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Literature / 'Salem's Lot

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"Tell you now that the whole town is empty."
Bob Dylan

"Old friend, what are you looking for?
After those many years abroad you come
With images you tended
Under foreign skies
Far away from your own land."
George Seferis

A 1975 horror novel by Stephen King, his second one published following Carrie.

The story focuses on the Maine town of Jerusalem's Lot (known by the locals as "'salem's Lot" or just "the Lot"), which is slowly overtaken by vampires, and the small band of people (led by protagonist Ben Mears, a writer who spent his childhood there and has returned to research a book) who decide to fight back.

The eponymous town is also featured in King's short stories "Jerusalem's Lot" and "One for the Road". (The former, written several years earlier, is set in 1850 and is something of a Cthulhu Mythos story, while the latter takes place three years after the events of the novel.) These stories are included in Night Shift, as well as the 2005 30th-anniversary edition of 'Salem's Lot, which also contains some fifty pages of deleted and re-written material from King's original manuscript.

The novel has been adapted into two television Mini Series. The first, directed by Tobe Hooper, aired on CBS in 1979 and was subsequently re-edited for a European theatrical release, while the second was broadcast on TNT in 2004. The 1979 version is notable for being the first television adaptation of any of King's works, coming three years after Brian De Palma's hugely successful big-screen version of Carrie. There was also an in-name-only 1987 theatrical sequel (Return to Salem's Lot, directed by Larry Cohen), as well as a Radio Drama adaptation of the novel produced by The BBC in 1995.

A feature film adaptation directed by Gary Dauberman (Annabelle Comes Home) is currently in production.

    The novel and 1979 miniseries contain examples of: 

