Salem’s Lot

Year: 1979
Director: Tobe Hooper
Cast: David Soul, Bonnie Bedelia, James Mason, Fred Willard
Anyone who knows horror would (or should) be instantly familiar with the tale of Ben Mears and his chilling history with the Marsten House.

The central idea in both King's book and this adaptation was of haunted houses, not necessarily of vampires. At least, that was the theme; as asked by Mears (Soul) while he struggles for answers into the strange goings-on in Salem's Lot – can a house be inherently evil?

Or is it just coincidence that the Marsten House was the scene of such bloodshed and death and is only now being settled by vampires posing as antique dealers?

Still afraid of the house where he once spent a horrible night curled up in a terrified ball with the hanging corpse of Hughie Marsten nearby, Ben comes back at the worst possible time, when Barlow (whom we don't see until the cat's out of the bag) and Straker (Mason) arrive to spread their kind of havoc in small town USA.

In his quest, he'll surround himself with allies; schoolteacher Susan Norton (Bedelia) who becomes his lover, Mark, the reserved kid who understands the terror better than any of them, and Jason, Ben's former English teacher.

Being a TV miniseries, they had to rely on genuine frights rather than gore, and there are plenty; those of Danny and then Ralph Glick floating at windows to be let in, Ralph sitting up in his coffin after Mike inexplicably climbs down into the open grave, Mike slowly looking up from Jason's chair to show his shining, dead eyes.

Heart-throb Soul would have been the crowd puller at the time, but as one of first major King adaptations, it was one of the few they got right.

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