With four decades of scaring the world under his belt, one of the questions that The Shining and Carrie creator Stephen King probably hears more than anything else is: “What scares you?” The author has given us countless books that seemingly answer that question but if you want a specific example King has one in the form of a horror movie that was too scary for him to even finish watching it. Speaking in an interview for Eli Roth’s History of Horror, as noticed by Dread Central, King said that the 1999 horror film The Blair Witch Project was too much for him.
“The first time I saw [The Blair Witch Project], I was in the hospital and I was doped up,” King said. “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.’“ King had recently been in an accident in the summer of 1999 after a driver in a minivan struck him while walking on the side of the road. This event would be quite influential in King’s work but also explains why he wouldn’t have total control of his facilities and be on hospital grade pharmaceuticals.
King opened up about his love for The Blair Witch Project in a 2010 reissue of his non-fiction book Danse Macabre. At the time he wrote: “One thing about Blair Witch: the damn thing looks real. Another thing about Blair Witch: the damn thing feels real. And because it does, it’s like the worst nightmare you ever had, the one you woke from gasping and crying with relief because you thought you were buried alive and it turned out the cat jumped up on your bed and went to sleep on your chest.”
It’s also worth noting that even though The Blair Witch Project has achieved meme status for many reasons in the 20+ years since it was released, at the time that it exploded into theaters it was a unique and original film that consumed popular culture. The Blair Witch Project was also one of the last movies that could be passed around via VHS tapes and whose status as believably real was possible. In the years after its release, after it became clear that the film was fictional and its three leads weren’t dead, it would be followed by films like Paranormal Activity which were confused with non-fiction.