9 Apr 2024

Horror icon 'Carrie' celebrates 50 blood-soaked years

From Nights, 10:30 pm on 9 April 2024

It has been 50 years since Stephen King released his debut novel Carrie and forever changed the landscape of horror fiction.

The novel about a bullied a teenage girl with telekinetic powers went on to become a classic film directed by Brian De Palma, and catapulted King to fame as a master of horror.

Stephen King


Elizabeth Knox, one of New Zealand's most celebrated writers with 12 novels to her name, is a Stephen King super fan.

King’s use of polyphonic voices in his writing was ground-breaking, she told Nights.

“Most of his books have multiple points of view. And I think he's very influential... It's impossible not to be influenced by Stephen King if you’re ever thinking of doing a big canvas work.”

King was and remains skilfull at capturing the teenage voice, she says.

“He was a keen observer of his children and probably now his grandchildren. He's just good at people, he's good at imagining them from the inside.

“And when he was a young man he was very good at imagining old men, and old women later. He stepped into the shoes of various old women narrators like Dolores Claiborne. He's just a very imaginative writer, and compassionate.

“He's very moral writer, I've always thought that horror is one of the great moral genres. And he's a demonstration of that really, he can be terrifying or repulsive and really bad things happen to the characters, but he's not sadistic and and he's not prurient.”

Elizabeth Knox

Elizabeth Knox Photo: Grant Maiden

King sits with the greats of American literature, she says.

“He is a great writer, great writers can appear in any genre.”

Her two favourites are The Dead Zone and crime novel Joy Land.

“It’s set in the 1970s about somebody in their student holidays working in an old amusement park, a kind of old, tired fading amusement park. It's such a good book, so atmospheric, and it's so suspenseful.”