Warner Bros. Home Entertainment gears up for the theatrical release of “Mr. Sleep” by bringing “The Shining” back to the small screen once again.
Originally released in 1980 Stanley Kubrick’s adaptation of Stephen King’s “The Shining” has often been called a terrifying horror masterpiece but I’m here to tell you that’s certainly not the case. There are many filmmakers that often get a pass for work that is not always great. Spielberg, Hitchcock and Kubrick are three that come to mind. Do they have classic movies on their resumes? Without a doubt! Are they among the best directors that have ever lived? Absolutely! Are all of their films masterpieces? Nope!
I was 16 when I first saw “The Shining” on the big screen and at that time I remember being underwhelmed. For the most part the film just doesn’t make sense. The story has too many things going on… ghosts, insanity, psychic powers… pick two and move on.
There are some good things about the film including how perfectly Kubrick frames every shot. There is so much to see in each and every frame of “The Shining” and if you asked me who my favorite character was in the film I would definitely say the hotel. Every hallway, entryway and door way looks magnificent. The exterior shots of the hotel and hedge maze are also stellar and give the viewer that sense of being far from civilization and alone. I also love the Steadicam work in this film. If anything makes this film unique it is the shots done using this, at the time, relatively new camera rig.
My third favorite part of the film would be the screen debut of Danny Lloyd as Danny Torrance. Lloyd was only 7 when “The Shining” was filmed and even at that young age he was able to convey sheer terror like no other child actor I have ever seen on screen. You might assume that most of Lloyd’s performance could be attributed to Kubrick as the director but that theory goes out the window when you witness the overreacting by the two leads Jack Nicholson and Shelley Duvall. Nicholson is an Academy Award winning actor but here he falls back on all the tricks he used up to this point in his career. To be honest, if you’ve seen his classic diner seen in 1970’s “Five Easy Pieces” then you don’t need to watch him in this movie at all because that’s as much range as he shows for the whole 144 minutes of “The Shining.” As for Duvall it should be noted that she was nominated for a “Razzie” award for worst actress for her portrayal of Wendy Torrance. She didn’t win but definitely should have!
As for the film itself there are just so many things that don’t add up or make sense. The biggest flaw for me is at the end when Wendy is running through the hotel. As she’s trying to find Danny and Jack she sees two people in a room engaging in furry sex, a man standing in the hallway having a drink with his head split open and then a roomful of skeleton party goers covered in cobwebs! Why is Wendy seeing all of these things? She doesn’t have “the shining” like Danny and she’s not going insane like Jack so why? Why is she seeing things? It just doesn’t make any sense and as stated earlier it’s not horrific or scary.
Coming after such classic horror films of the day like “Carrie” and “The Omen” this film is complete nonsense with zero chills, thrills or frights.
If you are a fan of this film then here’s some good news… this release is a 10 out of 10 for you. The actual print looks gorgeous and has been remastered in 4K from the original 35mm camera negative at Warner Bros. Motion Picture Imaging. The whole process was overseen by filmmaker Steven Spielberg and Kubrick’s former personal assistant Leon Vitali. This release is also loaded with extras including:
– Audio commentary by Steadicam inventor Garrett Brown and Stanley Kubrick biographer John Baxter.
– Video from the Overlook: Crafting The Shining. Enter the terrifying world of the Overlook Hotel as only Stanley Kubrick could envision it.
– The Visions of Stanley Kubrick: A detailed look at one of cinema’s greatest visual storytellers and his unique ability to move audiences through the magic of unforgettable images.
– The Making of The Shining: This cinema verite documentary offers a rare glimpse into the directing style of Stanley Kubrick as he interacts with stars Jack Nicholson, Shelly Duvall and others.
– Wendy Carlos, Composer: Composer Wendy Carlos reflects on working with complex auteur Stanley Kubrick and developing music scores for The Shining and A Clockwork Orange.
As for the film that is so often referred to as a horror classic… in the end “The Shining” ends up being a stylish nothing.
The Film Itself:
This Blu-Ray/4K Release:
Pat Francis currently hosts the popular comedy/music podcast “Rock Solid,” called 1 of the 8 great music podcasts to put in your ears by USA Today and featuring artists such as Melissa Etheridge, Sammy Hagar and Susanna Hoffs. His frequent appearances on Jimmy Pardo’s top rated podcast “Never Not Funny” are fan favorites. Pat began his entertainment career as a stand-up comic in Chicago, IL. After touring the country and performing in 42 states at comedy clubs and colleges, he relocated to Los Angeles, CA. There he appeared as a comedian on Comedy Central, AMC, the UCB and is a yearly regular at the San Francisco Sketchfest. For the past 5 years he has also served as Co-Host of the yearly event Pardcast-A-Thon which to date has raised over 700,000 for Smile Train. When not entertaining people in person he also makes his living as a Story Producer for reality television programs. It is also important to know that Pat is a monkey in a human mask.