Many interviewers over the years have asked Stephen King what he’s afraid of. As an author who wrote a novel where an author is kidnapped and then tortured, it’s fair to assume that King is often telling us exactly what he’s afraid of in the scary stories he writes. That being said, he’ll still always be asked. It’s a fair game question when you write stories that frighten people around the world. At this point, his career has such longevity, that his interviewers are often people who had childhood nightmares to the stories he wrote early in his career. How many adults today are terrified of clowns? How many of them were heavily impacted by Stephen King’s novel It, which was then turned into a film where Pennywise could haunt even more of us.
With so much of his time spent in scary stories, everyone wants to know what movie really freaked him out. The answer may surprise you, but it must be true, since the author has said it more than once. The movie that was simply too much for Stephen King to take was 1999’s The Blair Witch Project.
When The Blair Witch Project first came out, many weren’t sure if it was a documentary or a fictional story. It’s a supernatural horror movie made with shaky footage and utilizes a found-footage style that adds to the tension for the movie. As Stephen King put it in his 2010 non-fiction book Danse Macabre, “the damn thing looks real”.
The style of the film isn’t the only reason Stephen King was particularly messed up about this one. He first watched The Blair Witch Project while recovering in the hospital. In 1999, a van hit King while he was walking on the side of the road, causing him serious injury. While he was on painkillers in the hospital, his son put the movie on. Stephen King told his son to turn the movie off because it was too frightening. The author was more recently asked about horror movies during the first episode of Eli Roth’s History of Horror on AMC, where he recalled the hospital visit, his first viewing of The Blair Witch Project, and shared more details about his history with the horror genre.
As a person who clearly enjoys frightening stories, it seems like a compliment to The Blair Witch Project that Stephen King had to turn it off. He seems to enjoy spending a lot of time with his mind going over frightening events. As for which of his own stories he thinks is the scariest, he agrees with many readers who’ve been polled: it’s Pet Semetary. This is a story where loved ones pass away, but then come back, except they’re not who they once were. The story has been adapted into two films, neither of them quite successful at being as terrifying as the book.
Right now, we’re waiting on the June 4th release of the latest of Stephen King’s works to be adapted for film. Lisey’s Story is being released on Apple TV+ for streaming. The book is a psychological horror mixed with a romance and was originally released in 2006. It follows up his previous series for The Stand, also released on Apple TV+. You can watch the trailer for the new Apple TV+ series below.