Salem’s Lot (Part 1)

This week begins our long-overdue discussion of an iconic TV mini-series, Salem's Lot. Based on Stephen King's novel of the same name (only his second novel) and of course the second film created based on one of his works since Carrie, it's also his only vampire novel to-date. They got Toby Hooper to direct it, fresh off of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre. There's a lot to unpack and discuss here, and we had a joy doing it.

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Salem’s Lot: Part 1

Episode 301, 2 Guys and a Chainsaw

Todd: Hello and welcome to another episode of Two Guys and a Chainsaw. I’m Todd.

Craig: And I’m Craig

Todd: Since Craig and I both have quite a bit of time this week, eh, we decided to tackle something a little bit longer than we usually do. You know, how we feel about long movies. We don’t often have a lot of patience for them, this movie, however, uh, is a film that we have been intending to do for a while.

But. Years, right. The movie is called Salem’s Lot. It’s the 1979 TV mini series version. And I guess there’s a remake in the works coming up this year. Yeah. Produced by James Wan. So it just so happens to be an apropos time. But also we’ve just been wanting to do it for a while. I’ll tell you this movie had an impression on me as a child.

I don’t remember. When I would have seen it. I don’t remember if this is something I rented or if this is something that was shown again on television. I certainly didn’t see it when it came out. When I was one year old, it’s a made for television movie directed by Toby Hooper. And, uh, it went through quite a few drafts.

I think Warner brothers had acquired the rights to Stephen King’s novel to make a movie version. And they went through a number of screenwriters. Nothing was really clicking. They even went through Larry Cohen and we like Larry Cohen and. Does interesting stuff. But at the end of the day, they decided, you know what, maybe in order to do the novel justice, like most of Stephen King’s novels, we should, uh, go for something longer and make it a mini series.

I think George Romero was actually originally tapped to do it. I think he was mostly turned off by the fact that it would be television and he knew that he wouldn’t be able to do anything gross and cool. So, so Toby Hooper of all people took up the task, basically, I think on the strength of his Texas chainsaw massacre, which was only about five years before this went into production that came out.

Up and coming or director, I guess he hadn’t done Poltergeist yet. The screenplay was written by Paul Monash, a guy who wrote quite a bit for television and movies. He was uncredited as a writer on touch of evil or sin. Wells is 1958 moon. Movie and a lot of, a lot of TV episodes and things like that, but he made a lot of changes to the Stephen King novel, uh, in order to shorten it, consolidate characters, simplify the story.

Some of the changes were quite drastic. However, Stephen King, who often doesn’t like most of the adaptations of his novel actually really liked this one and approved of the changes. So again, I saw it when I was a kid. I remembered it really creeping me out. I didn’t, I remembered two or three. Scenes from the movie.

And other than that, I didn’t remember much of anything. So I was really happy to come and revisit this now. And what we’re doing today is we’re just talking about the first part of it. We’re talking about what was shown on television the first day, which was a, of an hour and a half. And mostly set up really.

Uh, and then we’ll come back again with another episode and we’ll talk about the second half, which I think will be a lot more exciting, really. So, anyway, how about you, Craig? Had you you’ve seen this 

Craig: before, right? Yeah, I’ve seen it, but it came out the year I was born. So not then. And, uh, I don’t think that I saw it when I was a kid.

I think that I rented this when I was in graduate school. I watched it, there are multiple versions of the film. This is the first made for television mini series adaptation of a Stephen King novel. And it’s only the second film adaptation of his sting, a Stephen King novel, uh, the first being Carrie. And then this was the second.

This was also his second. I think I saw the movie at some point in graduate school. It really didn’t make a big impression on me. There are the iconic scenes of. Child vampires floating outside of windows. I did remember that. I see that, you know, when I’m looking at like iconic scenes and scary scene type lists and stuff, um, so it’s been present in my mind.

Um, I also, uh, read the novel and I, and I think I read the novel even later than. Even after I saw the movie. 

Todd: Yeah, me too. And it’s a good 

Craig: book. It is good. It’s interesting. You know, it’s only, King’s second published novel, you know, I don’t know what else he was working on, but it is his second published novel.

Different it’s quite different than, uh, his other books. First of all, I don’t recall him ever writing a, another vampire novel. Now I, I think vampires feature, uh, in the dark tower series a little bit. I remember, um, reading a short story of his, that was in the dark tower universe. I think. Uh, featured vampires or some kind of vampire, but, um, he was inspired to write this novel when he assigned his class.

Cause cause king was a teacher before he was a famous novelist. That’s why teachers and writers feature so prominently as main characters in his books, you know, he writes what he knows, but he assigned his class Bram Stoker’s Dracula. Uh, and, and that just got him thinking. What if Dracula came to America,

that’s kind of basically what the story is. You know, there, there is a central vampire Kurt Barlow whose role is dramatically diminished in. Film in the novel, the Barlow character is a central character and he’s portrayed very differently. First of all, the movie is, or excuse me, the novel is written very much like Dracula.

I think it’s at least in. In epistolary form. So through, you know, a series of letters and journal injuries. And, and if I remember it’s been a super long time, 

Todd: I don’t remember it very well because it has been a long time for me to, but it does also kind of jumble up around a little bit in time, right? 

