Stephen King Calls ‘Room 237’ ‘Academic Bullsh*t’

11.03.14 4 years ago 37 Comments

Everyone who ever loved The Shining made the same mistake in the past year: they rented Room 237, fluffed up the cushions, turned up the volume – and – 30 seconds in – punched themselves in the face. It isn’t just that Room 237 is bad, it’s thoroughly insufferable, some NYU freshman’s five-page paper, magically transformed into “a movie.” So thank God Stephen King finally came out and, in an interview with Rolling Stone Magazine, told readers he thought the movie was “bullshit:”

Did you see that new documentary “Room 237” about obsessive fans of Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining?
Yeah. Well, let me put it this way – I watched about half of it and got sort of impatient with it and turned it off.

Why?
These guys were reaching. I’ve never had much patience for academic bullshit. It’s like Dylan says, “You give people a lot of knives and forks, they’ve gotta cut something.” And that was what was going on in that movie.

What are they cutting besides their own farts? Unclear. And while many of us loathed 237, most of loved The Shining – which King himself didn’t like. From the interview:

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.

Sigh. Sometimes you read a middle-of-the-page paragraph in some middle-of-the-road interview and it changes your mind about everything. It’s true: Jack Torrance was born a monster in movie Shining, and transformed into a monster in book Shining. And we (me) all agree about Shelley Duvall but I’d like to think the movie still had plenty to offer the horror community (compare and contrast: everything else).

For more on Room 237, check out this little ol’ podcast.

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