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A view on Blu-ray by Gary W. Tooze

Salem's Lot [Blu-ray]


(Tobe Hooper, 1979)




Review by Gary Tooze



Theatrical: Warner Bros. Television

Video: Warner Video



Region: FREE (as verified by the Oppo Blu-ray player)

Runtime: 3:03:03.138 

Disc Size: 49,253,429,245 bytes

Feature Size: 48,321,141,120 bytes

Video Bitrate: 24.94 Mbps

Chapters: 48

Case: Standard Blu-ray case

Release date: October 18th, 2016



Aspect ratio: 1.33:1

Resolution: 1080p / 23.976 fps

Video codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video



DTS-HD Master Audio English 1509 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 24-bit (DTS Core: 2.0 / 48 kHz / 1509 kbps / 24-bit)

Dolby Digital Audio French 192 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 192 kbps / DN -4dB
Dolby Digital Audio German 192 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 192 kbps / DN -4dB
Dolby Digital Audio Spanish 192 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 192 kbps / DN -4dB
Dolby Digital Audio Spanish 192 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 192 kbps / DN -4dB
Dolby Digital Audio Portuguese 192 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 192 kbps / DN -4dB

Dolby Digital Audio English 192 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 192 kbps / DN -4dB



English (SDH), French, German, Spanish, Portuguese, Czech, Danish, Finnish, Norwegian, Polish, Swedish, Thai, Japanese, None



• Audio Commentary by director Tobe Hooper
• Trailer (3:23)

Description: Novelist David Soul returns to his hometown of Salem, finding that things have changed a bit. More than a bit, in fact: the previously warm and friendly community is downright sinister. Soul suspects that the bizarre behavior of his onetime friends and neighbors is the handiwork of oddball antique dealer James Mason. We won't reveal here the secret of Salem; suffice to say that the action goes directly to the jugular, and that makeup artists Jack Young and Ben Lane won an Emmy nomination. Based on the best-selling novel by Stephen King, Salem's Lot was originally telecast in two parts on November 17 and 24, 1979; it was subsequently pared down to a single three-hour installment, which in turn was whittled down to about two hours for cable-TV play.



The Film:

Stephen King is equivocal about Salem's Lot. That notwithstanding, Salem's Lot is one of the most underrated of Stephen King adaptations. Certainly, you can understand where King is not too enthused as the mini-series makes a number of changes to the book. It cuts several characters, compacts a couple into one. There are a number of characters introduced and some of the plot strands are left uncompleted. Bonnie Bedelia’s return as a vampire is peculiarly placed at the end of the story, which ends up oddly unbalancing the climax. Most notable of the changes is in the character of the vampire Barlow. The mini-series turns him into a vampire clearly modelled on Max Shreck in Nosferatu (1922) and eliminates all his dialogue – here he has a single line, whereas in the book he has speeches that go on several pages explaining his origin. In fact, thanks to James Mason’s magnetic performance, the central villain of the show emerges as Straker, who is meant to be the vampire’s daytime aide, rather than Barlow – by comparison try and imagine a version of Dracula (1897) where Renfield is a more prominent character than Dracula.

Excerpt from Moria located HERE


David Soul, (aka "Hutch"), portrays Ben Mears, a somewhat celebrated novelist who returns to his home town in order to face old demons and seek inspiration for his new novel. He quickly meets and falls in love with Susan (Pre-Die Hard Bonnie Bedilia), who is a fan of his writing. He also befriends local nerd-kid-who-is-too-smart-for-his-own-good Mark Petrie (Lance Kerwin, the Ricky Schroeder of the 70's - too bad Schroeder hasn't gone away like he did).

Sure enough, Mark starts seeing his little school chums turn into vampires, and manages to convince Ben. Together, they try to figure out what the hell is happening to the town and stop the plague of Vampirism.

Although this movie is old, and was made with minimal effects, it is still creepy - much more so than any contemporary vampire story or overblown CGI ghost tale. I'm sorry, but dead kids staring up out of coffins with glazed-over eyes is fuckin' creepy, and so is seeing them float up to your window later that night, asking for a drink with their fangs bared. In addition to the spooky vampire action, there is also the town's mandatory haunted house that bears exploring, and it looms like a monolith out of Ben's troubled childhood.

Excerpt from the eFilmCritic located HERE

Image :    NOTE: The below Blu-ray captures were taken directly from the Blu-ray disc.

This is the 3-hour version of Salem's Lot - and it is housed on a dual-layered Blu-ray from Warner. It has a decent bitrate and supports the 1.33 (TV) film quite well showing plenty of consistent fine grain textures in 1080P.  Detail can be impressive in the film's close-ups and contrast is adept. Colors seem true without embellishment and there are scenes with depth. It's, visually, better than I expected and the Blu-ray provides a consistent, very watchable, video presentation.
























Audio :

Warner use a DTS-HD Master at 1509 kbps (24-bit). Effects are centered around the horror effects - vampire snarls and the dramatic score by Harry Sukman (Forty Guns, Verboten!, The Crimson Kimono, Underworld U.S.A., Someone's Watching Me!) It sounds impacting in the lossless with some occasional orchestral depth. Warner include some foreign-language DUBs as well as optional subtitles on their region FREE disc.


Extras :

Aside from a trailer, the only supplement is a full audio commentary by director Tobe Hooper. He relates anecdotes about all the performers - he takes some breaks but generally it is filled with interesting tidbits including how it took a couple of week to find Elisha Cook Jr. who was working at a bait shop in Long Beach. It was the first time he had worked with Maria Windsor since Kubrick's The Killing. I enjoyed listening to him very much. 



Salem's Lot is a pleasure just see all the  familiar cast faces including James Mason, Lew Ayres, Elisha Cook Jr., George Dzundza, Marie Windsor, Barbara Babcock... and it's an excellent horror. Tamer for TV but still very scary and a wonderful build by Hooper. I loved the length and the escalating pace. I'm keen to read King's book now. The Warner Blu-ray package has the benefit of seeing the entire, 3-hour, version in a decent HD transfer and for fans of the genre it is certainly recommended. Lots of value here for the low price.  

Gary Tooze

October 12th, 2016




About the Reviewer: Hello, fellow Beavers! I have been interested in film since I viewed a Chaplin festival on PBS when I was around 9 years old. I credit DVD with expanding my horizons to fill an almost ravenous desire to seek out new film experiences. I currently own approximately 9500 DVDs and have reviewed over 5000 myself. I appreciate my discussion Listserv for furthering my film education and inspiring me to continue running DVDBeaver. Plus a healthy thanks to those who donate and use our Amazon links.

Although I never wanted to become one of those guys who focused 'too much' on image and sound quality - I find HD is swiftly pushing me in that direction.

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Gary W. Tooze





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