A Return to Salem's Lot

Larry Cohen, you fucking weirdo.  Only you could have made this movie.  1987's A Return to Salem's Lot has zilch to do with 1979's Salem's Lot.  Yes, it should have had a different title, but Halloween III: Season of the Witch has managed to settle into a niche audience after years of debasement and unjust scurrility.  Why does everyone still shit on this flick?  My friend gave me his copy after watching it and promptly shrugging his shoulders.  I don't think it's that bad.  C'mon!  Michael Moriarty plays a dickhead!  How dreadful could it be?  Now, go play while Daddy writes a synopsis.  You know I get volatile in "synopsis mode."  Besides, your mother is being a bitch.

So Moriarty is Joe, a photo journalist saddled with the responsibility of tending to his estranged son.  He takes Jeremy - the estranged son - to a gig in Maine.  Naturally, he winds up in Salem's Lot, a nondescript town smote with hoary vampires.  The bloodsuckers have been there for centuries, and they have a system in place.  They feed on cattle, their children attend school at night and "drones" (hybrids, basically) keep the municipality operating during daylight hours.  Cohen is prone to using boilerplate horror bromides to comment on society.  Here, he satires the sterility of suburban life and the virulence of class warfare.  I don't need to tell you that he does this with tacky creature effects.

See, that's why I dig Return.  It's lighthearted.  It's funny, both intentionally and unintentionally.  It's ambitious.  The cast is equipped with quirky character actors.  Ricky Addison Reed is enthusiastic as Jeremy, and he has the best lines of the lot ("You shut up.  You shut the fuck up!").  Oddly enough, this was his first and last role.  Sam Fuller kicks ass as Van Meer, Nazi hunter extraordinaire.  It goes without saying that Moriarty is...himself.  Man, he's an acquired taste, but I've developed an appreciation for his diacritic swagger.  Diacritic swagger???  Yeah.

I am fully aware that this film is a honeycomb of foibles, a waffle cloth riddled with craters, if you will.  It's not my favorite Larry Cohen production.  That slot is reserved for It's Alive.  However, I wouldn't hesitate to recommend A Return to Salem's Lot.  The Tobe Hooper original is infinitely superior, but if you adjust your expectations accordingly, you might have fun.  Cons?  Eh, the running time is swollen, subplots are dropped without warning and Count Barlow is missed.  You won't find much menace beyond these gates, that I can assure you.  There is a reason why I focused on the positives, though.  The negatives didn't weigh too heavily on my psyche.  That's obvious.

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