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The Shining

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All-Reviews.com Movie Review: The Shining

Starring: Jack Nicholson, Shelley Duvall
Director: Stanley Kubrick
Rated: R
RunTime: 146 Minutes
Release Date: May 1980
Genres: Drama, Horror, Mystery


*Also starring: Danny Lloyd, Scatman Crothers, Barry Nelson, Philip Stone, Joseph Turkel, Anne Jackson



Reviewer Roundup
1.  Dustin Putman review follows movie reviewmovie reviewmovie reviewmovie review
2.  Jerry Saravia read the review ---

Review by Dustin Putman
4 stars out of 4

For the average person, director Stanley Kubrick is probably best known for his upcoming film entitled "Eyes Wide Shut," featuring Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman, which had taken over two years for him to complete. For an avid filmgoer, Kubrick is perhaps more known for his classic motion pictures, such as 1964's "Dr. Strangelove" and 1971's "A Clockwork Orange." His step into the horror genre, however, came in 1980 with his loose, but exquisitely told, terrifying adaptation of Stephen King's novel, "The Shining." At the time of its release, King enthusiasts were disappointed because the film version had many differences from the book, but I doubt anyone can deny its overall power to scare.

With a running time of 144 minutes, it is obvious that this is no ordinary horror picture, but one that aspires to be an epic, and it definately is for the genre. Jack Nicholson stars in a tour de force performance as Jack, a writer who, at the start, is a family man who takes a job as caretaker at the Colorado Overlook Hotel for the winter. He is warned early on by the hotel's manager that the winters in the mountains are treacherous, and often the heavy snowfall closes up the roads for months. Soon Jack, his wife, Wendy (Shelley Duvall), and their little son, Danny (Danny Lloyd) are left alone at the huge, desolate hotel, and as the weeks go by, the snow grows heavier, and Jack gets a bad case of writer's block, he slowly, but surely begins to go crazy. Meanwhile, it begins to get obvious that the hotel itself is indeed haunted, and as young Danny rides his bike through the endless corridors, he starts to get visions of terrible things to come, such as an elevator opening up to a tidal wave of blood. He also starts to see two mysterious twins who seem to be roaming the hotel, side-by-side. If you haven't seen "The Shining," then I wouldn't dare give away how everything develops, but it is safe to say that by the last 45 minutes, all hell breaks loose.

"The Shining" is a deliberately paced, but endlessly creepy, horrifying motion picture. From the first shot of the camera moving overhead as a car drives down a road, to the shots within the hedge maze outside the hotel, the film has some of the most beautiful, atmospheric cinematography, by John Alcott, I have ever seen. Other technical credits are also superb, including the extremely eerie, memorable instrumental music score by Herbert Von Karajan, and the unforgettable production design by Roy Walker.

It is the overall experience of "The Shining," however, that makes it such a great film. The slow pace at the start is actually an asset, because it gradually grows momentum as Nicholson starts to grow more and more crazy, until the movie totally takes off in it's last hour and turns into a funhouse of horrors. One particular scene is especially disturbing. Without giving it away, it involves Duvall and a person in a dog costume.

Nicholson's performance in this movie is probably my favorite that he has given, because he has the ability to have a very menacing present. I think it has something to do with his voice and his eyebrows. Duvall is very good as his sympathetic wife, and is a very good screamer when she has to be. Aside from Nicholson, however, the standout of the cast is surely Scatman Crothers, as the cook of the hotel who tells Danny at the beginning that he has the "shine," which is the ability to see the future. In my opinion, he was sorely overlooked for an Oscar nomination in 1980.

"The Shining" is also very much thought-provoking, particularly the closing scene, and is one of the greatest horror films ever made. It is also a movie not easy to forget, and proves that when done well enough, and with a great deal of care, a horror movie can rise to a plane all its own.

Copyright 1998 Dustin Putman

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