Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining is easily one of the best big-screen adaptations of a Stephen King novel. It’s also one of the better real horror films. Funnily enough, King himself isn’t much of a fan. But who cares? We are! Even if you’ve seen the movie too many times to count, there’s still probably some things you don’t know about the film and what went down behind the scenes.
For instance, did you know that Kubrick had a love for the horror genre early on in his career? In the early 1970s, he was being considered for the direction of The Exorcist. He didn’t get the job, though, because he wanted to not only direct but produce it as well. He told a friend that he wanted “to make the world’s scariest movie, involving a series of episodes that would play upon the nightmare fears of the audience.”
In 1952, Kubrick was working as the second unit director on an episode of the TV series Omnibus. But it was a different episode (about poker players getting into a fight) that inspired certain parts of The Shining.
“You think the point of the story is that his death was inevitable because a paranoid poker player would ultimately get involved in a fatal gunfight,” said Kubrick of the episode. But, in the end, as he explains, you find out that the man that he accused was actually the one cheating him. He then said how The Shining used a similar kind of psychological misdirection – to foresee that supernatural events were actually happening.
According to David Hughes, Kubrick’s biographer, King wrote a full draft of a screenplay for The Shining. But, as it turns out, Kubrick didn’t think it was even worth a glance. It makes sense when you learn that the director once described the author’s writing “weak.”
Instead, Kubrick worked with screenwriter Diane Johnson because he was a fan of her novel, The Shadow Knows. The two spent 11 weeks working on the script. I wonder how King felt about it all…