  • 13 Is Unlucky: Alluded to as Ben contemplates the Marsten House.
    There were fourteen steps, exactly fourteen. But the top one was smaller, out of proportion, as if it had been added to avoid the evil number.
  • Abusive Parents: The McDougall baby Randy is subjected to assorted beatings from his mother Sandy (although she regrets it every time, and completely freaks out when the baby dies).
  • Adaptation Distillation: The 1979 miniseries takes out several minor characters and condenses the story considerably.
  • Adaptation Dye-Job: In the miniseries, Ben (who's dark haired in the novel) is played by the blond David Soul, while Susan (a blonde in the novel) is played by the brunette Bonnie Bedelia.
  • Adaptation Name Change: In the miniseries Floyd Tibbits is renamed Ned Tebbets, Matt Burke is called Jason Burke and Reggie Sawyer is called Cully Sawyer.
  • Adaptational Personality Change: Kurt Barlow is a charismatic Man of Wealth and Taste in the novel (as befitting an Expy of Dracula), while in the miniseries he's completely bestial, and requires Straker to do the talking for him.
  • Affably Evil: Larry Crockett. He takes great pains to remain friendly with the regular townsfolk, deliberately avoids being a snob with his wealth, and prefers using generous bribes over blackmail to get his way. He still helps cover up the disappearance of Ralphie Glick to protect Straker, though.
  • Agent Scully: Of the main characters, Jimmy is the one mostly on the fence about the vampire situation. He completely becomes an Agent Mulder after he's attacked on a vampire stake-out and treats the bite with disinfectant, sparing his turn into a vampire himself.
  • Ain't Too Proud to Beg: Charlie Rhodes. Not that it does him any good.
  • The Alcoholic:
    • Ed "Weasel" Craig.
    • If Father Callahan isn't one to begin with, he's well on his way to becoming one by the time he leaves town. This is proven out by the events of The Dark Tower series. Callahan once again makes an appearance, and talks about past events including drowning out the memories of 'Salem's Lot with drink. He gets better at the end.
  • Anyone Can Die: Out of the heroes, only Ben and Mark survive and the town is taken over by the vampires. The Dark Tower books imply that Ben dies later on, with Mark's fate left up in the air.
  • Arc Words: The poem "The Emperor of Ice-Cream" by Wallace Stevens.
  • Asshole Victim: Straker, Barlow, Larry Crockett, The McDougalls, Reggie Sawyer, Charlie Rhodes. In fact, this is something of a plot point. The town is filled with so many jerkasses that their assholery drew Barlow and Straker to the Lot like a moth to flame.
  • The Baby Trap: A particularly dark example. When Reggie Sawyer starts beating and raping his wife as punishment for her adultery, he flushes her birth control pills down the toilet first. Yeah, he really earned that Laser-Guided Karma...
  • The Bad Guy Wins: Sure, Barlow is destroyed, but he succeeds in making Jerusalem's Lot a hotbed for the undead.
  • Bad Liar: Ben and Jimmy Cody cook up a fake story to explain why they were investigating Marjorie Glick's death and what happened to her body. The county sheriff sees through it instantly.
  • Bald of Evil: Straker in the novel, Barlow (as part of his Orlokian look) in the 1979 miniseries.
  • Barbaric Bully: Richie Boddin, although he quickly loses that status after he makes the mistake of picking on Mark Petrie (who promptly engages a Curb-Stomp Battle).
  • Beware the Quiet Ones: Mark Petrie is established very early as watchful, quiet, and with a level of self-control far beyond his years. He notices everything, plans carefully, and doesn't back down from schoolyard bullies, instead using his agility and smarts to deliver serious beatdowns. He even manages to think the correct way out of being bound by Straker, Barlow's human familiar, by literally hypnotizing himself into a trance-like state where he plans every move at lightning speed. And the first thing he does after freeing himself is to get his hands on a blunt object and beat Straker to death with it.
  • Big Bad: Kurt Barlow.
  • Bittersweet Ending: Barlow is destroyed, but it's far too late for Jerusalem's Lot as the whole town has become overrun with vampires, and it's uncertain that Ben and Mark will ever be successful in eradicating them.
    • Indeed, the "One for the Road" story pretty much reveals that they weren't, and in fact the numbers keep increasing as the now-undead townspeople feed on any travelers who pass through the area.
    • The miniseries' ending is slightly different: The surviving vampires are instead after Ben and Mark, who are forced to flee from town to town in a desperate effort to hide from their chasers. The prologue and epilogue show them in a village in Guatemala when they are "found again".
  • Blackmail: While taking the padlocks to the cellar of the Marsten House, Hank Peters sees something that looks like a child's clothing and sneakers piled in a corner. When he tells Larry Crockett about it afterward and suggests that Barlow and Straker might be involved in Ralphie Glick's disappearance, Crockett tells him he could report it to the police... but adds that, if he does, "a lot of nastiness" (such as the married Peters fooling around with a waitress, and his dishonorable discharge from the Army) might come to light. This, along with fifty bucks that Crockett "forgot" to pay him for an earlier job, convinces Peters to forget all about what he saw.
