By Jake Tapper
Best-selling horror novelist Stephen King doesn’t particularly like the new wave of graphic horror movies. Lots of body parts, but no heart, he says.
“The problem with a lot of the so-called ‘splat-pack’ films is that the victims are so much baloney to be sliced, that’s it,” King told ABC News’ “Nightline” for a profile to air Friday evening. “There’s nothing there. And that walks up to a line that’s very close to what they call torture porn, sadism, that sort of thing.”
King talked to ABC News on the eve of the New York premiere of Dimension Films’ “Stephen King’s The Mist,” based on a short story first published in 1980.
The film tells the story of a small community in Maine terrorized by a spooky fog that descends upon the town. The hero, David Drayton, and his son are stuck with dozens of others inside the local supermarket as they try to hide from terrifying creatures who live within the mist a task that soon becomes impossible.
“One of the things about what I do is, I’m always more interested in the people than I am in the monsters,” King said. “And I’m interested to see how people react under conditions of extreme stress.
“In my stories, the most important thing is that you see genuine human feeling in the characters in the books, and I want you to care. Whether it’s the writer who’s chained to the bed in ‘Misery,’ whether it’s the woman with her son trapped in the car in ‘Cujo,’ or whether it’s David Drayton and his little one in the market in ‘The Mist.’ I want you to care about those people, and I want you to like those people.”
It’s for that reason that King says the adaptations of his books that he likes are “The Mist,” “The Shawshank Redemption” and “Stand By Me,” based on his short story “The Body.”
And it’s why he never liked director Stanley Kubrick’s adaptation of his book “The Shining,” calling it “cold.”
“If I can make you feel for my characters, and if you worry that something will happen to them instead of rooting for something to happen to them, for their head to be blown off, or for Freddy to get them with his nails then I got something going.
“In the case of ‘The Shining,’ Kubrick seemed to be in charge of an ant farm. He had turned his people into ants, saying, ‘Well, what happens if they do this? What happens if they do that?’ I didn’t care for that.”
One character in “The Mist,” Mrs. Carmody played by Academy Award-winning actress Marcia Gay Harden is a religious zealot, whose hysteria fuels tensions within the supermarket.
When asked about the fact that religious characters don’t fare well in his books, King told ABC News, “I’m a spiritual man. I certainly believe in God, and I meditate on a regular basis, and try to stay in touch with the God of my understanding. But I haven’t been through the doors of the church, I don’t think, since my mother-in-law died. And I certainly don’t have anything against churches, per se. I’m not a vampire type, when somebody shows me the cross or something like that. But organized religion gives me the creeps.”
King also went into detail about his childhood, including the father who abandoned his family, his alcoholism, the 1999 car accident that nearly ended his writing career, and why his first big break as a novelist “Carrie,” published in 1974 was rescued from the trash can by his wife.
Watch the full King profile Friday on “Nightline” at 11:35 p.m. ET, and go to ABCNEWS.com after the show to read the full transcript of the interview.