A novel by Stephen King
published in 1975.
Ask most people to name a famous vampire and they are going to come up with Dracula. Ask people to come up with a book about a vampire that is not written by Bram Stoker and they are probably going to name you one of the many novels by New Orleans resident Anne Rice. But in the mid-70's, there was one vampire novel that had captured the attention of the general population and though its villain Kurt Barlow is seldom mentioned when asked to name a famous vampire, Salem's Lot made an impression on a generation.
Written by Maine native Stephen King, Salem's Lot is the story of an ancient evil and how it enveloped the town of Jerusalem's Lot or Salem's Lot as it is known to the locals. The writing is typical King, quick and immensely readable. It is an early novel of King's before his novels became the bloated ticks that they eventually did, swollen with his pride and the greed of his publishers.
As with many of his novels, King is himself the protagonist, thinly veiled as the writer Ben Mears. Returning to the town of his youth, Mears seeks to confront his childhood fears, only to find that there really are monsters under the bed. Filled with the normal cast of King characters (the hip teacher, the love interest, the teenage boy), the book is an enjoyable read that will make you think twice about walking down a set of stairs you can't see down and always make sure that you have plenty of garlic in the pantry.
The obligatory TV movie came out in 1979 starring David Soul as Ben Mears. The movie also featured James Mason and Lance Kerwin. It was pretty decent for a TV movie of the time, though a number of things were changed from the original book. Most noticable of these was that Barlow, who in the book though a monster, was ultimately human became a Nosferatu knock off for the mini-series. But all that can be forgiven, if just for the image of white-eyed Danny Glick tapping on the window asking for an invitation to come in. Now, that is good use of horror.
One of the Turner Television networks, TNT, will be coming out with a new mini-series adaptation of the book in the next couple of weeks. This interpretation will feature Rob Lowe as Ben Mears, cementing forever his position as the David Soul of his generation. Also starring will be Andre Braugher, Donald Sutherland, and in a brilliant piece of casting, Rutger Hauer as the vampire Barlow.