The Horror Honeys: There and back again, a vampire’s tale

There and back again, a vampire’s tale

A Supernatural Honey Eye Rolling Review by Suzanne

A Return to Salem’s Lot (1987)

Last Sunday marked the 67th birthday of horror master, Stephen King. This man has had my little black heart for as long as I can remember, but you know that already. You also know that not everything based on his books translate to the screen perfectly. One such film is Salem’s Lot. In 1979, a 2 part, made for TV movie came into our lives. While it has its problems with plot and character development, it’s a dark, gritty film where vampires are portrayed according to folklore. They were dirty, mean, ugly, and hungry. They didn’t fall in love, they weren’t funny, and they didn’t fucking sparkle. Instead, they wiped out an entire town and then were destroyed by fire. That’s the way to do it. But I digress…

Cut to almost 10 years later when some genius decided we needed a sequel. We didn’t, but they made one anyway. I’d like to first point out that the artwork for this blasphemous piece of trash leads you to believe this is a direct sequel, from the font, the “Based on characters created by Stephen King” disclaimer and the image of Kurt Barlow menacing in the moonlight. What we have is some serious false advertising.

A Return to Salem’s Lot tells the story of Joe Weber (Michael Moriarty), an anthropologist who takes his seriously spoiled teenage son, Jeremy, to the sleepy town of Salem’s Lot where Joe once spent about a week with his aunt. After a rather cold welcome from the town’s 4 inhabitants, Joe suspects something in the milk ain’t clean. Of course, the town comes alive at night and Joe is quickly told its secrets, including the one where his presumably dead aunt is still roaming about. 

Salem’s Lot is a farming community. The vampires raise dairy cows and feed off them, thus leaving humans out of the equation in an effort to live peacefully. Because of Joe’s (loose) ties to the town (he spent a week there once as a kid) and his occupation, they ask him to write a book detailing their history. It would be a bible, of sorts.

At no point in this film is there mention of the town’s sordid past, the Marsden House, Kurt Barlow or the fire that wiped out the entire town. In fact, there is very little mention of how they came to be there. They breed with humans in order to create hybrids that can walk around in the daytime and act as a front for any passersby, all the while protecting the vampires. Instead of sleeping in dirty cellars, they very civilly wear pajamas and sleep in mock funeral setups in their bedrooms. Really?

They have an army of vampire children, which, to me, has always made little sense. The kids go to school and spend their free time terrorizing hobos. Joe’s son is very taken with a girl named Amanda, played by a very young Tara Reid. She tries to coerce him into joining their classroom. The kids are also married off to one another because, well, they don’t grow up. (Queue the “Eeewww!”)

One of the most bizarre things in this film is how the Lot’s judge, who runs the show, leads Joe around, showing him the sites like he was selling him a time-share. What does Joe get in return for writing this vampire bible, you may wonder? He gets the girl of his dreams, his teenage crush, Cathy, forever seventeen, with whom he has sex and impregnates. (Queue the gagging noises)
Essentially, there is nothing scary about this film, except maybe Tara Reid’s acting and the fact it was ever made. It’s a lot of old actors wearing white makeup and dime store vampire teeth, trying to act refined and civilized. 

Well, I’m not buying what they’re selling. I actually had to watch in two separate sittings, with several days in between, and convince myself to finish watching it. Yes, it’s THAT bad. It’s SO bad. I guess when you see it’s direct by Larry Cohen, who brought us such stellar films as It’s Alive (I & III) and The Stuff, it’s a pretty safe bet it won’t be a masterpiece. 

The verdict: ½ gallon of cow’s blood out of 5 and that’s being generous.