The One Film Even Stephen King Says Was Too Scary To Finish

Master of Horror Stephen King is responsible for spine-chilling stories that have terrorized audiences all across the world for nearly 50 years. Around 60 different films have been made as adaptations of his work, including "Carrie," "The Shining," "The Stand," "Misery," "Christine," "Gerald's Game," "The Dark Tower," "Pet Sematary," "Salem's Lot," and of course, "IT." King's storytelling frequently deals with deeply terrifying themes, and he has perfected the art of turning everyday occurrences into an absolute nightmare. It would be easy to believe that someone who dabbles in the monstrous and macabre like Stephen King was afraid of nothing, but at the end of the day, King is still human just like the rest of us.

Believe it or not, Stephen King does get scared, and he isn't afraid to admit when something gets under his skin. He famously referred to "The Babadook" as "deeply disturbing and highly recommended," noting that audiences don't watch the film so much as experience it. It's become a badge of honor for horror filmmakers to receive a coveted recommendation from the King of Nightmares himself, but only one film holds the distinction of being so scary that even Stephen King couldn't initially finish it. In an interview for the documentary series "Eli Roth's History of Horror," King shared a story about the horrific real-life events that made it so he was too creeped out to continue watching one of the hottest new releases in horror, "The Blair Witch Project."

Not Exactly Good Hospital Visit Viewing Material

On June 19, 1999, Stephen King was on a walk near his home in Maine when a distracted driver ran him over in a mini-van, leaving King hospitalized for almost a month. King sustained multiple very serious injuries, to the point where doctors debated amputating one of his legs due to the damage. While King thankfully survived, the recovery process was understandably difficult. The pain he endured was so severe, King had even announced a retirement from writing. Fortunately, with time and healing, King was able to continue writing, giving us incredible stories like "Dream Catcher," "Cell," "Under the Dome," "11/22/63," "The Outsider," "The Institute," and his sequel to "The Shining," the terrifying "Doctor Sleep."

King's loved ones understandably wanted to help his healing in any way that they could, and his son thought it would be a good idea to bring him a VHS copy of the terrifying found-footage film, "The Blair Witch Project." Thanks to the combination of recovering from his injury, the talent of directors Daniel Myrick and Eduardo Sanchez, and a hell of a lot of pain-killers, the movie proved to be too much for King, and he couldn't finish the film. "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,'" said King in the documentary.

Is The Blair Witch Project Really THAT Scary?

It's hard to remember the initial impact of "The Blair Witch Project," as the film's found footage style has since become a dominant subgenre of horror, and parody films like "Scary Movie" have been mocking the film since its release. During its 1999 debut, however, "The Blair Witch Project" was considered the scariest film of the year. Shot on a budget of only $60,000, the film was sold to Artisan Entertainment for $1.1 million just a few hours after its premiere at Sundance. The film starred unknown actors Heather Donahue, Joshua Leonard, and Michael C. Williams as fictionalized versions of themselves, exploring woods in Maryland to film a documentary about the Blair Witch urban legend. Thanks in large part to one of the earliest examples of a viral marketing campaign, many people arrived at the theater convinced that the film they were about to see was real, and "The Blair Witch Project" became one of the most legendary horror films of all time.

"The Blair Witch Project" may not have been the first film to utilize the found-footage aesthetic of horror filmmaking, but it revitalized the style and paved the way for future horror franchises like "Grave Encounters" and "Paranormal Activity." It was revolutionary for 1999 and still hailed for its effective scares, chilling establishment of atmosphere, and one of the most memorable final moments in horror history.

Did King Ever Finish The Movie?

Once King was out of the hospital, he did eventually finish "The Blair Witch Project," and found it to be one of the best horror films of the modern era. When King's nonfiction book "Danse Macabre" was reissued in 2010, King included a section for his thoughts on the at-the-time state of horror, with a short essay dedicated to the masterful grasp of horror shown throughout "The Blair Witch Project."

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.

King goes on to admit that his initial viewing of "The Blair Witch Project" may be the only time in his life when he quit a horror movie in the middle because he was too scared to continue, but doesn't fully blame his hospital circumstances or the heavy medication. "I was just freaked out of my mind," he said. "Those didn't look like Hollywood-location woods; they looked like an actual forest in which actual people could actually get lost."

Fear may be a universal emotion, but what scares us will always differ from person to person. Stephen King is living proof that even Masters of Horror still get scared, and there's no shame in admitting when a horror movie has done its job.