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Salem's Lot (TV Movie 1979) Poster

(1979 TV Movie)

Trivia

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Stephen King was inspired to write the book when he had his English class read 'Dracula', and became curious about what would happen if vampires came to America, specifically in a small town.
Director George A. Romero was originally approached to direct a feature film version, but after the announcements of John Badham's Dracula (1979) and Werner Herzog's Nosferatu the Vampyre (1979), Warner Bros. decided to turn Salem's Lot into a TV mini-series. Romero dropped out, feeling he wouldn't be able to make the film the way he wanted to with the restrictions of network television.
The now classic scene of the young vampire floating in the air, tapping on his brother's window, was shot in reverse to give it an eerie effect.
This was the first television mini-series (and the second film) to be based on the writings of author Stephen King.
The exterior for the Marsten House, the film's icon, was actually a full-scale facade built upon a smaller preexisting hill-top house. In total the facade cost the production an estimated $100,000 dollars to build.
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In an interview with Fangoria magazine Reggie Nalder (Barlow) said he was somewhat disappointed by the film because some additional scenes that included his vampire were cut.
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When it was released in Spain they called it "Phantasma II", being a supposed sequel to Phantasm (1979). But the two movies have nothing in common.
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James Mason jumped at the chance of playing a servant of evil, loving the script. This was fortunate as he was producer Richard Kobritz's first choice for the role of Mr Straker.
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After the mini-series aired on CBS with excellent ratings there was talk of continuing it as a regular television series for a while. The idea of making Salem's Lot a TV show never materialized though.
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In an interview with Reggie Nalder, the actor said that the contact lenses and heavy makeup work he had to wear for the role of Kurt Barlow was quite painful and took some time to get adjusted to.
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In an interview with director Tobe Hooper, Hooper said that the makeup work on Reggie Nalder had to be constantly touched up as it would crack or fall off while the actor was performing for the camera. Hooper said that the film's finale with Barlow in his coffin required numerous takes to keep the makeup work intact during shooting.
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Although this adaptation differs dramatically in a lot of different areas from the novel - notably in the depiction of chief vampire Mr Barlow - Stephen King approved of it.
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The last film that composer Harry Sukman worked on before his death in 1984. The score was nominated for an Emmy.
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The original novel established many motifs that Stephen King would use in his subsequent novels. It takes place in a small town in Maine, and many later stories took place in the small towns of Derry or Castle Rock. It features a much larger cast of characters than Carrie (1976) did, and most of his later books had a large cast. The main character, Ben Mears, is a professional writer, and another major character, Jason Burke, is a schoolteacher. Many of his subsequent characters were either or both. King himself also held both jobs.
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In the school play scene where Ben Mears (David Soul) first sees Mark Petrie (Lance Kerwin), Nancy McKeon appears in an uncredited role as one of the students on stage.
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For the vampire levitation scenes, the actors played on a boom crane rather than on wires.
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The title of the novel 'Salem's Lot includes an apostrophe in front of the word Salem because the title is suppose to be short for "Jerusalem's Lot"; the actual name of the town where the story is set. To avoid confusion for the mini-series adaptation though the town is mostly referred to as "Salem's Lot" and the first apostrophe was dropped from the film's title.
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The town sign featured in the film indicates that the population of Salem's Lot is 2,013.
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Though 'Salem's Lot' was only Stephen King's second published novel, like many of his subsequent novels, it has connections to his 'Dark Tower' series. In this case, the character of Father Donald Callaghan appears in the later books of the series.
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After viewing The Texas Chain Saw Massacre (1974), producer Richard Kobritz knew he had found the right director in the shape of Tobe Hooper.
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The movie ends at the small town of Ximico, Guatemala. The town actually doesn't exist.
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Larry Cohen wrote the first draft of the movies script but producer Richard Kobritz said Cohen's script was "really lousy" and chose Paul Monash to write the screenplay. Cohen attempted an appeal to get some writing credit on the film, but he was rejected screen credit.
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James Mason starred with his wife Clarissa Kaye-Mason in the original Salem's Lot.
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The studio interiors for the Marsten House cost the production $70,000 to construct.
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At one point Mike Ryerson says to Jason Burke "sleep like the dead, teacher..." - this line is a reference to the poetry of George Seferis.
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The original intent was for Warner Brothers to turn Stephen King's 400 page bestseller into a feature film. Stirling Silliphant, Robert Getchell and Larry Cohen all had a go at distilling the material down to two hours' length but none of these were deemed to capture the essence of the novel. Eventually the project was handed over to Warner Brothers Television where producer Richard Kobritz felt it would work better as a TV mini-series.
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In October, 2013, Intrada Records released a 2CD set of the complete film score, with alternate cues for the edited version of the film which were re-recorded for said edit, in stereo, marking the world premiere release of the score.
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Producer Richard Kobritz decided to select Tobe Hooper for the director's chair after catching a screening of Hooper's The Texas Chain Saw Massacre (1974).
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Stephen King had Ben Gazzara in mind when he wrote Ben Mears.
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Shot with the intention of producing a shorter cut that would play in European cinemas.
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Writer Paul Monash had previously penned the first adaptation of a Stephen King novel when he wrote the screenplay for 'Brian de Palma''s Carrie (1976).
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Some of the foreign titles chosen for the films theatrical release overseas included 'Blood Thirst','Phantasma II', and 'Le Notti di Salem'.
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The Jeep that Ben drives in the film is a Jeep Wrangler CJ-5 model.
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Spoilers 

The trivia item below may give away important plot points.

The biggest issue that divides fans of the novel and film is the fact that Barlow is depicted as a hissing Nosferatu-like monster in the film, rather than the speaking Dracula-like character of the novel. In an interview with Richard Kobritz he said the decision to go with the terrifying monster figure came out of concerns that a speaking, romanticized villain just wouldn't be frightening enough.

See also

Goofs | Crazy Credits | Quotes | Alternate Versions | Connections | Soundtracks

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