  • Breaking and Bloodsucking: This is the standard operating procedure for the vampires. While they require an invitation before they can enter, they quickly overrun the small town by making nightly visits. In particular:
    • Matt invites an ill Mike Ryerson to spend a few nights recovering in his guest room. That night, he listens in horror as Mike invites Danny Glick in. When Matt works up the courage to investigate, Mike is dead. Later, Mike returns to the same room waiting for Matt, but is driven away by a crucifix and revoking the invitation.
    • A delirious Mrs. Glick explains to her husband about her dreams of the last few nights: Danny returning home so she can breastfeed him again.
    • After Susan becomes a vampire, she visits Mark's bedroom that same night, offering to 'kiss' him.
    • By the end, the town's so corrupted the vampires are apparently able to start entering without the need for "invitations".
  • Bring My Brown Pants: Corey Bryant literally craps his pants when Reggie Sawyer performs a mock execution.
  • Bully Turned Buddy: Mark recalls that at a previous school he went to, a bully that he won a fight against declared to the other students that he and Mark were "buds".
  • Buried Alive: Avoided with Danny Glick (who is not dead but in fact a vampire), since Mike Ryerson stops filling his grave with soil, jumps down onto his coffin and opens it, to find a life-like Danny (who presumably bites him and turns him into a vampire also — this is shown explicitly in the 1979 miniseries but implied in the novel).
  • Card-Carrying Villain: Kurt Barlow.
    "I am not the serpent, but the father of serpents."
  • Cassandra Truth: When Burke finds out about the vampires, he initially wants to tell everyone what happened. Ben reminds him that people don't believe in vampires: claiming to have seen them will cause the townsfolk to assume he's a weird old man and ostracize him.
  • Chekhov's Gun: The 1951 fire is referred to repeatedly, and inspires Mark and Ben to create a similar one to burn down the Lot.
  • Clap Your Hands If You Believe: It's faith that makes religious symbols an effective weapon against vampires. When Callahan starts doubting his faith, his cross no longer has an effect on Barlow. Barlow tells him: "Without faith, the cross is only wood, the bread baked wheat, the wine sour grapes."
  • Classical Movie Vampire:
    • Barlow in the novel is a surprisingly straight portrayal for a modern work, with the only difference being his contemporary suit.
    • Averted in the 1979 miniseries, where he Looks Like Orlok and doesn't speak.
  • Clueless Deputy: Nolly Gardener, who Constable Gillespie regards as "a good boy, but a little bit short on brains".
  • Coins for the Dead: As Mike digs Danny's grave, he becomes increasingly uncomfortable about the boy in the coffin until it's nearly sunset, at which point he frantically digs down to place silver coins on the boy's eyes. However, it's too late and the vampire has already awoken. It's not clear whether the coins would have let him rest in peace, though.
  • Crazy Jealous Guy: Susan's ex, Floyd Tibbits, although it's suggested Barlow might have influenced him to act so.
  • Creepy Basement:
    • The Marsten House cellar, where Hank Peters and Royal Snow deposit the box containing Barlow's coffin.
    • The root cellar in Eva's boarding house, where Ben finally dispatches Barlow.
  • Creepy Cemetery: Where Danny Glick is buried... and attacks Mike Ryerson after the latter disinters him.
  • Creepy Child:
    • Danny Glick.
    • An entire school bus full of them get revenge on the strict bus driver.
    • The famish window scene.
  • Creepy Crossdresser: George Middler, who has a suitcase full of panties and bras and stockings and who dresses in them behind closed doors whilst masturbating.
  • Cruel and Unusual Death: Jimmy, when he plummets down the booby-trapped staircase and straight onto a pit of upturned knives. Enough said. His death in the original manuscript also qualifies for this trope (he is devoured alive by rats), although it is a lot gorier than the version which made it into the book.
  • A Deadly Affair: It's mentioned that one of the town's residents murdered his wife when he found out she was having an affair with a travelling salesman. Everybody else thought she had left with the salesman.
  • Demoted to Extra: Father Callahan, who is one of the novel's major characters, has his role greatly reduced in the miniseries to the point where he only has a couple of scenes.
  • Developing Doomed Characters: Roughly the first third of the novel is devoted to introducing us to the town and its denizens and giving us their backstories.
  • Did You Just Flip Off Cthulhu?: After Barlow kills Mark's parents and is taunting him about it, Mark proceeds to spit in his face. This causes Barlow to have a Villainous Breakdown.
  • Did You Just Punch Out Cthulhu?: Ben and Mark succeed in killing Barlow, who is an ancient and extremely powerful vampire. Unfortunately, they thoroughly break their arms in the process.
  • Dissonant Serenity: Reggie Sawyer when he confronts his cheating wife and Corey Bryant. He speaks in a very calm, friendly manner while mock-executing Corey and threatening to kill him for real if he doesn't leave town immediately.
  • The Dragon: Richard Straker is both this and The Renfield.
  • Dwindling Party: The doughty little band of vampire hunters unfortunately turns into this, with Susan becoming a vampire, Father Callahan getting "marked" by Barlow and forced to leave town, Jimmy getting impaled to death, and Matt succumbing to a heart attack. Only Ben and Mark are left at the end.
