One of Stephen King’s earliest novels is coming to the big screen. The Hollywood Reporter revealed that Annabelle Comes Home director Gary Dauberman will soon be helming a big-screen adaptation of Salem’s Lot. The epic vampire tale was one of King’s earliest success stories and was his follow-up novel to his breakthrough hit Carrie in 1975. Dauberman will not only direct the film, but he’s writing the screenplay as well. He also wrote the screenplay for both chapters of the blockbuster It. Horror maestro James Wan is one of the film’s producers.
The Hollywood Reporter broke the news that Lewis Pullman (Bad Times at the El Royale) will play the story’s lead character, Ben Mears. Deadline has also reported that Makenzie Leigh, Bill Camp, and Spencer Treat Clark will co-star alongside Lewis Pullman. Pullman plays Ben Mears, an author who discovers a bloodthirsty vampire is preying on his childhood hometown.
Deadline further shared that Oscar-nominated actress Alfre Woodard has joined the cast as Dr. Cody. In the novel, the character is actually Dr. Jimmy Cody. Jimmy helps Ben Mears (Pullman), Susan Norton (Leigh), and Matt Burke (Camp) fight against the vampires. Also John Benjamin Hickey will portray Father Callahan. It will be interesting to see how this character is adapted in the movie.
Finally, in a recent addition to the casting, Pilou Asbæk has joined Salem’s Lot. Asbæk is well-known for playing the villainous Euron Greyjoy on Game of Thrones. In Salem’s Lot, Asbæk will be taking on the role of Richard Straker. The Hollywood Reporter shares that Straker is the vampire’s familiar, or servant, who gets his hands plenty dirty as well.
Salem’s Lot is essentially a modern retelling of Bram Stoker’s Dracula, and centers on an author who returns to his hometown in Maine (King’s home state) to write about a creepy abandoned mansion that’s haunted him since childhood. Not long after arriving back home, he finds out that the mansion was bought by a mysterious and reclusive antiques dealer, who is a vampire master. After turning several of the locals into his vampire minions, the author and several other townsfolk join together to put an end to the undead infestation.
The novel was turned into a two-part mini-series in 1979, directed by The Texas Chainsaw Massacre’s Tobe Hooper. It was big success and re-aired on TV for years. It was later edited down into a shorter runtime and released on VHS, where it became a favorite rental choice among horror fans. The scene were a young boy sees his vampified friend float to his window in the middle of the night traumatized an entire generation, myself included.
The original mini-series made several changes to the book, most notably turning the talkative vampire master Kurt Barlow into more of a Nosferatu-style vampire, who doesn’t speak and is more animalistic and terrifying looking. Although this was very different from the novel, the mini-series Barlow was a horrifying and memorable creation.
A TNT mini-series that stuck closer to the book was produced in 2004, which featured Rutger Hauer as Barlow and Rob Lowe in the lead. This was another vampiric notch on the actor’s belt. Not only was he the physical inspiration for Anne Rice’s Lestat, but he played vamps in movies like Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Argento’s Dracula, and Dracula III: Legacy. It remains to be seen if this new version of Barlow will stick closer to the ’70s mini-series or the 2004 one, or go off in a completely new direction.
One thing is for sure, though. This is one King adaptation we can’t wait to sink our fangs into.
Featured Image: Warner Brothers
Originally published on April 20, 2020.