Stephen King was not particularly pleased with Stanley Kubrick’s take on his material, but there’s no question decades later that THE SHINING is an unmitigated horror classic. King’s novel is more concerned with father Jack’s drunken guilt ridden slow-dive into madness, while Kubrick focuses on psychic son Danny’s chronic anxiety about his ineffectual mom and time bomb pop. Part of what makes the film so potent, and universally scary, is that it reminds all of us, adults and children alike, what it’s like to be scared of our parents. The idea that Daddy is mad at Mommy and may hurt her has crossed many children’s minds, and the idea that Daddy is mad at ME and will hurt ME has crossed even more. The stakes are just that much higher at the Overlook Hotel because the last Daddy who worked there and got mad used an axe to get his point across. Some complain (King included) that Jack Nicholson’s performance is over the top, and that he appears insane before he even reaches the hotel, but remember he IS insane in the eyes of Danny who has already been on the receiving end of his drunken rage. Of course King touched upon these fears as well, but it’s a different affair when we have so much sympathy for the father’s plight. In both tellings THE SHINING remains one of the grandest, most fascinating haunted house tales ever told.
- The seductress who morphs into a cackling hag not only echoes many a grim fairy tale but is also every drunkard’s “coyote ugly” nightmare come viciously to life
- The enigmatic kneeling plushy enthusiast hints we’ve only seen the tip of the iceberg as far as what the Overlook has to offer
- The Diane Arbus twins famous incantation “Come and play with us Danny, forever and ever and ever…”