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Stephen King Shreds Stanley Kubrick’s ‘The Shining’; Implies Film Is “Misogynistic”…

BBC News has quite an interesting chat with the legendary Stephen King about this forthcoming novella, “Doctor Sleep”, his “The Shining” sequel arriving in stores on September 24.

Stephen King has admitted to the outlet that he is nervous about the reaction to his forthcoming sequel to his novel “The Shining.”

The US author told the BBC he expects 95% of the reviews for “Doctor Sleep” to be a comparison between the two books.

You are faced with that comparison and that has got to make you nervous,” he said, “because there is a lot of water under the bridge. I’m a different man.

In addition, King admits that he’s still not a fan of Stanley Kubrick’s “The Shining” adaptation, which starred Jack Nicholson as Jack Torrance. Here’s why:

[It’s] cold, I’m not a cold guy,” he tells BBC. “I think one of the things people relate to in my books is this warmth, there’s a reaching out and saying to the reader, ‘I want you to be a part of this.’ With Kubrick’s The Shining I felt that it was very cold, very ‘We’re looking at these people, but they’re like ants in an anthill, aren’t they doing interesting things, these little insects.’

Jack Torrance in the movie, seems crazy from the jump,” he further adds to his argument. “Jack Nicholson, I’d seen all his biker pictures in the ’50s and ’60s and I thought, he’s just channeling The Wild Angels here.

He also takes a jab at Kubrick’s portrayal of Wendy: “Shelley Duvall as Wendy is really 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 is some extremely interesting food for thought. What do you guys think?!



  • carlos.filipe

    I wouldn’t like a very diferent adaptation of my book as well, SK will never enjoy, no matter how good the movie is. I read again (from the top, since only read half) the book when i knew about doctor sleep. I loved the ending, it would be much more powerful to see the entire Overlook go up in flames.
    And about Wendy, ho yeah he’s right, she was a stupid wife that was put there to scream. Loved the movie, perhaps since i never read the book before the movie, i can loved them as totally diferent stories. Anyways, cant wait for Doctor Sleep.

  • rg_lovecraft

    I think he’s absolutely right. While The Shining will most likely always be my favorite horror film, it’s a piss poor adaptation of the book. Shelley Duvall’s interpretation (really, Kubrick’s interpretation) is definitely misogynistic, especially considering Wendy’s character in the book was that of a strong independent woman who was tired of her husbands shit and not willing to take it anymore.

  • Creationinsane19

    It’s all about different mediums and how one thing will work well for something and not the other. While The Shining did have a TV adaptation that followed the book more closely, it’s still not going to be able to achieve the magic of what ones mind can craft up. I personally don’t mind when movies take liberties with a book, or even a comic book. Some things may need to be cut out, some things may need to be changed because not all things are going to work on screen. I love both the movie and the book for different reasons. I look at the book as a man struggling, trying to fight from going insane. I look at the movie as a man descending into madness.

  • divisionbell

    It may not have been incredibly faithful, but it was still a hell of a lot better than that awful tv adaptation they did years later. This was kubrick’s take and it was still excellent.

  • anezka

    My problem with the film adaptation is that it changed the basics of the story. In the book, Jack has some problems, what makes him vulnerable, but it is the hotel that causes everything, while in the movie, Jack is just a crazy man. I even don’t get very well why that movie would be called The Shining, because the shining has close to no importance at all for the story, while in book it is a major point.
    Kubrick’s film is not bad, but it is not the same story that the book tell, therefore I don’t think it should carry the same name. I would respect it much more if they were independent.

  • coldblood

    “Misogynistic character”, you mean Shelley Duvall was a woman??????

  • Darkness69

    It certainly was cold. It was like Kubrick wanted to channel Clive Barker with a Stephen Kind story. I certainly liked the book better, even though the film has its strong points (the bartender, the talk with Grady in the bathroom) – all in all, I CAN’T WAIT for Dr. Sleep!

  • Craiggy

    Kubrick’s film met with middling box office and so-so critical response when 1st released. Audiences have warmed up to it over the years but is that a reflection of the audience or of the film? I loved the book and hated the film when it came out. There’s not a scare to be found in those over produced scenes. Mind you, like the rest of the world, I’ve come to appreciate watching it on a rainy Saturday afternoon but the mini-series King wrote was far superior as an adaption of the book. The mini series was the visual re-telling of the book I hoped to see and Mr King has every right to feel let down by Kubrick’s film. I know I was.

