Salem's Lot (2004 miniseries)
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|Based on||'Salem's Lot
by Stephen King
|Screenplay by||Peter Filardi|
|Directed by||Mikael Salomon|
|Theme music composer||Christopher Gordon
|No. of episodes||2|
|Producer(s)||Jeffrey M. Hayes
Marc van Buuren
|Running time||181 minutes|
|Original release||June 20– June 21, 2004|
Salem's Lot is a 2004 American two-part television mini-series which first aired on TNT on 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).
Although the novel and original miniseries were both set in the 1970s, this version updates the story to take place in the 2000s. The story is still set in a small Maine town, but the mini-series was actually shot on location at Creswick and Woodend, in Central Victoria, Australia.
The story opens with Ben Mears attacking the priest Donald Callahan in a homeless shelter in Detroit. They fall together from a high window into the street. In the hospital, Ben tells his story and the reasons behind his fight with the priest to an orderly.
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 when he was a child in the town he accepted a dare to enter the house of Hubie Marsten. Local legend said that there was something evil about the house and its owner, suggesting that he murdered children. The night he went into the house, Ben overheard Marsten begging for his life before seemingly committing suicide. Ben believes that he also heard Marsten's last victim crying for help, but Ben was too afraid to find or help him. Now Ben planned to rent the house to bring catharsis to himself and to gather material for his novel, but he discovers that it has recently been sold by Larry Crockett to a pair of antique dealers, Richard Straker and Kurt Barlow.
Shortly thereafter, the dark secrets of the town's residents begin to emerge, and evil spreads through Salem's Lot. Crockett is an immoral businessman who is sexually abusing his teenage daughter Ruth. When Ruth spends time with a disabled garbageman named Dud Rodgers, Crockett fires him. Eva Prunier, proprietor of the boarding house where Ben stays, played evil games with Hubie Marsten when she and her peers were teenagers. Charlie Rhodes, cruelty-obsessed Vietnam veteran and school bus driver, bullies and torments the children he transports. Trailer park residents Roy and Sandy McDougall physically abuse their baby and then blackmail Dr. Jimmy Cody after he has an affair with Sandy.
Immediately following Straker and Barlow's arrival, a local child named Ralphie Glick is murdered. His brother Danny then sickens and dies after being visited by Ralphie, who has now become a vampire. Barlow meets Dud Rodgers one night and offers him a chance to be free of his physical disability, which he accepts, becoming a vampire. Laborer Mike Ryerson buries Danny after his funeral, then also gets sick and dies. He returns from the grave (complete with autopsy scars) as a vampire to tempt gay high school teacher Matt Burke, who repels him but suffers a heart attack. Ben's blossoming relationship with Susan causes jealousy with her old boyfriend Floyd Tibbits. However, Floyd is bitten by Dud Rodgers and slowly becomes a vampire himself. After starting a fight with Ben, Floyd and Ben spend the night in jail for causing an affray, and Floyd uses his new supernatural abilities to crawl through the ventilation shaft to Ben's cell to taunt him. Horrified, Ben refuses to allow him to enter his cell and Floyd is found dead in his own cell the following morning, having chewed open his own wrists in an attempt to drink his own blood. Ben is persuaded by the mounting evidence that the town is plagued by vampires.
Meanwhile, Susan and schoolboy Mark Petrie are captured by Straker when they break into the Marsten house. Mark later escapes, but Susan is taken down to the cellar to meet Barlow. Ben and his allies, Dr. Jimmy Cody, Father Donald Callahan, and Mark Petrie begin acting as vampire hunters. In the Marsten house, they find Straker's body mysteriously hanging from the rafters, much like Hubie Marsten's was decades earlier. They then begin destroying the sleeping vampires in the cellar, but Ben is horrified to discover Susan has now become a victim. Instead of destroying her, Ben intends to find and destroy Barlow (who is no longer at the house) in the hopes that Susan might be restored upon Barlow's destruction.
The survivors face their own psychological demons as the vampires continue to multiply. After Barlow kills Mark's mother, Father Callahan tries to save Mark by confronting Barlow by himself, but finds his religious 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 to the town in the first place, sees his daughter willingly join the vampiric Dud Rodgers in the night. Most of all, Ben still wrestles with his own guilt and personal failures. The town's ranking police officer, Sheriff Parkins, also discovers what is going on in Salem's Lot and decides to leave rather than help to destroy the vampires.
In the hospital, Matt Burke is murdered by the now-evil Father Callahan. Ben, Jimmy and Mark deduce that Barlow must be hiding at Eva's boarding house, but as they arrive there, Jimmy is killed by a booby trap in the cellar. Ben and Mark finally manage to destroy Barlow, but not before he taunts Ben, likening Ben to himself as another parasite who preys on the tragedies of others. To Ben's dismay, destroying Barlow has not saved Susan who arrives at the house still a vampire. During their confrontation, Susan tells him that the boy he failed to rescue all those years ago in the Marsten house was already dead, and Ben was therefore never to blame. When Susan turns to attack Mark, Ben is forced to destroy Susan with a wooden stake. Ben and Mark then go and set the Marsten House alight, and during a chase with Charlie Rhodes the school bus driver, who was vampirized by the town's children, a gas station is damaged and goes up in flames. As the fires begin to spread throughout the town, Callahan vows revenge against Ben as the town's now vampirized population flock to him as their leader.
As Ben concludes his story, 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. Doctors struggle to keep Ben alive as he begins to pass away, finally at peace.
In his memoir, "Love Life," Rob Lowe stated that Rutger Hauer showed up on set and did not know his lines. Lowe stated, "I once starred in a big miniseries that culminated with the villain giving a two-page monologue trying to goad me into killing him. The actor playing the bad guy wanted to ad lib his own version of the movie-ending speech. Although he was playing a vampire, he went into a soliloquy about being a cowboy. The director was not impressed. After a very tense negotiation, the actor was forced to shit-can his self-penned opus and stick to the original script. There was only one problem: He hadn't bothered to learn it." Lowe went on to state that cue cards were made and placed next to Lowe's head, while Hauer read the lines to him.
- Rob Lowe as Ben Mears
- Samantha Mathis as Susan Norton
- Rutger Hauer as Kurt Barlow
- Donald Sutherland as Richard Straker
- Andre Braugher as Matt Burke
- 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
- Zac Richmond as Ralphie 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)
- "Love Life," by Rob Lowe (2014) p. 56