Salem's Lot was the first ever Stephen King miniseries, but the classic vampire tale actually has no less than four different cuts. Salem's Lot, King's tale of a small town beset by a vampire infestation, was actually only his second novel published following Carrie. Showing how quickly King's name was becoming a lure for audiences, it was only three years after Carrie became a hit movie that CBS decided to adapt Salem's Lot into a marquee miniseries.
Produced by Warner Bros., makers of many, many King-based movies and miniseries, Salem's Lot is generally well-remembered even this many decades after its premiere. While it's perhaps a bit overrated and can drag at times, for a 1970s TV production, the Salem's Lot miniseries is about a scary as one could've hoped, with the vampire scenes still serving as some of the best in bloodsucker history to this day. Perhaps the scariest is when the vampire version of young Ralphie Glick pays a late night visit to his brother Danny's bedroom window.
A second miniseries adaptation in 2004 failed to match the original's fear factor, but perhaps the upcoming film version produced by James Wan will fare better. However, while there are multiple Salem's Lot adaptations, some fans probably aren't aware that there are four different edits of the 1979 version, and one even played in theaters.
The original version of Salem's Lot, which aired over two nights on November 17 and 24, 1979, runs a meaty 3 hours and 20 minutes without commercials. That's much longer than a two-night broadcast TV miniseries would be today, as the amount of included commercials per hour has ballooned since the 1970s. However, it actually didn't take decades for something like that to happen to Salem's Lot, as subsequent CBS rebroadcasts were chopped down by nearly an hour. That rebroadcast version has never been released to own, but considering how slow the original cut can be, one wonders if it trims the fat in a positive way.
The most curious cut of Salem's Lot is the one made for theatrical exhibition in countries outside the U.S., with France, Mexico, the U.K., and Japan, among others, getting this version. This edit was drastically altered, running a full 88 minutes shorter than the original TV cut, roughly the length of an entire feature film. As one might imagine, lots of full scenes are missing, and the plot is rendered rushed and nearly incomprehensible as a result. One tradeoff at least was that alternate, too violent for TV takes were used for some of the kills and attack scenes. The theatrical cut was eventually released stateside, but only on VHS.
Finally, there's the most commonly available cut, that found on the Salem's Lot DVD and Blu-Ray releases. This is essentially the original broadcast, but just like they did with IT 1990's DVD and Blu-ray releases, Warner Bros. opted to cut the ending credits of part one and opening credits of part 2, as well as an opening recap that originally led into part 2. At least, unlike IT, no actual scenes that played during the credits ended up removed and lost to fans.
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