In a recent interview with Eurogamer, Sam Lake—creative director of Remedy Entertainment—revealed that prolific horror writer Stephen King granted Alan Wake's opening quote for just $1. Remedy is, of course, on the promotional circuit for the upcoming sequel to Alan Wake.
"I really, really desperately wanted a quote from him to start it off," Lake told Eurogamer's Chris Tapsell. "It's my understanding he wanted $1 for us to get the rights to use it. [It was] so very generous."
The quote is from a piece King wrote for Entertainment Weekly, "Why Hollywood Can't Do Horror". In it, he writes that "nightmares exist outside of logic, and there’s little fun to be had in explanations; they’re antithetical to the poetry of fear."
King goes on to cite a moment from The Strangers, where a character asks "Why are you doing this to us?" to which they reply: "Because you were home". "In the end," King says, "that’s all the explanation a good horror film needs."
Alan Wake opens with this voice over from its titular character:
"Stephen King once wrote that 'Nightmares exist outside of logic, and there's little fun to be had in explanations; they're antithetical to the poetry of fear.'
"In a horror story, the victim keeps asking 'why?' But there can be no explanation, and there shouldn't be one. The unanswered mystery is what stays with us the longest, and it's what we'll remember in the end. My name is Alan Wake, I'm a writer."
It's only fitting that someone with Stephen King's impact on the genre had a hand in Alan Wake, which is itself a love letter to horror. King's anthology includes classics such as It, The Shining, and Carrie, and his influence is strewn throughout Alan Wake's mashup of pulpy horror goodness.
This act of writing charity isn't the first time King has sold permission to use his works for a dollar. It's an act he's done so often that it has its own Wikipedia page, also known as the Dollar Baby program. In his intro to the shooting script for The Shawshank Redemption—which was based on one of his novellas—he explains: "I ask them to sign a paper promising that no resulting film will be exhibited commercially without approval, and that they send me a videotape of the finished work. For this one-time right I ask a dollar."
It's neat to see that Stephen King's dollar deal has made its way into the gaming industry. I'm curious to hear from my braver friends which references make their way into Alan Wake 2, which is set to come out on October 17 this year.