31 Days of Halloween Day 26 – The Shining (1980)

31 Days of Halloween – Day 26

The Shining (directed by Stanley Kubrick, 1980) Jack Torrance, an out of work writer, along with his wife Wendy and son Danny, takes residence as the winter caretaker for the Overlook Hotel. Jack has had his struggles with alcoholism, and looks at this as an opportunity to write the book in peace and quiet. Son Danny sees things differently. A gift he has developed allows Danny to for see the danger that awaits them at the Overlook. The hotel has a horrific secret, and Danny can feel it. Over the course of their stay, Jack slowly descends into madness. The spirits that inhabit the hotel have plans for Jack; they require him to kill his family, and eventually himself. Snowed in and without radio communication, Wendy and Danny must survive to escape the doom that awaits them at the hands of Jack. There are many theories of what Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining is truly about, and frankly, too many to discuss here. Let us take it for what it is on the surface. It is a ghost story, on a few levels. First, Jack is harboring ghosts from his past, in the form of alcohol and abuse. Danny is trying to live with the ghosts that speak to him (figuratively), and Wendy is just trying to keep it all together. The spirits of the Overlook Hotel prey on the family’s fragile psyche. I will leave the discrepancies between the Stephen King novel and Kubrick’s movie aside, because there are many, and the film is much different. This is a brilliant film, plain and simple. Right from the opening scene, Kubrick creates and ominous tone, and fills us viewers with an impending sense of doom. The opening theme was a perfect piece of music to open the film. The Shining gives us a sense of disorientation, using the vast hotel and hedge maze to make us feel lost. The winter setting is isolating and makes the situation claustrophobic and desperate. Kubrick meticulously crafted this film to be ambiguous; this is why there are so many ideas floating around as to what his true message is. Regardless, it is perfect. The horror is not in the gore or the violence. The horror comes through the psychology the director places throughout the film; the long hallway shots, the oppressive nature of the hotel, the mystery of Room 237, and the malicious nature of Jacks temperament . Jack Nicholson plays Jack Torrance with such an arrogance and madness that makes him terrifying. Shelly Duvall is great as Wendy. She plays a needy, helpless, and simple character, until the life of her son is threatened. She then becomes fierce, and would do anything to protect Danny. Young Danny Lloyd played his role of tormented, spooky child very well. His “Tony” voice is quite good. Scatman Crothers has a small, but important role as the hotel’s cook, but more importantly, he shares the “shine” with Danny. He also paints the hotel as a place that can be very dangerous. There are many memorable scenes in The Shining; Jack and Wendy’s encounters in the main hall and the kitchen of the hotel, Danny wheeling around the hotel and discovering the “Twins”, and Jack busting through the door with “Here’s Johnny”. My favorite scene, perhaps of any film, is the bathroom encounter between Jack and Charles Grady, where Grady explains to Jack that he must “correct” his family. Chilling is one word to describe the exchange. As I am sure a lot of people share the same sentiment, The Shining is number one for horror in my books. Thirty-five years later, it still provides more questions than answers. If you are brave enough to see what is behind the door of Room 237, make The Shining part of your Halloween regiment. You know what they say; “All work and no play make Jack a dull boy”. We wouldn’t want Jack to get dull.

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Recap

  • Day 1 – The Conjuring
  • Day 2 – You’re Next
  • Day 3 – Rob Zombie’s Halloween
  • Day 4 – Dog Soldiers
  • Day 5 – Texas Chainsaw Massacre (2003)
  • Day 6 – Psycho (1960)
  • Day 7 – John Carpenter’s The Thing
  • Day 8 – The Prowler
  • Day 9 – Pet Sematary
  • Day 10 – The Nightmare Before Christmas
  • Day 11 – Near Dark
  • Day 12 – The Lost Boys
  • Day 13 – Child’s Play
  • Day 14 – Sleepy Hollow
  • Day 15 – House of 1,000 Corpses
  • Day 16 – The Devil’s Rejects
  • Day 17 – Night of the Living Dead
  • Day 18 – Dawn of the Dead (’78)
  • Day 19 – Friday the 13th: A New Beginning
  • Day 20 – Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974)
  • Day 21 – The Cabin In The Woods
  • Day 22 – A Nightmare On Elm Street (1984)
  • Day 23 – The Exorcist III
  • Day 24 – The Evil Dead (1981)
  • Day 25 – The Blair Witch Project
  • Day 26 – The Shining
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