Craig: Yes.

And, and there’s, there’s far more focus, which, you know, this is typical of Stephen King. Uh, I he’s one of my favorite authors. A lot of his novels are epic. You know, this I think is like a 400 page novel and, and that’s super long. Yeah. Well, I mean, that’s, that’s fairly typical of him. Some of his novels are significantly longer than.

But there, there are lots of things going on. You know, there, there’s a big cast of characters in both the novel and the movie, but especially the novel. And there there’s lots of backstory, you know, a lot of the novel and a lot of this movie focus around this house. Do you remember what the name of the house 

Todd: is?

It’s the Marston house. Yeah, the 

Craig: Marston house. And, uh, in the book, there’s a lot of backstory, a lot of history about this house. And it’s suggested in the movie that this house has been the center of a lot of really dark and, and terrible things. And characters speculate that, uh, maybe there’s something about this house that draw.

Evil people to it because lots of bad things have happened here. There is a story of a guy named Hubie Marsden who like potentially, maybe abducted and killed a lot of young boys in the area. And, uh, I think his wife or mother killed herself and all of that is explored a lot more. In the novel. And of course, you know, even if you are condensing a Stephen King novel to three hours, you’re still going to have to cut out a lot of stuff.

So that’s, that’s one of the things that was a big change. Another thing that’s a big change is the portrayal of the head vampire in the novel Barlow, the. Vampire is very much like Dracula he’s suave, he’s genteel. He can appear as both a young man and like an elderly Arista, aristocrat, uh, and he appeared.

You know, heavily in the novel in the movie, you barely see him at all. He gets 90 seconds of screen time in the entire three hour run. He doesn’t speak and he is portrayed much more along the lines of count or LOC Nosferatu. Type vampire he’s he’s blue. He’s got, you know, really, really prominent things.

He’s bat like in appearance. And he just pops up every once in a while. And if I remember correctly, not even in today, The second movie. It, the second part, is he, even in this 

Todd: first? No, there is his hand is in this first part. I 

Craig: went ahead and watched the whole thing. So I’m ahead of the game 

Todd: way ahead of the game.

You know, I, now I feel like a slacker. I thought we had a commitment. I thought we had a packed Craig. It 

Craig: was. Yeah. I told you, I don’t have time to watch this whole thing. 

Todd: All the people who have time to watch this movie. Well, I guess it both you and me, except I’m stuck at home in quarantine, in China, this, you know, for the foreseeable future.

So if anybody could afford to sit down and watch a three hour movie, it’s certainly me, I dutifully turned it off and right at the moment where you told me it ended, I told justice.

Well 

Craig: kind of, I’m kind of stuck in quarantine in my classroom. I, your classroom. I still like anyway. Yeah. So lots of differences between the movie and the book, but like you said, ultimately, Stephen King. Happy with the way that it turned out. He was skeptical about the way that his vampire was portrayed, but when he actually saw it on screen, he gave it his approval.

Um, there are different versions of the movie. As you said, it aired in the United States as a two-part mini series three hours long. It was then edited down to about, I think about 120 minutes for theatrical release in Europe. And Stephen King actually prefers. Oh, does 

Todd: he? Well, didn’t that version also have some additional scenes of, of more violence, uh, for it that couldn’t be shown on TV.

Yeah. 

Craig: They intentionally shot. They intentionally shot alternate scenes throughout the production, knowing that they. We’re going to also release a feature film version. There is a feature film version that, uh, features just a tiny, tiny bit more gore and a little bit there. Some Fred Willard is in this movie and there’s a scene of his, um, that had a change that I think would have made it far more menacing.

But again, it’s TV in the seventies. So. 

Todd: Yeah. I mean, it’s still impressive for TV in the seventies. I’ll say so far in the first hour and a half. I mean, and then 

Craig: the second half is better by the way. 

Todd: Okay, good. Well, I mean, the thing about it is, and I think. Probably, I don’t know, it was a different time.

We’ve already talked about how films were a little different than two, and there was more time for exposition and the, you know, there was just a different style and also television, a TV movie was an event, a mini. It was a huge event. And then a mini series, you know, based on a well-known property with a well-known author or something like that is basically must see TV.

And it’s only going to come on once. So your audience is probably going to sit through it just so they can talk about it the next day with their friends, even if they’re not initially captivated by it. So I think this movie could definitely afford to honestly, kind of do a, a film version of Stephen King.

Emo, which is take your time with the characters, give them, flesh them out, give them backstories, like before you really start throwing them into situations. And there’s a definite point in this movie where suddenly everything comes, it starts to come to a head. It starts to pay off what you’ve seen. We have all these different characters in a way.

It was actually reminded me a lot of needful things, which also started out as a television mini series. It’s got a similar flavor to it. Um, I think this right wasn’t Salem’s lot. The first book that he did was set in castle rock is his sort of fictional universe where. 

Craig: It’s set in Salem’s lot,

but I mean, I don’t remember if castle rock is, is 

Todd: mentioned. He mentioned, I think 

Craig: it’s definitely 

Todd: nearby. Yeah. And, um, Bangor is also mentioned in there and, um, you know, obviously Salem’s lot, but this movie much like is castle rock novels sets up a whole town full of. Yeah, and all of their relationships.

