A Return to Salem’s Lot (1987)

returntosalemslot_4Starring Michael Moriarty, Ricky Addison Reed, Samuel Fuller, Andrew Duggan, Evelyn Keyes, Jill Gatsby, June Havoc, Ronee Blakley, James Dixon, David Holbrook, Katja Crosby, Tara Reid

Directed by Larry Cohen

Expectations: Moderate. I’m interested, but I hear it’s dumb.

On the general scale:
twostar

On the B-movie scale:
threehalfstar


A Return to Salem’s Lot is like the much trashier stepchild of Salem’s Lot, as the two stories are definitely not of the same lineage. This “sequel” to Salem’s Lot bears no resemblance in any way to the novel or the Tobe Hooper-directed TV adaptation, other than the name of the town and the fact that there are vampires around. No one mentions any of the previous film’s events or characters; even the foreboding representation of evil in the town, the Marsten House, is oddly missing. This would lead a viewer to believe that the companies behind A Return to Salem’s Lot didn’t own the rights to the novel or something, but in the end none of this really matters if you’re a B-Movie fan.

A Return to Salem’s Lot was directed by B-Movie legend Larry Cohen. My knowledge of his films is still rather sparse at best, but I can attest to the fact that what I have seen has been pure gold. His script for William Lustig’s classic Maniac Cop is superb, and his film The Stuff is the best film you’ll ever see about killer yogurt. A Return to Salem’s Lot is definitely not in that upper echelon of B-Movies, but I found more than enough to be intrigued and entertained by.

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Merrill’s Marauders (1962)

MerrillsMarauders_1Starring Jeff Chandler, Ty Hardin, Peter Brown, Andrew Duggan, Will Hutchins, Claude Akins, Luz Valdez, John Hoyt, Charlie Briggs

Directed by Samuel Fuller

Expectations: Moderate. I don’t expect much from this one.

threestar


Is Merrill’s Marauders a poorly made film because it’s not wholly engaging and entertaining, or is it the perfect film for the story because it slowly drains viewers of their energy and enthusiasm, perfectly placing us into the shoes and the minds of the infantrymen? The film is a great example of the struggles asked of the men on the front line, and it feels cheap to discredit it because it’s hard to watch. Fuller wasn’t interested in entertainment, he was interested in truth, and in that he succeeded. I just wish I had seen Merrill’s Marauders sooner, before I became so enamored with his later, similar & better film The Big Red One.

Merrill’s Marauders opens with a newsreel playing over the jungle of Burma. The reel’s narrator informs us of the broad struggles in the region during World War II, eventually coming to the fact that a large group of American soldiers were sent to retake Burma in order to stop the Japanese army from reaching India and hooking up with the Germans. Maybe I’m just young and naive, but I had no idea that WWII stretched into these countries, so I found it very interesting. In any case, the story behind Merrill’s Marauders is a true one, but it’s not one near and dear to Fuller’s heart. He was brought onto the project, and accepted it with the hope that he’d be able to make The Big Red One next, a film he’d been trying to get made since the 1950s.

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