Stephen King’s works have been a key source for many horror movies and TV shows, from the recently released Netflix movie Mr. Harrigan’s Phone to the canceled Hulu show, Castle Rock. Undoubtedly, King knows how to craft worlds filled with dread and terror —and inside those worlds are characters and humans that many consider monsters.
With its mountain of short stories and novels that span genres from horror to sci-fi, it’s hard to pin down its most petrifying monsters. That said, Reddit users have been very vocal about which King monsters they find the scariest.
The hotel room in 1408
Besides novels, King also offers a wide selection of short stories, some of which also feature horrific beings and phenomena. A good example is the short story 1408, which is about a writer who spends a night in a mysterious hotel room.
Thanks to King’s masterful writing, Redditor Lampmonster says they’re most scared of the hotel room in 1408 with how it forces a person to lose their mind “in the shortest possible time”. Most readers would also easily identify with the main character, especially if they have a “complete disbelief in the supernatural”. Due to the creepy nature of 1408, it was adapted into a film starring John Cusack and Samuel L. Jackson.
Harold Lauder at the helm
King’s dark fantasy novel The Stand has already been adapted for television twice due to its incredibly epic narrative. As the King of Horror, King also inserted a precisely terrifying character into The Stand: the treacherous teenage nerd, Harold Lauder.
On Reddit, user ChrispyPotatochips notes that “a lot of people in real life” look like Harold “to some degree.” What they seem to be saying and what other Redditors seem to be saying in their replies is that Harold reminds them of the dangerous parts of toxic male culture, like incel, that seems to have become emboldened in today’s society today. Harold was played by actors Owen Teague and Corin Nemec in the 2020 miniseries and the 1994 show, respectively.
Leland Gaunt in Necessary Things
Needful Things is a novel that revolves around an antique and collectibles store in the mysterious town of Castle Rock. The shop is run by a man named Leland Gaunt, who is a demon in disguise in order to trick people into giving him their souls.
Besides Leland being a demon (and Satan himself in the film adaptation), Reddit user Waywardson74 notes that he’s “manipulative in a charming, unassuming way,” so much so that his plan disrupts and brings chaos to Castle Rock. Despite his nefarious plans, Leland doesn’t force his clients to make deals with him, but those who are weak-willed will find it harder to say no.
Raymond Joubert in Gérald’s game
One of the highest rated Netflix movies is an adaptation of the horror thriller Gerald’s Game. The book is about a couple’s vacation gone wrong, with a woman named Jessie Burlingame left handcuffed to a bed after her husband dies of a heart attack—while a killer is on the loose.
While not exactly the villain of the story, Raymond Joubert is the serial killer who appeared in the corner of the room during Jessie’s delusional entrapment. Redditor RyanMark2318 notes that reading Gerald’s Game left him petrified as he paused “in the middle of reading” to “make sure” Raymond wasn’t there. Thanks to King’s lively writing, it’s no surprise that those who read Gerald’s Game want to make sure that Raymond is truly a work of fiction.
Mrs. Carmody in the mist
There are only a few King adaptations that perfectly capture the source material. While the director of The Mist strayed from the book’s ending, the film is a King adaptation that left viewers speechless. Besides its heartbreaking ending and creepy setting, it also features a notorious human villain, Mrs. Carmody.
What makes Mrs. Carmody a creepy character is her resemblance to real-life personalities, as she leads a cult that doesn’t hesitate to harm others in the name of their beliefs. On Reddit, Taste_the__Rainbow warns that people like Ms Carmody are “walking around” in societies today and “just waiting for their chance to flourish”. Its similarities to notorious real-life people make it more terrifying, as readers can easily encounter them in society.
The Child of Castle Rock
The Kid is a character from the King The Stand novel who also appeared as a seemingly different character in the horror show Castle Rock produced by JJ Abrams. In the book, The Kid is a menacing secondary villain who subjects a deadly arsonist named Trashcan Man to incredibly inhuman and gruesome acts.
In a Reddit comment, edubcb points out that they believe The Kid made them “feel sympathy” for the real villain of the book. Due to the evilness of The Kid’s actions, it’s understandable why he didn’t appear in the 2020 adaptation of The Stand.
Patrick Hockstetter inside
One of King’s most famous adaptations is the horror film It. While the film is already made terrifying by Pennywise’s creepy and petrifying appearance, it also features a human character that may scare viewers.
Patrick Hockstetter is a bully who tormented the members of the Losers Club. In the novel, he is seen as the main antagonist instead of Pennywise. Redditor BrentWorthington explains that while most of King’s freaks are scary, “Patrick was a cut above” due to the fact that he was never going to “become a remorseful person” and his crimes would become even more disturbing . Due to its importance to the novel, it could be the answer to some of the burning questions that need to be answered in its prequel series.
The Boogeyman in the Boogeyman
King’s short stories are also full of disturbing tales and petrifying monsters. The Boogeyman, which was published in Cavalier magazine, contains the titular monster that primarily targets and kills children. The novel’s protagonist is a man named Lester, whose three children were murdered by the Boogeyman.
In a Reddit post about King’s scariest monsters, Dashington7980 admits they had to sleep with their ‘closet open for months’ after reading the scary news, as the villain hid in a closet before attacking. Lester at the end. Horror fans are in luck, as The Boogeyman will soon be adapted for the big screen by director Rob Savage.
Todd Bowden in Apt Student
While King is known for his terrifying monsters rooted in fantasy such as Pennywise and the Boogeyman, he’s also impeccable at making ordinary humans even more petrifying. This is the case of Todd Bowden, who is the main protagonist of his novel, Apt Pupil.
Todd Bowden has shown interest in the intricacies of human nature and wants to explore the act of being evil. A Reddit user named Poofbomb123 says Todd pissed them off because “he hid behind a facade of an average American kid. In the book, Todd is shown to have rape fantasies, murdered several people, and blackmailed a Nazi commander into speaking out about his Holocaust experience.
Entragian Collie in Desperation/The Regulators
King’s innovative writing style spawned the novels Desperation and The Regulators, which are two separate novels that depict parallel universes mirroring each other. A character named Collie Entrragian shows more of his evil side in the novel Desperation.
In the book, Collie is an assistant officer who kidnaps various passers-by in order to feed a demon named Tak. Redditor jesuisggb explains that Collie “frightened them” because “he just keeps going” by committing heinous crimes under Tak’s control, including planting drugs to arrest innocent citizens and directly murdering people in the city. Those who want to see Collie’s misdeeds on the big screen can check out the 2006 TV adaptation of Desperation, where he’s played by Ron Perlman.