334 – The one about The Shining

Welcome to episode 334. Today, we watch “The Shining”!

A family heads to an isolated hotel for the winter where an evil and spiritual presence influences the father into violence, while his psychic son sees horrific forebodings from the past and of the future.

Join Scott, Randy, Dunaway, and Ibbott as they stay away from the old lady in 237.


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As usual, a HUGE thanks to Scott Fletcher, the official announcer of Film Sack Central. Hey! Why not leave us a nice review on iTunes if you like the show?

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30 thoughts on “334 – The one about The Shining

  1. Pingback: 334 – The one about The Shining – BRIAN DUNAWAY

      • And right away, in his greeting, too. I totally called it in the comments of the previous episode.
        However, this time around he did bring up valid points and actually explained his case. He did acknowledge the artistry on display and besides, I don’t know how I would feel about this film if I saw it in 2017 for the first time. There are some trope-y as hell things in there.

        • I’m curious as to what is tropey.

          Maybe its me but it sure seems like Randy takes the contrarian opinion on almost every movie they review. After he panned Blade Runner I just tune him out now.

          • Yeah, well, all the tropey stuff – the indian burial ground, the people going crazy in isolation – come from the book, really. There is NOTHING tropey about a man in a pig mask blowing another man dressed in a tux. Or a red bathroom. Or a hotel with impossible geometry. Or a cook’s Florida batchelor pad with foxy lady boobie pictures.

            Also, I think it’s what i call the Bullitt effect. Something that was groundbreaking, the first of its kind might seem dated when you see it for the first time after having seen everything that came after, perfecting, building upon the thing the pioneering movie did.

            What do you guys think of the continuity errors? The carpet pattern changing between cuts when Danny is playing with his toy cars near room 237. Or when Jack is locked in the storage room. The door handle switches sides between the shot from below and the one behind Nicholson. Knowing how big of a stickler for details Kubrick was, it’s hard to imagine these are accidental.

  2. Okay, okay. Listening to 01:22:00 – the clip of “Dick” Jack Nicholson. I think, probably wrong, but I think Nicholson was doing a Stephen King impression and may have used King as his inspiration throughout the film. This COULD explain why Nicholson seemed a bit crazy right from the start of the movie. (*smile)

    Any thoughts?

    BTW, Randy, you are so wrong. The Shining is amazing and you just need to spend more time with Kubrick’s ouevre.

    • I’m not sure he is doing a Stephen King impression since King wasn’t really a public persona during the filming circa ’79. I think that’s just Jack conjuring his “Chicken sandwich rant” from Five Easy Pieces: “I want you to hold it between yer knees.”
      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hdIXrF34Bz0

  3. NONE of you read the book?! This is THE argument for “The book was better”. Not that the film isn’t noteworthy, but the book puts you further in the characters minds so you better feel the tension and insanity set in.
    Kubric bashing always hurts me. Silly, I know but even A.I. feels precious to me. I get it, everyone is allowed their opinion and not EVERYONE has to enjoy the same things as I do. It just seems like in the last 5ish years, more people are coming out and saying that they don’t like movies like this, Forest Gump, Jurassic Park, etc when prior to that, it seemed that everyone was a fan.

    • Also, no mention of being able to see the helicopter shadow on the opening track shot. When I saw this growing up, that shadow may have been the first movie vs reality invasion I caught and exclaimed about.

      • I saw that on a vhs once. I think I read that was meant to be matted out via the aspect ratio but the old vhs warner bros versions made a boo boo.

    • I really hate the ‘book was better’ argument because the book is always better. Yes you can get some decent adapatations in film but the book will always have more detail and nuance than a 2 hour film.

      The remake with Stephen Weber that they mentioned does track the book far more closely but that’s because they did it as a miniseries (rather like The Stand) so they could provide greater detail such as the fact that Ullman really disliked Jack in the book and was not as friendly. Then you had the topiary coming to life and the ‘resurrected’ hornet’s nest.

    • I was surprised to learn about Forrest Gump being crap a few years ago. I still love that movie. Jurassic Park, too, you say? This is the first time I’m hearing about this. Another big one was/is Friends. Hipster backlashspares nothing, it seems…

  4. Great episode, guys! Multilpe laugh out loud moments, especially Ibbot’s “over” greeting.
    You didn’t talk much about the fantastic music. Did you realize while watching the film that these are all contemporary classical pieces? The movie has no score except the opening title piece by Kubrick regular Wendy (Walter) Carlos. Yet every single one of them fits the mood of its respective scene perfectly. Kubrick often does this and the last time Scorsese asked Robbie Robertson of The Band to do the same for Shutter Island, the result was equally spellbinding. It’s not necessarily a soundtrack I’d just put on in the background, but it was the perfect accompaniment to the film.

