The shining

In loving memory of Stanley Kubrick (1928-1999)
His legacy will be eternal.

House of Horrors Presents

Let me 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 provide a 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 Horrors", "The 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 truly a 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 Odyssey", "Sparactus" 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   "Star Wars".

"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' Vault.

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.


The Shining

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. REDRUM REDRUM!!!!!

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. Here's 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.


  • The 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 Timberline 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 (1968)."

  • 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 official page.

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"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

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