And there’s more to the story than just the horror at hand. There is jealousy and revenge and intrigue between people in the town and unfinished business. And that all gets in the way also of the main story, which makes his novels feel more. And I like that about them. These people are not just people that exist to service this plot, but these people have had interesting lives and have their own plots, you know, that they’re living and then this, something gets thrown in there, um, which brings everything to a head.

And, and so I like that about his writing, even though a lot of times I don’t have the patience for. Well, 

Craig: you know, he has his critics. Um, he is kind of long-winded. I never find him boring. I’m intrigued novels, like Salem’s lot and like needful things and some of his other novels work well in a mini. Form, because there are so many characters and these characters have their own compelling story.

Everything is interwoven and comes back together, uh, at some point, but like you said, you’re focusing on a whole town. The same thing is true of needful things, which was also, I think, a mini series initially, starring Bonnie Bedelia, who is also in this. Oh, that’s right. There have been a couple of others.

Uh, I think, well, one other Tommy knockers, I read Tommy knockers was one of the first Stephen King novels that I read and I read it in seventh grade and I was far too young to be reading 

Todd: that’s about when I read it to. I, I swear to you. I was seventh or eighth grade. Yeah, I loved 

Craig: it. But I think part of the reason that I loved it, cause it was all the sex and it intrigued me know 

Todd: there’s a lot of sex in that book.

And I’ll tell you another thing. It’s a bit, it’s a pretty bleak book. And the other thing about it is. I, you know, it was probably to date in, you know, in the seventh grade, when I went on kind of a Stephen King reading rampage, it was the book I could put down. I got about halfway through it and I, and I never picked it back up until, you know, I don’t know, like two months later, and then I would write.

Five or six more chapters and then I would put it down and getting through the book finally was a bit of a slog for me. I don’t, I don’t know if I would have that same problem now as an adult who knows? Yeah. Yeah. I 

Craig: haven’t read it since seventh grade, so I have no idea. I remembered 

Todd: seeing the mini series.

I don’t remember that much about it. I do remember obviously a truncated a lot from the novel needful things is something that I read not long before we did the movie. So just a couple of years. Um, I read meat, needful things, and I really enjoyed it. And it was very similarly long and very similarly, but there was a, you know, uh, the, the main character who comes to town, who’s starting to create mischief comes in at the beginning and he kind of starts creating 

Craig: mischief and owns a curiosity shop.

I mean, there are lots of, 

Todd: there are lots of parallels to the Salem’s 

Craig: life. Yeah. All of the ones that you just mentioned. It, which of course is a classic TV mini series from our childhood. All of those movies, I think work really well in miniseries form because they are all about events that affect an entire community of a whole group.

Todd: So everybody can relate to something about this. Yeah. 

Craig: And these were big deals, big, big deals, events when we were kids. And, uh, it’s just, you just don’t see it anymore, you know, because cable television just isn’t. Was watching television, right? Yeah. It’s I mean, it’s, it’s, it’s on its way out, but I have a feeling that we’ll probably start seeing, you know, either remakes or original content, uh, based on Stephen King’s work in long form in the form of limited series, because those are very popular right now.

And. I’m glad I love them. I, we all love them. Right. So I have a feeling we’ll be seeing them again. I mean, 

Todd: think about it, Craig. I think we might get some comments. Like here we are. We complain about something being too long, but we of course loved these limited series breaking bad. How many hours did I sink into that movie?

I absolutely loved it. I guess it’s just, maybe we’re trained differently and also. It’s episodic, right? Like you can stop it. You can, each one is little ends on a cliffhanger, ends with some kind of some sort of resolution within the episode, right? Yeah. Whereas long movies, just like you’ve got to sit through the whole thing.

You can’t it’s stopping. It’s awkward. 

Craig: Yeah. I, I saw a meme somewhere that was like, do you want to watch a 10 hour movie? No. Are you crazy? Well, what if we broke it up into one hour segments that then you could just. In succession all at one time. Okay. Sign me up, 

Todd: binge, watch it on yet.

It is not too far removed from this era. I mean, well, I mean, it’s maybe 10 years, it’s at least 10 years later, but. The story and the mini series are almost two self-contained stories, right? The first half of it, when it finishes, the kids think they fought the evil. The second half of it is the kids as adults who are coming back because they didn’t quite finish the job.

And that’s how the novel. And that worked well for a two-part mini series. This one, though, it, it just stops in the middle of the story basically. Right. 

Craig: And it, and it really just stops when things start getting good. I mean, yeah. This movie is, um, a lot of. And I didn’t find it boring. You know, I was interested in, in getting to know the characters and I, I knew, like I could tell, all right, it’s setting everything up and we’ll get to the exciting stuff later.

Like I felt that that suggested promise from the filmmakers, like we’re going to get. Well, I promise we will. 

Todd: Here’s a little clue. Here’s a little, here’s a little clue. Here’s a little bit of suspense, but wait, wait, wait for it. Wait for it. If you see this as a drama, then now if you, if you sit down to like, okay, I’m just going to sit down and watch this typical TV movie drama or some lifetime thing or whatever in the beginning, then you can just sit down and have the patience for all this.

