Salem's Lot (2004 TV miniseries)
|Directed by||Mikael Salomon|
|Produced by||Jeffrey M. Hayes
Marc van Buuren
|Screenplay by||Peter Filardi|
|Based on||'Salem's Lot
by Stephen King
|Running time||181 minutes|
Salem's Lot is a 2004 American television mini-series which first aired on TNT from June 20-21, 2004. It is the second television adaptation of Stephen King's 1975 vampire novel of the same name (the first version was made in 1979), though this version updates the story to take place in modern times rather than the 1970s.
- Rob Lowe as Ben Mears
- Andre Braugher as Matt Burke
- Donald Sutherland as Richard Straker
- Samantha Mathis as Susan Norton
- Rutger Hauer as Kurt Barlow
- James Cromwell as Father Callahan
- Robert Mammone as Dr. Jimmy Cody
- Dan Byrd as Mark Petrie
- Andy Anderson as Charlie Rhodes
- Robert Grubb as Larry Crockett
- Steven Vidler as Sheriff Parkins
- Brendan Cowell as Dud Rogers
- Christopher Morris as Mike Ryerson
- Todd MacDonald as Floyd Tibbits
- Paul Ashcroft as Royce McDougall
- André De Vanny as Danny Glick
- Bree Desborough as Sandy McDougall
- Elizabeth Alexander as Ann Norton
- Julia Blake as Eva Prunier
- Martin Vaughan as Ed "Weasel" Craig
- Betty Bobbitt as Nurse (uncredited)
King casting connections
Samantha Mathis, Christopher Morris and Martin Vaughan also appeared in Nightmares and Dreamscapes: From the Stories of Stephen King, written by Peter Filardi.
Rob Lowe played Nick Andros in the TV adaptation of Stephen King's The Stand.
Andre Braugher appeared as Brent Norton in the film adaptation of Stephen King's The Mist.
James Cromwell played Warden Hal Moores in The Green Mile.
Dan Byrd played Paul in the Stephen King sequel Firestarter 2: Rekindled.
The story opens with Ben Mears (Rob Lowe) attacking the priest Donald Callahan (James Cromwell) in a homeless shelter. They fall together from a high window into the street. In the hospital, Ben Mears tells his story and the reasons behind his fight with the priest to an orderly. This takes the form of a flashback in which the miniseries' central plot unfolds.
In the flashback, Ben, a successful writer, returns to his hometown, Jerusalem's Lot (also known as 'Salem's Lot), intending to write a novel while he deals with the demons of his past. He tells Susan Norton (a waitress and former art student whom he has befriended), that as a child he accepted a dare to enter the house of Hubie Marsten. Local legend said that there was something wrong with the house and/or its owner, suggesting that he tortured and murdered children. That night in the house, Ben overheard something horrible — including Hubie begging for his life before committing suicide. Ben believes that he also heard Hubie Marsten's last victim crying for help, but Ben was too afraid to find or help him and fled. Ben plans to rent and investigate the house to bring catharsis to himself and to gather material for his novel, but he discovers that the owner, Larry Crockett (Grubb), has sold it to a pair of antique dealers, Richard Straker (Donald Sutherland) and Kurt Barlow (Rutger Hauer).
Shortly thereafter, the dark secrets of the town's residents begin to emerge. Crockett is sexually abusing his daughter Ruthie (McNamee). When she spends time with a cripple named Dud (Cowell) whom Crockett employs, Crockett fires him. Eva Prunier (Blake), who runs the boarding house where Ben stays, played evil games with Hubie Marsten when they were teenagers. The school bus driver is a bully who loves to torment the children he transports, forcing those he doesn't like to walk home. These painful revelations increase in frequency and magnitude up until the arrival of the mysterious Barlow. Barlow, a master vampire, is influencing some of these occurrences as a prelude to "recruiting" more vampires to serve him. A child vanishes, and his brother then sickens and dies. Laborer Mike Ryerson (Morris) buries the boy, then also gets sick and dies. He returns from the grave (complete with autopsy scars) to tempt high school teacher Matt Burke (Andre Braugher), who is rescued but suffers a heart attack. Ben is persuaded by the mounting evidence that the town is plagued by vampirism. He and his allies, Dr. Cody (Robert Mammone), Father Callahan, and Mark Petrie (Byrd) begin acting as vampire hunters, although they balk upon finding that Susan Norton has become a victim. Ben insists upon targeting Barlow in the hopes that Barlow's victims might be restored upon his destruction.
The characters face their own psychological demons as the physical demons surround them. Father Callahan, trying to confront Barlow by himself, finds his faith is not strong enough. Callahan is forced to drink Barlow's blood, turning Callahan into Barlow's servant. Larry Crockett, who invited the vampire into town, sees his daughter willingly join the vampiric Dud in the night. Most of all, Ben still wrestles with his own guilt and personal failures.
In the course of the hunt, Cody and Burke are killed, and Crockett, who abandons Ben and Mark to find his daughter, is killed and devoured by Dud and the other vampires instead of being turned into one of them. Mark Petrie and Ben manage to destroy Barlow, but not before he taunts Ben, liking Ben to himself as another parasite who preys on the tragedies of others. Additionally, Ben's hypothesis is disproven: though Barlow is destroyed, Susan is still a vampire. She tells him that the boy he failed to rescue all those years ago was already dead when Marsten died, and Ben was never to blame. When Susan turns to attack Mark, Ben is forced to destroy her. In the end, Ben and Mark set the Marsten House alight, and during a chase with the school bus driver, who was turned into a vampire by his former charges and bullying victims, a gas station is damaged and goes up in flames. As the fires begin to spread, Callahan screams vows of revenge against Ben as the town's now vampirized population flocks to him.
