Just hours ago, reports IGN, Universal announced that a house of horrors based on Stephen King’s The Shining and the iconic movie adaptation from Stanley Kubrick will be coming to this year’s edition of “Halloween Horror Nights,” a series of huge haunted houses and other big-budget horror-themed attractions in Universal Studios Hollywood and Universal Orlando Resort every October. It is the first time a Stephen King property has ever inspired an attraction at a major carnival/theme park like this, but the details of the Shining attraction, which Universal calls “the Shining maze,” will definitely make Stephen King himself upset.
A press release from Universal states that visitors to the Shining maze will get to find their way through the Overlook Hotel and its grounds, “bearing witness to caretaker Jack Torrance’s spiraling descent into insanity.” The release promises that “nightmarish visions will come to life in this macabre maze, overwhelming guests with the ‘shine’ of the murderous, ghostly entities that lurk around every turn.” It even promises that those same guests will “relive some of the film’s most iconic, and sinister, moments.” Why in the world would Stephen King be unhappy that a world he created is coming to life on someone else’s dime?
The thing is, Stephen King hates the film version of The Shining and always has. He says it is not representative at all of the slow burn King orchestrated in his 1977 novel, and he is all too open about his disapproval for Kubrick’s casting choices and the liberties he took with the plot.
Sadly for King, Stanley Kubrik’s cinematic retelling of The Shining is the most widely-known version of the tale. This is partly because movies are just a more accessible medium than books among the modern American public, and partly because, no matter what Stephen King may say, The Shining is just a really effective horror movie. Roger Ebert, maybe the most respected film critic alive today, is only one of the many throughout history that have said The Shining is one of the greatest films ever made.
Universal wants the attractions at Halloween Horror Nights to be based on relatable properties, and so they are going with the Shining iteration that people know best: the movie. The video announcement for the Shining maze doesn’t actually show any of the ride — it is just a compilation of existing clips from the film and a few short shots of guests screaming. The movie clips shown in the announcement trailer include, among other things, the twin girls standing hand-in-hand in the hallway of The Overlook, Jack Torrance smashing through the beige bathroom door with an axe, and Jack running through the snowy hedge maze in the hotel’s courtyard. All of these scenes are cultural artifacts, and none of them appear in Stephen King’s novel. If the announcement trailer for the attraction is mostly composed of scenes included in the movie and not the book, it is obvious that the Shining maze is based around the work of Stanley Kubrik, not Stephen King.
— Save Horror™ (@savehorror) May 8, 2017
All this is not to say that Stephen King’s The Shining is not as good as a book. The read is long and fulfilling, delivering a more nuanced and creeping horror than the movie can. It’s great, and Kubrik’s movie is too. In the end, though, their structures are so different that they can’t be compared.
Still, though, King is already very unhappy that the film version of The Shining overshadows his book. Universal’s Halloween Horror Nights continuing to push the movie by recreating it in the real world for a modern audience will more than likely irk Stephen King even more.
That being said, don’t expect King to complain. Not only is he undoubtedly being paid very well for the rights to The Shining, but, as the Inquisitr noted in a previous publication, King’s body of work is going through a sort of renaissance as of late. The movies based on his work coming out in 2017 and 2018 are immensely popular, and that popularity has spurred public interest in his books. Stephen King’s public stock is higher than it has been in nearly three decades, and with his inclusion in Universal’s well-publicized Halloween Horror Nights, it only continues to rise.
Besides The Shining, the only property known to be included in this year’s Halloween Horror Nights is the FX original horror anthology show American Horror Story. What other horror franchises would you like to see represented there?
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