Son of 31 Nights, 31 Frights: Salem’s Lot

Son of 31 Nights, 31 Frights

In observance of that autumn spell when we celebrate the primal, compulsive instinct of fear, Rainestorm once more highlights 31 days of spooky scares to season the eerie atmosphere of Halloween.

For those who tuned in last year, I subjected you to a daily dose of diabolical dread and devilish distress. Just as every good horror movie deserves an inferior sequel, I offer this follow-up of also-rans, not bads, and perhaps a couple of you’ve-gotta-be-kidding-mes.

Unleashed: 1979

Salem's Lot

"Ewww... is that me I smell?"

What evil lurks: Insanely goofy by today’s standards. However, as a nine-year-old boy this was the most terrifying initiation into the world of horror that I could have expected. In 1979 a mini-series would span the same day across two weeks. That meant that after taking a terrifying beating with part one on Saturday, I went back for seconds the following Saturday. Did this movie scare me? Let’s just say I carried a cross around with me, day and night, every day for a week. As silly as it is now, Tobe-The Texas Chainsaw Massacre-Hooper created a marvelous atmosphere of windy dusks, silent, lonely nights, drawn-out suspense, and a terrifying central vampire, Kurt Barlow. James Mason, really slumming it here, still delivers a deliciously evil and laid-back performance as Barlow’s human guardian.

Highlight from hell: The closing act of part one, in which a gravedigger (Geoffrey Lewis), transfixed by the coffin he is burying, jumps into the grave pit… you can guess what happens next.

Terrifying trivia: This is the first Stephen King mini-series after his debut film adapatation, Carrie.

Diabolical dialogue: “Throw away your cross, face the master. Your faith against his faith… Could you do that? Is your faith enough”

Son of: Nosferatu (1922). Are you kidding me? One look at Reggie Nalder’s Kurt Barlow should put to rest any question as to this film’s inspiration.

Shoddy sequel syndrome: Boy the things that one finds scary in boyhood… they’re downright laughable now. Specifically, Lewis’ contortionist vampire hissy-fit.

  • Mark

    If we’re talking about TV series instead of movies, we should mention Lars von Trier’s The Kingdom. By your tripod standards, it probably wouldn’t make the cut, but it’s wonderful. Twin Peaks meets The Shining.

  • Notice how ‘The Shining’ appears nowhere on these lists….