Stanley Kubrick and Stephen King are a match made in scary, anxiety-inducing horror movie heaven. Oh, no wait. Actually, let's make that perfect pairing a three-way with Jack Nicholson. Creepy Jack Nicholson, to be specific.
The tale is a classic: Isolation (or near isolation) + malicious spirits + person of questionable sanity = absolutely nothing good ... at all ... ever.
Now, when it comes to 1980's the Shining we should just get something out of the way: Much has been said about Shelley Duvall's performance as the well-meaning but highly irritating wife of the doomed Jack Torrance. Lots about the flailing and running in mukluks and her generally "huh?!" demeanor. Many have criticized her to no end, but I think -- and I'll admit I used to feel much differently -- that it actually adds something to the movie.
Duvall's Wendy is loathsome and Danny (the couple's troubled but spiritually gifted child) is innocent but creepy (it's the horror movie kid thing). Scatman Crothers? Totally different story. Love Hallorann the caretaker. Even Jack we feel connected to and he's the asshole.
Consider that both Wendy and Danny are characters with whom viewers don't actually bond all that well. It's as if we can see why, if even briefly, Jack would wish ill upon his wife and child just for their being so irritating. Yet, by the end of the film we're officially rooting for Danny and Wendy to escape even though we never truly liked them -- a brilliant turn in terms of manipulative storytelling.
Whether it follows the book or not, Kubrick, King and Nicholson as a cinematic combo finagled something really right. And incredibly horrifying -- by the end of the movie viewers have not only related to a psychopath more than once, but in many cases, craned for a better view of that flash into the forbidden murder room to see just exactly what was happening in there.
We've witnessed fewer acts of actual violence but more results, blood and hauntings than your average gore-core. The absence of or hints at horror movie go-tos add more terror than expected.
But then, I -- as with A Nightmare on Elm Street -- have a personal bias. I saw this movie waaaaay too young and finally conquered it in my 20s after taping one ply facial tissue to my glasses so I could see -- but not see -- the scary parts.
Most Memorable Scene:
Audiences who have seen the Shining would probably rattle off the "Here's Johnny!," the "I'm not gonna hurt ya," the twins, the gusher-vator or even the costumed blow job. But I tend to favor an iconic movement as being the most memorable part of the entire movie. It, after all, was the thing I assigned to people chasing me in my nightmares after I saw Nicholson limp down the hallways of the Overlook with an ax.
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Sorry for the long clip; just cue up to 8:18:
The Mixmaster's Horror Movie Countdown October 1: Halloween October 2: Antichrist October 3: Student Bodies October 4: Poltergeist October 5: Jaws October 6: Suspiria October 7: Scream October 8: The Fly October 9: Dead Alive October 10: Drag Me to Hell October 11: Se7en October 12: Rosemary's Baby October 13: Friday the 13th October 14: The Thing October 15: Audition October 16 and 17: The Exorcist and The Exorcist III October 18: The Omen October 19: Paranormal Activity October 20: Changeling October 21: Hellraiser October 22: 28 Days Later, 28 Weeks Later October 23: A Nightmare On Elm Street October 24: The Texas Chainsaw Massacre October 25: The Amityville Horror