Friends, it is hard to believe if you step back and look at the last three days – that we’ve celebrated 40 years of Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back, Pac-Man, and with today we have the 40th Anniversary of Stanley Kubrick’s film adaptation of The Shining.
Now as many of you know, Stephen King, the Author of the source material that Kubrick’s 1980 film is based upon wasn’t very happy with the end results – although I should add that many critics of the day were less than kind to the movie too. In fact both Robert Ebert and Gene Siskel on their Sneak Previews television show didn’t give The Shining any coverage – both were disappointed by the film. Reading online the late and great Ebert cited that he found it difficult to actually care for any of the characters as they were presented – with the equally great Siskel in his review for the Chicago Tribune stated that it was:
“… a crashing disappointment. The biggest surprise is that it contains virtually no thrills. Given Kubrick’s world-class reputation, one’s immediate reaction is that maybe he was after something other than thrills in the film. If so, it’s hard to figure out what.”
Now I was all of eight years old when I first saw The Shining with my Father at the 62 Drive-In – that magical outdoor theater I yammer on about a lot on the Saturday Frights podcast. Some would no doubt say that I was too young to see the film but as I’ve mentioned before I was pretty much born a Monster Kid – so I was quite fine… except for the bear suit scene perhaps. It was so very much out of my wheel house and so fast a scene that it’s almost subliminal that I don’t believe my brain could wrap itself around what I was seeing. Even with all of the angry and restless spirits that wander the Overlook Hotel – this was the only moment in the film that I actually became scared.
At my age I obviously hadn’t read Stephen King’s bestselling novel of the same name – granted I have since and at least for myself, I can appreciate both versions. That applies to the television mini-series from 1997 as well – with a teleplay written by King and Directed by none other than Mick Garris (The Stand, Riding the Bullet) to boot. And to be fair I truly can see the praises and complaints of King, Kubrick, and Garris – having said that though when I’m in the mood to settle down at the end of a long day and watch something creepy… a horror film to fall asleep to… I will reach for the 1980 version of The Shining.
It’s odd to realize that 40 years ago this very night, I was sitting beside my Father as the theater screen of the 62 Drive-In lit up and we heard those first chords of Wendy Carlos and Rachel Elkind’s score for The Shining.