Salem’s Lot is a 1979 American television adaptation of the novel of the same name by Stephen King. It was directed by Tobe Hooper (The Texas Chain Saw Massacre; The Funhouse; Poltergeist) and stars David Soul, James Mason, and Reggie Nalder.
It is also known as Salem’s Lot: The Movie, Salem’s Lot: The Miniseries and Blood Thirst.
The prologue shows a church in Guatemala in which two men, Ben Mears and Mark Petrie, are filling small bottles with holy water. When one of the bottles begins to emit an eerie supernatural glow, Mears tells Petrie “They’ve found us again.”
The story then flashes back two years, to the small town of Salem’s Lot (formally known as Jerusalem’s Lot) in Maine in the United States. Ben Mears, an author, has returned to the town after a long absence to write a book about the Marsten House, an ominous old property on a hilltop which has a reputation for being haunted. Mears attempts to rent the house but finds that another new arrival in town, the mysterious Richard Straker, has recently bought it. Straker also opens an antique shop with his oft-mentioned but always absent business partner, Kurt Barlow.
Meanwhile, Mears moves into a boarding house in town run by Eva Miller, and develops a romantic relationship with a local woman, Susan Norton. He befriends Susan’s father, Doctor Bill Norton, and also renews his old friendship with his former school teacher, Jason Burke. Mears tells Burke that he feels the Marsten House is somehow inherently evil, and recalls how he was once traumatised in the house when he was a child.
After a large crate is delivered to the Marsten House one night, an increasing number of the townsfolk begin to disappear or die in strange circumstances. Both Mears and Straker are initially the main suspects as they are new in town, but it becomes clear that the crate contained Straker’s mysterious business partner, Kurt Barlow, an ancient master vampire who has come to the town after having sent Straker to make way for his arrival…
“By going so far to the other extreme the series made Barlow into a true monster and doesn’t mess around with trying to give him dialogue. James Mason takes up the chores and speaks for his master and provides the cool elegance that came through in the book. Barlow’s first appearance in the town jail is downright startling and his death at the hands of David soul is one of the best vampire killings ever put on film.” Cynema
“Salem’s Lot is spooky, tense, and, in a few spots, jolting enough to make you jump. For years, Salem’s Lot ran on TV as a Halloween perennial and a return visit is always welcome.” Mike “McBeardo” McFadden, Heavy Metal Movies
” James Mason’s dapper, effortless performance as the villainous Straker is still superb. Nobody else in the cast comes close to him. The scare work fairly well, too…” Mike May, The Horror Show Guide
Cast and characters:
- David Soul as Ben Mears
- James Mason as Richard Straker
- Lance Kerwin as Mark Petrie
- Bonnie Bedelia as Susan Norton
- Lew Ayres as Jason Burke
- Ed Flanders as Bill Norton
- Fred Willard as Larry Crockett
- Julie Cobb as Bonnie Sawyer
- Kenneth McMillan as Constable Parkins Gillespie
- Geoffrey Lewis as Mike Ryerson
- Barney McFadden as Ned Tibbets
- Marie Windsor as Eva Miller
- Bonnie Bartlett as Ann Norton
- George Dzundza as Cully Sawyer
- Elisha Cook Jr. as Gordon “Weasel” Phillips
- Clarissa Kaye as Marjorie Glick
- Ned Wilson as Henry Glick
- Barbara Babcock as June Petrie
- Joshua Bryant as Ted Petrie
- James Gallery as Father Callahan
- Brad Savage as Danny Glick
- Ronnie Scribner as Ralphie Glick
- Reggie Nalder as Kurt Barlow