Poltergeist Demon

Steven Spielberg: I wanted Stephen King to write Poltergeist

Contributed by
Apr 7, 2018

It seems that The Talisman is not the only frustrating and tantalizing instance of Steven Spielberg and Stephen King almost working together.

Spielberg and King discussed the long and winding tale of trying to get King's dark fantasy novel The Talisman (written with Peter Straub) to the screen in an EW article that came out this week -- but they also happened to shed light on another near-miss collaboration between the legendary director and the world's most famous horror author.

That project was Poltergeist, the classic 1982 horror tale that Spielberg co-wrote and produced, but did not direct -- not officially, anyway. Tobe Hooper, who happened to helm the 1979 TV movie version of King's 'Salem's Lot, is the credited director on Poltergeist, although that has been up for debate for decades.

One thing that's not up for debate, however, is that Spielberg was interested in having King work with him on the film's screenplay. Spielberg confirmed:

“Yeah, I wanted him to help me out with the script and sort of write it with me, but he was unavailable.”

King explained the mix-up in a little more detail:

“It didn’t work out because it was before the internet and we had a communication breakdown...I was on a ship going across the Atlantic to England."

Yes, folks, it's hard to imagine now, but there was a time when things like email, texting and instant communication did not exist. People had to get in touch with each other by primitive methods like telegrams, landlines, and written letters sent through the post office. And in this case, King was on a boat in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean and all but unreachable, so Spielberg had to keep moving and enlisted writers Michael Grais and Mark Victor to pen the story with him.

Of course, Poltergeist still turned out to be a darn fine horror movie, and both King and Spielberg have enjoyed many successes since then. But the idea of Stephen King collaborating with Steven Spielberg on a now-iconic tale of ghosts and paranormal activity -- we have to admit we're a tad disappointed it never came to pass. Oh well -- The Talisman still awaits ...

Make Your Inbox Important

Get our newsletter and you’ll be delivered the most interesting stories, videos and interviews weekly.

Sign-up breaker