If you’re looking for wham, bam, blood and action. Vampires at the very beginning, you’re going to be waiting at least an hour before you see anything that’s going to be remotely 

Craig: spooky. Yeah. Yeah. But I mean, it was fine. And. Uh, you’ll see. Um, the second, the second part of the movie is much more, um, action, heavy.

There’s a lot, it moves more quickly. There’s a lot going on. Um, I don’t know that I would necessarily say it’s scary. I would say that this, uh, the, the whole movie more than anything, and this is kind of true of Dracula too. Um, is more atmospheric and spooky and suspenseful as opposed to in your face.

Scary. I was so surprised in high school. Of course we grew up Dracula and Frankenstein were kind of the iconic monsters before. Our era of monsters starting coming in before Freddy and Jason and all of them, Dracula and Frankenstein were, you know, the monsters. And I read both of those books in high school, just on my own.

I wasn’t assigned them for a class, but I read them both in high school. And I was so surprised. They’re they’re not, they’re not like in your face horror. They are character 

Todd: studies. Especially Dracula. Dracula’s kind of boring. 

Craig: Well, Frankenstein kind of is too. And really Frankenstein ends up being more.

You feel sympathy. Towards the monster. Yes. More than anything. The monster is the victim, the antihero. In fact, I found myself rooting for the monster. Like he wants revenge and he deserves it, you know? And, and I think that, you know, king was very much inspired by Dracula and that’s where we get this story, which we should probably.

Get into, start to talk about, yeah. The, uh, the movie opens the same way that the novel did and watching the movie reminded me, you know, I, I remembered these things about the novel. I remembered that there’s kind of a frame story where it starts out in the movie. It’s in Guatemala, in the book it’s in Mexico, whatever it doesn’t matter.

Um, and we see two of what will become our main characters. Of course, we didn’t know nothing about. Right now, but Ben is a man, an adult man. He’s played by David soul. Who I, gosh, I can’t remember what he was from. He was from a really famous seventies TV show. 

Todd: You mean I’m Starsky and Hutch? I think so.

Yeah. He was Hutchin, Starsky and Hutch. 

Craig: Yeah. That’s, that’s what I was thinking of. And mark a younger boy, teenager, probably adolescent played by a kid named lands. Kerwin don’t know anything about him. He’s finding the movie, whatever we see them. They are in a church and they’re collecting holy water in a little vial.

And then the vial starts glowing and Ben says they found us again and it fades to a full moon. Over a spooky house and the title Salem’s lot. Now that the title of the book is Salem’s lot with an apostrophe before the S the first S of Salem, because really in the book, the name of the town is Jerusalem’s lot.

They just. Simplify it for the movie. It’s just Salem’s lot. And it, and we jumped there and it tells us that it’s two years earlier and we catch up with Ben, our main character again, and he approaches this spooky house. It kind of looks like, um, Norman Bates, his house just a little bit smaller. And it’s a top, a top of hill.

And I read that, uh, This house is actually a facade that they built around an existing house on the top of a hill. And they ended up spending a hundred thousand dollars to build this facade around this existing house, which in 1979, they easily could have built. They could have constructed a real. 

Todd: Crazy right.

For that amount of money, but my God, yeah. That could have been a house for somebody 

Craig: and they spent a hundred thousand dollars on the exterior and then they spent like $30,000 or something like that for their, their interior studio sets. But yeah. So, okay. So what, you know, what, what do we say? I mean, there’s, there’s a whole cast of characters goes into town.

He goes immediately to a realtor who is a. Larry Crockett played by Fred Willard who passed away just a couple of years ago and, uh, was just such a brilliant and, um, uh, just one of the most hilarious. Men in television and film, he was great in 

Todd: comedy, but he could do drama. I mean, you know, you could do anything.

Yeah. 

Craig: And, and, and just, it just seemed like the coolest, nicest guy. Um, and he plays kind of a scuzzy realtor in this. He’s got, uh, an assistant or a secretary or something. Bonnie, boom, boom, 

Todd: Bonnie. I mean, it’s the Mo the movie is full of stars. I mean, anybody, you know, from you would recognize all these people from television and movies as these TV events usually were jam packed full of stars.

That’s just part of their draw, but yeah, Bonnie is a very recognizable, comedic actress who was all over television at the time. What I also like about this movie is how the script is smart in that I think that. It does skip over a lot of unnecessary, even though there is a lot of exposition, there are a couple lines that work just as well.

I love this scene. It’s not in the beginning, but it’s a little later where you just meet Bonnie and Fred and whatever. And then Bonnie does go home to her husband and he seems like a, uh, Well, he’s one of Stephen King’s typical drunk, abusive husbands, but she’s nice to him and everything like that. And then the next scene we see with her in the real estate office, there’s some business going on and a Crocket has to leave.

We’ll be right back, 

Craig: please. Don’t say that someday. You’ll forget. All right, honey.

I forgot that. 

Todd: And just from that line where we otherwise have still have not seen anything romantic between the two of them, we know, oh, these two are having an affair. 

Craig: You know, that is so typical of Stephen King. There’s almost soap opera. Drama in his, uh, everybody’s 

Todd: sleeping with somebody else or beating somebody else or their parents, or are terrible to them or their husbands are terrible.

