Stanley Kubrick’s ‘The Shining’ Turns 26

The Shining celebrates the 26th anniversary of its theatrical release today. Few films set the tone better for disturbing 1980s domesticity.

The Shining is, of course, Stanley Kubrick’s notorious adaptation of Stephen King’s novel, verging far from the author’s original work. Kubrick essentially took King’s central character (Jack Nicholson as Jack Torrance) and turned him from a weak man manipulated by a ghost into murderous behavior, into a violent monster who clearly detested his own wife and child. Something about all work and no play making Jack a dull boy… As discussed in the video essay below, King believed that it was Kubrick’s “inability to believe in the supernatural that kept the audience from believing in the world he had established.”

King’s dislike of Kubrick’s adaptation is no secret, and he’s gone on to name his favorite film adaptations of his work. In 2014 he told Rolling Stone that Stand By Me is tops, since it is “true to the book” and has the “emotional gradient of the story.” His other favorites? Shawshank Redemption, The Green Mile, Misery, Delores Claiborne and Cujo (trailers below). Stacked like that, it’s humbling to consider what King has given to cinema. But for those of us who are Kubrick and  Shining devotees, it’s hard to deny its own auteuriol genius.

King on The Shining:

“But obviously people absolutely love it, and they don’t understand why I don’t. The book is hot, and the movie is cold; the book ends in fire, and the movie in ice. In the book, there’s an actual arc where you see this guy, Jack Torrance, trying to be good, and little by little he moves over to this place where he’s crazy. And as far as I was concerned, when I saw the movie, Jack was crazy from the first scene. I had to keep my mouth shut at the time. It was a screening, and Nicholson was there. But I’m thinking to myself the minute he’s on the screen, ‘Oh, I know this guy. I’ve seen him in five motorcycle movies, where Jack Nicholson played the same part.’ And it’s so misogynistic. I mean, Wendy Torrance is just presented as this sort of screaming dishrag. But that’s just me, that’s the way I am.”

Free Will in Kubrick’s THE SHINING from Drew Morton on Vimeo.

Listen to the Whole Soundtrack from ‘Ghost Brothers of Darkland County’

Depending on your taste and perhaps your generational cultural cues, Stephen King, T-Bone Burnett and John Mellencamp are either legends of their crafts or names you’ve seen on your dad’s shelves. Not too long ago, these three mighty forces came together to write a supernatural folk-rock musical, Ghost Brothers of Darkland County, which premiered in 2012 in Atlanta. Now, the team is releasing the whole all-star soundtrack, which will meet a wider public on June 4th.

Ghost Brothers of Darkland County is rooted in actual events, the story of a fight between two brothers in rural Indiana that ended in death and destruction and woe, as these things often do. Mellencamp brought the story to Stephen King, and the two came up with this tale of two sets of brothers, one living, one (presumably) dead, from the same family, and the younger must learn from the elder to not make the same mistakes. King wrote the book, Mellencamp wrote the songs, T-Bone Burnett produced, and now we have a soundtrack.

The musical’s songbook is full of stars in the country and folk worlds, including Sheryl Crow, Neko Case, Rosanne Cash, Kris Kristofferson, Elvis Costello and Taj Mahal. Crow, Phil Alvin, Taj Mahal and more reassure with the soothing, breezy “Home Again,” which sounds like it could close an act, with the words speaking of reconciliation and return. Kristofferson’s “How Many Days” is dusty and contemplative, trudging with intent across the Indiana plains and speaking with a voice that sounds quite haunted. Elvis Costello’s “That’s Me” is sinister but not malevolent, a good introduction for a ghostly character. Listen to the whole, lovely, haunted America soundtrack below.

[via the Wall Street Journal]

What’s Worse? A ‘Shining’ Sequel or a ‘Shining’ Prequel?

Stephen King’s anticipated (anticipated? sure) sequel to his 1977 horror novel The Shining hits bookstores… well, let’s be honest, it’s going to hit this September. Titled Doctor Sleep, the novel will follow grown-up Dan Torrence and his relationship with a psychic twelve-year-old girl. The novel’s Wikipedia page ensures that it’ll involve an epic battle of good and evil. FIne; Stephen King wrote the book that inspired the excellent Stanley Kubrick film, so let him go ahead and write a companion to his original story. The rest of us—those who know the movie is better than the book—can go on with the understanding that the film is a stand-alone piece of perfection. Of course, it’s so popular that it has also inspired a prequel; former Walking Dead showrunner Glen Mazzara will write the script for Warner Bros’ upcoming The Overlook Hotel. Which is the worst idea? I think it might be sort of a tie. 

