Genuinely frightening, and one of the better Stephen King adaptations
Salem’s Lot, While I personally would put Shawshank Redemption, Stand By Me and Misery above Salem’s Lot, I cannot deny how truly great this is. And I also think out of the made-for-TV Stephen King movies, Salem’s Lot is the best.
What makes the film work is its atmosphere. So many scenes are genuinely unnerving, because the atmosphere is so good. Salem’s Lot is not reliant on fake blood/gore and cheap special effects to make its point. The atmosphere amongst other things takes good care to do its job well, and well it does, and the build-ups are also quite suspenseful.
The look of Salem’s Lot is suitably Gothic. It doesn’t look cheap, the sets are creepy-looking and the costumes are grandiose. The music is also very chilling and just adds to the unnerving atmosphere of each crucial scene. The special effects are decent, the pace doesn’t hurt Salem’s Lot as much as it could have done and it is a good length. The dialogue is also less clunky than it is in a Stephen King adaptation like TommyKnockers, and the story is coherent.
The acting is good. David Soul is appealing and gets into his character well enough and Reggie Nalder delves into Barlow very effectively with his entrance one of Salem’s Lot best scenes, but the show belongs to James Mason who is beyond terrifying and is simply born for the role. Tobe Hooper’s direction ties things up very well too.
Overall, a very impressive, atmospheric and genuinely frightening Stephen King adaptation. First time I saw it, it affected me so much I couldn’t sleep with the light off for a couple of nights.