  • Dying Town: The Lot, naturally. It's been dying out for years according to Parkins Gillespie, with most of the young kids moving away, never to return, while the old folks are waiting to die off. It becomes an Undead Town by the end.
  • Early-Bird Cameo :
    • The "thrusts his fists against the posts" Arc Words from IT appear here, albeit in a different context.
    • There's a brief reference to an amateur geologist who can often be found in the woods with his rock hammer, an idea that apparently stuck with King quite a bit.
  • Empathy Doll Shot: In the epilogue, when Ben surveys the town park and the Abandoned Playground therein:
    And perched in one corner of the sandbox, a floppy arm trailing on the grass, was some child's forgotten Raggedy Andy doll. Its shoe-button eyes seemed to reflect a black, vapid horror, as if it had seen all the secrets of darkness during its long stay in the sandbox. Perhaps it had.
  • Even Evil Has Standards: Hubie Marsten killed a ton of people as a hit man for the Mafia, but after they found out he killed, and likely sacrificed, a child they sent him packing.
  • Extremely Dusty Home: The Marsten House, even when Hubie Marsten was living in it.
  • False Rape Accusation: Bonnie Sawyer attempts this when her husband Reggie catches her in flagrante delicto with Corey Bryant. Her husband doesn't buy it.
  • Fate Worse than Death: Poor Father Callahan. Not only does he have his entire faith mocked and ripped apart by the Big Bad, but he also is forced to drink the main vampire's blood and forever be marked as an Untouchable to the rest of humanity.
  • Faux Affably Evil: Barlow and Straker. In the case of the latter it's played with a bit Ė while he is unfailingly polite, even early on he can't help showing an undercurrent of snobbish disdain for the rustic locals. Susan Norton lampshades this at one point.
  • Genius Loci: The Marsten House is heavily implied to be alive or at the very least haunted, and its inherent evil attracts all sorts of evil things toward Salemís Lot, like Barlow. Doctor Sleep also mentions that the True Knot briefly nested in the town.
  • Genre Savvy: Mark Petrie and Matt Burke. The former even compares the latter to Van Helsing, after Matt reels off many protections Mark and Ben could use before confronting Barlow.
  • George Lucas Altered Version: The 2005 Illustrated Edition includes 50 pages of new material, various alterations to the text, photographs, and two bonus short stories.
  • Ghost Town: Jerusalem's Lot is reduced to being this after the vampires take over. The novel's prologue, set some months after the main story, includes a newspaper article from a reporter trying to find out why it became one. Another ghost town, Momson, Vermont, is mentioned in the same article.
  • Gossipy Hens: The Lot has a whole network of them led by Mabel Werts, who pass news along via telephone party line.
  • Greater-Scope Villain: The Lord of Flies, to whom Straker must sacrifice Ralphie Glick before Barlow is allowed to enter the Lot. As Matt Burke says at one point, "Even Barlow has his Master, you see."
  • Groin Attack: Straker does this to Mark and later, another Groin Attack (of a much squickier nature) upon Mark is threatened, but not executed.
  • Hate at First Sight: By the end of his first meeting with Susan's parents, her father thinks Ben is a great guy. Her mother, on the other hand, begins to dislike him at just about the same moment as his dad decides he's okay, which causes a big fight between her and her daughter.
  • Haunted House: The Marsten House gained this reputation after Hubie Marsten killed his wife and himself.
  • The Hermit: Dud Rogers, the hunchbacked custodian of the town dump.
  • Hollywood Heart Attack: Matt Burke is a 63-year-old man, with all the health problems that come with old age. Just seeing a vampire is enough to give him a heart attack, and the continued stress of dealing with the vampire infestation kills him.
  • Hollywood Satanism: Hubie Marsten and his wife are said to have engaged in this during their time in the Lot.
  • Holy Burns Evil:
    • Christian symbols do work against vampires, but only as long as the person wielding them has faith in them. Father Callahan learns this the hard way.
    • After Callahan is forced to drink from Barlow's blood, he becomes unclean, and when he tries to go into a church to pray, a flash of light burns his hand and throws him backward.
  • Homage: To Dracula (along with a little of Our Town).
  • Home-Early Surprise: Reggie Sawyer catches Bonnie and Cory in this manner.
    Reggie: So it's true. How about that? I owe that tosspot Mickey Sylvester a case of Budweiser. Goddamn.
  • Hope Spot: Sandy McDougall thinks that her dead baby Randy (having been killed/turned into a vampire the night before by Danny Glick) is simply 'playing dead' with her to punish her for beating him. She proceeds to spoon-feed the lifeless baby some chocolate custard but her hope is dashed (and she starts screaming in realization) when she tries to make him smile and the custard she had fed him plops out onto the table below him.
  • How We Got Here: The novel's prologue takes place after the main events of the novel (but before the epilogue). The prologue's unnamed characters eventually turn out to be Ben and Mark.