[via Deadline]

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First Look: Behind the Scenes of ‘Under the Dome’

Under the Dome is a thirteen-part miniseries / possible actual real TV series premiering on CBS this summer. Based on the book by Stephen King, the series follows the residents of a small town in Maine (where else?) who find themselves trapped under a large dome. Naturally, all hell breaks loose, which is what happens when you’re… UNDER THE DOME. Also, somehow military trucks are under the dome, too. That’s convenient! Anyway, here’s a behind-the-scenes look at the "television event" hitting the small screen in just a few weeks. 

[Via Hollywood Reporter]

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‘Room 237’: You Don’t Have To Be Crazy To Love Kubrick, But It Helps

I caught a screening of the charmingly demented documentary Room 237 last night and wow, I have it a lot more together mentally than I’d always assumed. The film is built upon interviews with several obsessive Stanley Kubrick fans, all haunted in particular by his masterpiece of horror, The Shining. Note that I don’t use “obsessive” here in the way you might say, “I’m obsessed with cupcakes.”

No, the “Interviewees,” as they are identified from the outset, are like a cast of conspiracy theorists, each driven to the brink of madness by their idiosyncratic reading of the film. They’re never seen, but various Kubrick characters stand in for them in clever pastiche. They note every possible subtextual clue: the TV that Danny and Wendy watch has no wire connecting it to the wall. Objects disappear, a typewriter changes color, and potent symbols of everything from genocide to space exploration crop up. Oh, there’s discussion of a moon landing hoax, but really the only unforgivable thing was when one dude called Barry Lyndon “boring.” That and how another guy kept pronouncing it “Kyoo-brick.”

There’s an arresting few moments of the original film being projected backwards and forwards simultaneously, atop one another, establishing weird connections that the Interviewees insist are critical to the story’s idea of time and the past. By the end, when they’re discussing all the stuff Kubrick changed from the book just to put Stephen King in his place, including the addition of the hedge maze, you realize that The Shining doesn’t have a subliminal message—or rather, it has them all. Mainly, it’s an insidious trap designed to keep the viewer wandering the Overlook Hotel… forever

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‘Carrie’ Remake Gets Pushed Back for a Fall Release

Whether you’re a devout fan of Stephen King’s novel or Brian De Palma’s haunting 1976 film, the modern remastering of Carrie is sure to be anticipated. As Hollywood is wont to do, audiences are in store for a new spin on the cult classic of a shy high school outcast who taps into her newly discovered telekinetic powers to exact revenge on her bullying schoolmates. Helmed by Boys Don’t Cry director Kimberly Peirce, the film—which was previously set for a March release—has now been pushed back to next fall.

The October opening only makes sense, allowing the premiere to coincide with horror-mania leading up to Halloween, garnering a larger audience while building hype surrounding the project. For a girl of only fifteen, Chloe Mortez, who holds the titular role, has played some pretty fierce and diverse characters; so it will be interesting to see how she fares followng in Sissy Spacek’s iconic footsteps. With Julianne Moore and Judy Greer rounding out the cast, the talent is there, but in any case, it would be difficult to top the bloody gorgeous De Palma original.

Check out the new poster and official teaser for the film.


Five Of Your Favorite Novels Head To The Big Screen in 2013

With a slew of new page-to-popcorn films in the works, here’s a look at what will be making its way onto the silver screen next year.


French writer Émile Zola’s novel-turned-play Thérèse Raquin has been adapted for the screen many times, but this December we’ll get a taste of director Charlie Stratton’s take on the haunting classic. The psychological tale of affaires de coeur and betrayal centers on Thérèse, a young woman forcibly married to her first cousin, who soon begins a turbulent affair with her husband’s friend. After the lovers conspire to murder her husband, they find themselves haunted by his ghost as their love turns to fiery rage. Elizabeth Olsen takes the reins as Thérèse, with Jessica Lange, Tom Felton, and Oscar Isaac adding to the cast of tortured characters.


After Brian De Palma released his cult-classic adaptation of Stephen King’s novel in 1976, who knew there needed to be another one? But as Hollywood is wont to do, audiences are in store for a new spin on the bloody story of a shy high school outcast who taps into her newly discovered telekinetic powers to exact revenge on her bullying schoolmates. Helmed by Boys Don’t Cry director Kimberly Peirce, the film stars budding ingénue Chloë Grace Moretz in the titular role alongside Julianne Moore and Judy Greer in the new adaptation of one of the most frequently banned books in the U.S.


Like a boat against the current “borne back ceaselessly into the past,” F. Scott Fitzgerald’s most celebrated work of obsession and tragedy will make its way to the screen once again this spring. The long-awaited adaptation will reunite director Baz Luhrmann with Leonardo DiCaprio, as Gatsby, and stars Carey Mulligan as his unattainable love, Daisy. After being pushed from its December release to May, anticipation for the film has only increased, with audiences wondering just what Luhrmann’s theatrical aesthetic will add to the beloved tale.


