More Pickups

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My daughter has outgrown dolls. My wife, however, has grown into them. She learned to sew probably 15 years ago. She used to make herself various outfits, but once my daughter was born she began exclusively making her dresses. But my daughter no longer likes dresses (she prefers black pants and hoodies now) and so my wife has started making clothes for the dolls. She’s really gotten into it and even has an Instagram account for it (and she would be thrilled with more followers if you are into that sort of thing) She does a great job, even if I find the whole grownups play with dolls thing a little bit strange.

Anyway, there is a little toy shop that she likes to go to for bargains on Barbies and accessories. She wanted to go today and we made a family outing of it. They have other collectibles and other random stuff. I found a copy of Pitch Black and Fargo Season 2. Pitch Black is a surprisingly good little sci-fi/horror film that briefly made me think Vin Diesel was a good actor. Fargo is a terrific television show based on the wonderful Coen Brothers movie of the same name. Or at least the first two seasons are excellent, I still haven’t seen past that.

Afterward, we dropped by a Goodwill and I picked up The Black Box and The Running Man. I recently watched Bosch, the TV series, and quite liked it so I’ve been reading the Michael Connely books the series was based on. I’ve only read a couple of them but I’ve enjoyed what I’ve read. I’ve only been into Stephe King for a few years now but I am steadily working my way through them and I always buy the ones I don’t have at any used store we visit.

Spa is a comic book that I’ll be reviewing soon. It is utterly bizarre and it doesn’t make much logical sense, but the artwork is really interesting (and bizarre and horrifying).

Have you all picked up anything interesting lately?

Salem’s Lot (1979)

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I was slow coming ’round to Stephen King. Growing up I was more of a Dean Kontz man. I read the short story The Langoliers when I was in high school and loved it, but for some reason didn’t even both finishing the other short stories in the book much less read any other King. In college, I read Dolores Claiborne, and loved it, and then didn’t get around to reading any other King books until a few years later. And so it went for a long time. I’d read a King book, love it, and then not pick one up again for many months or years. And then four or five years ago I got a copy of the Mr. Mercedes audiobook from the library and really dug it, then picked up the sequel, Finder’s Keepers, and I was off to the races. I’ve been reading him steadily ever since.

I read ‘Salem’s Lot about 12 years ago and absolutely loved it. I’m a sucker for vampire stories and King tells a really good one. It remains one of my favorite novels of his. Tobe Hooper directed a two-part TV miniseries back in 1979 and I decided to rewatch it this week. It is surprisingly good.

The story concerns Ben Mears (David Soul) a writer (the first of many times the protagonist in a King story would have that occupation) who grew up in the small town of Salem’s Lot, but moved away as a boy. He comes back to write about a spooky old house up on a hill that has a sordid history and is rumored to be haunted. He plans on renting it but as it turns out the house has just been purchased by the mysterious Richard Straker (James Mason, completely enjoying himself), and his absent partner Kurt Barlow.

Turns out Barlow is an ancient vampire and Straker is his familiar. But the movie takes its time getting to that part. First Ben has to meet Susan (Bonnie Bedelia), the romantic interest, plus other assortments of characters. It isn’t until the second part of the movie, more than 90 minutes into its three-hour runtime that we actually see the vampire. Mysterious things do happen, people get sick, a kid dies, a dog is murdered, etc., but Hooper keeps the pace slow and the eeriness high.

There is quite a lot of padding, as one would expect from a TV movie made in 1979. And the production values fit within that genre as well. But Hooper gives some good jump scares and several truly spooky scenes. There’s one in which a vampire kid floats into another kid’s room which is an all-timer. The look of the main vampire is very Nosferatu-esque and pretty darn terrific.

It is a film that, if you consider the budget and its limitations, comes across as surprisingly great, and well worth watching.