31 Nights of Halloween Horror part 25: The Shining
31 Nights of Halloween Horror: Part 25 in a 31 part series.
A horror film reviewed, every night for the month of October. Tonight we look at a classic:
The Shining | Dir. Stanley Kubrick | 1980/USA | 146 mins
Up on the big screen.
A true horror classic and in a lot of top ten lists for best and scariest horror film of all time. I have seen this movie plenty of times. The other day though I got to see it in the theatre for the first time and being able to see it on the big screen was probably the best time I have ever seen this film. I am not going to bore you with the whole low down on The Shining we all know it, but let’s just talk about it briefly and revisit one movie most people can agree upon.
Stanly Kubrick certainly takes his time in laying out the ground work for this movie. He makes sure we get a feel for the place, a layout of the land and get to know the characters before any of the freaky shit starts to happen. A luxury that seems to be lacking in a lot of films anymore. I never read the book so I can’t compare the two, but I have heard the backlash about this film from Stephen King and can understand some of it.
Jack dominates and so does Kubrick’s version.
If I had to fault the movie for anything it might be that Jack Nicholson already seems crazy before he even begins his descent into madness. There is already a madman lurking behind those arched eyebrows and smile so it is no big surprise when he goes off the deep end, the transformation isn’t that much of a stretch. But then again maybe that is what makes this film so great. There is no denying the power Jack Nicholson has in a film and he is completely dominating in The Shining.
In The Shining remake Steven Weber seemed a little bit more believable in going all Dr. Jekyll to Mr. Hyde, the movie followed the book closer and actually wasn’t too bad of an attempt at all, but it couldn’t even compete with Stanley Kubrick’s version. It was like the Overlook Hotel vs. a Motel 6 in comparison. What is it about Kubrick’s The Shining that we love so much?
It all just works.
Is it the charismatic Jack Nicholson? Rarely does a horror film get an actor of his caliber in it. Of course, he was also in Wolf and that was a total flop. Is it the creepy old woman in Room 237? Is it the total feel of isolation the movie portrays. Who wouldn’t want to live in that hotel for an extended period of time, but I could see after a month or so with very little social interaction, the nostalgia wearing off quickly. Or is it, god help me, those two god damn little creepy girls with those bizarre faces just standing there holding hands and staring.
Ugh. The correct answer is all of the above. The Shining works so well because of all these things. Because of King’s story, because of Kubrick’s direction, because of the acting, the location it all comes together to give us one of the greatest horror movies of all time.
But we all grew up with this movie. I wonder how this holds up with a younger generation. In watching this again, during the scene when Jack hacks his way through the door sticks his face in and says the immortal line, “Heeeeeerrrreeee’s Johnny”. How many of today’s youth would even get the meaning behind that? Johnny Caron left the Tonight Show in 1992, that was 24 years ago. Unless you were around when Carson was the host, that line really has no impact on you. You have no idea what it was like to hear Ed McMahon say that each night. But for us in the know, it has become one of the most memorable scenes in any movie ever.
Can’t get enough.
Anyway, The Shining. You have seen it a million times. Go watch it again. It completely holds up even after multiple viewings. Even better go see it in the theatre, the way it was meant to be seen if you ever get the chance.
Check out the 31 Nights Of Halloween Horror channel for more horror movie reviews.