As Ben concludes his flashback, the orderly is deeply moved and frightened by the story, then realizes that Ben wasn't acting alone. The orderly looks in on Father Callahan, but finds him dead, suffocated with a pillow. While he is absent, Mark slips into Ben's room and tells him that the vampire hunt is now over. Ben suffers a cardiac arrest. The orderly finds Mark at a locked exit to the hospital but decides to let him go. Ben passes away, feeling at peace.
Differences from the book
- In the novel, Ben Mears is a writer of fiction who tells the story of Jerusalem's Lot to a priest in Mexico. Mears does not die in the novel. In this adaptation, he is a war correspondent/journalist who writes non-fiction, tells his story to Father Callahan, and dies at the end.
- In the novel, Hubie Marsten was a Satan-worshipping gangster from Boston who committed unnamed atrocities in his house in the 1930s a vision of the undead Marsten. In this adaptation, Marsden is alive when Mears is a youth, and Mears overhears Marsden committing a murder and then committing suicide.
- In the novel, Susan Norton is a college graduate with an art degree and a budding artist living at home, and is not employed. In this adaptation, she only alludes to an interest in art, and is working as a waitress in her mother's cafe.
- In the novel, Mark Petrie is 12 years old and still in the sixth grade. He is a nice, studious boy who just moved to 'Salem's Lot. In this adaptation, he is in his mid-teens and is a troubled criminal.
- In the novel, Straker is bald, physically slight but immensely powerful, and courtly. In this adaptation, he is white-haired and heavily bearded.
- In the novel, Eva Miller (not Prunier) is a widow who has no relationship to Hubie Marsten. In this adaptation, she is an evil childhood accomplice of Marsten's (who now is from 'Salem's Lot, not Boston).
- In the novel, Larry Crockett is a loving father to Ruthie, and the hunchbacked Dud Rogers secretly lusts for her. In this adaptation, Crockett is raping his daughter and Rogers is Ruthie's gentle-souled friend.
- In this adaptation, Mears expresses the hope that Barlow's death will cause all other vampires to revert to human beings. Mears expresses no such belief in the novel.
- In the novel, Father Callahan is a kind-hearted, alcoholic priest struggling with his faith. When Mark Petrie is captured by Barlow, Father Callahan challenges the vampire to a test of faith. Barlow lets Mark go, Callahan loses the battle of wills, and Callahan is forced to drink Barlow's blood. His faith broken and his body now "unclean" so that he cannot enter a church, he then just leaves town a broken man (knowing that everyone else is likely to die). In this adaptation, Callahan becomes Barlow's living servant and stays in 'Salem's Lot to rally the vampires after Ben and Mark flee the town. Ben hunts him down and the story opens with their final struggle.
- In the novel, Matt Burke is a white male who dies in the hospital of a heart attack and never joins the vampire hunt. In this adaptation, he is an African American who joins the hunt in the town but is killed.
- In the novel, Susan Norton dies late in the story, and only Mark encounters her (she appears at his window one night). Ben Mears kills her while she sleeps during the day in the basement of the Marsten House. In this adaptation, Susan becomes a vampire mid-way through the story, and Ben encounters her several times.
- In the novel, Larry Crockett never realizes there are vampires in 'Salem's Lot. He dies near the end of the story in his office, apparently having been repeatedly bitten by his vampiric daughter, Ruthie. In this adaptation, Crockett becomes a vampire-hunter with Ben, Mark, and Dr. Cody.
- In the novel, Ben's vision of Hubie Marsten is never explained. (It is explained in a later Stephen King short story titled "Jerusalem's Lot", in which the reader learns of the extensvie Satanic rites conducted in Salem's Lot in the 1800s and other people's experiences with similar ghouls.) In this adaptation, a vampiric Susan explains the truth about the incident to Ben and oddly absolves him of guilt.
- In the novel, none of the main characters ever encounter school bus driver Charlie Rhodes. In this adaptation, he plays a major role in a chase scene at the end of the story.
- In the novel, Ben and Mark drive away after killing Barlow, and live in Mexico. It is a year before they go back to the town, after reading in a Maine newspaper about strange disappearances in the 'Salem's Lot area. Ben and Mark then set fire to the woods, knowing the fire will spread and destroy the town. Knowing that, without their leader Barlow the remaining vampires are fairly stupid, they intend to hunt the rest of the vampires over the coming months and years. In this adaptation, Ben sets fire to the town before he and Mark depart, ensuring that the vampires will have no place to hide when the sun comes up.
- In this adaptation, Barlow and Straker somehow cause many of the town's social scandals to come to light. There is no such development in the novel.
- In the novel, Dr. James Cody is a likeable doctor with no backstory. In this adaptation, he is being blackmailed because he is sleeping with another man's wife.
- In the novel, Floyd Tibbits becomes a part of the story only after learning that Susan has dumped him for Ben Mears. After being bitten by Barlow, the half-vampiric Tibbits physically assaults Mears, and Mears must be hospitalized. Tibbits appears only briefly thereafter. In this adaptation, Tibbits is a sweet-natured local boy who is deeply angered when Mears steals his girlfriend.
- In the novel, Parkins Gillespie is the town constable, and Homer McCaslin is the county sheriff. In this adaptation, Parkins is the county sheriff and there is no constable.
- Salem's Lot at the Internet Movie Database
- Salem's Lot (2004 TV miniseries) at Rotten Tomatoes
- Online Review of the DVD with screencaps
- Official Website
- Another review with pictures