Ah welcome to best and worst of Vampires part 2 (see my Dracula and Twilight reviews for part 1.) So as I said in my Cujo review, I was going to be covering a little more Stephen King and since the Dark Tower movie approaches, I thought this would be a great time to hit up Salem’s Lot, which comes into play towards the end of the series with Don Callahan, one of our main characters.
Salem’s Lot was Stephen King’s second novel after his huge success with Carrie, about how the quiet town of Jerusalem’s Lot, Maine is quietly taken over by a Vampire named Kurt Barlow and his assistant Straker who move into the “haunted” Marsten House. You notice how I kind of emphasized the word quiet? Well, Salem’s Lot is a quiet book. Do not read this if you are expecting a bloodbath, rich emo kids that sparkle, or vampires that turn into giant bat creatures and fight werewolves for the fate of the universe or some shit like that. Hell, King’s vampires in this are pretty typical. Pale, fangs, lure you to let them in, crosses, holy water, sunlight, and only come out at night- the classic vampire mold. And that’s not a bad thing, because we are given relatable characters and a simple setting many of us either live in or can picture and how it can be creepy or unsettling.
The story centers around Ben Mears, a famous writer who grew up in the lot and returned to it after twenty five years to write about the Marsten House that scared him as a kid. He becomes friends with old Matt Burke, a teacher, and gets the hots for Susan Norton, a young college grad who’s a fan of his. Ben finds out a man named Barlow bought the old Marsten house for his antique furniture business but no one has seen him, just his partner Richard Straker. Not soon after, people start disappearing and others start dying but don’t stay that way. Soon it’s up to Ben, Matt, Sue, young Mark Petrie, Dr. Jim Cody, and struggling father Don Callahan to ban together and finish the undead crisis weeping through quiet little Jerusalem’s Lot before they become next in Barlow’s horde.
Movies have been made about this book and/ or mini series but you’re better off just reading it. It’s a decent vampire story that’s well written, has some genuine chills in it. If you want a decent adaptation that frankly ain’t a adaptation, I recommend checking out the anime Shiki. Both are pretty damn similar but Shiki gives you some darker pathos and a six episode slaughter-fest at the end, but as one of my favorite high school teachers used to say, I digress. Definately check out Salem’s Lot if you’re a Stephen King fan or want a good classic vampire story without the goth romance tropes that have become commonplace in vampire fiction (and anime fans, check out Shiki).
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