Stephen Kings Salem’s Lot is perhaps the creepiest vampire book out there, not counting Bram Stokers Dracula. It is the only book that when I first read it at the tender age of seventeen, I left the light on to go to sleep. To not seem such a wimp, I left the hall light on, not the one in my room. At the time that seemed to make a difference to me. Looking back at it really didn’t matter, hall light, bedroom light, the book freaked me out and any light would do. King manages to make vampire’s come to life. For a time, while reading it and after, you believe. That is a frightening thing.
There are two scenes in the book that come to mind to mention and I should probably say “spoiler alert”. The first is when Barlow goes to the dump and has a conversation with Dud Rogers. Dud runs the dump and spends his days picking through trash and shooting rats. He thinks it is a fine life until Barlow comes along and shows him something better. The seduction of Dud is a seduction of his darker desires for a teenage girl named Ruthie. Also of his desire to get people back for looking down on him as just the weird guy at the dump. I particularly like how King makes looking into Barlow’s eyes like looking into a dragons eyes. It will cost you. It certainly does Dud.
The next scene is the confrontation between Barlow and father Callahan at the Petrie’s home after the vampire kills Mark Petrie’s parents. This is a different kind of seduction. He convinces Father Callahan that he lacks courage of his convictions. He convinces him, through a brief struggle that he is a weak priest and taints him so he can no longer even enter a church. Then Barlow lets him go like that instead of turning him to a vampire. Leaving him to finish his life unclean and full of self loathing. This may be worse than turning him into a vampire.
What do you think? Have you read it, do you want to?
Tomorrow I am thinking of doing a piece on Mary Shelly’s Frankenstein, also known as The Modern Prometheus. I am calling these writing the 8 days of Halloween. For obvious reasons.