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George At 

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Salem's Lot (Original TV Movie)

I can't count the times over the past few years that my neighbor Bruce and I have brought up parts of the scariest TV miniseries of the 70's, SALEM'S LOT.

We would laugh with our shared memories of how much it freaked us out, especially those scenes with one of the Glick brothers hovering outside the second floor window, scratching to be invited in.

We sat down last Friday night and watched the two-part miniseries, 3 hours of old style special effects, Stephen King storytelling and a pretty decent cast.

Is it as scary as we remembered? Not really, but it's still damn creepy in parts, with enough jump scares that Tamara took time to punch me and remind me she hates being startled...LOL.

David Soul (forever Hutch and in his 70's glory here) is writer Ben Mears, returning to Salem's Lot to write a story about a house that terrified him as a child.

It seems the house has two new occupants from Europe who have arrived to open an antique shop downtown.

James Mason is proper perfection as Richard Straker. All enunciation and perfectly pressed English suits, he's preparing the new store for the arrival of his business partner Mr Barlow.

Let's just say you dont want to meet Mr. B in a dark alley, or a graveyard....

Lance Kerwin is Mark, a high school student who, along with Mears, is one of the first to suspect that vampires have arrived in his small town.

Bonnie Bedelia (Die Hard) is local girl Susan Norton who falls for Mears and Ed Flanders (St. Elsewhere) is her father the town doctor, who's about to see a whole lot of cases of anemia breakout.

The King book is much better than the TV adaption by Paul Monash (Carrie, V), but the miniseries gets plenty right.

This was directed by Tobe Hooper five years after he broke out with "The Texas Chainsaw Massacre" and two years before he directed "Poltergeist".

It's all grin inducing, with plenty of fog effects, bad fake blood and non-CGI matte shots, but damn if those floating Glick brothers shots outside the window still creep me out.

As David Lynch would experiment with a decade later in "Twin Peaks", Hooper shot the levitations outside the window scenes mostly in long, reverse takes, giving everything a very strange and off putting rhythm that still holds up decades after the series was broadcast.

This was a HUGE ratings bonanza for CBS and along with "The Shining" film the following year propelled KIng into writer superstardom.

There are many echoes of future King works like "Needful Things" and it still holds up as an enjoyable early King work.

We had a great time revisiting SALEM'S LOT on its 40th Anniversary. If you were one of the many many millions watching in 1979, I bet you'll have a nostalgic scare or two as well.

I'll drive a stake right through a B for three hours of TV movie memories.

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