In June 1981, Minister of Fisheries Lucien Lessard authorised more than 300 Quebec Provincial Police (QPP) to raid the Restigouche Reserve in relation to restrictions placed upon the indigenous peoples by the Department of Fisheries: the point of contention was salmon fishing rights; the Mi’kmaq claimed their right to fish salmon six nights a week while the Quebec government attempted to limit their fishing to three days a week as, according to them, their fishing practices were endangering the salmon population. A survey commissioned by the Mi’kmaq and undertaken by Dr. Alan Roy demonstrated the indigenous salmon haul did not exceed 1,200 fish a year, a smaller amount compared to the 1,800 per year that were fished by commercial organisations (Ambroziak). Despite this, the QPP raid occurred and, one of the young people involved was Mi’kmaq Jeff Barnaby:
Salem’s Lot is about vampires, of course. But as I recently re-read King’s 1975 novel and watched the exceptional TV miniseries (directed by Tobe Hooper) from 1979, it occurred to me that the latter—the film, not the novel–might also be about the nuclear threat. In 1979, America was entrenched in Cold War paranoia, with the attendant heightened fears of nuclear war. Filmed in July and August 1979 and airing on CBS on November 17 and 24, 1979, Salem’s Lot was bookended by two events critical to deepening anxiety about the nuclear threat. In only four more years, ABC’s The Day After (1983) would galvanize 100 million people gathered around their TVs to watch the devastating consequences of a nuclear attack on US soil, setting a record for the highest rated television film ever. And just before Salem’s Lot began filming, Three Mile Island Nuclear Generating Station in central Pennsylvania was the site, on March 28, 1979, of the worst nuclear accident in the US. Anxiety about the effects of nuclear energy and nuclear war was rampant.
Jordan Peele is on board as one of the executive producers of a reboot of The Twilight Zone, apparently coming to CBS All Access. Even without this clear evidence, Peele’s interest in Rod Serling’s classic series, which ran on CBS from 1959-64, is manifest in his 2017 horror film, Get Out. Indeed, The Verge has called Get Out a “Twilight Zone-esque horror thriller.” Any fan of The Twilight Zone will, I’m sure, be able to point to many episodes whose influence seeped into Peele’s film. I want to point out one dramatic predecessor, however, in the season 3 episodes, “The Trade-Ins,” which originally aired on April 13, 1962 and which was written by Serling himself and directed by Elliot Silverstein.
Martin Rosen’s famous 1978 adaptation of Richard Adams’ 1972 Watership Down turns 40 this year, and no doubt there will be numerous tributes to the brilliant film that traumatized a generation of children. Indeed, there is a conference planned in November 2018 at the University of Warwick, The Legacy of Watership Down, organized by Dr. Catherine Lester (@CineFeline; @watershipdown40).
I’m very interested, specifically, in Watership Down’s legacy within the horror tradition, and this post just points out one small connection between Rosen’s film and a later important British horror film, Eden Lake (James Watkins, 2008).
David Bruckner’s The Ritual is a wonderful film, which I review here, and which combines rich allusions to other horror films while also doing something quite distinctive. In my review, I mention some of the more obvious references of the film, but here’s a less obvious one: Karyn Kusama’s 2015 film, The Invitation.