  • Human Resources: Implied. Mark picks up a book written in Latin with a picture of a disemboweled child but quickly puts it back down because the binding feels 'uncomfortably familiar'.
  • Human Sacrifice: Straker kills Ralphie Glick and sacrifices him to the "Lord of Flies" in preparation for Barlow's arrival in the Lot.
  • Impaled with Extreme Prejudice: Jimmy Cody, thanks to a booby trap rigged on the stairs to Eva's cellar.
    • Earlier in the novel, Win Purinton's dog Doc is found impaled on the cemetery gate by Mike Ryerson.
  • Improbable Infant Survival: Both averted and played straight — several children die, only to return as vampires; but Mark Petrie survives the novel.
    • The whole situation starts with the death of the Glick brothers — Ralphie is made as a sacrifice to allow free reign for Barlow to take over and his brother Danny becomes the first turned resident and begins the undead infestation.
    • Heck, at one point the heroes head into a house to stake a family of vampires only to find a vampire baby (presumably Randy McDougall) among them.
  • Improvised Cross: Jimmy makes an extremely effective cross out of two wooden tongue depressors bound together: it is the faith the protects the bearer, channeled through the cross, rather than the cross itself.
  • It's Personal: It gets really personal for Ben when Barlow turns Susan into a vampire, and for Mark when Barlow kills his parents. Conversely, Barlow specifically targets them because Mark managed to badly injure Straker while escaping from the Marsten House, which led to Barlow draining Straker in his uncontrollable thirst.
  • Jerkass: Sandy McDougall, who often hits her ten month old baby son Randy. Even Fr. Callahan would like to strangle her every time he hears about it in confession.
    • Roy McDougall, her husband, who spends all his time drinking at the bar.
    • Reggie Sawyer, a psychopath who finds out his wife is cheating on him. His response is to beat her so hard it takes weeks for the bruises to fade. He also begins raping her nightly. Then her lover Corey gets turned into a vampire and decides to come back to avenge his humiliation...
      • Bonnie gets a mention, too. When Reggie discovers her and Corey in bed, her first reaction is to accuse Corey of raping her. While it obviously doesn't justify Reggie's later brutality, she's not a good person. In fact, none of the three comes off well.
    • Charlie Rhodes, a school bus driver who throws kids off the bus for such infractions as talking too loud and passing notes, once forced the school principal to suspend a couple of boys for letting the air out of his tires (though he hadn't actually seen them do it, and it turned out that another kid was the culprit), and forced yet another kid into confessing (falsely, it's implied) to having left a cow pie on his driver's seat. He, too, gets his comeuppance after the kids turn.
  • Kick the Dog: Barlow is a particular fan of this trope.
  • Kill It with Fire: In the book's ending, Ben and Mark return to the town with the purpose of burning it down and most of the vampires with it. The sequel shows that they were only partly successful.
  • Know When to Fold 'Em: Trying to root out a vampire infestation that numbers in the hundreds is a virtually impossible task for just four people. The heroes don't even make a dent in the hordes' numbers before being forced to flee the town.
  • Liquid Assets: Barlow in the novel grows younger in appearance the more blood he consumes.
  • Looks Like Orlok: Barlow in the 1979 miniseries. In the book he's more of a Classical Movie Vampire, accent and all.
    • This version's portrayal is actually what Type One Vampires look like in The Dark Tower. It's a fan theory that Barlow is the Progenitor, which may explain why he has a human disguise.
  • The Lost Lenore: Benís wife Miranda, killed in a motorcycle accident a couple years prior to the events of the novel. Her death was part of the impetus for him to return to the Lot and exorcise the ghosts of his past by researching and writing a book on the Marsten House.
  • Making Love in All the Wrong Places: Ben and Susan have nighttime sex in the town park. Granted, the rooming house he's staying in doesn't allow visitors, and she lives with her parents...
  • Missing Child: Ralphie Glick disappears without a trace after he and Danny encounter... something in the woods on the way to visit Mark Petrie after nightfall. Matt Burke eventually surmises that Straker sacrificed him to the "Lord of Flies" in preparation of Barlow's arrival.
    • Ben mentions to Susan that, while researching Hubie Marsten for his book, he discovered that four local children had vanished during the period that Marsten lived in 'salem's Lot, and none of them were ever found. He suspects that Marsten Ė who'd been relieved of his position with the Boston Mob after the police questioned him about yet another youngster who'd gone missing (and was eventually found eviscerated) Ė was likely responsible for all of the disappearances. And these, too, turn out to have been part of preparing the town for Barlow's arrival, decades in advance.
  • Mummies at the Dinner Table: At first, Sandy McDougall convinces herself that Randy's only trying to punish her for hitting him, and tries to give him breakfast.
  • Must Be Invited: Matt is almost killed by the vampirized Mike Ryerson because he let the man stay in his home after he was bitten, but before he turned. Matt manages to get him to leave by saying he's revoked his invitation.
