April 7, 2020

The Shining (1980)

The Shining (1980)As this is the first movie review on our horror movie review site, I wanted to make sure it was an appropriately awesome movie.  Halloween has just passed and the opportunity presented itself to review one of my personal favorites: Stanley Kubrick’s classic The Shining.

A little background on my history with this movie before I get started.  The Wife isn’t a huge movie fan and is even less of fan of horror movies.  However, we started a tradition a few years back where every Halloween she’ll give in an watch one horror flick with me.  This year’s pick was The Shining.  It also holds a special place in my heart (especially for this blog) as the first time I saw this movie was at IU with Pip.  If memory serves me correctly it was a midnight screening at the Student Union.

Jack Torrance (a struggling writer played brilliantly by Jack Nicholson) has been put in charge of being the winter caretaker for the Overlook Hotel which becomes completely snowed in during the winter months.  Even though he’s aware of the cabin fever that caused a previous caretaker to murder his family, Jack takes his wife (Shelly Duvall) and son (Danny Lloyd) to the Overlook and begin preparations for the winter ahead.  There they meet Dick Halloran (Scatman Crothers) who takes an instant liking to the family and especially the little boy.

Jack Nicholson as Jack Torrance in The Shining
Jack Nicholson as Jack Torrance in The Shining

Like Halloran, Jack’s son Danny has “The Shine” and begins to have visions of terrible things that have taken place in the Overlook.  Jack slowly descends toward insanity and begins having visions of his own, begins conversating (not sure that’s a word… but he’s talking to ghosts… you get the point) and continues to work on his novel.  I’m trying to keep this one relatively spoiler free cause if you’ve never seen this one you absolutely NEED to watch it.  That said, I can’t write a review of this flick without adding a couple of items:

  • Room 237
  • “All work and no play make Jack a dull boy.”

If you’ve seen this movie I think you’ll agree that those 3 pretty much sum it up.  If not, come back after you’ve seen it.

This isn’t your typical “slasher” movie as there really is only 2 deaths in the flick.  That said, this is CLEARLY in the “horror” genre leaning toward the “thriller” and “suspense” side of the house.  Think Silence of the Lambs… but better.  Kubrick tells a story here that will keep you on the edge of your seat and leave you scratching your head.  This is pretty typical of a Kubrick but in my eyes that’s a very good thing.

For all the good this movie has there is also one standout piece of terribleness – Shelly Duvall.  Not only does she look like a complete train wreck this may be one of the worst performances in movie history…. and not just in horror movies.  I’ve seen some really terrible movies, so that’s saying a lot.  She’s so bad that when she’s on the screen I’m nearly taken out of the flick.  Luckily he screen time is pretty limited and the score, Nicholson and Lloyd (the little boy) give masterful performances to bring it home.

Shelly Duvall in The Shining
Shelly Duvall is so terrible it’s scary.

One note on Danny.  It’d been quite some time since I watched this flick this past Halloween and I’d forgotten what he looked like.  I’d certainly forgotten that he bears a striking resemblance to my youngest son.  This made this intense flick that much more intense for my wife who’d never seen it and took an instant liking to the little boy.  In doing some research I found out that the actor that played Danny didn’t know this was a horror movie for years until after filming.  Probably a good idea.

Danny Lloyd as Danny Torrance in The Shining
Danny Lloyd gives an amazing performance for such a young actor.

There’s a ton of interesting reading to be done about The Shining on the Wikipedia page.  Well worth the read.  I’m not sure if I’ve done enough to say how awesome I think this movie is.  Let me be perfectly clear:

This is one of my all time favorite horror flicks.  If you’ve never seen it you need to get your hands on a copy, turn out the lights, turn up the volume and prepare to get spooked.

What do you think of The Shining?  



I've been a fan of horror and slasher movies for as long as I can remember. I consider the original Halloween to be the best horror movie of all time and my guilty pleasure horror flick would be The Exorcist III. You can find me on Twitter at @406Northlane where I'm sure I'll offend you at least once a day.

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4 thoughts on “The Shining (1980)

  1. I completely disagree with you. I thought this was one of the WORST movies I have ever seen, horror or otherwise! All I can say is that you must not have read the book. The book was awesome and one of the scariest books I have ever read! I couldn’t wait to see this movie when it came out in 1980 – and what a disappointment it was! So many people think Stanley Kubrick was such a genius, but I think his movies are pretty much unwatchable. I wanted to like The Shining because it was from Stephen King (one of my favorite writers), but Stanley Kubrick ruined it. It’s also well-known that King hated Kubrick’s version of The Shining. However, I do agree wholeheartedly with you that Shelley Duvall was terrible in this movie. She was completely wrong for the part.

    1. Thanks for your note M! I absolutely LOVE discussions like this. While I agree with you that the book is clearly better than the movie, I don’t think that takes away from the brilliance that Kubrick puts on the screen here. I’m also aware that King hate Kubrick’s version… but does that detract from the film itself? Are there specific things that you didn’t like in the movie or is it just a case of the movie not living up to the book? (Which I completely understand).

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