Stephen King Still Really Dislikes Stanley Kubrick’s ‘The Shining’

By February 4, 2016
the shining featured image bike

I’m not gonna hurt ya. I’m just gonna bash your movie endlessly.

Stephen King really doesn’t like Stanley Kubrick’s version of The Shining. One of the most revered horror movies ever just doesn’t do it for one of the most revered writers of all time. It’s like something awesome hating something amazing; it’s weird.

He was still talking about it just a few years ago in an interview with Deadline that was just recently published:

I think The Shining is a beautiful film and it looks terrific and as I’ve said before, it’s like a big, beautiful Cadillac with no engine inside it. In that sense, when it opened, a lot of the reviews weren’t very favorable and I was one of those reviewers. I kept my mouth shut at the time, but I didn’t care for it much.

That is a less than stellar review. It’s almost the equivalent of going up to another human being and saying “You are very attractive. Also, you are dead inside and I hate you.” King also mentioned some specifics about where he and Kubruck differed:

I talked to Stanley on the phone before he started and I remember I could feel him reaching, trying to find his way into the books, and he said, “Well, don’t you find that all ghost stories are optimistic, don’t you think so? Because it means that the presupposition is that if there are ghosts, there’s an afterlife, we don’t just die, we go on.” And I said, “Mr. Kubrick, what about hell?” There was a long pause at the other end and he said in a very stiff voice, “I don’t believe in hell.” And I said, “Well, OK, you don’t, but my feeling is that if there are ghosts, they’re as likely to be maligned as they are to be ‘come into the light.’

When asked to tell us how he really feels, King said that he mostly still has the same opinion today:

I feel the same because the character of Jack Torrance has no arc in that movie. Absolutely no arc at all. When we first see Jack Nicholson, he’s in the office of Mr. Ullman, the manager of the hotel, and you know, then, he’s crazy as a shit house rat. All he does is get crazier. In the book, he’s a guy who’s struggling with his sanity and finally loses it. To me, that’s a tragedy. In the movie, there’s no tragedy because there’s no real change. The other real difference is at the end of my book the hotel blows up, and at the end of Kubrick’s movie the hotel freezes. That’s a difference.

The entire interview is no doubt worth a read as King goes on to discuss the ups and downs of having someone adapt your book into a movie. Also worth checking out is Room 237; the fascinating documentary about The Shining which also covers the entertaining feud that took place between King and Kubrick. (Sounds like a lawyers office)

Off subject, I’m having a really hard time trying to decide whether I’d like to be blown up or froze to death. It’s a great question. What do you think, GeekNation? Stay tuned for more updates and people trash talkin’, because that’s always fun.

Mike Holtz
Mike Holtz is just a guy looking for any excuse to talk movies and needs to be able to give people a legitimate reason to spend what they spend on popcorn each month. The Dad to a superhero little girl with another on the way, Mike's also written for a few cool websites and talked for a few more. Also, Mike cries like a school girl every time he watches 'Rocky.'