• Post category:TV
  • Post last modified:10/26/2023

Salem’s Lot



Reggie Nalder. Photo: CBS

Ben Mears (David Soul) returns to his Maine hometown, where he’s aiming to write a book about an old house with a dark history… but he learns it has been purchased by a stranger (James Mason) with an agenda. A successful miniseries that showed for the first time how the horror of a Stephen King novel could benefit from epic treatment. Dread builds slowly as we get to know the people of Salem’s Lot who fail to see the coming epidemic. Unusually ambitious for its time, even if the horror is better staged than the human drama. We’re served vampires in the mist, a terrific Mason as a sophisticated Renfield, and an atmospheric music score by Harry Sukman.

1979-U.S. 183 min. Color. Directed by Tobe Hooper. Teleplay: Paul Monash. Novel: Stephen King. Music: Harry Sukman. Cast: David Soul (Ben Mears), James Mason (Richard Straker), Lance Kerwin (Mark Petrie), Bonnie Bedelia, Lew Ayres, Ed Flanders… Fred Willard. 

Trivia: Originally shown in two episodes. George A. Romero reportedly considered turning the novel into a movie. Followed by a feature film, A Return to Salem’s Lot (1987), and remade as another miniseries, Salem’s Lot (2004).

Last word: “I wanted nothing suave or sexual, because I just didn’t think it’d work; we’ve seen too much of it. The other thing we did with the character which I think is an improvement is that Barlow does not speak […] I just thought it would be suicidal on our part to have a vampire that talks. What kind of voice do you put behind a vampire? You can’t do Bela Lugosi, or you’re going to get a laugh. You can’t do Regan in The Exorcist, or you’re going to get something that’s unintelligible, and besides, you’ve been there before. That’s why I think the James Mason role of Straker became more important.” (Producer Richard Kobritz, Cinefantastique)

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