‘Salem’s Lot by Stephen King
‘Salem’s Lot with David Soul
‘Salem’s Lot with Rob Lowe
In short, the book and both movies are about a small town being taken over by vampires.
In the Rob Lowe movie you can see who all the characters correspond to in the book but they are all very different. Ben’s girlfriend is less innocent and their relationship is less sweet. The doctor is not as nice a man. Ben is not just a little known author but a controversial one. Matt is not as friendly and is critical of Ben. There is never really a friendship between them that you see n the book. The priest is less a man who had a lapse in faith but a believer in redemption and more a lost man. Mark is a trouble kid instead of a quiet outsider. Most of the characters are a lot less likable in the movie. The movie also adds elements that seem unnecessary and, in my opinion, detract from the story. Eva has a past with the vampire. When Ben tells the story of his first trip into the Marsten house he sees so much more than he does in the book, more supernatural things. The ending is completely different in the movie. There are less loose ends left and, partly due to that but also due to the nature of the ending, it is less creepy.
In the David Soul movie a lot of things are cut out or truncated. There is no Dub or dump, there is only one trip to the house instead of two near the end of the book. Some of the characters seem to be melded together. Mark and the priest play much smaller roles. Also Mark is not as strong a character and less believable as some one who would be out hunting vampires. There is no sense of a team among the people who know about the vampires that you get in the book and the other movie. The vampire was reduced to an inarticulate monster. It makes him less insidious and also makes it impossible for the personal threats that the vampire makes in the book. The ending is closer to the book but of course not the same.
In both movies, of course, the descriptive language that is a large part of the book is lost. And things tend to develop more quickly so it is less a creeping evil that can establish itself before anyone is aware. There is also more that is explicitly shown in the movies, people being turned into vampires instead of them getting sick and turning and you just knowing that their vampire friends must have come for them in the night. It leaves less to the imagination.
Since I didn’t like most of the people in the Rob Lowe movie I had trouble enjoying the movie very much. It was alright but nothing spectacular. The David Soul movie I liked better. But that is because I like vampire movies and if you just watch it as a vampire movie and forget that it is based on the book I think it can be a lot of fun. But, as is almost always the case when I read the book and watch the movie, I liked the book best. It is a much more intricate story and a much creepier tale.