    • Danny Glick manages to avoid requiring an invitation into the McDougalls', possibly because they live in a trailer instead of a house. Additionally once enough of the town is turned the vampires can enter freely since there's too much corruption for the invitation trick to work anymore.
  • My Beloved Smother: Ann to Susan. Susan is not happy.
  • Naked Apron: How Bonnie Sawyer surprises her secret lover Corey right before her husband surprises them.
  • Newspaper Backstory: The prologue has an article detailing how Jerusalem's Lot has become a Ghost Town and speculating as to the possible reasons, while the epilogue has a number of clippings Ben has collected in a scrapbook since he and Mark fled from town a year earlier, describing a number of strange goings-on in the area.
  • Noodle Incident : What happened between Hubie and his wife, the day they died. All we learn is that he forced her to do something so horrible that she begged him to kill her.
  • No Ontological Inertia: Subverted. Barlow, the head vampire, is killed. But all those that fell under his curse stay vampires.
  • Nothing Is Scarier: Inverted In-Universe. On the night of the Lot's figurative last breath, those who haven't fallen to the vampire horde refuse to look outside no matter what they hear because they know in their hearts what's happening. They'd rather live with the unknown then face the truth.
    • Played straight with Ralphie Glick, whose final fate is "unspeakable."
  • Oh, Crap!: Ben gets one of these in the novel when Jimmy punches him after he's been bitten during their corpse stake-out, thinking Jimmy's efforts to treat the bite were ineffective and that Jimmy is now a vampire and is going to attack him. He even lampshades his seeming stupidity. Subverted when Jimmy checks on him and explains that he punched him so they can claim the body was stolen when the authorities come to investigate, as they surely are not going to believe the Cassandra Truth that the corpse is now a vampire.
  • Our Vampires Are Different: They're actually quite similar to Bram Stoker's depiction of vampires, as Stephen King acknowledges in one version of the book. Some additional features are created by the modern setting, such as Jimmy immediately and effectively treating his bite with medical disinfectant.
    • They also differ in a few ways, and The Dark Tower goes on to explain the vampires in greater detail. For one thing, sunlight doesn't kill them, but it's certainly uncomfortable. They have their own religion. And according to Barlow's dialogue, they're Hungarian, not Romanian (Stephen King mistakenly refers to Magyar and Hungarian as two different things).
  • Parental Substitute: Ben to Mark, after his parents are killed.
  • Pedophile Priest: The Reverend John Groggins, a Methodist minister, is a rare non-Catholic example. In the chapter where King tells us about the town's secrets, it's revealed that he often has "horrible dreams" in which he is preaching to the Little Misses' Bible Class "naked and slick".
  • Platonic Declaration of Love: Ben to Mark in the prologue.
    Ben: Iím going back. Can you come with me?
    Mark: Do you love me?
    Ben: Yes. God, yes.
  • Please Wake Up: Randy McDougall's mother when she finds him dead in his bedroom, and Danny Glick's father at his burial service.
  • Plot Device All Along: Eva's pool table.
  • Police Are Useless:
    • Even after figuring out what's going on in his town, Constable Gillespie refuses to aid Ben and Mark in fighting Barlow, opting to hit the road instead.
    • Meanwhile, both Gillespie's deputy Nolly Gardener and the county sheriff Homer McCaslin end up becoming vampires. In McCaslin's case, he's actually shown to be much more on the ball than Gillespie, which is probably why Barlow targeted him.
  • Present Day: More or less literally; the novel was published in October 1975, and the main part of the narrative spans September and October of that year, although the prologue and epilogue take place a year later.
  • Put Their Heads Together: How Barlow takes down Mark Petrie's parents.
  • Really 700 Years Old: Barlow claims to be older than Christianity, which means he's at least 2000 years old.
  • The Renfield:
    • Straker is Barlow's servant, but he does not appear to be wholly human himself considering his Super-Strength.
    • Hubie Marsten appears to have been one of these as well, albeit indirectly.
  • Screw This, I'm Outta Here: Parkins Gillespie decides to get the hell out of town once he reasons out something is amiss. Other minor characters like Charles James, Pauline Dickens and Rhoda Curless also survive by leaving the Lot as soon as possible, although their departures are not actually shown. Eventually, even the main characters leave town toward the end, acknowledging that even with Barlow being destroyed, they are impossibly outnumbered by the vampires. They do eventually come back to finish the job, though.
  • Self-Deprecation: Listening to Ben working on his next novel, a fellow resident of the boarding house thinks that a person would have to crazy to make a living banging away at a typewriter all day long.
  • Shout-Out: Plenty, including to Dracula (both the novel and the Hammer film adaptations) and The Haunting of Hill House.
  • Sliding Scale of Vampire Friendliness: Death from feeding causes conversion, morality shifts in converts, and a voracious appetite makes these vampires definitely hostile.
  • Small Town, Big Hell: The close-knit town of Jerusalem's Lot, where everybody knows everybody and gossip spreads quickly via the town party line. Unfortunately, they almost all quickly fall under the sway of the vampire king Kurt Barlow.
