Old School Americana & Nostalgia


‘Nightmare on Elm Street’: Stephen King Once Turned Down a Chance to Direct for the Franchise

‘Nightmare on Elm Street’: Stephen King Once Turned Down a Chance to Direct for the Franchise

Although he is arguably the most terrifying author in literature history, Stephen King had some doubts about his creativity when it came to directing any of the Nightmare on Elm Street films. 

According to Collider, King had a chance to write and direct 1989’s A Nightmare on Elm Street 5: The Dream Child.  The studio behind the long-running horror franchise, New Line Cinema, had reached out to the best-selling author for the project. However, things didn’t work out. Michael De Luca, New Line Cinema’s former Vice President of Creative Development, stated that the studio didn’t pursue anything with King when it came to the project. “We learned Stephen’s no longer interested in directing,” he shared. 

Stephen King previously tried directing the film adaptation of his short story Trucks in the 1986 film Maximum Overdrive. That is the only film he’s directed and it struggled to even gain any popularity. It only grossed $7.4 million at the box office. But he has been involved in other film projects over the years. Among the films he has written are Pet Sematary, The X-Files, Under the Dome, and Lisey’s Story. 

King has made it pretty clear that he wasn’t happy with how Maximum Overdrive played out. The star of the film, Emilio Estevez, told Vanity Fair in 2021 that the author apologized to him numerous times for involving him in the film project. 

“The few times that I’ve connected with him over the years, he’s like, ‘Can you forgive me for that?’” Estevez said.  The Mighty Ducks star also said that his mother asked him once why he even did Maximum Overdrive. “I said, ‘I wanted to work with Stephen King.’ And she said, ‘Couldn’t you have helped him paint his house?’”

Stephen King Admitted He Was ‘Coked Out’ During the ‘Maximum Overdrive’ Production

King also admitted to writer Tony Magistrale he had been “coked out” of his mind all through the production of Maximum Overdrive. This obviously could have been another problematic issue for the film. His thoughts on the production were revealed in Magistrale’s 2003 book Hollywood’s Stephen King

“I really didn’t know what I was doing [as the director of the film],” King declared. Despite the ups and downs of the production, the famed author said he learned a lot from the experience. “I would like to try directing again sometime. Maybe I’ll direct Gerald’s Game.

Stephen King further explained that he didn’t know if he could work with actors after the movie was made. “But I knew I could choreograph truck sand electric knives and stuff like that.”

According to IMDb, Maximum Overdrive follows a group of people trying to survive when machines start to come alive and become homicidal. The 1986 film starred Estevez as well as Pat Hingle and Laura Harrington.