    • I had no idea that Robertson was involved in Shutter Island. I may actually be inspired to re-watch that now. Perhaps the second time around, I’ll actually enjoy it. I recall that film being a bit of a snoozefest

      • I always loved Shutter Island. Mainly for its atmosphere and for the little telltale moments between all the people around Leo that just seemed weird the first time around but make perfect sense upon re-watch, when you actually know what’s happening. Yeah, I did not immediately figure out the twist. Didn’t even know there was one. I bought my ticket knowing absolutely nothing about the film other than the director and some actors.

      • Shutter Island is a paradox in that it’s a great film that you have to forget between viewings. I saw Shutter Island on opening weekend and there were so many things that I loved about it but then I saw it again when it came out on Blu-ray and … ehhh … I wasn’t impressed.

        But then seven years passed and I watched it again recently and I’d forgotten pretty much every detail of the movie and I was enthralled again. It was so good.

  5. I’m not done listening- at work- but to Randy: you’re alright man. I’m a Kubrick worshipper but it’s refreshing to hear a differing irreverent opinion. Some filmmaker’s styles just don’t jibe with some foks- I like the slow, building, steady-framing of shots and crossfades. Others prefer the more frenetic style like Baz Luhrman or early Scorsese and Tarantno. It’s all good.

    Just got to the clips, Scott- you’re doing an awesome job on them so far. I give you a lot of shit sometimes on the clips but you get a gold star, Doc.

    Ibbott, can you imagine sitting on Jack Torrance’s lap?

    Dunaway, you’re the man.

    More later. Thanks.

    • To be clear, I also love films with slow, building, steady-framing of shots and crossfades (e.g. The Usual Suspects, No Country for Old Men). And I like movies that are long (e.g. Gangs of New York, The LOTR extended editions, Dances With Wolves).

      I regret not comparing The Shining to a Christopher Nolan film like Insomnia or Memento. I had it in my notes, and I started to bring it up at one point, but the topic got changed.

  6. I’m actually with Randy on this one. I love Kubrick, but I don’t think he understood the novel. Jack Torrance is over-the-top, and right from the beginning, which negates the point of the book — here’s a guy struggling with alcoholism, his family on the verge of falling apart, and he’s convinced himself that staying in this hotel for the winter will help him get his life back on track, give him a chance to finish his novel, etc., etc. And then the hotel decides to fuck with him.

    The ghosts are scary, but they’re supposed to be a metaphor for alcoholism. The driving force of the book is the family falling apart because Daddy can’t stop drinking: Jack’s inability to control himself; Danny’s lack of understanding; and Wendy trying to hold out because she still sees glimmers of a good man in Jack. But that’s absent from the film. You watch the movie and it’s inconceivable that Wendy hasn’t ditched this guy long before this because Jack’s bugshit from Scene 1.

    If anyone wants to see what a Kubrick horror movie should be, track down the Japanese film Pulse (and whatever you do, avoid the American remake). Imagine The Ring or Dark Water, but with the philosophical bent of 2001.

    • Oooh, “Pulse” is by the same director of “Doppleganger” – creepy Hitchcockian J-Horror. I’ll have to check that out.

    • For fun, always refer to it as “The Kurosawa film Pulse”.

      Good times.

  7. I think part of the problem that some may see as Nicholson already looking like a crazy person is because that is the image we have of him from this movie and it kind of typecasted him? Did he have that kind of ‘rep’ in 1980?

    • I don’t know all of the roles he had as a younger actor, but I would say One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest (1975) and the Shining did cement that image for him.

  8. One other thing that I remembered when Ibbott I think mentioned that Lloyd also played Dr, Terrell in Blade Runner, there is another callback to Blade Runner which is the theatrical ending of the movie had that ‘top down’ shot of Decker and Racheal driving through the mountains was pulled from The Shining.

  9. ^
    I gotta follow that?

    I saw this as a 12 year old twice in theaters, by myself, 2 nights in a row- way too young (little parental supervision + times were different re: R movies and kids) and dozens of times when we had premium cable. It would be on late at night and I’d think I’ll watch the beginning but would be up until 2 am watching the whole thing, feeling hungover the next day at school. It’s no wonder people have come up with kook-ball theories: it’s on TV all the time and usually conducive to watching it alone. Plus Kubrick was known for never explaining his films- no director’s commentary for his films. I saw it as a neat horror movie as a kid and over the years come to a more adult understanding of the themes.

    What I’ll say is, it’s about a “dry-drunk” who hates his family and his responsibility towards them. I disagree with King and others that Nicholson is crazy from the start. He plays the part as pissed off, barely containing his contempt. And when he does begin to spiral out of it, he doesn’t act crazy- he acts intoxicated. He also has the “shining” but he’s in denial, not realizing it’s how he achieves a magic bar filled with spirits and spirits.