  • Smug Snake: Barlow. However, the smugness drops when Ben is ramming a stake into his heart.
  • Spared by the Adaptation: Reggie and Bonnie Sawyer in the miniseries, as they leave town before the vampire infestation begins. In the novel it is heavily implied they become victims of a vampire-turned Corey Bryant.
  • The Speechless: Barlow in the miniseries. Some of his dialogue from the novel is transferred to Straker instead.
  • Spiteful Spit: During the confrontation at the Petrie home Mark spits in Barlow's face, enraging him.
  • Staking the Loved One: Ben is forced to stake Susan after she becomes a vampire.
  • Stupid Evil / Evil Is Petty: A curious version. King makes it a point to allude that the worst kind of evil isn't the Dark Lord and his Evil Army, but the near-endless rabble of not-too-bright humanity going about their daily lives, fornicating and lighting firecrackers inside cats.
  • Super Window Jump: Barlow enters the Petries' house in this manner.
  • Things That Go "Bump" in the Night: When Barlow confronts Father Callahan, he takes the appearance of Callahan's childhood bogeyman, "Mr. Flip".
    • When Mike Ryerson (who was bitten by Danny Glick and is becoming a vampire, but doesn't know it yet) is talking with Matt in the bar, he makes reference to being "just like a little kid afraid of the Allamagoosalum".note 
  • Those Two Guys: Town constable Parkins Gillespie and his deputy Nolly Gardener, earlier in the story.
  • Too Dumb to Live: Why, oh why did Susan enter the vampire's lair without backup?
    • It's even lampshaded, as she muses about having watched numerous horror movies with the heroine going down alone to the cellar, and thinking "What a silly bitch ... I'd never do that!" And yet, she's doing exactly that.
  • Town with a Dark Secret: Or rather a whole bunch of them, as one chapter informs us.
    • Albie Crane murdered his wife after she cheated on him with a salesman. He then threw her body down an abandoned well. Nobody knows about this and they just assume she left with the salesman.
    • Hubie Marsten was in correspondence with Kurt Barlow years before he came to 'Salem's Lot.
    • Coretta Simons has stashed $30,000 behind the wallpaper of her house but she has terminal cancer and has forgotten about it.
    • The 1951 fire in the Lot was set by a (roughly) 16 year old boy who graduated well and won a fortune on the stock exchange. The compulsion to set the fire ate away at him for the next twenty years and he died of a brain embolism in his 40s.
    • The Reverend John Groggins has pedophilic dreams about the Little Misses Bible Reading Class.
    • Hal Griffen masturbates over six pornographic magazines at every opportunity.
    • George Middler crossdresses and (again) masturbates behind closed doors.
    • Mike Ryerson came to life on the autopsy table and killed/converted Carl Foreman.
    • Danny Glick bit Randy McDougall and converted the baby into a vampire.
    • It's implied that part of the reason Barlow picked Jerusalem's Lot to establish his colony in was because, in addition to its remote and isolated location, there are enough skeletons in the closets of the townspeople that it's a perfect place for his evil to take root. After all, vampirism works by corrupting its victims; and what better victims than people with a bevy of dark secrets to begin with?
    • The short story "Jerusalem's Lot" in Night Shift reveals that in Colonial days, Salem's Lot was home to a Satanic cult that worshiped a Lovecraftian monstrosity, which itself lived under the town church until it was driven away.
  • Undead Child: Several.
  • Undeath Always Ends
  • Vampires Are Sex Gods: People who are turned into vampires become more attractive. Barlow's magnetism is repeatedly mentioned, but is only ever used to entice prey and manipulate followers.
    • Dud Rogers gets much more attractive to Ruthie Crockett after he turns.
  • Vitriolic Best Buds: Jimmy Cody and Matt Burke trade insults whenever they're in the same room, but obviously care for each other very much.
  • The Voiceless: Barlow doesn't speak in the 1979 version outside of ghoulish growls. Straker has to act as the Mouth of Sauron for him.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: Father Callahan's story ends right after he's been pwned by Barlow, and we don't hear from him again. His story was later told in Wolves of the Calla.
    • While Father Callahan appears in the Dark Tower, and Ben is mentioned to have died therein, Mark's whereabouts are not revealed.
    • There's also the almost literal use of the trope in the slowly-gathering Swarm of Rats suddenly just... dropping out of the story. In the original plan they were going to devour Jimmy Cody after he fell down the trick staircase. Instead King just had him get impaled.
  • Wise Beyond Their Years: Mark, who surpasses some of the adult hunters in his cool thinking and practicality.
  • Wooden Stake: Ben uses one to kill a vampirized Susan, and eventually Barlow.
  • You Have Failed Me: Subverted. Barlow kills Straker after the latter allows Mark Petrie to escape before he can be fed upon. However, in his letter to the heroes, Barlow describes Straker as "the most faithful and resourceful servant I have ever known" and accuses Mark of having "caused my own appetites to betray me", implying that his killing of Straker was instinctive rather than intentional.

