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salems lot

SALEM’S LOT (1979)

(Remember, clicking the highlighted links brings you to other reviews and articles here at The Movie Madhouse!)

Miniseries is an adaptation of the Stephen King book of the same name (book review HERE) and basically follows the same plot. Vampire story has writer Ben Mears (David Soul) returning to his hometown of Salem’s Lot after many years, to write a book about the Marsten House, a large old house on the outskirts of town renown for it’s dark past. Mears has no idea what he is in for as, at the same time, an ancient vampire named Barlow (Reggie Nalder) has set his sights on the town of Salem’s Lot as his new feeding ground and makes the Marsten House his new home. Can Ben convince this small town that a very real and supernatural horror has made residence there, as townsfolk start to disappear and the concerned locals turn a suspicious eye towards him?

Script is adapted by Paul Monash from King’s lengthy book and at just over three hours adapts it fairly well. The film is atmospherically directed by Texas Chainsaw Massacre’s Tobe Hooper who delivers some solid chills despite the restraint of doing the film for TV. Salem’s Lot has a moderate pace and can be a bit long-winded when watched all at once, but the book is a bit long-winded as well and the flick was originally made to be watched in two, two hour segments aired a week part, which broke it up. The vampire scenes are really creepy and Hooper handles the traditional vampire tropes very well and creates some memorable sequences that are still effective today. Barlow’s purple Nosferatu-like appearance is chilling and effective and the Marsten House has it’s own personality and is visually impressive, especially once we get inside. There is very little blood as it was made for network TV, but that is fine as it has atmosphere to spare, especially in it’s second half. It takes a while to get going, but once it does it is very entertaining.

The cast are good with David Soul making a fine, reluctant hero. His writer does give the impression of a man slightly obsessed with the old house and obviously, it takes him a little time to accept that vampires are real and the town is slowly filling with them. Bonnie Bedelia makes a fine heroine as a pretty school teacher who catches Ben’s eye. Veteran actor James Mason is spooky as Barlow’s human manservant and Reggie Nalder makes for a really creepy vampire under all the make-up and contact lenses and with no dialog. We also have roles by other veteran actors such as Geoffrey Lewis, Kenneth McMillan, Lew Ayres and Fred Willard. A good cast that Hooper guides well.

I saw this miniseries when it first aired in 1979 and as a kid it really creeped me out. It’s not quite as scary all these years later and can be a bit too long when watched in one sitting, especially with some of the melodrama. But, it does have some really spooky sequences as directed by the legendary Tobe Hooper and is one of the better adaptations of King’s work, though in my personal opinion, not one of his better books. Worth watching if you have never seen it.

-MonsterZero NJ

3 pairs of fangs.








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a cold nights death 1973



(Remember, clicking the highlighted links brings you to other reviews and articles here at The Movie Madhouse!)

Flick is a 1973 TV thriller that aired on ABC’s Tuesday Night Movie. Mystery/horror involves two scientists (Robert Culp and Eli Wallach) who are sent to take over research duties from a third scientist at a remote mountain top base. They are doing behavioral experiments on monkeys for space travel and the current scientist sent some bizarre messages before losing contact. They arrive and find him dead under some very odd circumstances, but are ordered to continue his work. Soon strange occurrences haunt the remote base such as lights going on and off, doors and windows being opened and the heat being turned off. The two scientists start to point fingers at each other and as their time there stretches on, they begin to turn on each other refusing to believe that they and their test subjects, may not be alone.

Written by Christopher Knopf and directed by Jerrold Freedman, this is actually a very tense and disturbing little thriller from a time where television was producing a lot of quality horror, supernatural and Sci-fi TV movies. We get a cold and remote setting, which sets us up already with a sense of claustrophobia and then throws in some very unsettling circumstances in the mysterious death of the previous inhabitant, who seemed to allow himself to freeze to death. The two men don’t seem to agree as to how this man died and it sets up a growing distance between the two scientists as strange things start to happen around them. The suspense and tension cranks as they start to suspect each other of first, some sort of game, then possibly of some sort of psychological imbalance. It’s a great two man play as these men start to unravel and turn on each other, pointing fingers and making accusations as to what is going on around them. The big reveal comes in the last moments and the final frames will stick with you when we finally find out what is happening at Summit Base.

Aside from the simians this is a tight two man cast with Michael C. Gwynne’s helicopter pilot only seen briefly at the beginning. The rest of the 74 minutes it’s just Culp and Wallach, who do excellent work. They start out as two men who are colleagues and have worked together before. Both actors work well together and convey being unnerved at the death of ‘Dr. Vogel’ from the start. Each man has conflicting theories, which plants a bit of a seed of discontent right from the beginning. Soon as the activity inside the snow surrounded base gets weirder and weirder, the men are ripe to start blaming each other. Both actors really do well in portraying the gradual sense of mistrust that becomes suspicion and paranoia and then finally outright hostility. It’s a nice character study that really focuses on the destruction of these men’s professional and personal relationship due to some outside influence neither seems to be able to identify…and thus they point fingers at each other. Great performances from both actors..

This was a really cool flick! It was taunt and suspenseful and really kept you guessing until the final few scenes. The portrayal of paranoia and suspicion was really well done, as was the element of two people basically trapped together with the possibility of one or both losing their marbles and being a danger to the other…or is that what they are supposed to believe? The revelations comes almost at the very end and it will really unsettle you and take you by surprise. A really good little thriller with a classy cast!

-MonsterZero NJ

3 scientists à la Mode.

a cold nights death rating






Couldn’t find a trailer so, how about the full movie…




During this season of ghouls and goblins, I decided to have fun with this list and share ten 70s TV horror movies that scared me as a kid. Most of them provide chuckles now, but some are still pretty spooky!

(Click on the titles below the movie poster gallery to get to our reviews of the titles covered here at the Movie Madhouse!)

1. Gargoyles

2. Don’t Be Afraid Of The Dark

3. The Night Stalker

4. The Night Strangler

5. Salem’s Lot

6. Trilogy Of Terror

7. The Cat Creature

8. Dead Of Night

9. The Possessed (with a young Harrison Ford!)

10. Killdozer

-MonsterZero NJ