Everyone has their limits when it comes to fear, and fans of author Stephen King’s work have inspired quite a few revelations where audience members may have found his style to be too freaky. But even a master of mystery/horror like King has those limits firmly in place, and in a particularly interesting set of circumstances he cut a viewing of The Blair Witch Project short. His reasoning was, quite frankly, because that film had crossed his personal threshold of freaky.
During a guest spot on Shudder’s series Eli Roth’s History of Horror (via Dread Central) King admitted that his first encounter with Daniel Myrick and Eduardo Sánchez’s indie horror hit freaked him out. Though to be fair, the way he described his initial encounter with 1999’s found footage favorite didn’t exactly paint a picture of an ideal movie watching experience. Here’s how Stephen King recalled his first run in with The Blair Witch Project:
The first time I saw [The Blair Witch Project], I was in the hospital and I was doped up. My son brought a VHS tape of it and he said, ‘You gotta watch this.’ Halfway through it I said, ‘Turn it off it’s too freaky.
To be perfectly fair “in the hospital” doesn’t sound like the place that someone would want to be when first watching any horror movie, even if you’re Stephen King. However, the bestselling author has an even stronger case for this initial exposure not happening at the best of times. While 1999 did mark the year that The Blair Witch Project racked up tons of box office loot, it also happens to be when King was recovering from the near fatal accident that saw him hit by a van while running.
Eventually, there was a time that Stephen King got to finish watching The Blair Witch Project, and even then, he was still freaked out by what he saw. Thanks to the film’s realistic look, which inspired future found footage hits like Paranormal Activity and Cloverfield to follow in its footsteps, King was scared by that realism.
Stephen King’s recovery from the van accident that saw him freak out over The Blair Witch Project did happen to inspire him to write a freaky work of his own. As a result of inspiration during his recovery, the novel for Lisey’s Story eventually came to be. Recently adapted for TV, and by King himself, we’ll get to see just how far out that tale goes, with Julianne Moore and Clive Owen anchoring an impressive cast of co-stars.
For all we know, watching The Blair Witch Project and Lisey’s Story back to back could be a mind blowing experience. The scares that Stephen King experienced in that first partial viewing may have embedded themselves in his mind well enough that it may have stuck with him during the genesis of his own tale. Part of that experience will be available real soon, as Lisey’s Story is about to premiere on Apple TV+, with episodes debuting on a weekly basis starting June 4th.