We’ve had a lot of Stephen King adaptations, and most of them aren’t great. Really, finding a Stephen King film that’s good is relatively hard, but The Shining from director Stanley Kubrick stands out to many as perhaps the best horror movie based on the writer’s work.
King himself famously hates it, and in new movie King on Screen, frequent King adapters Frank Darabont and Mick Garris discuss why. They’re both experts in this field, since Darabont has made The Shawshank Redemption, The Mist, and The Green Mile, three of the best movies related to King, while Garris has been involved in some of the best TV series drawing from King, like Bag of Bones and The Stand.
“It’s a really good Stanley Kubrick movie, but it’s a terrible Stephen King movie,” Darabont states about The Shining. Often referenced as a masterpiece, the Kubrick film features an unhinged Jack Nicholson who goes on a murderous rampage against his family during a stay in the haunted Overlook Hotel. Shelly Duvall plays a blinder opposite him, as his tormented wife, Wendy.
Beloved The Shining may be, it deviates quite radically from King’s text, creating two disparate versions of the same broad outline. “The creative personalities are very different: King is a very warm and human and emotional writer, Kubrick is a very cool and intellectualized filmmaker,” Garris says. “His calculating manner is in contrast to what King’s story is about.”
Since The Shining came out in 1980, we’ve had more additions to that story. Garris himself took a run at the original text in concert with King, for a ‘90s TV show produced explicitly to counter Kubrick’s version. In 2013, King published a sequel, Doctor Sleep, that became a ghost movie from Mike Flanagan, another frequent adapter of King’s.
None of those have gained reverence or fervent response like Kubrick’s film did. Despite King’s misgivings, Kubrick’s feature continues to provide a massive entry point for new fans and remains in high regard across the communities that love his work.
King on Screen is currently in theatres and will arrive on digital on September 8. Check out our lists of the best horror movies, best vampire movies, and best zombie movies if you want more scares. We also have guides to the Saw X release date and Scream 7 release date, so you can plan your next terrifying trip to the cinema.