Salem's Lot

SALEM'S LOT. 2004

Director: Mikael Salomon

SALEM'S LOT. 1979

Director: Tobe Hooper

Reviewed by Paghat the Ratgirl



I like Rob Lowe in a semi-serious role & figured this would have to at least be better than the 1979 miniseries version which with a couple momentary flashes of excitement basically sucked raw potatos. I mean, Rob's a wayyyy better actor than the blandly wholesome David Saul in the first television version, so this remake had to be better, right?

James MasonAlas, this newer version is no better than the first. Donald Sutherland as Straker the vampire's henchman plays it more overtly threatening than James Mason had been in the earlier version, but Mason fit the New England role much better & his well-mannered way of speaking made his ultimately strong-man sequence all the more shocking. Sutherland by comparison just did his usual Sutherland shtick as seen a dozen times in a dozen roles that typecast him as an evil loon. So while Lowe was marginally better than Saul in the lead role, Mason had been subtler & finally creepier than the predictable Sutherland, so the two films pretty much even out for performances.

The vampire child at the window works well in both versions. Really for the most part the remake seems too much just like the original, preserving all its enormous flaws, but with whatever passed as the best bits removed to make a version consisting of the talkiest boring parts. And Rob's voice over narration stinks to high heaven, he reads it in a completely different (more static) voice than how he speaks in the film.

Plus, wheras both films look & play cheap, Tobe Hooper's 1979 take had a few very interesting set designs, whereas the sets were all workmanlike & plain in the remake. Top had no power or authority over this, he was just a dancing puppet director who took over after George Romero decided he didn't want to be pushed around by television producers. So I don't blame him for it being for long dragging sections terribly boring, whereas the moments that work I do ascribe to Tobe overcoming crippling restrictions.

Really Tobe Hooper is the better director for such films -- his Toolbox Murders (2003) & Funhouse (1981) beats the hell out of Mikael Salomon's Arachnophobia (1990) -- & even being hamstrung by television producers' refusal to let him have any control, Tobe succeeded at a couple little things. The remake may or may not be a bit more "even" throughout, but in the end it adds up to uniform mediocrity.

copyright by Paghat the Ratgirl



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