scenes throughout the entire movie, and yet none or almost none of them ever pay off in any way. Take the scene with the priest. A big deal is made out of them converting him, enough that they are willing to actually let the kid go. Why? Not answered. And his being converted does nothing else in the movie, neither his resisting it (or leaving at the end, as I seem to recall occurring) nor his being converted doing something or even symbolizing something important to the villains. A big deal is made of it, but nothing comes of it. For all the impact it had, the movie could have removed the scene entirely and simply had the kid say that his parents were killed and he escaped but didn’t want to talk about why, which could have even added some suspense. So the scene didn’t add anything and only slowed the movie down. It really seems like they wanted to add those scenes because they were iconic and/or notable, but didn’t have the room to really explore them and, so, to keep in what made them notable in the first place, which is something that adaptations always have to be careful of (I think that “Watchmen” failed at this while “P4: The Anime” mostly succeeded in capturing the heart of the events without having to use the events directly).

Other than that, however, “Salem’s Lot” was entertaining, even given its length. Even with the mostly pointless scenes, it moves pretty well, and the main characters are acted well enough to be sympathetic, which is good given the ending. The ending itself is a little vague, as it presents the vampires early in the movie as needing to keep up the Masquerade and yet at the end they are powerful enough to track the two of them across continents and send people to kill them, despite supposedly being crippled at the end. It really makes it seem like there’s something missing there that makes this a bit confusing. But I could watch it again at some point, although that will be problematic given its length.

3 Responses to “Thoughts on “Salem’s Lot””

  1. Thoughts on “The Shining” | The Verbose Stoic Says:

    […] written a post about this movie before. I had watched it a couple of months ago — soon after “Salem’s Lot” — and had definitely thought about writing a post about it, but looking back through my […]

  2. Thoughts on “It” | The Verbose Stoic Says:

    […] going into this I remembered part of what happened in the book and so was able to note, like with “Salem’s Lot” the differences and things left out. Other than the more … ribald entries (pornographic […]

  3. Thoughts on “Christine” | The Verbose Stoic Says:

    […] me having a minor interest in horror (I always preferred science fiction and fantasy, though).  “Salem’s Lot” gave me nightmares, but I also read “Christine” and enjoyed it.  I have never actually watched the movie […]

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