Salem’s Lot: the Book and the Film

vampireIf 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.

salemslotIn 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.

The Book

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

bratThe 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.

By annimi

Ashley writes for,, and other sites in the Darksites Network. She's involved in several seedy and disreputable activities, smokes too much, and spends her late nights procrastinating for work on her first novel.


  1. Pingback: vampires
  2. I love the idea that everything nowadays is about vampires & werewolves. Even though, personally, I like the ideas people have about vampires. It intrigues me quite so. I will definitely remember to read this book. (:

  3. If you only watch the movie you are doing yourself a huge disservice. My advice is to be on the lookout for the entire miniseries (trust me, it’s out there) and watch that instead. While the movie is great, it is only half the story. So much is taken out to fit into a two hour time frame. It’s best to watch the entire thing even if you have to do it in intervals. So worth it.

  4. Salem Lot is the most tolerable book from Mr Dung. No, it is not Dracula – potty-mouthed dialogue and sleazy characters do not new classic make – and young Mark Petrie is laughable creation – typical adult fantasy how children should be and what they are not – but there is some surprisingly effective and chilling vampire scenes, including great use of folklore. 3/5.

  5. The book is a great representation of vampires in the vein of Dracula, Pet Sematary and 30 Days of Night. The undead here are pure evil, and they serve the will of their master who has utterly no sympathy for mankind. Like a true master of evil, Barlowe uses the weak-willed to inflict harm on others. Not only do they suck the lifeblood from the town, they also feed off of, and feed INTO the evil of the townspeople. Tensions between them are ignited as the vampires grow in strength and numbers. They follow the main traditional rules of vampiric folklore; they need an invitation to physically enter a home, and the master vamp is at least polite enough to his victims to offer the choice to turn — but then again most everyone says yes. Theres also an allegedly haunted house in the background that adds to the spookiness and enough gory thrills to keep you firmly in the mindset that vampires are walking corpses that kill people to feed.

    There are tons of ancilliatory themes that add to the horror, supposedly connected to vampires like debates about the church, the nature of evil, and real-life human monsters who do things like child abuse and sacrifice.

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