The Best Vampire Movie Is A Stephen King Classic Being Kept Away From Modern Audiences

By Brian Myers | Updated

Not only have Stephen King’s novels and short stories thrilled fans for decades, but the screen adaptations of his massive body of work have also been the stuff that nightmares are made of. Whether it’s the possessed car Christine killing teenagers or the horrifying clown Pennywise stalking and murdering children, the transposition of King’s words onto theater screens has made some of the greatest entries in horror.

Perhaps his most terrifying adaptation was the 1979 made-for-TV miniseries Salem’s Lot, a saga that should be viewed by horror fans but is sadly no longer available to stream for free.

Shockingly, It’s A Stephen King Horror Set In Maine

Salem’s Lot follows novelist Ben Mears (David Soul) as he arrives back in the small Maine town that he grew up in. Ben finds himself drawn to the Marsten House, an old mansion on the edge of town that has seen unspeakable horrors happen within its walls over the years.

Coinciding with Ben’s arrival is the appearance of Richard Straker (James Mason), an older man who has moved into the Marsten House and plans and is preparing to open an antique store downtown with his unseen partner Kurt Barlow.

The Slow Burning Terror

As Salem’s Lot unfolds, several schoolchildren begin to disappear. First, it’s Ralphie Glick, who is attacked and swept away as he and his older brother Danny are walking home from their friend Mark’s house one evening. Little Ralphie soon returns, however. Danny is awakened in the middle of the night by the sound of scratching on his bedroom window and sees that his missing brother is floating in a fog on the other side of the glass.

Salem’s Lot Is Filled With Creepy Moments

Under a hypnotic spell, Danny opens the window and lets his younger sibling float into the room and partially drain him of blood. When Danny is hospitalized, Ralphie visits him again outside his hospital room window and is let in to finish the job. Salem’s Lot sees other members of the small town become weary and eventually die of a mysterious illness.

Face To Face With Evil

salem's lot

Mears feels that the Marsten House is connected to the disappearances and the deaths and that Straker and the yet-to-be-introduced Barlow are somehow behind it all. Salem’s Lot builds a comradery between Mears, teenage Mark Petrie (Lance Kerwin), and Mears’ friend Jason Burke (Lew Ayers), who come face to face with the face of evil that the Marsten House is hiding.

From The Director Of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre

salem's lot

Salem’s Lot uses the masterful direction of Tobe Hooper (The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, Poltergeist) and the chilling score of Harry Sukman to generate a film that checks all the boxes for a great horror movie. Even before audiences first lay eyes on one of the bloodsuckers, the tension has built to a fever pitch that never plateaus. If the floating vampire children aren’t enough to generate nightmares, the sudden appearance of Barlow is likely the greatest jump-scare in made-for-TV horror history.

Only Available Through Video On Demand


Though low on production dollars, Hooper was able to give audiences realistic sets (particularly the Marsten House), incredible acting performances from the stars, and some of the most terrifying vampires ever to float on a television screen.

A 2006 remake was produced for TNT and starred Rob Lowe. While a good production, it pales in comparison to the original. The theatrical remake that was set to be released in 2023 by Paramount was indefinitely shelved before being sold to Max for a release later in 2024.

You won’t find the original Salem’s Lot streaming for free on any streaming platform. However, curious horror fans can still find it On Demand through Google Play, AppleTV, and Prime.