  • toddjne

    I agree with King 120%. I saw “The Shining” upon first release, and back then, while I did love and was semi-knowledgable about horror films, I was by no means a film sophisticate. I found it, back then, unscary, unintentionally funny, and, as King said, cold, very cold to the point of it seeming as if the director made the whole thing as a joke or something. And the acting seemed like bad community theater (nothing against community theater). However, that being said, my best friend at the time and I quoted from the film relentlessly (the “Larry, we need a snowcat…” stuff, etc.), not because we thought it was a cool movie, but because we thought it was a turkey with hilarious dialogue. Upon seeing it years later, I maybe liked it slightly more, although I still found it weirdly unscary, appreciating the insane sets, the boy wheeling through the maze of hallways, and I thought the coldness of the movie was maybe more of a Kubrick trademark rather than him treating it all like a colossal put-on. Who knows…I still tend to disregard any “Best Horror Films” type lists that list “The Shining” anywhere near the top, but, as with everything, there’s things I love that other people hate, and visa versa, so I certainly am happy enough to have others love films that I don’t. I do kinda want to see that documentary about fans of “The Shining,” or whatever it is…sounds interesting.

  • coldblood

    And what the fuck is with this “coldness of the movie” bullshit? Did I miss the memo about horror movies are supposed to give you the ‘warm fuzzies’?!?
    Can’t believe I’m reading all this pussy talk on a horror site.

    • Josh

      Empathy can increase horror.

  • Darkness69

    We all refer here to the warmth in King’s novels, since this is a Stephen King adaptation. If it was just based on some screenplay, it would be a different thing, of course, but the comparison to the novel that the movie is based on is unavoidable. Hence, describing Kubrick’s take on it as cold. D’oh!

  • Wolf-man

    Where, I do agree that King has every right to be annoyed at the movie. I know I would be ticked off if some director made a movie based on something I created and then changed it completely to make his own movie. However, I think it’s time to stop complaining, at least, publicly. We get it, you hate it, that’s fine but you don’t have to tell us three or four times a year. I’m not asking him to like the movie just to keep it to himself that he doesn’t like it.
    I, personally, have not read the book but I love the movie and Kubrick does a great job in making his own movie. As for Shelly Duvall’s character; umm…I’m not sure what people were looking for. I mean her character is pretty realistic. Her husband went freaking crazy and is trying to kill her and her son. I’m pretty sure most people would be freaking out and screaming everywhere. Considering most of us are Friday the 13th fans, I don’t think we have much room to be accusing Horror movies of being misogynistic.

    • Wolf-man

      Also, for a guy that hates these movie adaptions so much, he certainty isn’t doing anything to keep them from being made.

  • Vadicta

    I am so sick of the word misogynistic getting thrown around with no real understanding of the term. “Misogynistic” implies a hatred of women. Are we supposed to hate Wendy? Nope. Does the film give us any reason to hate Wendy? No.

    The fact is we’re constantly aligned with her. We hate Jack pretty quickly, sure. We can tell his unhappy and he’s falling apart. But Wendy is always a breath of fresh air. We feel for her struggle. We watch from her perspective. The film would be misogynistic if we were rooting for Jack to murder her. But we’re not. I find this film so thrilling and gut wrenching just because of how very much we’re supposed to feel for Wendy.

    Yes, she screams. Yes, she’s scared. But that’s because it’s a horror movie. Of course she is. She should be. But she fights back, and she saves her son.

    King might be surprised by this, but when someone writes real human beings, things aren’t so cut and dry as “independent woman” and “stupid bimbo.” The fact is that she cares about her family, and she’s terrified, because she doesn’t know what’s happening. She’s instantly relatable.

    What I love about the movie is that someone took the story away from King and turned his characters into living, breathing people and toned down his campy nonsense–which I guess he calls “warmth”–and made something truly fantastic out of it.

    • Josh

      Kubrick rendered the Wendy character as a pretty much useless wailing mess.

      • Vadicta

        She’s afraid and trapped and human. And she’s totally useless, because when Jack chased her up the stairs, she just let him kill her, right? She doesn’t slash Jack’s hand with the knife to keep him away, right?

        She doesn’t jump out of the bathroom, tackle him, and stab him to death sure–but that wouldn’t be very human. You get the feeling from early on that she’s always been a little afraid of Jack, that she and her son are trapped with him more than they’d like to be. This movie pushes that, and it gives her the courage to get away from him under the worst possible circumstances.

        If by “useless wailing mess” you mean she’s not Wonder Woman, then sure. She’s not the strongest female character ever created. But she’s a far cry from being anything nearly “misogynistic.”

