Stephen King still hates Stanley Kubrick's movie of The Shining

Ben Arnold
·Contributor
Here’s Johnny… Stephen King still hates The Shining – Credit: Warner Bros
Here’s Johnny… Stephen King still hates The Shining – Credit: Warner Bros

Fans of Stephen King’s novel of ‘The Shining’ are usually the most critical of Stanley Kubrick’s movie adaptation, despite it being considered a horror classic.

And King himself has never held back from voicing his opinion about it, and it’s not complimentary.

In fact, just yesterday, King threw some shade at the 1980 movie, which seemed to suggest that time has not tempered his view.

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Blumhouse Productions, the company behind recent horror hits like ‘Insidious’, ‘Paranormal Activity’ and ‘The Purge’, dropped a seemingly innocuous tweet asking people to rate their top five Stephen King movies.

King himself was tagged in the message, while a picture of ‘The Shining’ was posted with the call to action.

Later, King chimed in with his two cents, saying: “Not this one.”

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King explained his view of Kubrick’s movie perhaps best in an interview in 2015, where he recalled a phone conversation with the feted British director.

“He said ‘Stephen, Stanley Kubrick here. Don’t you agree that all stories of ghosts are fundamentally optimistic?’

“And I said, ‘what do you mean?’ And he said ‘well, if there are ghosts, it means we survive death, and that’s fundamentally an optimistic view’, and I said ‘Well Mr Kubrick, what about hell?’

“There was a long pause on the telephone line, and then he said in a very stiff, and very different voice ‘I don’t believe in hell’.

“The film is extremely cold. Stanley Kubrick saw the haunting as coming from Jack Torrence, where I always saw it coming from outside, so we always had a fundamental difference of opinion about it.

“The real difference between my take on it, and Stanley Kubrick’s take on it, was in my novel, the hotel burns. In Kubrick’s movie, the hotel freezes.

“The images are striking, there’s no doubt about it… but to me, it’s surface and not substance. I used to describe the film as a beautiful car that had no engine in it.”

Ouch.

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