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Chili Cheeseburgers | Fright Night meets 'Salem's Lot

Chili Cheeseburgers | Fright Night meets 'Salem's Lot
Welcome to another round of the All Vampire Book and a Movie Challenge! Our assignments this month were Fright Night (the original) and 'Salem's Lot by Stephen King. The connection between these two stories comes in the form of two young men who discover discover and try to fight the vampire(s) that is killing the people in their hometown. Coincidentally, both of their love interests are turned, though with different outcomes, and a once-empty house that is now occupied by a vampire.

The movie - Fright Night (1985):

Although I've seen the Fright Night 2011 remake and caught bits and pieces of the original when flipping channels over the years, this was my first time watching it in its entirety. I'll just start by saying...oooooh 80's, you wrote the book on cheese. Yeah, super cheesy, but I get why it's something of a cult classic.

It all starts one night when Charley Brewster sees somebody carrying a coffin into the formerly uninhabited house next door. Shortly after, he sees his new neighbor through the window with a woman one night, appearing ready to bite her neck, fangs extended and fingers elongated. He then hears the news stories of missing local women and recognizes the picture of one he saw going into his new neighbor's house.

He desperately tries telling his mom and friends that the new neighbor, Jerry Dandrige, is not only responsible, but also a vampire. They brush him off as being ridiculous or crazy, but insistence continues. He also tries recruiting local "vampire hunter" television personality Peter Vincent, only to find out that Vincent doesn't actually believe in vampires.
Fright Night and 'Salem's Lot for October's All Vampire Book and a Movie Challenge
Dandrige threatens Charley's mother and ruins his car, sure that he will scare him into "forgetting" about him. Undettered, he continues his campaign. Worried about him, his girlfriend Amy and sort-of friend Ed (aka, Evil), enlist Peter Vincent to help them "prove" the new neighbor is not a vampire. So they all make a visit to Dandrige's house to debunk the vampire theory, giving him pretend holy water to drink.

However, as they are leaving, Vincent notices in his small hand mirror that Dandrige doesn't have a reflection. Startled, he drops the mirror and it breaks, leaving a small shard behind. Dandrige discovers the shard and knows that the secret is out. He goes on the hunt, biting and turning Evil and eventually hypnotizing, capturing, and biting Amy.

Charley and Vincent arm themselves and return to kill Dandrige. A fight ensues and eventually light prevails, restoring Amy to her human self in the process. There's more, including Evil's odd transition to a werewolf after contact with a crucifix and Dandrige's roommate/henchman who oozes green "blood" in a Jane Slayre zombie-like fashion (maybe that was Sherri Browning Erwin's inspiration?).

There were a few glimpses and food inspirations throughout, including coca-cola, chips, chili burger, hot cocoa with marshmallows, Bloody Marys, and apples. There was also an ironic line of dialogue in which Evil tells Charlie "there are no such things as vampires, fruitcake".
Chili Cheeseburgers | Fright Night meets 'Salem's Lot

The book - 'Salem's Lot (1975):

Aaaaahhh, Stephen King...the author that introduced me to the world of "grown up" books. More on that another time, though. I first read 'Salem's Lot years ago, and I actually own the really awesome illustrated version of the book. But here's the thing, I can't find it. It's been packed away in a plastic tub somewhere in our basement since we moved into this house 7 1/2 years ago. I did a little digging, but not enough to unearth it.

So, since it's been so long since I last read it, and honestly don't remember much more than the basic story, I reluctantly checked-out a paperback copy from the library. Here's the thing I didn't remember—it's long. Like, really, really long (653 pages in the paperback). And I just didn't have time to get through it this month. So, I'll just be giving an overview and a few mentions from the first 100 pages or so.