    The 2004 miniseries contains examples of: 
  • Abusive Parents: It's subtly implied that Larry Crockett is sexually abusing his daughter Ruthie.
  • Adaptational Sexuality: Matt Burke is now an Armored Closet Gay.
  • Adaptational Villainy: Father Callahan. In the book, he leaves the town disgraced, whereas here he becomes the new Renfield for Barlow. Ironically, the miniseries coincided with the final three novels of The Dark Tower, in which Callahan returned and redeemed himself.
  • Ascended Extra: Ruthie Crockett, who's a very minor character in the novel and doesn't even appear in the 1979 miniseries, is made into a major supporting character in the version.
  • Bittersweet Ending: A bit better than the novel at least. Ben dies but he and Mark manage to hunt down near all the vampires in the town with Callahan being their final target.
  • Death by Adaptation: Both Ben Mears and Father Callahan are dead at the end of the miniseries.
  • How We Got Here: The movie begins with Ben chasing down and putting Callahan into a coma before being taken to the hospital for treatment. He then tells an orderly about the events which lead up to the present.
  • Kill It with Fire: The solution to the vampire infestation. Of course, considering the conversation Dud and Barlow have on how rats when frightened of fire find new holes to hid in...
  • Nice Job Fixing It, Villain: Had Larry not kicked through the walls of his garage out of ill temper, then our heroes wouldn't have noticed the chalk on his shoe and realized where to look for Barlow.
  • No Ontological Inertia: Averted, killing Barlow doesn't cure or destroy his progeny.
    • However, it's implied that when he corrupted Father Callahan, he took control over him and possibly made him a fail safe so that if Barlow were to be killed, his fledglings would still survive.
  • Not Himself: Mike and Charlie just before completely going vampire.
  • Our Vampires Are Different: They're pretty much classic vampires. Though the way they die is kinda weird, essentially turning to dust and flying into the air.
  • The Renfield: Straker and Callahan.
  • Rich Bitch: Ruth Crockett has quite a bad attitude and is callous towards Dud, although she seems to regret being so and it is suggested that the above trope (See Abusive Parents) is the reason why she is.
  • Undead Child: An entire school bus worth of 'em.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: The Roys' baby, what happened to it after the Doctor "traded" him for his Beemer?
  • What Have I Become?: Matt gets Mike to freak out by pointing out he's got autopsy scars all along his chest, which along with revoking his invitation got him to leave him alive.


Video Example(s):

Alternative Title(s): Salems Lot


SL '04 [Vampire Marjorie]

Salem's Lot (2004): After Marjorie Glick dies mysteriously of blood loss, Ben Mears and Jimmy Cody suspect it to be a vampire attack after having several near runs ins with the undead. To confirm, the two wait by her body to see if anything will happen. Unfortunately for them, they get their suspicions confirmed and then some. Though luckily came prepared as well.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (3 votes)

Example of:

Main / HolyBurnsEvil

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