A Return to Salem’s Lot is a 1987 horror film written, directed and executive produced by Larry Cohen (It’s Alive; God Told Me To; The Stuff). It was shot back-to-back with It’s Alive III: Island of the Alive. As the title indicates, the film is a sequel to the TV mini-series Salem’s Lot (1979) and is only very loosely based on characters created by Stephen King.
The movie stars Michael Moriarty (Q: The Winged Serpent), director Samuel Fuller, Andrew Duggan (It Lives Again, Frankenstein Island), Evelyn Keyes, June Havoc and, making her screen debut, Tara Reid.
Joe Weber (Moriarty), an amoral anthropologist, has been lumbered with his dysfunctional adolescent son and returns to Salem’s Lot, the town of his birth, to find that it has been taken over by the undead. A few living people are kept around to provide blood for the vampires and to operate the gas station and shops in the daytime.
Knowing of the anthropologist’s refusal to moralise about other people’s lifestyles (in the opening scene he is seen refusing to interfere in a human sacrifice and concerned only for the quality of the film he is shooting), the vampires employ him to write their story.
As the vampires’ evil nature becomes clear, the anthropologist is joined by a Nazi hunter (Samuel Fuller)…
‘A Return To Salem’s Lot is a strange movie. It’s disjointed within its own logic, has very little to do with the King story and is bound to disappoint fans of the original book or miniseries. However, it has a lot of its own internal charm and despite the rather cheap-looking nature (such as the hilariously obvious set representing the “native” village at the opening), it is quite watchable …’ 80s Fear
‘Overall, however, there’s not much here to recommend to anyone that isn’t already a Cohen fan (apologist?), as it’s one of his lesser efforts and is dragging down a known property to boot. It manages to be better than most of the other King sequels (i.e. the Children of the Corn and Mangler followups), but that’s saying absolutely nothing.’ Horror Movie a Day
‘The first attack on the visiting teens cruising through ‘Salem’s Lot is laughably inept, and it’s compounded by the appearance of a completely silly-looking monster in the woods who is never properly explained in the context of the movie (it’s supposed to be Duggan, right?). A Return to Salem’s Lot should, before it does anything intellectual, scare you, and unfortunately, nothing’s too scary here.’ DVD Talk
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Cast and characters:
Michael Moriarty … Joe Weber
Ricky Addison Reed … Jeremy Weber
Samuel Fuller … Doctor Van Meer
Andrew Duggan … Judge Axel
Evelyn Keyes … Mrs Axel
Jill Gatsby … Sherry
June Havoc … Aunt Clara
Ronee Blakley … Sally
James Dixon … Rains
David Holbrook … Deputy
Katja Crosby … Cathy
Tara Reid … Amanda
Brad Rijn … Clarence
Janelle Webb … Sarah (as Georgia Janelle Webb)
Robert Burr … Doctor Fenton