I have a rubbish memory, so I have no idea how old I was. Older than 10 certainly and probably closer to 14, an awkward age full of hormones and crossing thresholds of responsibility and innocence. Salem’s Lot was on TV. and for some reason my mother had agreed that we could watch it. Having no interest at all in films and television programmes she had no idea that the program was a film about vampires. I’m guessing that the film had been advertised extensively on TV. and that maybe it had been discussed at school, so I’m sure some relentless nagging on my part was part of the reason why we eventually watched it. It had David Soul in it for goodness sake, of Starsky and Hutch fame...so what would be the harm in that...
Trawl the internet and you will find endless horror stories of kids having the absolute crap scared out of them by the film. It looks kind of dated now but at the time, the vampires were a nasty, scary breed and the horror genre had not yet been satirised by post modern 90s. Despite the fact that I often loved Hammer House of horrors films (often shown, bizarrely, on a Saturday or Sunday afternoon slot on BBC1 or 2!) I was not immune to the horrors in the classic Stephen King story and I was terrified. One classic scene featured a gaunt and once beautiful vampire scratching at a window, waiting to gain entry and rip David Soul’s throat out.
When we went to bed that night, I uncharacteristically asked my mother if I could sleep in her room. I was not really an easily frightened child and mum didn’t usually encourage that sort of clinginess, but in this instance, she agreed that I could make a little bed for myself next to her bed, on the floor near the window. We got ourselves comfortable and mum turned the light out. I was feeling snug and warm in my little bed, safe in my mother’s protection because everyone knows that the primal instinct of a mother is to protect her babies from any harm, from cold and chicken pox to supernatural vampires. As I was just drifting off to sleep, I heard mum’s voice in the dark.
Mum: “You know why you’re sleeping next to the window don’t you?”
Me: ”No, why?”
Mum: “So that when the vampires come through the window they’ll get you first.”