"The Mist" is a novella written by Stephen King in 1980. In the book, an abnormal, supernatural mist takes over a small town in Maine, revealing vicious unworldly creatures. Next week a film version, written and directed by Frank Darabont, hits theaters.
The following is a transcript of Jake Tapper's interview with Stephen King for "Nightline." The transcript has been slightly edited for clarity and narrative flow.
The latest "Stephen King" movie, which opens later this month, is "The Mist," about a small town in Maine enveloped by a dangerous fog. It focuses on the townspeople stuck in a supermarket, facing a new threat, their world having changed forever in an instant, turning on one another, disagreeing on how to deal with the threat. In one very pointed line in the film and the novella, a character says, "If you scare people badly enough, you'll get 'em to do anything. They'll turn to whatever promises a solution." It is all so evocative of 9/11, and yet amazingly, the novella on which the film is based was first published in 1980.
Keep in mind that I also wrote a book called "The Running Man" that was made into a movie with Arnold Schwarzenegger. The movie is nothing like the book. But the book ends with a passenger jet into hitting a skyscraper. And blowing the top off it. And after Sept. 11, I thought of that, and I thought, "Geez, I published that book around 1978." There's another one called "Rage," that I've withdrawn from publication, because it was about a school shooter. It had been part of the scenery in a couple of shootings, and so I thought it seemed better to pull it than to leave it around.
If you tell the truth, within the scope of a fantasy, people will hear those reverberations. Because a story like "The Mist" is a nightmare. But anybody who's ever had a nightmare knows that every nightmare has a basis in actual anxiety. It's a place where you can take your real anxieties, and park them for a while, and not worry about them anymore.
But the story of "The Mist," in the background, there's this idea that the military has been fooling around with something that's too big for them, and has torn an actual hole in the fabric of reality, and these awful creatures from another dimension have come through.
In another part of the story, there's a religious zealot, Mrs. Carmody, who's in the market, and to begin with she's sort of a figure of fun. Because everybody's pretty well solemnly grounded, and nobody's worried about anything. But once the disaster strikes, Mrs. Carmody gets a weird power. And certainly we've seen this time and time again in our own lives, that as the situation worsens, in various parts of the world, the religious fanatics have a tendency to become more and more powerful.
So all of this stuff has resonance. That's one of the things that I've always liked about horror fiction, and about fiction in the fantastic, is that it does have a resonance. But as far as 9/11 or the things that happened, I think that with a movie like "The Mist" people will mention that sort of resonance and they're going to conjure up 9/11. But the fact is, that was simply uh, a great big old dent in the fender of the American psyche. That changed the way we think about things and in a way, it's what my brother used to call "the blue car theory." You buy a blue car, you see blue cars everywhere.