The Creepy True Story That Inspired The Movie

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Summary

  • “1408” is a horror movie adaptation of Stephen King’s short story of the same name, and is considered one of the best in the genre.
  • The story was inspired by real incidents at San Diego’s Hotel del Coronado, where a young woman named Kate Morgan took her own life.
  • Parapsychologist Christopher Chacon’s investigation at the hotel revealed several paranormal incidents, although not as terrifying as depicted in the movie.


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As surreal as 1408‘s storyline may seem, it is actually based on a true story. Directed by Swedish filmmaker Mikael Håfström, 1408 was released in 2007 and is still hailed as one of the best horror movie adaptations of Stephen King’s books. It featured John Cusack as Mike Enslin, a paranormal skeptic who pens books that debunk supernatural occurrences. His latest investigation takes him to a grand New York City hotel named The Dolphin that accommodates an infamous haunted room, the titular 1408. Despite warnings from hotel manager Gerald Olin (Samuel L. Jackson), Mike insists on staying in 1408 and soon finds his skepticism tested in terrifying ways.

The Stephen King movie is based on the short story of the same name penned by the master of the macabre, Stephen King. The story first appeared in his self-narrated audiobook Blood And Smoke, and later in his short story collection Everything’s Eventual. In the movie, Mike records his thoughts on room 1408, stating, “Hotel rooms are a naturally creepy place, don’t you think? I mean, how many people have slept in that bed before you? How many of them were sick? How many of them lost their minds?” That line is ripped almost verbatim from the foreword King wrote for 1408 in Everything’s Eventual, but the inherently creepy nature of hotel rooms was not the only inspiration for the story.

RELATED: 1408 Is Stephen King’s Most Underrated Short Story Adaptation


The Hotel Del Coronado Inspired Stephen King’s 1408

John Cusack in 1408

According to reports (via Hotel del Coronado’s website), Stephen King was inspired to write the short story, 1408, after reading about an investigation conducted by parapsychologist Christopher Chacon at San Diego’s Hotel del Coronado. Built in the late 1880s, the luxurious hotel was a playground for Hollywood’s elite in the Roaring Twenties and hosted stars including Charlie Chaplin, Mae West, and Greta Garbo. However, it is most famous for a tragic incident that took place in its vicinity a few years after its grand opening.

In 1892 a young woman named Kate Morgan checked into the Hotel del Coronado on Thanksgiving under a false name and informed the staff she was waiting for a male companion. Five days after checking in, however, Kate’s body was found on a flight of stairs leading to the beach after she took her own life. Since then, hotel guests and employees have reported several spooky incidents mostly centered around the third-floor guestroom Morgan occupied. From inexplicably moving objects to disembodied voices and footsteps, the hotel’s staff has reported it all.

Are Any Of The Events In 1408 Real?

1408 Famous Wall Scene

Strangely, Christopher Chacon experienced paranormal incidents in a room that was a part of the maids’ quarters in Hotel del Coronado; not in Kate Morgan’s original room. After setting up infrared cameras, magnetic meters, and other relevant investigation devices, Chacon and his team detected a total of 37 abnormalities in the former maid’s room, including a glass that fell to the floor by itself. Chacon’s experiences were not even remotely as terrifying and bizarre as Mike Enslin’s in 1408. However, they still established that Stephen King’s short story and the 1408 movie adaptation have some semblance of reality to them.

Sources: Hotel del Coronado’s website