Stephen King's new book takes shots at the film adaptation of The Shining

Why does King still hate Stanley Kubrick's movie, even 38 years after its release?

Why does King still hate Stanley Kubrick's movie, even 38 years after its release?

Jack Nicholson as alcoholic writer Jack Torrance in Stanley Kubrick’s classic horror The Shining. (Warner Bros.)

Have you ever loved a book but absolutely hated the film adaption? Try being the author of said book.

Stephen King has notoriously loathed the Stanley Kubrick adaptation of The Shining since the day it was released. So much so that, 38 years later, he's still not willing to let it go.

In his new book, The Outsider, he introduces a character by mentioning that she's watching Kubrick's anti-war film Paths of Glory because "it's better than The Shining."

It's a tiny, inconsequential point in terms of the plot, which is focused around a detective's investigation of a gruesome murder in Flint City, Oklahoma, but it's a great little Easter egg for fans of King, or just anyone familiar with his hatred of Kubrick's adaptation.

King has gone on record about how he thought the film stripped the main character of Jack, played by Jack Nicholson, of any emotional arc.

"Absolutely no arc at all," King told Deadline. "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."

He also had strong words for Shelley Duvall's portrayal of Wendy, telling the BBC that it was one of the "most misogynistic characters ever put on film, she's basically just there to scream and be stupid and that's not the woman that I wrote about."

That said, King does admit to being a big fan of Kubrick, particularly Paths of Glory, but that even in talking to him, the director never fully grasped the story King was telling with The Shining.

"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," he said.

When the film was released, reviews were mixed, but it's gone on to be considered a horror classic and one of the best of the genre. Even King is willing to give the film its moments, although he does so in an offhand way.

"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."


Jesse Kinos-Goodin

Producer, CBC Music

Jesse Kinos-Goodin is a Toronto-based journalist and producer at CBC Music. He can be found on Twitter @JesseKG or email


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