That men always 

Craig: such drama. Yeah. Um, what’s his name? Ben. He asks, he says, I need a place to live. He’s talking to the realtor and he, I need a place to live. Um, and Crockett’s like, all, there’s not really anything available right now. And he’s like, well, what about that? The big house on the hill. Oh, the Marston place.

Well, no, it just got sold. Um, so Ben is very interested in this house. It, as it turns out, he’s a writer, he’s from Salem’s lot, but he left when he was very young and he went off and he found success. Um, as a writer, he was, he was married, but he’s a widower 

Todd: and he also doesn’t admit it to everyone. Right.

Which I thought was interesting at first. You don’t think he’s from there later, after he checks into this boarding. He runs across this woman, who’s laying down in the park and it’s just a very chance meeting where he’s just walking down the street. It’s so it’s super chance. 

Craig: It was actually kind of weird because like, it almost seemed like they were familiar, but then it becomes apparent that they’re meeting for the first time.

Like, it was just like, did he just see a woman in the park? And he’s like, I’m going to shoot my shot. Yeah, and it, and it just so happens that she’s reading one of his books, you know? Okay. Whatever, 

Todd: that’s half of the reason why he stopped and sat down with her. If I had written a book and my face was on the back of it, and I saw some hot chick reading it, I would I’d milked that for all it was worth.

That’s true. It’s 

Craig: true. And that hot chick is a Susan. What’s your name? Susan Norton. I teach art at Holly elementary. My father’s a doctor. You know, the reason that I, um, actually took your book out of the library is because I read your other one title. I don’t remember going to have some dinner. Now you got a boyfriend.

Um, well, not exactly. It says here you’re married. No children is still married. Still. No children. Uh, she died. I got no children. I’ve got some memories, some of them good. Some of them not. 

Todd: You didn’t answer my 

Craig: questions. She’s played by Bonnie Bedelia, who I remember that name from when we were young. I feel like Bonnie Bedelia had a moment in the eighties and nineties.

She is very beautiful. I think that, uh, the thing that I remember her most from is she played Bruce Willis, his estranged wife in the diehard series. Great movies, but. That 

Todd: was probably her most famous one. Um, but then she was in like presumed innocent with Harrison Ford. Like you said, she was a need full things.

You’re right. It’s just like she had her moment is like, she was the chick of the hour for like a year or two. Right. Where like, this is the wife of the action star, or this is the love interest of the action star or something like that. Right. Yeah. I mean, she’s still been working since then. It’s just like a lot of different, random stuff.

And I, I like her. 

Craig: She’s pretty and she’s charming and, uh, She’s she’s fine. She, she doesn’t play as much a role in the movie as she does in the book. She’s, she’s more just kind of the love interest who’s around. Um, for, for most of the movie, she, she has a little bit more to do in the second half, but not much, but anyway.

Okay. So then that connection is made. She’s the teacher, 

Todd: she asks him, are you from around here? And he says, no, like he dilute, he lies to her until. That he’s not. So it’s a little confusing at first. It’s not till later as things kind of unfold that he meets up with old friends that you realize, oh no, this guy actually does have a history in the town.

And you kind of wonder why didn’t he tell this chick he was interested in about it. I, I don’t, I’m still not 

Craig: sure. No, I don’t think that there’s any good reason for him to conceal that. I am. I don’t know either. Maybe it’s maybe there’s something in the book. I don’t know. But, uh, so, okay. So they meet whatever he’s still creeping like at the Marston place and, and the people who bought the Marston place are these two men who are business partners.

There was one point where. Okay. So the guy who’s there, who’s, who’s setting stuff up. They’ve bought the house and they also bought, I think what the realtor said had been like a doctor’s office or something, but they’ve converted it to an antique store. And, but there’s only one of them there so far and his name is striker 

Todd: actually, but yeah.

Close enough. Yeah. It’s so close to the, uh, the curtains guy, right? Remember straighter. 

Craig: Yes, I do. How could I forget? But he’s there. Um, and he’s getting every set up and he is like this typical little. Middle-aged like probably fifties kind of gentleman, tightly wound, British gentleman, right. He wears a 

Todd: hat and a suit everywhere.

He goes always 

Craig: like, he’s always just dressed, you know, to the nines. And, um, he tells the sheriff or. The Constable, cause this is a small 

Todd: town. Apparently I don’t understand the Constable bit. I thought constables were only in England. I never once in the U S heard anybody refer to anybody. Else’s a 

Craig: continental now it’s new England, Maine.

Nancy. I don’t know. Um, 

Todd: fair enough. Yeah. 

Craig: My partner full name is court court with a K we’d been working together in London and Hamburg. This is our retirement modest, comfortable. We’re hoping to build a reputation for ourselves in this area, perhaps throughout new England. Do you think that’s possible and customer anything’s possible?

How do you like that old 

Todd: house 

Craig: needs work, but we 

Todd: have. 

Craig: I was kind of almost getting kind of like a, we’re a couple vibe too, but. Two older middle-aged gentlemen moved to a small new England town to open an antique store.

Todd: That is transparent.

