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Monday, October 26, 2015

"The Shining" is one of those movies that I watched in phases. I didn’t actually see the shower scene until I was close to 30 years old. I had heard so much about it when I was a young lad that I purposely avoided it. I never saw The Shining in the theaters because the idea of the movie scared the hell out of me. The hype for that movie was so good that it actually kept me out of the theaters. What did I do instead? I read the book. The book scared me enough that I completely bought into the movie hype and avoided this movie for years.

By the time I sat down to watch this entire movie, it was easy to see why The Shining is considered one of the scariest movies ever made. Stephen King called Stanley Kubrick’s version of the story a luxury car with no engine. In other words, the King thought that the movie looked great, but the story lacked substance. After reading the book and watching the movie, I can understand why Stephen King would say that. But (and far be it from me to disagree with the King), I respectfully disagree with the story’s original author. This movie is extremely effective and scares the hell out of almost anybody who sees it.

The Shining is creepy, terrifying and it really gets under your skin. Kubrick is not known for his horror (I think this is the only real horror movie he ever made), but he got it very right with this movie. It took a total of five years to complete this movie, but it was all worth the wait as The Shining is definitely one of the greatest movies ever made.

Stanley Kubrick shows up a few times on those “greatest movies of all-time” lists, but what makes him iconic is that he shows up in so many different movie genre lists that it is hard to believe it is the same guy. Kubrick has created top five movies in genres such as horror, science fiction and drama.

His talents are undeniable, but the stories about how difficult he was to work with are just as legendary. Kubrick is in the Guinness Book of World Records for having 127 takes of a single scene in The Shining. Kubrick was so obsessive about doing takes that Scatman Crothers was reduced to tears during shooting because Scatman had no clue what Kubrick wanted.

If you read the stories and watch the documentaries on the making of The Shining, you get the feeling that Kubrick intentionally created a stressful working environment because the movie required it. If I were to be asked to point to two movies that put the genius of Kubrick on display, they would be The Shining and 2001: A Space Odyssey. Everything you need to know about Kubrick can be found in those two movies and they are both worth watching.

I do think that Kubrick misses a few points that were important to the King, and to the story in general. Kubrick made strange use of his budget and it affected certain parts of the movie. Kubrick spent a year filming the scene where the blood comes out of the elevator over and over, but he felt that there was not enough money to include the animal shrubs that come to life. To me, those shrubs and the way that Stephen King used the symbolism of the roque mallet throughout the story were important elements that did not make it into the movie. Despite missing those elements, The Shining still rates as one of the greatest horror movies of all-time.

What I love about The Shining is that there is a build up to horror that does not include a lot of “boo” scenes. We don’t get to the “boo” scenes until Kubrick already has us fairly terrified and prepared to jump at anything. At that point, Kubrick is simply adding more layers to a cake that already tastes pretty damn good.

If you have not seen The Shining, then do so as soon as you can. But be prepared to feel uncomfortable as the movie progresses, which is just one of the reasons why this is one of the greatest films ever made.

Rating: 4 ½ out of 5

+George N Root III is a drive-in fanatic and pretty fond of Halloween as well. Follow him on Twitter @georgenroot3 or send him a message at Join the conversation about this and other films at

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