Stephen King Says This Classic Horror Movie Scared The Daylight Out Of Him

By Britta DeVore | Updated

The Changeling (1980)

When it comes to horror, there’s no denying that Stephen King is the master. With so many spooky stories penned, it’s hard to believe that anything would scare him. But, as the author revealed during BFI’s 2017 King On Screen event (via Screen Geek), there was one movie that struck a chord, even going so far as to say that 1980’s The Changeling really did “scare the daylights out of me.”

“For supernatural horror, I like Peter Medak’s film The Changeling, starring George C. Scott in perhaps his last great screen role. There are no monsters bursting from chests; just a child’s ball bouncing down a flight of stairs was enough to scare the daylights out of me.”

Stephen King

Directed by Peter Medak, the supernatural horror film follows the story of a New York City composer who makes a cross-country move to Seattle, Washington. Though he stumbles into a gorgeous mansion, he soon discovers that there may be more to it than meets the eye, believing that it may be haunted. Relishing in the eeriness that the film delivered, it’s easy to see why Stephen King would name The Changeling as one of the most frightening movies he’s ever seen. 

Noting that leading man, George C. Scott, was one of his favorite parts about the movie, Stephen King explained to the group of eager fans that it’s the subtleties of The Changeling that scared him the most. Known for writing deeper themes into his projects, it shouldn’t come as a shock that the author appreciated the more relaxed supernatural aspects of the film.

For the most terrifying part, the bit that “was enough to scare the daylights out of me,” King points to the scene in which a child’s ball is simply “bouncing down a flight of stairs.”

The Changeling (1980)

As for Stephen King’s takeaway from Peter Medak’s classic horror flick, it’s hard to say exactly how it can be spotted in his future projects as King has long had the ability to terrify readers with small-scale scares.

Stephen King’s The Boogeyman

Take, for instance, his latest on-screen venture – The Boogeyman. Like The Changeling, the film and its original story go more for the deeper scares, blending themes of family trauma with the jumps.

Starring David Dastmalchian, Sophie Thatcher, Chris Messina, and Vivien Lyra Blair, the film is an adaptation (and really sequel) to Stephen King’s short story of the same name. While the sinister character, known as The Boogeyman, lurks in the shadows, it’s the underlying eeriness of the family coping with tragedy and the smaller moments (with one ironically including a rolling ball) that brings the terror to life.

So, much like the dread that Peter Medak was able to convey in The Changeling, so has King and those bringing his stories to the big screen.

Stephen King Will Soon Release A Pet Sematary Prequel

As for the next Stephen King project to get an on-screen makeover, audiences are gearing up for a prequel story in Paramount+’s Pet Sematary: Bloodlines. While the film isn’t adapted from any of the author’s projects, and may not be as jolting as The Changeling, it gives a backstory to the characters made famous from his 1983 novel, Pet Sematary.

Starring in it is a handful of up-and-coming names, including Jackson White, Forrest Goodluck, and Jack Mulhern with appearances from David Duchovny and Pam Grier. 

If you’re interested in checking out the movie that gave Stephen King the scare of his life, The Changeling is streaming on Peacock.