Uh, is it, is it implied in the book? I don’t 

Craig: remember. Uh, I have no idea. I don’t remember at all. Uh, what I, what I do know is that as it turns out, basically, Stryker is, um, Barlow’s familiar, you know, he’s his human associate that lays the groundwork takes care of things. Um, as necessary in the human world, he keeps talking about how, you know, they’re going to open the store as soon as Barlow arrives, but every time anybody asks him, when Barley’s gonna show up, he’s like, no, no, no, 

Todd: he’s on his way and gets here.

You’re going to love him. And he’s going to love you. You’re going to, you’re just going to love 

Craig: him. And he’s the love 

Todd: you, but you know what you mentioned, it’s very similar to fright night and fright night was apparently this movie was cited as a inspiration for fright night. 

Craig: There’s a similar character in Dracula to Ren Ren 

Todd: renminbi.

Yeah. But he’s very, he’s kind of different though. He’s crazy. Well, um, and we can’t forget to mention that I’m strike Straker is played by James Mason. Who’s just a, uh, a veteran of the silver screen, particularly in the forties and fifties, he was captain Nemo and 20,000 leagues under the sea. He was a north by Northwest, you know, one of the he’s the lead in journey to the center of the earth.

I mean, um, this guy, you know, by this time as a letter, Have a film and I guess he jumped at the chance to play this role, which was rather different from roles he’d played in the past. Just sort of a personification of evil role. And he died not long after this. Actually. I think he died just a few years after this and this movie came out.

Craig: Oh, I didn’t know that, but he’s, he’s quite good. Um, as far as acting is concerned, he’s probably the most talented. Eh, of the bunch. That’s not to say that anybody else’s bad, you know, it does. I have to say I was a little bit surprised, you know, I really liked Toby Hooper, you know, of course, uh, uh, Texas chainsaw is, is a classic.

I, and I know we’ve debated, you know, What really was going on behind the scenes of poultry guys, but I love Poulter guys. And, um, Toby Hooper has done some other, you know, really interesting movies like Funhouse and, and some other really cool stuff. This just doesn’t really seem like there’s anything special, you know?

Like it doesn’t feel like in this movie, right? Like, oh yeah, man. It’s classic Toby Hooper. No, I mean, it kind of feels like it’d be. 

Todd: Really even in the second half, huh? 

Craig: Yeah. I mean, and I’m sure that much of that has to do with the limitations of television. You know, the movie does have a rating it’s rated PG and rightfully so because there’s next to no.

Violence or gore. Everything is implied. And basically, you know, God, there’s a whole cast of characters, there’s stuff going on, but, um, not much, 

Todd: really. No, you’re right. It’s it’s, it’s set up. It’s like you said, it’s, it’s almost purely set up, um, connected by the small thread of this new guy in town setting up.

The dealership, this guy, Ben who’s clearly, for reasons we don’t quite know yet intrigued by the house and by him, it seems like this is his purpose for coming. Cause it’s like his first stop when he’s there. And he looks over at the house from across the suite and sweat. Coming from his brow and everything like that.

He clearly has some kind of history with his house. Once we finally learn that he, um, used to live in this town, you know, it’s just a bunch of business, right. This, guy’s got to get a bunch of antiques picked up from the dock. And so, um, you know, Stryker. Yeah. So striker, um, gets the, um, Larry, the realtor to arrange it.

Cause he’s arranging everything for him. And Larry talks to the guy in town. Who’s the shipper dude who happens to be the husband of Bonnie. And he talks to the caretaker because he needs hands to lift all the stuff and bring it into the truck. And it turns out he’s really not even playing to do. No, it’s a setup.

Can you find anybody else? And the other duty finds is this guy named Ned who’s like basically been stalking. Susan is like a, sort of a jilted lover. Who’s obsessed with her. And he creeps at her from across the way. And so it’s like, we learn about all these little relationships, but at the end of the day, the only thing that happens in this first half is these guys get in this truck and they go across town to the dock to pick up this giant crate at the same time.

Larry Bonnie’s husband. Who’s supposed to be with them, has gone off through the cemetery with, uh, where he, you know, picked them up, uh, with his six pack of beer and then, uh, goes on and hangs out outside the house because he has the suspicions that Bonnie is having the affair with this, with this. And I feel like this is the point at which everything’s starting to come to a head now that everything’s kind of been laid out.

There’s another scene where Ben meets up with his old, um, high school teacher. Um, and they talk about, it’s just an exposition to talk a little bit more about the history of the town and the house and the house. And it turns out that Ben, um, I guess there was some killing there. You know, there’s been people who’ve taken the house who turned out to kill their, kill their families, and then gone insane.

I went up to 

Craig: once. On a dare. You know how kids are? I was sweating, scared. I sneaked around, got into the house. What did you say?

Ghost everything, every 

Todd: sound, 

Craig: every shadow. I’m not sure what I saw. I think I saw QB Marston. Hanging by his neck, his face green, his eyes puffed, shut his hands, living guesting. Then he opened his eyes and looked at me at me and I took off and I ran. I ran as fast as I could. I’ve never forgotten that.

That was something, a feeling of Jason, do you believe a thing? Can be inherently evil. I don’t think that he literally saw the man hanging. I think what he’s suggesting is like he saw the ghost of the guy and it, and it’s haunted him ever since. And he really just had in his, he has in his mind that maybe the.

