Salem's Lot (also known as Salem's Lot: The Movie, Salem's Lot: The Miniseries and Blood Thirst) is a 1979 American miniseries television adaptation of the 1975 horror novel of the same name by Stephen King. Directed by Tobe Hooper and starring David Soul and James Mason, the plot concerns a writer who returns to his hometown and discovers that its citizens are turning into vampires. Salem's Lot combines elements of the vampire film and haunted house subgenres of horror.
At a church in Guatemala, a man and a boy, Ben Mears and Mark Petrie, are filling small bottles with holy water. When one of the bottles begins to emit an eerie supernatural glow, Mears tells Mark that "they've found us again." Knowing an evil presence is nearby, they decide to stay to fight it.
Two years earlier, Mears, a successful author, returns after a long absence to his small hometown of Salem's Lot, Maine. Mears intends to write a book about the Marsten House, an old, ominous property on a hilltop which has a reputation for being haunted. Attempting to rent it, Mears finds that it has already been purchased by another new arrival in town, the mysterious Richard Straker, who is in the process of opening an antique shop with his oft-mentioned but never present business partner, Kurt Barlow. Instead, Mears moves into a boarding house in town run by Eva Miller and develops a romantic relationship with a local woman, Susan Norton. He befriends Susan's father, Dr. Bill Norton, and reconnects with his kindly former school teacher, Jason Burke. Mears tells Burke that he feels the Marsten House is somehow inherently evil, recalling that its original owner, Hubie Marsten – implied to have been a child molester – committed suicide there. Mears further recalls a traumatic childhood incident in which he broke into the house on a dare and saw Hubie's ghost.
After a large crate is delivered to the Marsten House one night, townspeople begin to disappear or die under strange circumstances. Mears and Straker are the main suspects as they are both new in town, but it eventually becomes clear that the crate contained Straker's business partner, Kurt Barlow — an ancient vampire who has come to Salem's Lot after sending Straker to make way for his arrival. Straker kidnaps a young boy, Ralphie Glick, as an offering to Barlow, while Barlow himself kills local realtor Larry Crockett. The Glick boy then returns as a vampire to claim his brother, Danny. After his funeral, the undead Danny infects a gravedigger, Mike Ryerson, and attempts to prey on one of his schoolfriends, Mark Petrie. However, Mark is a horror film buff and manages to repel Danny with a cross.
As the vampirism spreads, Mears, Burke, and Dr. Norton gradually realize what is happening to the town and attempt to stop it. Mears is attacked by Ralph and Danny's presumed-dead mother Marjorie Glick after she revives on a mortician's table, but Mears defends himself using a makeshift cross. Mark's parents are both killed by Barlow, though Mark escapes with the assistance of a local priest. Burke, however, suffers a severe heart attack following an encounter with the newly vampirized Ryerson.
Seeking revenge for his parents' deaths, Mark breaks into the Marsten House, and a concerned Susan follows him inside; both are soon captured by Straker. Later, Mears and Dr. Norton enter the house, too, where Straker kills Norton by impaling him on a pair of antlers before he himself is fatally shot by Mears. Afterwards, Mears and the freed Mark find Barlow's coffin in the cellar and destroy him by driving a stake through his heart. Fleeing the other vampires in the house (the infected townsfolk), the two set fire to the Marsten property as they leave, though Susan is nowhere to be found. While the house burns, the wind carries the fire towards the town itself. As he and Mark drive away from Salem's Lot, Mears comments that the fire will drive all the vampires from their hiding places and purify the town from the evil that has engulfed it.
The story returns to Mears and Mark at the church in Guatemala two years later. It becomes clear that they are on the run from the surviving Salem's Lot vampires, and that their bottles of holy water glow whenever a vampire is nearby. Realising that they have been tracked down yet again, Mears and Mark return to their lodgings to collect their belongings. Once there, Mears finds Susan lying in his bed. Now a vampire, she prepares to bite him as he leans down to kiss her, but instead Mears drives a stake through her heart and destroys her. A grief-stricken Mears then leaves with Mark, knowing that the vampires will continue to pursue them.