Horror Movie: The Shining (R; 1980; 144 min.)

One of my top five horror movies (gotta love Stephen King…he can really dream things up, can’t he?), The Shining is about why no writer-wannabe should live for the winter in a snowy, isolated, mountain-top lodge where murders occurred. Write that tip down now!

No, actually, The Shining is about a former teacher, the amazing Jack Nicholson as Jack Torrance, who is trying his hand at writing. He takes a job as winter caretaker of a remote lodge, The Overlook Hotel, in the mountains of Colorado. In 1970, the previous caretaker had murdered his wife and two daughters there. But that history doesn’t faze Jack, because he’s looking for peace and quiet for his writing. Sorry, Jack, ain’t gonna happen!

Soon after he moves his wife and son there, Jack begins to change, becoming a mean, cussing, hallucinating still-wannabe writer (he does finally complete a manuscript…more on that later). His son Danny sees the two murdered girls around the hotel (“Hello, Danny. Come and play with us. Forever and ever and ever.”) and visions of blood gushing from elevator doors. How can that be? Well,  according to Dick Halloran, the bowlegged hotel’s chef who met him before leaving for the season, Danny shares Dick’s special abilities known as “The Shining,” where they can “see” things and talk to each other without speaking. Danny’s pointer finger, known as Tony, also talks to Danny in a creepy, gravelly voice, telling him things. Hmmm.

As a record snowstorm hits, and Jack gets meaner and Danny’s visions get more bloody (don’t go near room 237, REDRUM!, REDRUM!), Wendy Torrance, Jack’s wife, discovers his manuscript. Hundreds of pages long, she reads just about every single one for the camera to show us they all say “All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.” Now she’s SURE he’s gone bonkers, so she hits him with a bat, locks him in a walk-in freezer and takes off to save Danny.

Well, a ghost has soon freed Jack (!), and Jack is soon chasing his wife and son. Wendy manages to shove Danny out of their bathroom window onto a conveniently located two-story snowdrift below, but she can’t fit herself through the opening. Jack begins axeing down the door (Here’s Johnny!), but is distracted when he hears the motor of a snowcab outside. After easily disposing of this nuisance (the chef who came back to help when Danny sent him a mind message), he’s back looking for his family again. What follows is a great chase scene through a snowy outdoor maze where Danny tricks his dad. And meanwhile, Olive Oyl/Shelley Duvall is running/jerking through the hotel looking for Danny carrying a large knife, encountering various bloody elevators and ballrooms full of dead people herself! Will Wendy and Danny escape Jack’s crazed efforts at killing them? Will Danny stop talking to his finger and use it to pick his nose again instead? Will the snow ever melt in Colorado? You must watch to find out!

  • Top Scare: Tony the talking finger
  • Heartbeats: 3 1/2 out of 5
  • Gore Factor: 4 out of 5
  • Suspense Factor: 3 1/2 out of 5
  • Recommended for: 15 and up, mainly due to cussing and gore

Next up: Friday the 13th

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