Is evil and that it draws evil people to it. So he’s very, very curious about Straker and Barlow, you know, what are they up to at the same time? He’s a little bit curious as to why he feels so drawn to it. And at some point he says that he thinks that maybe. His arrival was a catalyst for the strange things that are beginning to happen in town.

The strange things are, well, first of all, there’s a scene where Kalie Bonnie’s husband, uh, catches her. In her affair and, you know, points a shotgun at both her and, uh, Crocket. And, um, this was one of the scenes that was altered because he takes Crockett into the living room, you know, Fred Willard and silk red boxers shorts.

Todd: This is exactly how you would dress in a TV movie. If you’re having an affair, he person, he bursts and he hears noises from the bedroom he burst in. They’re both just sitting up in bed, switching. Each of them have on very, not revealing, but silk pants. 

Craig: So he takes him out to the living room and he, and he, he points a shotgun at his head and he makes him hold the barrel.

I mean, it’s, you know, he’s threatening him. He’s pretty intimidating. It is intense. It’s more intense there. Apparently there is a version now, I don’t know if this is a version that was ever released people online claim to have seen it. What I’ve read about the versions that you can get your hand on it.

It’s, it’s not there in what we saw. He forces him to hold the barrel of the shotgun right up to his face, which is intimidating enough. But apparently they shot a take where he forced Fred Willard to put the shotgun in his mouth. And that. You know, aside from the sexual implications, it’s, it’s, it’s just so brutal, intimate and intrusive and brutal and, and, and scary.

And I kind of wish that it was in there. I just feel like it would have amped up the intensity of the scene. Um, but, but whatever, but he lets him go. But as soon as Fred Willard runs out of the house, we just see him confronted by. Uh, a dark figure. And because this is a made for TV movie, the commercial breaks are clear.

Like you can totally tell when it’s going to commercial by nature of the format. This happens a lot, like something very creepy happening. Cut to black. Um, so, so you don’t know exactly what happens. Um, but the next time we see him, he has been placed in a car near the lake, um, still in his shorts. Um, and he’s dead and Ben and Susan, who’ve been smooching at the lake, find him, and then people start dying and he dies.

Um, The kids we met, we met mark. I mentioned mark. Mark was in this first scene, like the prologue scene. He’s a kid he’s working on a pageant. That’s like a history of the town and he’s got these two friends. They’re brothers, 

Todd: Danny. And was it Robbie, Danny, and Richie or Robbie or something like that? You know, the 

Craig: geo Robbie, something like that.

Um, he’s got these two friends and they come over to his house to rehearse, uh, for the play, but on their walk home at night through the woods, Danny, the older one. Um, goes ahead and we see the younger one, Ricky or Ralphy Ralphy get overtaken by a shadowy figure. We, you know, we have no idea who it is. We find out soon though, because Danny stumbles home and is like, I don’t know, kind of beat up and like, doesn’t know what’s going on.

Um, but we see Straker carrying Ralphie into the cellar of the house wrap up. Trash bags. Yeah, it’s really. Yeah. And that’s something that surprised me about this movie in, I I’m sure it’s faithful to the book, but children are the first victims now. I don’t know if they were intentionally targeting children.

It kind of seems 

Todd: like it. Yeah, it really does. Yeah, because they, 

Craig: they get Ralphy. Now, w we said that they had sent the Straker. Through Crockett had sent those guys to pick up a delivery and the delivery that they pick up is this huge crate. And, uh, you know, they, they comment about how like it’s like emanating cold

Todd: It’s just get it delivered

Craig: and it makes them very uncomfortable and very unnerved. They, they deliver it. Nonetheless they’re there, they, they kind of hear something or like it moves around. So they’re so freaked out that they don’t even finish. They’re supposed to like lock it up and whatever, they don’t even do that. They just get the heck out of there.

Um, and when, when Straker comes home with the little boy’s body, it’s obvious that the crate has. Bust out of something from the inside is bust out of it. And then the iconic scene of the movie is when little Ralphie, um, shows up floating full vampire makeup in this fog, outside his brother Danny’s window.

Todd: It’s straight out of almost the idea anyway is just straight out of, you know, horror of Dracula. I mean, he’s gotten this one. Full on, um, door in his bedroom that leads straight outside and it’s all window. And just this fog appears behind it. And I thought this scene was so effective. This is one of the great, oh, and it’s spooky as hell.

It’s one of the two scenes I do remember from being from a kid. Um, and it is even for TV is pretty green, but for TV. 

Craig: It is scary. I mean, cause he, he scratches at the window 

Todd: like floating and just this other worldly way. And in the way that they did, this was two ways. They, first of all, they didn’t put them on wires because they were like wires.

You can always see. So they put them on a, like a boom crane from behind so that he would float. He looks like. To be honest, you know, he’s got these yellowish, almost glowing eyes, these fangs, and the, his hand is a little claw, like, and he’s scratching at the window and he’s got this smile on his face. The other technique they used was they filmed this in reverse.

So they reversed the film so that it would have kind of an unnatural look to his movement. And it is so. Scary. I mean, it really, I was getting chills. It was very scary. And of course, just like, like we saw horror of Dracula, you know, a little while ago, the, her, his brother doesn’t seem to mind any of this.

