31 Nights of Horror - Night Twenty-Seven: The Shining (1980)

The Shining is Stanley Kubrick's finest moment. It's my favorite film of his and stands as a masterpiece of horror.

The film is loosely adapted from a novel by the great Stephen King about an author that takes his family along to oversee an isolated hotel (which happens to be haunted by an evil presence...or is it?) for the winter months and, while he tries to write his novel, he goes fuckin' batty and hunts his own family. It is the pinnacle of horror film and it is something that will not only scare you but, will also get inside your skin.

Jack Nicholson is masterful in his role of the epic Jack Torrence. He makes the role his own and you seriously cannot imagine another actor as the author that snaps. He gives a genuinely whacked out, over-the-top performance in such a cold manner. The scene where he tells his son, Danny (played by Danny Lloyd), how much he loves him and that he would never let anything harm his is so harrowing in that you can see by Jack's cold demeanor that he doesn't really give two fucks about him. It's a really disturbing scene...especially as a father.

Shelley Duvall is equally as great as Jack's wife, Wendy Torrence. She is perfectly casted as the wife and mother in peril. Some of the looks she gives while being chased around by a fuckin' loony Jack are purely horrific and you are forced to feel the same fear she does...just by her performance alone.

It is a film guided by its expert direction and performances that also has quite a bit of disturbing imagery within. There's this scene involving an old decaying lady in a bathtub that I still can't shake from my psyche. Oh my God, the murdered twins! And the oral sex scene in a bear suit!! What imagery. The overflowing blood in the hallway scene...it's all just horrifyingly amazing.

It's been said that Stephen King doesn't care for Kubrick's interpretation of his novel...so, much so that he personally wrote a screenplay for the 1997 television version of The Shining. In my opinion...this was a misstep in the otherwise brilliant career of King's. The 1980 version is so great because Kubrick took an existing story and made it into his own. The performers are seamless in their roles and the eerie atmosphere seems so beautifully haunting. It is the perfect blending of two masters of their crafts. The 1997 version is a forgettable exercise in trying to top something that is already flawless.

The Shining is a true horror masterpiece perfectly suitable for the Halloween season and will surely scare you on many levels. You owe it to yourself to experience this beautiful film alone in the dark on a rainy night.

5 out of 5

Thanks for reading,


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