"I feel as though I'd given Stanley Kubrick a live grenade and he heroically threw his body on it": Watch Stephen King give his honest opinion on Stanley Kubrick's movie adaptation of The Shining in this 1980 TV interview

Stephen King and The Shining
(Image credit: The David Letterman Show, The Shining)

While it might be one of the most widely-revered and iconic horror films in cinematic history, The Shining, directed by Stanley Kubrick and released worldwide in 1980, unfortunately didn't have quite the same effect on the man who wrote it, Stephen King.

In fact, during an interview that same year on The David Letterman Show to discuss his new book of the time, Firestarter, the renowned author revealed that he felt somewhat divided about the film.

Speaking of the movie adaptation, which followed the story of Jack Torrance (played by Jack Nicholson), a writer and recovering alcoholic who embarks on a new career as an off-season caretaker at a strange and desolate hotel, King admits: "I feel both ways. I got to see it four times because of commitments at one place and another, and there are an awful lot of things about that movie that I think are flawless and beautiful and just marvellous, and then there are other times when I feel as though I'd given Stanley Kubrick a live grenade and he heroically threw his body on it".

King later spoke of his apathy towards the project in a 2016 interview with Deadline, explaining: "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. 

"In that sense, when it opened, a lot of the reviews weren’t very favourable, and I was one of those reviewers. I kept my mouth shut at the time, but I didn’t care for it much.”

In the 1980 interview, Letterman asks King to reveal if he's always had disturbing thoughts, or whether he mainly thought up scary stories to make money as a writer.

In response he answers: "I didn't go to the market, the market came to me. As far back as I can remember I've been interested in ghosts and goblins and things that go bump in the night, and in the early '70s I was writing stories for those magazines where if you hold them up by the side, a picture falls out that you don't show your mother, and getting anywhere from $100 to $200 to $300 for stories. 

"My wife and I were just married, I was working in a laundry and she would say, 'Hurry up and think of a monster!' whenever the bills came due, so I did the best I could".

Then, King was questioned on whether he's written about anything that frightened him in real life, such as a moment in his childhood. 

"Yeah there are a lot of things and I suppose the one thing that scares all little kids is The Boogeyman, the thing in the closet... You know that there's nothing under the bed, and you know that if you keep your feet under the covers it will never grab you anyway, and even as a grown-up I think that as children we fear these things and we let our fears out ,we tell people because we're unsophisticated. And as we get older we still have the fears, we just sublimate them, and we don't tell people, but still most people when they're alone in the dark, things that you would laugh at in the daylight begin to seem a little bit like Technicolor".

View the Letterman interview below:

Liz Scarlett

Liz works on keeping the Louder sites up to date with the latest news from the world of rock and metal. Prior to joining Louder as a full time staff writer, she completed a Diploma with the National Council for the Training of Journalists and received a First Class Honours Degree in Popular Music Journalism. She enjoys writing about anything from neo-glam rock to stoner, doom and progressive metal, and loves celebrating women in music.