The Best Stephen King Adaptations: “Salem’s Lot” (1979) Review

This week in Slasher Studios Horror Film Club we are discussing our favorite Stephen King films. Our first review comes from Alex Dillard as he takes a look at the very underrated miniseries “Salem’s Lot.”

Salem’s Lot (1979, miniseries)

A writer returns to his New England hometown to discover that the local haunted house is now occupied by a mysterious antique dealer and that the locals are falling victim to vampirism!

This fantastically creepy mini-series adaptation of Stephen King’s classic vampire novel is simply one of the best made for TV horror movies ever! Salem’s Lot is a film that I owe much to. Not only did this film make me a big fan of author Stephen King, but a fan of horror films period.

Story-wise this adaptation differs from King’s novel in some ways, but it still comes off as an engulfing and down right scary tale. Director Tobe Hooper (who made the great Texas Chainsaw Massacre in 1974) proves that his talent for creating good horror is not just limited to the big screen. As always Hooper sets up a great atmosphere of darkness and dread that makes this movie captivating. Truly this is one of the few films to ever capture the chilling aura of King’s writing. There’s scenes of terrific suspense and plenty of hair-raising scares to be found here.

High kudos must be given to the makeup department on this film. The vampires in this film are simply frightening thanks to the eerily good makeup work. I have yet to see a vampire film where the blood-suckers are more disturbingly spooky than in this film. It puts CGI effects to laughable shame in comparison. Some sequences are just unforgettable – the ‘night visitors’ tapping at the bedroom windows, an undead Geffory Lewis coaxing his former teacher to look at him, the horrifying attack on the Petrie household, and the taught claustrophobic cellar climax. Special mention should also go to composer Harry Sukman for his powerful music score.

The cast is another strong hold for this film. David Soul does a good performance as the writer returning home to face the demons of his past. The late-great James Mason does an astonishing turn as the sinister stranger in town. Lance Kerwin is strong as a young teen, Bonnie Bedelia is charming as Soul’s love interest, Lew Ayres is solid as an old school teacher, and Reggie Nalder makes for one terrifying vampire!

An excellent and underrated classic through and through, Salem’s Lot is a film not to be missed by true fans of the genre! Beware of edited versions of the film though, the full-length mini-series is the best way to see this one.

Overrated Horror Directors: Dario Argento

As mentioned before, Slasher Studios Horror Film Club is taking on the overrated horror movies of the genre. Movies that, for whatever reason, we just never warmed up to. John Pata has decided to take it one step further. He is hunting down a director that genre fans LOVE but he has a few problems with. Are you ready for this John? This might not be pretty….

Stepping away from the original idea, so instead of going with one film in particular, I’m going with a director: Dario Argento (if we wanted to narrow it down to a film, I’ll go with Suspiria). I must not have the Argento-gene, I know many people who love Argento’s films, and I just cannot get into them. I will say, I have not seen ALL of his films, but a fair amount. To be exact, I have seen: Deep Red, Suspiria, Inferno, Tenebre, and Phenomena. Funny thing is, I’m a big fan of Demons, which Argento co-wrote. So apparently I can tolerate and enjoy when he is not behind the camera.

So what about Argento don’t I enjoy? Well, for starters, Italian horror is hit or miss with me. Most of the time, gore is the focus which is completely fine with me, seeing how I love gore. Usually the writing is crap, the acting is flat, the pace is slow as hell, and the gore is the redeeming factor. This is very true for the Italian flicks I do like, Burial Ground and Night of the Zombies as examples. I find Argento’s titles to be prime examples of this, too. It might not make sense for me to be okay with the lesser qualities in some Italian films, but not with Argento. I understand that, and I think what it boils down to is that some of these titles are held in such high regard. It’s not like people gush about Beyond The Darkness being one of the best horror films. But when Suspiria gets all the praise, I am dumbfounded.

I must also say, I am not much of a fan of art films, and Argento definitely has more of an artsy feel that other Italian directors. For me personally, it’s hard for me to see anything but pretentiousness behind an art film.

I wouldn’t go as far as saying, “I don’t understand why people like Argento”. Different strokes. He’s just not for me at all.

Underrated/Forgotten Craven Films: My Soul to Take (2010)

This week is Slasher Studios Horror Film Club we are taking a look at the underrated and forgotten movies from suspense master Wes Craven. Today we have a review from Cody Landman on Wes Craven’s “My Soul to Take.” When the film was released in 2010, it received unbelievably hateful reviews and under preformed at the box office making only $15 million on a $25 million budget. Did the movie deserve the fate it received or is there something special beneath the surface? Let’s find out…

The underrated Wes Craven film of my choice is his 2010 film My Soul to Take. The story is about a man named Abel Plankov, aka The Riverton Ripper, who one night is gunned down after murdering his pregnant wife and almost murdering his young daughter. Plankov suffers from multiple personality disorder. The female officer says there is a myth that after death, a person’s soul can transfer to someone else. While on the way to the hospital, Plankov comes to life and slaughters the people bringing him in, ultimately crashing the ambulance truck and leaving it burn in flames. After that night, Plankov is never seen again. Years later, a group of teens gather who were born the same night Plankov was gunned down, gather around the wreckage of ambulance to celebrate all of their birthdays and embracing the year The Ripper will return. This year it is their sixteenth birthday, and each teen is being killed off one by one. Has one of the teens inherited Abel Plankov’s murderous soul, or has the actual Riverton Ripper returned? Fear ye The Ripper!

