Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Television Miniseries Examination: Salem's Lot (1979) (Unedited version!)

The ultimate in terror might actually be true this time!
Well, I'm back again for another punishing October Nights review series. And this October I get to start with a movie I've already (kind of) reviewed! Salem's Lot was a movie I reviewed about four years ago now. And I remember saying in that review how I thought I had seen the movie before. Well, I had, but it was the full version of the film, not the edited down confusing jumble that I saw for that review. I say that in retrospect after I saw this full version finally. I have definitely seen all of the content in it before, but probably years before I knew what reviewing for the internet even was.

While this movie is substantially longer than the edited theatrical version, it has weirdly dissimilar content. It feels like the two versions are never equal. With this version explaining and introducing much more of the story of 'Salem's Lot and its townsfolk, but also not having scenes that are in the theatrical version. I wish I could find a list of the differences between the version. While I have the unedited version now, the edited version I reviewed before has been misplaced somewhere. So, in going off memory alone, I know there are substantial differences, and I also know that I prefer the unedited version so much more, even if there are extra scenes for some reason in the theatrical version. I wish all the scenes could be added together to make one full and complete Salem's Lot (1979), but that's nothing more than a hope and a dream.

At least I finally learn the fate of Larry Crockett, four years after I asked the question of his fate. He was turned into a vampire or something when he was somehow left in a (his?) car after another car drove him and the car he was found in to the lake where Susan and Ben were canoodling. And then he was a vampire after that. So, I asked and this version told me what happened, so I guess I received what I needed in the form of some sort of conclusion.

This movie in general shows a great deal more about the town. Ben and Mark are concentrated on much less as a whole. The town really seems to be the focus here, and I will admit that makes the entire story and movie in general much stronger. The concentration on Ben and Mark only heightens their inability to completely carry the story on their own. They are mostly bland characters thrust into prominent roles by fate rather than by winning personalities. Putting them at the forefront just made the edited version unlikable. Putting them as just another character in town really adds to the tension and atmosphere of the story, and makes it seem like the town's death story rather than the Ben Mears and Mark Petrie mediocre character hour.

The movie as a whole looks much better than the edited version I saw. It has a great deal better pacing and atmosphere, and those are things that shouldn't be compromised in a horror story. This version actually made me turn around my feelings on this movie. I actually think I like it. More than that I think it's the absolutely superior movie of the adaptations of 'Salem's Lot. I don't have much else to say except that I enjoyed this movie quite a bit despite the length (almost three hours long!) and some of the acting issues that I mentioned in the first review. Those issues are still there, but with better pacing and more characters those issues are better hidden.

And that's about it. If you want a slow-paced creepy seventies vampire horror movie, this is probably a decent one to check out. I still think it has some of the best vampires and one of the creepiest scenes of vampire horror movies ever. The scene with Burke and the vampire still gets to me, as does the child vampire scratching at the window. both are completely unsettling and incredibly well done. They haven't been matched in any other movie I've seen to date. So, yes, this is the superior version of this movie, and the best adaptation of the source material. I recommend it as a very fun and creepy watch.

This is a wonderful start to October.

Let's hope it lasts.

[Oh, and if you want my exact thoughts on pieces of the movie, just read my other review. I'm not going to reiterate the story, characters, or plot here. I've said it all already. I mostly wanted to talk about the differences of quality in versions.]

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