I found the original 1979 TV miniseries of Stephen King’s “Salem’s Lot” streaming on Tubi. Mrs. Phantom and I watched it over the course of two nights.

First, as a Stephen King fan, I am aware that when you’re talking about the book, it’s “’Salem’s Lot,” short for “Jerusalem’s Lot,” the Jerusalem in question being a pig that the fictional town was named for, or rather the pig that owned the lot that eventually became the genesis of the town. The movie seems to leave off the apostrophe.

Apparently there is a new movie coming out and the TV series has had both a sequel in the ’80s and a more recent remake starring Rob Lowe.

But I, being a Phantom of the Video Store, found the 1970s version enjoyable, in part for the nostalgia. I like seeing those old cars with space under the hood around the engine blocks and things like rotary landline phones.

It aired on CBS and starred David Soul as writer Ben Mears who has come back to his hometown of Salem’s Lot to write a book about the evil old Marsten House. If it weren’t for the promos advertising it as a vampire film, people might have thought it was headed in the haunted house direction. Mears describes the house at one point in a clear homage to Shirley Jackson’s opening to “The Haunting of Hill House.”

But fear not, we have here a story of vampires most foul.

Soon the neighborhood kids are dying from a strange anemia and they visit their loved ones in eerie scenes where they float in clouds of smoke just outside the windows. Only horror movie fan Mark Petrie knows enough to avoid being bit. Like the Phantom, he has spent enough time contemplating the works of Hammer Studios and Christopher Lee to know when it is time to lock your window and raise a crucifix. Possibly Stephen King was biting back a bit at those who may have told him as a young man to stop obsessing over Frankenstein movies and get his feet on the ground.

The show-stealer in my humble opinion is Geoffrey Lewis, who plays cemetery caretaker and all-around good ol’ boy Mike Ryerson. He waits in a rocking chair in a darkened room, his eyes lanterns from hell, and demands of his former school instructor, “Look at me, teacher!” Then the fangs come out.

Lewis is already beloved as an evil scientist in my all-time favorite, “Night of the Comet.”

As an old TV miniseries, “Salem’s Lot” is almost wholesome. There’s no gore, no computer animation. It gets by on building strong characters, creating a sense of atmosphere and suspense, and strong pacing. It succeeds largely in the writing and the strong cast. The utter nastiness of the Marsten House set also contributes heavily to the terror. The walls are practically melting.

Love interest Susan Norton is played by Bonnie Bedelia. The last time I saw this movie, I didn’t realize that she played Holly McClane in “Die Hard” because “Die Hard” didn’t exist yet. Having read the book, I would say the casting was pretty spot on.

James Mason plays the vampire’s despicable henchman with ghoulish glee. The scene where he challenges the priest to throw down his cross and stand against the vampire, faith against faith, is powerful, and possibly the most challenging bit in the film for 1979 viewers. Or does the Phantom project? Mason’s wife, Clarissa Kaye-Mason, also appears, playing a bereaved mother and more.

Kenneth McMillan plays the town constable. If you’re a movie nerd like the Phantom, you may associate him with Baron Vladimir Harkonnen in the 1984 version of “Dune.”

Mrs. Phantom and I were entertained. That’s high praise coming as it does from an old, caving in, moldering abandoned video store. Enter with caution.

Have something to return? Be sure you rewind, or the Phantom will be most displeased. Send along a comment to news@villagesoup.com, attn. Phantom, if you dare.