I personally find My Soul to Take an EXTREMELY underrated slasher film. The concept is extremely excellent with the idea that one person’s multiple souls can transfer to a newborn’s. The young cast actually fits the part of high schoolers, and they are all very well acted. Granted there could have been much better character development. The best acting comes from our lead Max Theroit as Bug, Emily Meade as the vicious Fang, and John Magaro as Bug’s best friend Alex. The script was written by Wes Craven himself, and has some great setting in the woods. I’m a huge sucker for woods scenes in horror, and it delivers these scenes excellently. There is also a great amount tension and suspense especially in the last 20 minutes. Another scene that I hear a lot of favoritism about is the scene where Bug and Alex present their class project of the California Condor. I really have no idea why this movie is hated so much, but it is definitely one of the most underrated horror films I’ve ever seen.

PS, love this trailer, has one of my favorite songs by one of my favorite bands in it. Love horror trailers with a good rock song in it.

To buy My Soul to Take: My Soul to Take (DVD)

Slasher Studios Horror Film Club: “Creepshow” (1982)

Today for you from Slasher Studios Film Club we have for you a brand new movie and two brand new reviews. This week we are taking on the anthology classic “Creepshow” in all its wonderful comic book style glory! Directed by George A. Romero and written by Stephen King and starring Ted Danson, Leslie Nielsen, Hal Holbrook, E.G. Marshall, Gaylen Ross, Adrienne Barbeau and Ed Harris, the box office hit made over $21 million on a budget of just $9 million. Let’s take on “Creepshow!”

Wanna join the club?
Here are the “rules” of our facebook group: Once a week we will select a horror film to watch and review. For that week, all the posts on this page will be related to that particular film. Feel free to post trailers, tv spots, posters, stills…anything you want from the film. MOST IMPORTANT: I want you to post your review of the film. After all, this is a horror club! At the end of the week, I will compile all of the reviews and put them on the Slasher Studios site. So have fun! The only other rule I want to stick to is to only post things related to the film in question for the week. If you have any other questions, feel free to ask! Thanks everyone and let’s see this happen!

To join in on the fun:
Slasher Studios Horror Film Club

Cody Landman
The biggest plus about being part of this movie club is that a film may be selected that you may have never seen before. Maybe you end up enjoying it, maybe you ended up…not enjoying it. With Creepshow, the outcome for me was the latter.

The film Creepshow has 5 different stories. One story involving a father coming back from the dead for Father’s Day cake he never received. The 2nd being about a weird farmer who encounters a meteor who’s ooze causes things to turn into plant life. The 3rd involving a raging husband out to seek revenge on his wife and her love. The 4th about a creature terrorizing a college campus. And the final story is about a rich jerk who has an encounter with some cockroaches.

While I enjoy films with multiple storylines, this one just didn’t do it for me. The only decent story was the 3rd story with the revenge-seeking husband. The others were just a bit too boring. I didn’t expect the stories too be really horrific “Tales From the Crypt” like, but I at least expected a few shits and giggles from them, which I did not receive. The acting was decent though too by a good cast such as Leslie Nielson, Ed Harris, Adrienne Barbeau, Ted Danson, and Stephen King even has a role in it. I can see how some may enjoy this film, but it just wasn’t for me.

Joshua Dean
Creepshow. The schlock horror fan’s wet dream.
Written by Stephen King, directed by George A. Romero, and featuring an all-star cast (led by Hal Holbrook, Adrienne Barbeau, Viveca Lindfors, Carrie Nye, Ted Danson, E.G. Marshall, Leslie Nielsen, Ed Harris, and Stephen King himself!), the film is essentially a spin on the “Tales From The Crypt” comic series and anthology film.

The wraparound story, concerning a boy whose horror-hating father tosses out his favorite comic book, is almost laughable, but somehow, sets a dark, dreary, and creepy scene. The tales are all very much comical and hokey, yet there is a real ominous, spooky feel to the entire film. The strangest thing about the film, though, which, up until the equally fun Trick ‘r Treat, hadn’t been done since, is that every segment has the same dark, dreary, yet fun atmosphere.

The stories themselves are very basic and predictable, but are crafted so well that they keep you hooked, and the cast is excellent. Adrienne Barbeau shines as the shrewish booze-drenched wife of a respectable, mild-mannered professor (Hal Holbrook); Carrie Nye is deliciously sinister as the matriarch of a money-grubbing clan whose past has come back to haunt them; Leslie Nielsen and E.G. Marshall are wonderfully sadistic and heartless as the villainous leads in their respective stories; and King himself is just flat-out hilarious.

King’s writing is not his usual standard, but as this is essentially a tribute to schlock horror, I don’t think he intends it to be. Definitely a favorite of mine, Creepshow is one no horror fan (I’m looking at you, Jeffrey Lee!*) should not miss.

Slasher Movie Posters: “The Slumber Party Massacre” Trilogy

To celebrate Slasher Studios Horror Film Club’s selection of the week, we are taking a moment to look at the posters of the “Slumber Party Massacre” series. What do these posters have in common? Well, let’s see…first of all, if you bought these movies based on the hot girls on the cover, you are out of luck. For the most part, they don’t appear in the films. Sorry horny horror fans. But you gotta love Roger Corman for having the balls to do something like that. These are all enjoyable in their own way but I sort of wished that there had been a little more variety here. Anyway, enjoy the hot girls and the slasher goodness.