Adapted from Joseph Delaney’s 2004 children’s novel, The Spook’s Apprentice, this 18th Century adventure film centers around a mystical young boy, Thomas, who becomes an apprentice to the local Spook (a cloaked man who travels the country fighting evil spirits for those who cannot) in order to learn the supernatural trade. Directed by Sergei Bodrov, the film will star The Chronicles of Narnia’s Ben Barnes in the lead role, with Julianne Moore as a cannibalistic, mischievous witch named Mother Malkin. Jeff Bridges and Alicia Vikander also join the cast.


Orson Scott Card’s science fiction thriller has been inching its way to the screen for years. First published in 1977 as a short story, the futuristic tale of alien warfare and adventure is set to hit theaters in November. Featuring Hugo’s Asa Butterfield and Little Miss Sunshine’s Abigail Breslin, the film tells the story of a gifted boy sent to a space-based military school to prepare for an alien invasion. The sci-fi classic will be directed by actor/director Gavin Hood, who leads Hollywood veterans Harrison Ford and Ben Kingsley into the dystopian future.

Stephen King’s ‘Under The Dome’ To Become A TV Show

Remember the good old days of American TV when melodramatic grocery store novels were turned into super long miniseries? Roots! North and South! Alex Haley’s Queen (or: More Roots!) More North and South! Miniseries used to be great excuses for networks to pack their broadcasts with actors who were probably too big to show up on, like, Murphy Brown but were definitely too unkown to be in big-budget Hollywood movies. There was also a lot of sex involved on screen. That’s always fun! Nowadays, books are still being adapted for television, but now they’re becoming actual series with multiple seasons. Naturally, the king of the TV miniseries is back: Stephen King’s 2009 novel Under the Dome has been picked up by CBS to be a 13-episode series.

The novel, a whopping 1000-page tale of the residents of a small New England town (of course) suddenly finding themsevles trapped under a large transparent dome, will air this summer. But, of course, the book is getting the Game of Thrones / Walking Dead / True Blood / Sex and the City treatment, as the folks involved in the production of the show are not limiting themselves to a year’s worth of TV. According to Entertainment Weekly, the show will be an "event" that its producers hope will turn into a full-fledged series: 

The series version was originally developed at Showtime. But in an unusual move, the ambitious project jumped from a cable network’s slate to the major broadcaster (more on that below). It’s also a rather unique title for CBS, since the network has been traditionally more wary about betting on serialized dramas than its rivals. But with AMC’s The Walking Dead and NBC’s Revolution, apocalyptic serialized dramas have been delivering large numbers lately.

Fans of the novel shouldn’t expect an exact retelling of the same story. Last we heard, writer Brian K. Vaughan’s (Lost) script for Dome was wisely using the novel’s setup as a launch pad for its own TV-format-friendly version of the story and might even lay the groundwork for a different outcome than the novel’s ending. Also, the CBS version is definitely a series, not a mini-series, with a finale episode that will leave the story open for more seasons.

Ah, well. Gone are the days when taking a giant brick of a book like The Stand and turning it into a four-part, eight-hour movie for TV. Who says our attention spans have dwindled? Certainly not the people in charge of making television shows.

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Stephen King and John Mellencamp Will Stage Their Musical Next Year

Broadway may not be running out of ideas quite yet. After more than a decade in the brainstormin’ and writin’ phase, John Mellencamp and Stephen King will be ready to bring their ”Southern gothic musical,” Ghost Brothers of Darkland County, to the stage. Much to our disappointment, there will not be any “Greased Lightnin’”-style numbers involving a twangy Mellencamp riff and a homicidal muscle car a la Christine from the looks of things, but there will be a soundtrack, featuring Mellencamp’s words and lyrics and production from T. Bone Burnett, our early next year.

The soundtrack, which will be released in full on March 19th, 2013, features an impressive roster, including Elvis Costello, Neko Case, Sheryl Crow (who has a solo song on the soundtrack called “Jukin’”), Rosanne Cash, Taj Mahal, Kris Kristofferson and, of course, Mellencamp himself, performing his finale. When the musical hits the stage next year for real-life performances in a real live theater, Kristofferson and Costello will be a part of it, along with Matthew McConaughey, Samantha Mathis and Meg Ryan.

The team behind the soundtrack released the opening track yesterday, which sounds a bit more like a closing number, maybe with a kick-line of ghosts or zombies and a little more brass at the actual production. Elvis Costello growls and whimpers through first track “That’s Me,” introducing a potentially malevolent character over some just-walked-into-an-Old-West-ghost-town kind of instrumentation. Have a listen below.