begin by saying, "I am not an avid reader". I wish I was, but it just doesn't hold my interest for long
enough. I want to know what happens in a story relatively quickly (between 1 1/2 to 2
hours) and with my lack of reading aptitude, a good book might take me six to seven weeks
to reading. Not because I am a slow reader, but rather due to a lack of time dedicated to
such an endeavor. It's ashame too, because horror literature is probably the last scarcity
vestige for originality in the genre. I just wanted to preference this page with that
statement, because I know that I will be getting a ton of emails from King fans asking my
opinion on the book. This not to say that "we" at the House of Horrors want to
neglect this macabre masterpiece by Stephen King. Oh no, in fact in these pages, we will
comparison between the film and the most
recent TV miniseries and the Mistress of the Tomes give her review of the
novel. Aren't we thorough?!?!
So this page will be dedicated solely to one
of the greatest horror films of all-time. I can sum up my love for the "The
Shining" with two names: Jack Nicholson and Stanley Kubrick. So let's examine each
and see why they, and not so much Stephen King, are directly responsible for the
effectiveness of this film.
Let's first look at Jack Nicholson. He is
one of my all-time favorite actors. His career has been marked by many masterful
performances in films such as, "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest", "Easy
Rider", "Chinatown", "A Few Good
Men", and the most recent Oscar
winning "As Good as it Gets". In fact some of Jack's early work was in teaming
with Roger Corman on films like, "Little Shop of
Terror", and "The Raven". Nicholson was even up for the part of
"Father Karras" in the "Exorcist" before
Jason Miller took the role. So we should all consider ourselves lucky that we , as
defenders of the ultimate genre...horror, have been graced with Jack's support. This
culminated with his chilling performance as "Jack Torrance" in "The
Shining". It's too bad that since his success with "The Shining", Jack has
been less akin to appear in genre films. "Witches of Eastwick" was a great film,
but I don't know if I would consider it horror, and I see "Wolf" as being
sacrilegious to the whole werewolf genre.
Now let's examine Jack's stunning
performance in "The Shining". Jack Nicholson was, is, and always will be
"The Shining" to me. Stephen King, along with a few others, has said that
Nicholson's portrayal of "Jack Torrance" was "over-the-top". That
Nicholson's presence took away from the main character of the story, the Hotel. I only
have one word for these people....bullshit. Without Jack, "The Shining" would be
just another haunted house film. Nicholson's depiction of a man teetering on the brink of
insanity was brilliant. We watch in terror as the madness slowly settles in and exploding
fiercely into this man, transforming him from one who is trying repair his fragile family
life into a stark raving lunatic bent on destroying everything he loves. It is
magical movie experience.
Second, is the direction of Stanley Kubrick.
Kubrick has directed some of the greatest films in the history of cinema. Films like
"A Clockwork Orange", "2001: A Space
and "Full Metal Jacket", all of which are masterpieces in their own way. It is
amazing to think that Kubrick although nominated for 13 Oscars has only won one for
"Best Effects, Special Visual Effects" for "2001: A Space Odyssey". In
retrospect, "2001: A Space Odyssey" helped to set the standard for
"The Shining" is definitely a
Kubrick film, so much so that it carries the title "Stanley Kubrick's The
Shining". His signature techniques helped craft "The Shining" it into the
classic it is today. His use of a steadicam, lighting, plus his flair for intermixing
ghastly visual flashbacks propelled the effectiveness of this film. Although it has been
said that Kubrick can be difficult to work with, his perfectionism is evident in the final
product. With "The Shining" he succeeds on all levels and delivers a film that
warrants it's placement in the House of Horrors'
But before I move on, let me say that since
I haven't mentioned the importance of Stephen King to this film doesn't mean that I don't
recognize his contribution. "The Shining" would never have been made if it
weren't for the creative mind of Stephen King. The film's plot is directly rooted in the
framework of the novel, but Kubrick had to tailor it into a management sequence of shots
that could be executed efficiently within the limitations of the day. The film itself is
144 minutes (146 when it was originally released) and although lengthy, especially for a
horror film, is never boring. Not many of King's books have been adapted in a more
effective movie than "The Shining".
As always please
e-mail me if you have anything you can add
to this page, or if you have any comments, criticisms or suggestion.
Jack Torrance (Jack Nicholson), a
beleaguered writer and recovering alcoholic, has just secured a seasonal position as the
caretaker for the Overlook Hotel. Seems like a cake job. You get to spend all winter
snowed (cooped up) in a big hotel with all the food, space, and fun you can enjoy. No
guests to fool with (yeah right) and just a little up keep of the grounds and building.
