The Shining

The Shining

“Heeere’s Johnny!”

Stephen King’s bestselling novel about a man who loses his mind amidst the claustrophobic confines of an isolated mountain resort made it to the big screen in 1980. Directed by Stanley Kubrick and starring Jack Nicholson, The Shining has since gone on to become one of the most beloved horror films of all time.

Jack Torrance (Nicholson) is a struggling writer who takes a job as a winter caretaker at the majestic Overlook Hotel, a spacious resort nestled deep within the mountains. He brings along his wife Wendy (Shelley Duvall) and young son Danny, despite warnings from the manager that the last caretaker murdered his family there after a bout with cabin fever.

Upon the family’s arrival, Danny encounters the soon-to-be-departing chef, Dick Hallorann (Scatman Crothers), who recognizes that the boy shares his telepathic abilities, something Dick’s grandmother used to call “shining.” He warns the boy that all is not right with the Overland Hotel, then departs for the winter, leaving the threesome with plenty of food, a Snowcat truck for emergency transportation, and a two-way radio in case the phone lines are down. About a month after Dick takes off and a blizzard arrives, the problems begin.

Jack becomes increasingly aggravated over time due to writer’s block and begins to revert to his old alcoholic and abusive ways. He and Danny also begin to separately encounter strange apparitions at the Overlook. Danny discovers a pair of the freakiest twin girls imaginable while riding his Big Wheel around the hotel, and Jack meets a number of ghostly employees – including a chill-inducing bartender and the former murderous caretaker who informs Jack that he should “correct” his family. Meanwhile, Wendy is justifiably becoming more afraid of her husband, who she suspects may have physically abused Danny. She decides to see what her hubby has been writing all this time, only to discover hundreds of pages, on all of which he has typed the same sentence over and over – “All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.”

Dick, who is miles away, senses telepathically that something is very wrong at the hotel and heads back to check things out. Meanwhile, Wendy has locked herself in her room in fear of her enraged husband – who promptly hacks his way in with a fire ax. She barely escapes and eventually counters with a baseball bat to the head, which buys her some time as she plots her and Danny’s escape, only to find that Jack has disabled the Snowcat and the radio. With nowhere else to hide, mother and son head to the humongous hedge maze outside.

The Shining did moderately well upon its release, receiving mixed reviews from the critics – some of whom felt it strayed too far from the novel. The years that followed have been quite kind to the film, however, and today it is considered somewhat of a horror masterpiece, often placed high atop various “scariest movie” lists. In 2013, King released the long-awaited sequel to The Shining, titled Dr. Sleep, which chronicles the adult years of young Danny Torrance and his special gift. Whether that novel will result in a cinematic sequel to this classic horror film remains to be seen, but there’s still plenty of fun (and/or nightmares) to be had by watching the original.

If you count The Shining among your favorite scary movies, we’d love to hear your thoughts and recollections in our comments section below, as we tip our hats to Stephen King, Stanley Kubrick and a wonderful cast for delivering this truly frightening tale.

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