He kind of slowly gets up out of bed and walks towards him, opens that window. And his brother just floats into the room towards it is so. Chilling and then commercial 

Craig: break. And I think that this is very much inspired by the lore of Dracula, because like these vampires seem to have the power to enthrall people.

Like if you look into their eyes, you will become entranced and, and you’ll kind of submit to their will. Um, and. I don’t remember if it’s in this part of the second part, but character’s figure this out. So don’t look them in the eyes also just, you know, the vampire look, uh, reminded me a lot of, um, the lost boys.

It it’s a very classic vampire look. It looks really good. It’s very scary. Right. Yeah. And just the fact that it’s a kid, I think that there’s just something very unnerving about that. And he’s a small kid, I mean, in real life, he was only a few months younger than the kid who played his older brother, but he was significantly smaller.

Um, and th th there’s just something spooky about that plus the fact that they’re brothers, you know, and so without, even though. Thrall thing, you know, your missing brother shows up and they’re floating and they look scary, but you know, I get to see the, I can see the inclination right. To let him in. So he does.

And, and then, you know, Danny starts acting weird. Uh Susan’s dad is the town doctor. He examines Danny. He says, you know, it’s really weird. You know, I can’t really diagnose anything. The closest I can come to is he seems like. Like severely anemic, um, which makes sense. Strange things are beginning to happen.

And it all kind of culminates at Danny’s funeral because he dies. They put him in the hospital and his brother visits him again. And after that second visit, he died. The 

Todd: second visits, almost creepier than the first. I mean, you, it’s almost the same thing. So you’re like, okay, we’ve seen this before. And as he floats into the hospital room, he’s smiling and then lifts up and sort of towers over him for a moment.

He’s looking down at him and he just seems like adult, he seems other world. That was, I mean, it was, I was at one, two punch for me. First scene was number one. This scene was number two. I thought these were the two creepiest I’m looking forward to the second half because I remember one more creepy scene from the second half, but this my God scary.

Craig: mean the whole vampire thing is very intimate. And I feel like in this scene that played very well. Like Danny, Danny just stands there and submits as his younger brother. Hello. Over him, you know, clearly in a position of power. And eventually Danny just turns his head to one side and his brother comes in very 

Todd: slow and 

Craig: deliberately slow and deliberate, almost centrally and begins to well bites him and begins to suck his blood and then commercial.

And then we pick up at Danny’s funeral, which is during the day. They have the funeral, the mom faints from grief. The last thing that happens is we see, I think his name’s Mike, it doesn’t matter that he works at the cemetery. He was like the groundskeeper at the cemetery who was one of the guys that pay.

The delivery. He is burying Danny, but then all and he’s alone. And then all of a sudden, the wind starts to blow really powerfully and clouds cover the sun and it seems like the sun must be setting. And, uh, it almost seems as though somehow Mike become. Entranced. He stands kind of Dolly at the foot of the grave and just looks into it for a long time.

And then, and then jumps down in there, sweeps the dirt off of it and opens it. And Danny is in their eyes wide open and glow. Not moving that eyes wide open and glowing, and they just look at each other for a minute until then Danny jumps up and bites him. And that’s it. That’s the end, right? 

Todd: Yeah, that’s it.

That’s the end of the first half, the first, uh, episode that’s as far as I got. But it’s 

Craig: exciting. It’s an exciting cliffhanger because you now, you, now we know now shit is going to get real. 

Todd: It took us an hour and a half to get there, but now we know 

Craig: that it does, it does get exciting and the stakes get very, very high, not just for our main characters, but for the whole town.

Um, and I remember that about the book and, and it’s true of the movie too. And I really liked that this isn’t an isolated. Thing. This is something that is going to impact the entire. Community and it’s going to happen fast and cool things. 

Todd: Really. , 

Craig: it’s fun. I’m excited for you. The second half is a fun watch in the back.

I stayed. I stayed at work late to finish it. 

Todd: You worked late. Is that what you’re saying? Craig, you work late diminishes. You 

Craig: could technically say that. 

Todd: Let’s go with that. Yeah. Well, I’m looking forward to seeing the second half and finally being able to, you know, draw some, some big conclusions about the whole movie.

Yeah. It’s fun. 

Craig: And I am looking forward to talking about it and I feel like we can give more evaluation once we’ve seen the movie in its entirety first half good reasonable setup. I really wasn’t bored, even though it’s not super, super exciting. I think it’s, it’s a nice, uh, set up for. 

Todd: Well much like the first half of this mini series, we’re going to end you on a cliffhanger.

Please stay tuned for part two of our review of Salem’s lot coming to you very soon. I’m tell Ben, you can check out our past episodes at our website. Two guys that read fortinets.com. You can find us online and chat with us just by Googling, uh, two guys into chainsaw podcast, where you can find our webpage to leave us a comment on our Twitter feed to send us a little tweet, or we also have a Facebook page and you can find us there as well.

Patreon going on right now, if you’d like to support us, uh, patrion.com/chainsaw podcast gets you a whole bunch of nippy little features as well as many sows that we’re putting out at least a couple of months. And we also thank our patrons as well. The ones who are supporting us and allowing us to do some more things with this podcast until next time I’m Todd and I’m Craig with Two Guys and a Chainsaw.


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