There will be plenty of time to work on your book and of course, slaughter your family.
So along with his wife Wendy (Shelley
Duvall) and their boy Danny (Danny Lloyd), the Torrances head off to enjoy a little family
bonding at the old Overlook Hotel. Oh...I forget to mention that Danny is bringing along
his imaginary friend
Tony, the little boy who lives in the back of his mouth and helps him
to see things that aren't suppose to be there. "The
Shining" allows Danny to see the past, present, and
future digressions of the Overlook. It's haunting existence becomes quite evident as he
witnesses the death and destruction that has come to called this place home. An evil that
is looking to add three new guest...permanently.
Slowly this evil begins to wear down Jack's
defenses as the winter snow falls driving him to the brink of insanity. It is so easy to
hit a man when he is down as Jack is re-introduced to an old, dear friend..... booze. When
Wendy stumbles upon Jack's next bestseller, "All work and no play...." she know
that it is time to get Danny the hell out of there. But it seems that the Hotel won't make
that easy. Directed by the ghostly apparition of Grady, the former caretaker who chopped
up his family, Jack heads out to correct his little problem.
Johnny!!!!! Axe blows and one liners fly as Jack chops his way towards the film's
chilling conclusion. Will the Overlook be checking in three new guest or will the maze be
the place for ultimate checkout??? Rent this classic.
Timberline Lodge on Mt Hood in
Oregon was used for the exteriors, but all the interiors were shot at Elstree Studios
outside of London. (2001: A Space Odyssey and Star Wars were also shot here) Both
the Hotel interiors and the Maze were built on these soundstages.
"The management of the
Lodge requested that Kubrick not use room 217 (as specified in the book), fearing that
nobody would want to stay in that room ever again. Kubrick changed the script to use the
nonexistent room number 237".
"The book that Jack was writing contained the one sentence ("All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy") repeated
over and over. Kubrick had each page individually typed. For the Italian version of the
film, Kubrick used the phrase "Il mattino ha l' oro in bocca" ("He who wakes up early meets a golden day"). For the German
version, it was "Was Du heute kannst besorgen, das verschiebe nicht auf Morgen"
("Don't postpone something, that can be done today.")
For the Spanish version, it was "No por mucho madrugar amanece más temprano"
("Although one will rise early, it won't dawn sooner.")"
Kubrick decided that having the hedge animals come alive was unworkable, so he
opted for a maze instead.
"Here's Johnny!" was ad-libbed by Nicholson.
"Danny can be seen wearing a sweater with a crude drawing of a rocket and
the text "2001" on it: a reference to Kubrick's " 2001: A Space Odyssey
This was the first movie to extensively exploit the Steadicam, a camera
mounting system that enabled a single person to mount a 35mm camera on their shoulder.
The budget for "The Shining" was $18 million and for the
miniseries it was $25 million.
Stephen King originally wanted Mike Moriarty (It's Alive III, Q, The Stuff) or
Martin Sheen (Apocalypse Now) for the part of "Jack".
Kubrick toyed with the idea of killing off all the main characters and having
them return as ghosts at the end. King talked him out of it.
The shot was suppose to last 17 weeks. It ran from May 78-April 79.
A Special Edition DVD (and hopefully LD) is out and
includes a documentary on the "Making of the Shining"
by Stanley Kubrick's daughter, Vivian and a theatrical trailer. Unfortunately,
it is not widescreen.
Visit Stephen King's
Click on image to navigate our other
"The Shining" pages.
KING ON THE SHINING
"Stanley Kubrick's version of
THE SHINING is a lot tougher for me
to evaluate [than CARRIE], because I'm still profoundly ambivalent about the whole thing. I'd
admired Kubrick for a long time and had great expectations for the project, but I was
deeply disappointed in the end result. Parts of the film are chilling, charged with
a relentlessly claustrophobic terror, but others fall flat."
"Kubrick just could grasp the sheer inhuman evil of the Overlook Hotel. So he looked
, instead for evil in the characters and made the film into a domestic tragedy with only
vaguely supernatural overtones. That was the basic flaw: because he couldn't believe, he
couldn't make the film believable to others..."
"The real problem is that Kubrick set out
to make a horror movie with no apparent understanding of the genre".
"Everything about it screams that from the
beginning to the end..."
Playboy , June 1983 Interview by Eric Norden
Buy "Pet Sematary" on DVD at
Buy the Stephen King novel, "Pet Sematary" at
Buy "The Shining" on DVD at
Buy "The Shining" Mini-Series on DVD at
Buy the Stephen King novel, "The Shining" at
Salem's Lot at
Buy Silver Bullet at
Buy The Dead Zone at