    • Incinerated

      It’s interesting that a person who acknowledges “things aren’t so cut and dry,” when it comes to humanity, has only a surface-level, dictionary, understanding of what misogyny is. You’re sick of the word being thrown around? Boo-fucking-hoo.

  • woodchuck

    I actually always thought that the TV Mini series was a lot better and creepier than Kubrik’s movie. Especially the part with old zombie lady in the bath tub, the movie just made her an ugly old lady but the mini series actually made her into the slimy zombie lady.

  • markajacoby

    Personally I have never understood the love affair with Kubrick’s “Shining.” Maybe it’s just that I’m too in love with the book. Duvall was a horrible choice for casting, and honestly, I can’t stand Jack’s performance. He’s way too over the top. And what the hell happened to the hedge creatures. Other than the little girls I found the movie to be neither claustrophobic (which was the WHOLE point of the book) or creepy. I have always been extremely underwhelmed by it (and trust me, the other adaptation isn’t any better).

  • railridden

    In the book, the supernatural element was played up. In the movie, it’s there, but relegated to the background. The movie is fundamentally about a man being driven insane by his wife.

    Stephen King is right that it treats the characters like ants, but that isn’t necessarily a bad thing.

  • oneofthosedeadfckers

    Even though the movie isn’t a faithful adaptation, I still love it for the cinematography more so than the story.

  • Bobfulci

    q21\y7oor Stephen..terribly afflicted with the disease of the far-left. I suppose every single woman in not just any horror film, but ANY film period had better be a serious, strong, smart, ass-kicking HELLION or the creators of said film will be labelled as misogynistic pigs…poor, poor Stephen..

  • HorrorNoir

    I think each work, the film and novel, are equally great in their own right. I just finished rereading the novel to prepare for Doctor Sleep and I agree that the novel is warmer. However, I appreciate the cold, surreal nature of the film. It is NOT a faithful adaptation but that’s okay with me. The Shining novel is a wonderful haunted hotel story and I’m excited to see where King takes it with Doctor Sleep, but I believe the movie stands on its own as a separate entity from the book.

    I love Wendy’s character in the novel and agree that she is mainly in the film to be dumb and scream. But if King thinks this is one of the most misogynistic characters ever, then he has overlooked a huge amount of horror films with worse portrayals of women.

    I love King, I’ve read almost all his books but really wish he would stop bashing on the film. I know it’s his baby and he might be unhappy with the changes, but it’s obviously a beloved classic horror film.

  • spacedog

    Duvalls performance gave the film its edge of your seat tension. Its a shame she was nominated for a Razzie because Kubrick and Jack put her through hell on set. Underrated performance.

  • cryofpaine

    Personally, I prefer the made for tv version starring Steven Weber and Rebecca de Mornay. That was a much more cerebral take, and it’s never really clear until you get towards the very end, whether Jack is crazy, or whether to place is haunted, or both. Plus, there’s a really great reconciliation that takes place between Jack and Danny that’s missing from the feature film version. Even though I’ve never read the book, from what I know of Steven King’s work, the tv miniseries struck me as the most true to the original work.

  • I think what bothers King the most is The Shining’s legacy. Many horror aficionados and experts praise The Shining as one of the best horror films of all time AND the best Stephen King adaptation ever, with Brian De Palma’s Carrie, Misrey, and other King novels in the mix.

    So in a lot of ways, you could say Kubrick’s Shining equals the legacy of King’s book, and on top of that, there are people out their, who believe Kubrick’s film is better than King’s book. I’m sure all of this bothers King to no end. especially, when you consider the fact he’s not happy about how his book was portrayed on the big screen.

    But that’s where I’m confused. They changed the story and endings for The Mist and Secret Window, but King didn’t have a problem with it (from what I remember). And didn’t King praise The Mist? Weird.

    I’m not saying King is wrong, but at the same time, it’s kind of hard to ignore the legacy Kubrick’s Shining has built up over the years.

  • Pulagatha

    You know… I really hate to say this because nine times out of ten I’m on the same page when it’s anything that concerns Stephen King and his opinion. But I disagree with him on Wendy and her portrayal in The Shining. I think she is one of the few heroes Kubrick ever put in a film (This and the lady at the end of Paths Of Glory.) Everyone else in a Kubrick movie is represented with a more lurid nature. I don’t think she is a misogynistic stereotype either. I think she is in a lot of ways Kubrick’s strengths as a person. She is an observer.

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