THE KINGCAST's Top 5 Episodes Of 2023

FANGORIA's resident Stephen King podcast had a helluva year. These are the highlights.

By Scott Wampler · @ScottWamplerRIP · December 12, 2023, 10:47 AM EST

Recently, my KINGCAST co-host Eric Vespe and I were approached by our benevolent corporate overlords at FANGORIA with a simple request: an accounting of our top five episodes of the year - not necessarily our top five most listened-to episodes, but the five episodes we were most happy with, or the most proud to have run in 2023.

This turned out to be far more difficult than we initially expected it to be! Choosing favorites is a dicey proposition in a situation like this. Does the existence of a "top five" not imply the existence of a "bottom five?" We love all of our episodes equally, or at least that's what we say in public, and choosing between them was tantamount to asking a parent of 52 children to name their personal faves. We shouldn't do it! We couldn't do it!

Well, it turns out we are under contract and sorta had to do it, so we did it. Here they are, in no particular order:


SAM LAKE v. ON WRITING: In the lead-up to the release of Remedy Entertainment's Alan Wake 2, an unexpected opportunity rolled around: Remedy's Sam Lake, who'd written and directed both Alan Wake and its sequel (as well as a number of other classic Remedy titles) was interested in joining us to discuss his creative process vis a vis Stephen King's excellent non-fiction memoir, On Writing. This is a special title in King's body of work, and we were thrilled to hear how it had informed Lake's own masterpieces. We eagerly await the next opportunity to pick his brain.


ASHLEY JOHNSON v. THE LAWNMOWER MAN: Timed to air with the season finale of HBO's The Last of Us, Ashley Johnson joined us to discuss her iconic work as Ellie in Naughty Dog's blockbuster video game franchise, her memorable turn in that season finale, and her very first viewing of 1992's The Lawnmower Man. It's a raucous, rowdy episode, one befitting the Lawnmower Man legacy, and somehow manages to take a completely uncalled-for digression into a conversation about the late '90s soap opera Passions. What more could you want?


MIKE FLANAGAN v. DOLORES CLAIBORNE: Mike Flanagan's been a regular on THE KINGCAST since its first few months in operation. Always insightful about the filmmaking process, always willing to go along with our nonsense, and seemingly always in some stage of production on yet another King adaptation (his next one, The Life of Chuck, should arrive next year), he's pretty much the perfect guest, and here he became the very first to select Dolores Claiborne as his discussion title. The resulting conversation was well worth the wait.


GIGI SAUL GUERRERO & ALEJANDRO BRUGUES v. THE MIST: Almost, but not quite, our most chaotic episode of the year, this one features Satanic Hispanics filmmakers Gigi Saul Guerrero and Alejandro Brugues tackling The Mist from a decidedly Latino perspective. This one started getting rowdy within seconds of the intro, and the combined energy of Guerrero and Brugues only caused things to ramp up from there. Is it the most comprehensive episode we've ever recorded for The Mist? Absolutely not. Is it the most fun? Almost certainly.


CAMP NIGHTMARES & DREAMSCAPES (200th Episode): Every year, we like to do something special for our anniversary episodes, and this year was no exception. For our big 200th episode blowout, we invited back a murderer's row of all-timer KINGCAST guests, with each of them tackling a different short story from King's Nightmares & Dreamscapes collection. But that wasn't ambitious enough an idea, so we also made the whole thing slasher themed, presented the episode as a lengthy night telling ghost stories around a campfire, and systematically murdered off each and every guest at the end of their segment, until only one camper remained. It's the most stupidly elaborate episode we've ever assembled, the year's most unhinged, and ... well, I mean, Christ, just look at that lineup. What a goddamn party.