Archive for the ‘Classic Films’ Category

Classic Films –THE SHINING


Masterpiece – The Shining (Stanley Kubrick, USA, 1980)

Reviewed By James Clark

The tagline read “Stanley Kubrick’s epic nightmare of horror” and the trailer featured nothing but a cascade of blood pouring from hotel elevator doors. The year was 1980 and audiences were treated to auteur Stanley Kubrick’s psychedelic imagining of Stephen King’s supernatural horror novel The Shining.

What Kubrick manages to do in his compulsive, intricate fashion is take the audience along for the ride. Nicholson, famous for films like Chinatown, As Good As It Gets and for playing the Joker in Tim Burton’s gothic take on Batman, is just the perfect personality to play the conflicted Jack Torrance; a man who knows he has duties to uphold in maintaining the hotel for the winter season and duties as both a husband and a father, but is nevertheless driven to distraction by the supernatural forces lurking within the hotel walls. Kubrick succeeds in discarding much of the exhaustible and largely unnecessary description of King’s novel by simplifying the plot and placing Jack, Wendy and Danny, the seemingly conventional American nuclear family, in solitary confinement. The central fear is internal; a fear of the human psyche and its limitations.


The Shining’s Overlook Hotel interiors were built entirely at Elstree Studios in Hertfordshire and the entire space is utilised by Kubrick, weaving the camera down wide corridors, juxtaposing the innocence of a child riding his tricycle with the ominous maze like design of the carpets. The beauty is in the meticulous detail that a director like Kubrick brings to proceedings. This is classic horror, more thriller like in its design.

From Rachel Elkind and Wendy Carlos’ delicate and ethereal score to the startling image of the mutilated bodies of Grady’s daughters, Kubrick’s vision raises many questions whilst almost effortlessly enthralling the viewer. Thankfully absent are the special effects and gore that seem to permeate the horror genre of recent years (films like Saw and Hostel are two cases in point) and instead we have a tense thriller that would bring a chill even to the hardest of hearts. The question is – what would you do if you were isolated from human contact with your family and one of them lost control?

I had the privilege of watching The Shining in Florida last year on its 30th anniversary and it still has the power to shock and awe in equal measure. If you’re looking for a replica of King’s novel, I suggest watching King’s own American TV adaptation of his novel released in 1997 from director Mick Garris. If you want an authentic and beautifully crafted story from a director who demands 148 takes of a single scene to present the best film he can, give Kubrick’s The Shining a watch. As films for Halloween go, it’s a difficult one to top.

Recommended Halloween viewing:

Nosferatu (F.W.Murnau, Germany, 1922) – gothic horror from the 1920s that is still haunting to this day.

Night of the Living Dead (George A Romero, USA, 1968)

Texas Chainsaw Massacre (Tobe Hooper, USA, 1974)

Halloween (John Carpenter, USA, 1978)

A Nightmare on Elm Street (Wes Craven, USA, 1984)