    Shelley Duvall is great as Wendy. Shoula been nominated for an Oscar. This is a movie made before the law sufficiently provided battered women protection from abusive partners and as a mother of a troubled kid in a place where she doesn’t have any friends we can see, what was she to do? I have enormous sympathy for her character. And take comfort, Ibbott, at least you didn’t have to sit on Jack Nicholson’s lap as he basically plays drunk dad in a weirdly grumpy mood. “Do you like it here Dan?” “You know I would never hurtcha…dontcha?”

    What stays with me most about The Shining is it’s dream logic. As pointed out in Room 237, the geography of the hotel and the maze don’t jibe. The ghouls will appear out of nowhere when you turn a corner or look into a room and see a furry giving oral to a tuxedoed party-goer. You’re dream-self wants a drink? Presto, fully stocked bar and an overly accommodating bartender appears before your eyes. This is my favorite “dream movie”, I like it much better than Inception or Eternal Sunshine in that regard.

    Kubrick has a style that doesn’t allow happy accidents or improvisation. His images are usually supplied with a still camera that zooms out or in. And this movie famously has made use of the steadicam, the framing is still precise. I understand completely how this controlling way of filmmaking is off-putting. It doesn’t allow the outside world in his movies not like, say Werner Herzog or early Martin Scorsese in Taxi Driver or Mean Streets. It’s cold, anti-melodramatic, attempting on omniscient POV and not very warm or emotional. And as much as love his movies, the guy was kind of a shit. An interesting shit, but a shit nevertheless. Wouldn’t 60 takes exhausting takes going up the stairs in that heavy emotional scene for the actors suffice? Nope, do another 70 takes please. And as much a perfectionist he is, the hardcore Kubrickians won’t allow that there can be continuity errors. I had to laugh when one of the Room 237 people were talking about how a chair behind Nicholson is in one shot then disappears in another and giving that some thematic importance. It was a 13 month long shoot! Chairs move! Typewriters change color! Pictures tacked up on a wall drop! 13 months! It’s hard to make a movie!

    And on Stephen King: I love the guy, he’s in the writer’s Hall of Fame, a man of the people, he speaks his mind, and he’s not afraid go after Kubrick where many others would be diplomatic but…I think his novel kinda sucks. There’s no mystery to it, the hotel is haunted by ghosts, they possess him, he tries to fight it, tells Danny to “get away from me” as he’s being possessed like from some dumb ’30s horror movie…just go watch the ABC miniseries from the 90s. Yes his book was a personal statement but he should know that when a writer sells the rights of a book to Hollywood, the screenplay is no longer the writer’s property. Dr. Strangelove was a serious novel about nuclear war and the film is one of AFI’s greatest comedies of all time. Go figure.

    Great show. Thanks!

  10. Can’t believe you mentioned The Dark Tower movie in a Sack about The Shining and didn’t even mention the Kubrick version of the overlook Hotel that is in the trailer! Opportunity missed for a great discussion there!

  11. Kubrick’s films are very hit-or-miss with me but I rate The Shining as a must watch every year. There is something very hypnotic about this film that brings about a sort of quiet uneasiness on the viewer. The slow camera tracking. The bold colors. The rhythmic sound of the big wheel. The sound of a heart beating in room 237. It’s all very disconcerting but you can’t look away and the viewer is as much trapped in the hotel as Jack and his family are.

    I don’t fault Randy for disliking it (though I saw that one a million miles away) but I think it’s a film that begs for repeat viewings in order to really see all of it’s brilliance. As someone who loves horror movies there isn’t another one like it either. The whole movie is designed in both sound and visuals to make the viewer an active participant and to feel the same hypnotic sensations that are imparted on the family.

    The wide angle shots in IT FOLLOWS also did this really well in that they wanted the viewers to be looking for IT in all of the backgrounds. Long, slow shots using a very wide angle really asks the viewer to be in the movie rather than just watching the movie.

    I really enjoyed this episode a lot and had more laugh-out-loud moments than most episodes. I think your best episodes are when you guys watch really well known films that a lot of people have very vivid memories of seeing in an earlier time.

  12. My Intro: Is this movie based on the Simpsons Halloween episode, The Shin-ning? Randy seems so serious, that hearing him change his voice feels like a completely different person doing it. Funny, I just happened to be listening to the Popeye episode before this was announced. Shelly Duvall is not doing very well at all now (mental illness). Watching this ( I fell asleep) I can see why King would hate it. There was no subtlety to it.

    Jack Nicholson was making the MOST absurd faces. I saw a video that says, Over and Out is considered rude. You are saying over to the other person , then hanging up on them, which they also do in movies. People just hang up, without saying goodbye.

    Without the horror element, this is still the portrait of an abused wife. He gets worse and worse, and she doesn’t seem all that surprised until the killing.

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