The Shining (1980)

the shining poster 1980 movie
9.5 Overall Score
Story: 9/10
Acting: 9/10
Visuals: 10/10

Memorable horrific scenes, Jack Nicholson


Movie Info

Movie Name: The Shining

Studio: Warner Bros.

Genre(s): Horror

Release Date(s): May 23, 1983

MPAA Rating: R

the shining jack nicholson crazy

We all go a little mad sometimes

All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy!  Jack Torrance (Jack Nicholson) is trying to get his life back together.  A writer who cannot write and recovering alcoholic, Jack thinks he’s found the solution to his writer’s block and his family problems.  Jack has been booked as the winter caretaker for the Overlook Hotel deep within the Rocky Mountains and cut-off from society, it will be the perfect place for Jack to escape.  Unfortunately, Jack’s son Danny (Danny Lloyd) has the power to “shine” and can sometimes sense things…and Danny’s invisible friend Tony is warning Danny that the Overlook is dangerous for Danny’s mother Wendy (Shelley Duvall), Jack, and especially Danny.  The Overlook has a darkness within it, and it will stop at nothing to get the power that Danny possesses.

the shining grady twins

Come and play with us…for ever and ever

Directed by Stanley Kubrick (who also helped adapt the screenplay with Diane Johnson), The Shining is a horror thriller.  Following Kubrick’s Barry Lyndon in 1975, the film is an adaptation of Stephen King’s 1977 supernatural novel.  The movie was released initially to mixed to positive reviews but was later deemed a classic.  It received Razzie nominations for Worst Actress (Duvall) (this Razzie was rescinded in 2022 due to questions about the mental health of Duvall and the filming situation) and Worst Director and was selected for preservation in the National Film Registry by the Library of Congress in 2018.

Stephen King hated Kubrick’s take on his novel.  The changes Kubrick made to the story were often atmospheric, practical, and a means to amp-up the horror (he had been looking for a horror project for a while).  Despite King’s objections, The Shining is a solid and still terrifying horror movie.

the shining bathroom woman zombie

She just wants to give you a hug!

The story intensifies a lot of King’s more subtle build up and horror.  King was putting together a haunted house story, and Kubrick’s approach was less “creak in the dark”.  Jack Torrance rapidly falls down a rabbit hole and is corrupted by the darkness of the hotel rather quickly.  It turns into a cat-and-mouse game and a fight for Wendy and Danny to survive…the family bond aspect doesn’t seem as played.  As soon as Jack is mad, he’s gone…there is no internal struggle which was a thrust of King’s story.

The movie could be criticized for this as well.  Jack Nicholson is in full Jack Nicholson mode after really starting his “Jack” performances in One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest where he really let himself go…scenes like the ride up to the Overlook show that he’s already crazy and going there is a bad idea.  There isn’t much of a character arc, but he also plays crazy great.  Shelley Duvall is almost the complete opposite of the model-esque Wendy of the novel, but she kind of works as a result.  She is frustratingly normal to a fault and also seems a bit desperate to hold on to her family when it doesn’t seem like a safe environment.  Danny Lloyd is a pretty good kid actor and much of the story falls on his perspective.  Scatman Crothers feels like kind of the sacrificial lamb in the story and the means to explore “the Shine”…it kind of bothers me how easily he went out though a great jump.  Lisa and Louise Burns are memorable as the Grady Twins (not actually twins in the book), and Philip Stone as their father and his bathroom scene with Nicholson is also memorable.

the shining dogman blow job

I remember thinking “I don’t know what’s happening…but I know it isn’t right”

What Kubrick did bring to the movie are some very intense, very smart, horrific visuals.  From the simple (blood rushing from the elevator), the idea of the hedge maze (replacing the hedge animals that would have been hard to do), and even simply switching the roque mallet to an axe helped…the horror of twins in long inescapable halls and the rotting flesh of the woman in Room 237 all contribute to real and visceral terror.  It is also the less “in your face” horror that also works.  The wheels completely come off the bus when the “non-shine” and “non-believer” Wendy starts to see things like dead partygoers and the creepy kinky sex scene of the dogman…it is voyeuristic and the horror now sees her because it is strong enough.

The Shining is imperfect, but it still works and partially does work because it feels off throughout the movie.  King’s rejection of the movie resulted in a TV remake version in 1997 that was much maligned (but did follow the book and had a few moments).  The movie feels like a real amalgam of King and Kubrick…which isn’t a bad thing.  The Shining was followed by a sequel Doctor Sleep in 2019 which tried to create a bridge between King’s vision and Kubrick’s version without trampling either (there was also a rather impressive return to the Overlook in Ready Player One).  Kubrick followed The Shining with Full Metal Jacket in 1987.

Related Links:

The Shining (1997)

The Shining

Doctor Sleep (2019)

Room 237 (2012)

Author: JPRoscoe View all posts by
Follow me on Twitter/Instagram/Letterboxd @JPRoscoe76! Loves all things pop-culture especially if it has a bit of a counter-culture twist. Plays video games (basically from the start when a neighbor brought home an Atari 2600), comic loving (for almost 30 years), and a true critic of movies. Enjoys the art house but also isn't afraid to let in one or two popular movies at the same time.

Leave A Response