It's the story of writer Ben Mears, who returns to the small town of Jerusalem's Lot as an adult, after living there with his aunt for a handful of years as a kid. I'd forgotten that he was an adult in the story, but he does team up with Mark, an almost-teen at 12 years old, after his parents are killed. The two of them wind up the survivors of a town that has seemingly vanished after a vampire (and coincidentally, his henchman) moves into the vacant house...well, haunted town.

Susan, the woman that Ben starts seeing upon his return to 'Salem's Lot, is bitten and turned...though I didn't get that far this time around, and I can't remember the details. I do remember that she was staked and didn't survive, though. So yeah, that's about as far as my memory carries me, as nothing vampire related has actually happened in the first 100 or so pages of the book that I've been able to re-read so far.

But there was already a lot of food mentioned, including green tea, milk, cornflakes, ice cream sodas, root beer, baked potatoes with sour cream, bacon, scrambled eggs, home fries, toast and jam, orange juice, burgers, hotdogs, oatmeal, and beer.

The root beer-infused chili topping for burgers, hotdogs, and fries:

I was able to pull inspiration from both the book and the movie to make a single recipe. There was a scene early on in Fright Night when Amy was talking to Charley in a little diner/restaurant and he spaces her out when he sees a news report of the missing women on tv. She gets so angry at the fact that he is ignoring her that she grabs a chili burger from the hand of an unsuspecting kid who is adding mustard to the top, and shoves it Charley's face.
Chili Cheeseburger in the face from Fright Night
From 'Salem's Lot, Ben and Susan are reminiscing about a local spot where they both used to get root beer on draft, called Crossen's store. Also, Ben bonded with Bill, Susan's dad, over a beer, while Bill was making burgers and hotdogs on the grill.

So, putting those moments together, I made a chili topping that is infused with root beer for ladling over burgers and hotdogs to turn them into chili cheeseburgers and chili cheesedogs. It's also great for making chili cheesefries!
Chili Cheeseburgers | Fright Night meets 'Salem's Lot
The All Vampire Book and Movie Challenge is hosted by Kimberly at Coffee and Casseroles, and meets monthly to discuss a predetermined book and movie relating to vampires. Sometimes the book and movie may be the same (or an adaptation), others they may relate in a more obscure manner.

Once we've read the book and watched the movie, we write a blog post discussing them and how they relate or differ, and perhaps share something that it inspired us to make.

This month's assignment was 'Salem's Lot (book) and Fright Night (movie). If you'd like to join the discussion next month, we'll be reading and watching Mary Shelley's Frankenstein (which I haven't read or seen I'm intrigued how vampires fit in here), and our posting date will be Sunday, November 27th.

Until then, let me know if you've read this book and/or seen the movie - and what you thought about either. Also, drop by and see what Kimberly thought of the book and movie, and read her thoughts and inspirations at Coffee and Casseroles!
yield: serves 12print recipe
Chili Cheeseburgers | Fright Night meets 'Salem's Lot

Chili Topping (for burgers, hotdogs, fries, and more)

prep time: 5 MINScook time: 90 MINStotal time: 95 mins
Ladle this root beer infused chili topping over burgers, hotdogs, french fries and more!


  • 1 1/4 pounds ground beef (90/10)
  • 3 cups water
  • 1 (15 ounce) can tomato sauce
  • 1 cup root beer
  • 1 tablespoon beef base (for making beef broth)
  • 1 tablespoon Harissa paste
  • 1 tablespoon chili powder
  • 1 tablespoon onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon dried marjoram
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cayenne
  • pinch ground cloves


  1. Combine water and ground beef in a 4-quart pot. Use your hands to break up the ground beef up until no large chunks remain. Add remaining ingredients.
  2. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and let cook at a steady simmer for 75-90 minutes, or until the majority of the liquid has evaporated and reduced down to a meaty chili sauce. Taste and adjust seasoning as needed.
Serving suggestion:
  1. Serve over burgers, hotdogs, or fries along with your other favorite toppings.Perfect for chili cheese dogs, chili cheeseburgers, and chili cheese fries.
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