More than four decades after “The Shining” landed both Worst Actress and Worst Director nods at the inaugural Razzie Awards in 1980, the Golden Raspberry founders are still standing their ground — albeit with one exception.
In a feature interview with New York Magazine’s Vulture, Razzie co-founders John J.B. Wilson and Maureen Murphy revealed that they “don’t care for” how Stanley Kubrick adapted Stephen King’s “The Shining.” And while “The Shining” was snubbed at the Oscars, the critically acclaimed horror film did get plenty of attention by the Razzie academy voters.
“The voting membership the very first year were largely people that Maureen and I worked with at a trailer company,” Wilson said. “A group of us who had read Stephen King’s novel went to see ‘The Shining’ the night it opened at the Chinese, and we didn’t care for what Kubrick had done with the novel. The novel was far more visually astounding, far more terrifying, far more compelling, and we couldn’t understand why you would buy a novel that had all of that visual opportunity in it and then not do the topiary thing, not do the snakes in the carpet, not do the kids’ visions. If you’re going to say it’s ‘The Shining,’ you have to have certain key things in there that were not.”
Wilson added, “And as I understand it, Kubrick was the one who decided what they cut out from the novel. So I don’t feel that badly about Stanley Kubrick.”
Murphy agreed, “Exactly. I think that guy’s overrated. He did one good movie, and that was about it.”
Meanwhile, Murphy also reflected on rescinding “The Shining” star Shelley Duvall’s Worst Actress nomination.
“Knowing the backstory and the way that Stanley Kubrick kind of pulverized her, I would take that back,” Murphy said. “We’re willing to say, ‘Yeah, maybe that shouldn’t have been nominated.’ Everybody makes mistakes. That’s being human.” (It’s well-captured in Stanley’s daughter Vivian’s documentary “Making ‘The Shining'” the emotional toll the film took on Duvall.)
Wilson previously clarified “The Shining” Razzie recognition in a 2020 retrospective titled “Razzie Throwback.”
“Shelley Duvall’s shrill, one note, over-the-top hysterical performance as Nicholson’s wife was among our ten inaugural Worst Actress nominees. She eventually lost to Brooke Shields in ‘The Blue Lagoon,'” Wilson wrote. “In defense of Duvall, we learned later, that Kubrick apparently drove her to the brink of madness due to his abusive behavior. He subsequently got labeled a genius (by some) and she coo-coo. We suspect he badgered her into a cowering performance and and in retrospect, we would like to place the blame solely on him. Robert Altman could certainly pull a better performance out of this once very promising actor.”
Wilson continued, “I should also point out that we are not alone in our less-than-favorable opinion of Kubrick’s film – Stephen King himself, who says he was never contacted directly by Kubrick during the production of ‘The Shining,’ later expressed his dissatisfaction by comparing the film version to ‘a shiny new Cadillac convertible…with no engine in it.'”
During the Vulture interview, Murphy also noted there is a Razzie Redeemer Award. So, what’s the Razzie rule of thumb?
“We don’t like to pick on people. We like to call them out and say, ‘Hey, think about what you’re doing. Think about your choices.’ That’s the point,” Murphy summed up. “Sometimes actors will just fall into a routine; maybe they have a money machine that they need to fill. That’s what happens, and it’s just about calling it out.”