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Salem's Lot
AKA: Brennen muss Salem, Schrecken im Marsten Haus, Salem's Lot: The Miniseries
Salem's Lot: The Movie, Blood Thirst

USA 1979, Color, 170 min
Director Tobe Hooper
Screenplay Paul Monash
Based on the novel by Stephen King
Director of Photography Joseph Mascelli
David Soul Ben Mears
James Mason Richard T. Straker
Lance Kerwin Mark Petrie
Bonnie Bedelia Susan Norton
Lew Ayres Jason Burke

Ben Mears, a mediocre and not quite successful author returns to his native town Salem's lot after a long time. He intends to write a novel on the uncanny Marsten-estate that is said to be haunted after its former owner, Huby Marsten committed suicide by hanging himself. The new owner is the shady antique dealer Straker. When unexplainable cases of death start to accumulate in Salem's Lot, Ben and his girl friend Susan discover with dismay what they have to deal with: vampirism (of course). Ben faces the nearly hopeless confrontation...

... whereas the spectator has to face sheer hopeless desperation. As none of the hired script authors was able to handle Stephen Kings novel in such a way to turn it into an appealing movie, Warner Brothers finally decided to make it a two-part TV-film of epic lengths, with is 170 minutes. And it's hard to hold out without falling asleep ... and this is what definitely happens in the end. The movie is dead boring.

Director Tobe Hooper, who often compensated his lack of talent concerning the creation of atmosphere or complex narration structures by scenes of explicit violence couldn't use his favorite stylistic means for a TV-production. And this is how he completely lost control of the staging. Furthermore he made quite some mistakes, only one example being the looks of his vampire. He makes him a ridiculous copy of Nosferatu with bluish makeup and rabbit teeth behind his pale lips, whilst he is described completely different in the novel. This was probably meant to shock the spectators. Well, this did not work out. Moreover Hooper leaves out a number of great and scary scenes the novel would have offered.

The movie received its final death-blow when it was decided to exploit King's popularity on the European cinema market and the movie was cut to a length of approximately 100 minutes. A huge number of dialogues was cut and the major part of the plot was lost for good. The only high light of the movie is Hollywood star James Mason's interpretation of the antiques dealer Straker. Lead David Soul, popular from the 70s-cult -crime-series "Starsky and Hutch" turned out to be a total letdown.

Stephen King's Novel, his second publication after "Carrie" would have merited a more successful film version. The master himself once said that he then didn't come off that bad with the film version. Well - perhaps some time somebody else comes out with a (hopefully better done) remake.

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