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A Return to Salem's Lot Reviews

A RETURN TO SALEM'S LOT is another one of those bizarre, personal, and very quirky genre films from the fevered brain of Larry Cohen--this one produced directly for home video. A sequel in name only to "Salem's Lot," the made-for-TV movie of Stephen King's novel, the picture stars Michael Moriarty as Joe Weber, an ambitious anthropologist who travels to Maine with his estranged teenage son, Jeremy (Richard Addison Reed), to renovate a house left to him by his aunt. To their surprise, the small New England town is populated by vampires. The 300-year-old vampire community, led by the grandfatherly Judge Axel (Andrew Duggan), has grown rich from real estate values alone, and its members have become wealthy old Republicans, the literal embodiment of "old money" in America. Although they drink human blood from time to time, they have primarily turned to cattle blood for sustenance since, as Judge Axel explains, human blood has become unsafe, what with alcohol, drugs, hepatitis, and "that AIDS virus." Because he is a famed anthropologist, Weber is asked to write the vampires' history--to dispel the myths about their race and set the facts down once and for all. Intrigued, Weber agrees, but he begins to have second thoughts when he realizes that his son is slowly being seduced into the vampire lifestyle. Not your typical vampire movie, A RETURN TO SALEM'S LOT is a somewhat satiric poke at the genre without many thrills. Character is everything in Cohen's films, and once again he gets an eccentric performance from Moriarty. But the movie is stolen by a pair of older actors: Duggan, in one of his last roles, and director Samuel Fuller, as a crotchety, cigar-chomping vampire hunter. Thematically, Cohen continues his use of the fantasy genres to explore modern-day political and social ills. Those expecting a reverent sequel to the King tale will no doubt be disappointed.