When it comes to the horror genre, there are very few artists who are as authoritative as Stephen King. Often referred to as the ‘King of Horror’, the American writer has produced a prodigious body of work which is beloved by fans all over the world. King has continued to publish books that have received critical acclaim in recent years, including Billy Summers which became a bestseller.
King’s works have been adapted by prominent filmmakers, ranging from Stanley Kubrick to Brian De Palma. Streaming platforms like Netflix have also entered bidding wars just to have the chance to translate some of King’s novels and short stories into the insanely popular web series format which has gained a lot of traction due to the growing customer base.
As these trends continue to shape the viewing experience, many artists have spoken about what this means for the future of cinema. Stephen King has also shared his opinions about these consumer habits on multiple occasions, claiming that the current landscape of horror is dictated by many formulaic constructs which are enforced by studio executives.
In an article penned by King, the acclaimed author insisted that some of the best horror films were made on extremely low budgets while Hollywood has continued to pour a lot of money into these productions which somehow feel like they lack substance. King cited masterpieces such as John Carpenter’s Halloween and the classic The Texas Chainsaw Massacre as examples of how to get horror right.
“Horror is an intimate experience, something that occurs mostly within oneself, and when it works, the screams of a sold-out house are almost intrusive,” King wrote. He even compared The Blair Witch Project to poetry while claiming that Hollywood studio executives are obsessed with market behaviours rather than the fundamental appeal of horror.
While describing the modern horror projects pushed by Hollywood, King beautifully said: “Those flicks tend to be like sandwiches overstuffed with weirdly tasteless meat and cheese, meals that glut the belly but do nothing for the soul.” This has extended beyond Hollywood as well, with Netflix’s recent instalment of Texas Chainsaw Massacre failing to impress any horror fans.
King’s astute observations about the genre are becoming increasingly relevant as some of the most prominent horror films of 2021 were independent projects, made outside the big studio system. Those films represent the last vestiges of hope for the horror fans who are still looking for originality and authenticity in modern horror films.