Salem’s Lot: the Book and the Film
If you’ve never read or seen ‘Salem’s Lot, shame on you. But here’s the run-down for those of you who still need to put this stuff on your to-do list. In Stephen King’s best-selling novel, –probably still bringing in a ton of cash, –vampires are hardcore, nothing like the sissified vampires of the modern world. Don’t get me wrong, I love sissified vampires too, I admit it. But after recently re-reading ‘Salem’s Lot, I can’t help occasionally looking over my shoulder when I’m alone at night.
In the book, a previous resident of ‘Salem’s Lot, Ben Mears, returns to the town where he lived as a child. Following shortly behind him, is Richard Straker, who turns the closed-up local laundry into an antique store as a front to smuggle in the master vampire, Barlow. The first victim is a dog, then a child, and soon, the whole town is gradually infected with a plague of vampires, and the few living residents end up leaving, either in denial or refusing to speak of the horror they witnessed in Salem’s Lot. Ben Mears escapes with the vampire-savvy child, Mark Petrie, orphaned by the vampire Barlow.
Terrifying. There really isn’t a stronger word in the English language to describe the way vampires are portrayed in ‘Salem’s Lot, by Stephen King. I recently re-read the book, and it was more than enough to dispel any soft-hearted feelings about vampires I had because of the latest vamp trend. In this book, there are no demons with souls or friendly vampires who just want to save the day with their high school girlfriends. Don’t get me wrong, I love vampire romance; but King knows just how to wrench away all those soft little pretensions, and implant pure fear.
The film is great, but if you find yourself nodding off, or having trouble paying attention, then it’s fair to admit, like myself, that you just can’t get into 70’s cinema. The film was actually a miniseries in ’79, and has since been condensed into its present film format. Though some of us might have a hard time getting into the groove, ‘Salem’s Lot has a pretty large cult following, –compared to films like The Exorcist, and The Lost Boys, Salem’s Lot is right up there with the big boys. It’s easy to see why people still love the film; the atmosphere, the rural set, and the 70’s style were perfectly rendered, making the movie more like an exquisite portrait of retro vampire horror.