Stephen King Says the Coronavirus Pandemic Is Like the Zombie Movie ‘Night of the Living Dead’

Stephen King is the iconic horror author of such classics as It, Misery, The Shining, and The Outsider (now an HBO television drama). The famous writer–who also literally wrote the book On Writing–was recently interviewed about his take on the coronavirus outbreak. King compared the global COVID-19 pandemic to the 1968 classic horror movie Night of the Living Dead.

Horror writer Stephen King on how he’s dealing with coronavirus-related quarantine

Stephen King
Writer Stephen King in 2006 | Thos Robinson/Getty Images

Fresh Air is a popular interview show on National Public Radio. Host Terry Gross recently invited Stephen King on the podcast to chat about all things coronavirus.

Gross pointed out how the pandemic that is currently raging across the globe reminds many people of a Stephen King story. For example, his novel The Stand, published in 1978, tells the story of a disease that wreaks havoc on humanity.

“Is this pandemic the closest thing you’ve come to living in one of your own horror stories?” the Fresh Air host asked King.

“Well, it is and it isn’t,” he replied. King’s book The Dead Zone also featured a character that many fans found similar to Trump. They mentioned it to King when Trump won the presidency in 2016.

“And now that Trump is actually president of the United States and there is a pandemic worldwide,” King explained,”… it seems almost like those two books cross-pollinated somehow. It’s not very comfortable to be me.”

For those readers that feel like they’re “living in a Stephen King story,” the author of so many scary stories had just one response.

“I’m sorry,” King lamented. “It’s not your fault.’”

King says the COVID-19 outbreak is more like 1968 movie ‘Night of the Living Dead’

The popular fiction writer had a different take on the coronavirus pandemic. He says it reminded him of a classic horror film from the 1960s. King said on Fresh Air:

Stephen King | Sean Zanni/Patrick McMullan via Getty Images

… when you were talking about viruses not being alive or dead, this really is like one of those zombie movies … we’re living in the Night of the Living Dead, in a sense, because the virus is just what it is, which is something that’s almost incomprehensible to us and it’s incomprehensible to science.

King says that a big reason the virus is so scary is “because it’s invisible, because we can’t see it.” But, we simply know that it’s there.

We hear these things on the news where they’re saying, ‘look, if you have to go out, make sure that you don’t touch your face when you come back,” he told Gross.

Because King can make anything a “Stephen King story,” he continued:

And it’s easy to imagine, Terry, think of this. They could be on your hands right now. Germs, viruses like wagon wheels, just they’re in your hands waiting to get inside the warmth of your body where they can multiply and spread. And once you start thinking about that, it’s very hard to unpick it.

Why the film ‘The Night of the Living Dead’ was so influential

night of the living dead
Night Of The Living Dead, poster, l-r: Duane Jones, Judith Ridley on title card, 1968. (Photo by LMPC via Getty Images)

The film Night of the Living Dead is a classic. But why? Its IMDb plot reads as such:

A ragtag group of Pennsylvanians barricade themselves in an old farmhouse to remain safe from a bloodthirsty, flesh-eating breed of monsters who are ravaging the East Coast of the United States.

The British Film Institute reports that “George A. Romero’s Night of the Living Dead is often spoken of as a manifesto for the modern horror film.” The movie, they continued, “marked a transition in horror cinema: from the classic to the modern.”

The 1968 version of Night of the Living Dead is available on YouTube.