Ben Mears (David Soul) returns to his hometown of Salem's Lot, Maine. He's a writer and he wants to write about the Marsten House (the town's resident haunted house), but he finds out that a mysterious man named Straker has moved in. Ben sticks around anyway, and strikes up a relationship with Susan Norton (Bonnie Bedelia), the daughter of the town's doctor.
Soon after Ben arrives Straker receives a huge crate, and that same night a child disappears. Pretty soon people in town are dying of "pernicious anemia" and having dreams of being visited by dead relatives.
No big surprise here, vampires are behind the strange goings on, specifically Straker's rarely seen partner Barlow, who resembles the vampire from Nosferatu. Warner Brothers presents on disc the entire TV miniseries, all 3 hours and three minutes of it. This movie also exists in two shorter versions, a 112-minute TV movie and a 114-minute theatrical version that allegedly has more violence.
Sadly, this full version seems like so much filler. I know that Stephen King is known for his detailed characters, but (full disclosure time) I've never enjoyed his novels very much, and I've found most of the more faithful King adaptations tiresome. In Salem's Lot, it's nearly an hour before the first scare scene, and most of that hour is devoted to a love triangle involving a trucker, his wife, and a real-estate agent that never really impacts the vampire plot. The one wrinkle to this story, in the form of a teenage kid who loves horror films and therefore is ready to deal with vampires, is horribly undeveloped.
Mason is kind of amusing as the evil Straker, but the rest of the cast doesn't go above and beyond the material presented to them. At the end of the film, when all the main characters end up in the scary house, you'll be screaming at them to stop wandering off by themselves! When the plot degenerates to that level, there's not much any actor can do.
The film was probably transferred from 16mm, so it's not as sharp as 35mm. Still, it looks fine, the only drawback being a little bit of dirt. The sound is mono, probably the original mix.
The only extra included is a trailer, no doubt for the theatrical release of the film in Europe.
Scott Hamilton, 10/22/00