THE SHINING. (1980) REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

THE SHINING. (1980) BASED ON THE NOVEL BY STEPHEN KING. PRODUCED AND DIRECTED BY STANLEY KUBRICK. SCREENPLAY BY STANLEY KUBRICK AND DIANE JOHNSON.

STARRING JACK NICHOLSON, SHELLEY DUVALL, SCATMAN CROTHERS AND DANNY LLOYD.

REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

This is a good ‘un. Some Stephen King novels- not all of them, admittedly- make for fantastic films. CARRIE is one of these. Ditto MISERY, THE MIST, MAXIMUM OVERDRIVE, SALEM’S LOT, BAG OF BONES, GERALD’S GAME and DOLORES CLAIBORNE. THE SHINING is definitely another. To be honest, it’s probably the best Stephen King book-to-movie adaptation ever made to date. The plot is a real corker. Let’s have a brief overview.

Jack Torrance is clearly not one of life’s winners. He’s a sarcastic, bad-tempered recovering alcoholic and aspiring writer, a terrible combination. He also desperately needs work, any work, so he takes a job as seasonal caretaker at the isolated Overlook Hotel. He and his wife Wendy and young son Danny will live by themselves in the hotel all winter and keep things ticking over until the staff and guests return in the summer.

Sounds like a cushy number, but there are downsides. One of these is the sheer isolation of the hotel’s location. There won’t be a soul for miles around, added to which they’ll definitely be snowed in at some point as well, unable to get to even the nearest town, Sidewinder. No TV and no beer make Homer go something something…

More importantly, though, is the fact that a previous caretaker went cuckoo-bananas during the long cold winter at the Overlook Hotel and ran amok with an axe, killing his wife and twin daughters. It’s just a trifling matter, you know. It shouldn’t be an issue. Will Jack be able to handle the job, his new employers ask him? Sure thing, he tells them. No problem. When do I start…?

The Torrance family move into the hotel, lock, stock and barrel. Straight-away we observe that Jack, brilliantly played by Jack Nicholson, is a little below par as a husband and father, maybe even verging on the abusive. As if we didn’t know this already. A month at the Overlook does nothing to improve his foul temper.

Jack sits around the place pretending to write his version of the great American novel, all the while growing weirder and less and less communicative and civil towards his long-suffering wife. Writing is hard, and there’s nothing worse than a bad bout of Writer’s Blockage. Even a hefty dose of Syrup of Figs can’t shift that.

Then one day cute little Danny, who has the ability to read minds and predict the future (the shining), encounters a ‘crazy lady’ in the bathtub of one of the supposedly empty bedrooms, and what’s more, he has the scars to prove it. What the hell are Momma and Poppy gonna do now…?

THE SHINING is a masterclass in tension-building. Not only do we already know that something horrible has already happened in this accursed hotel, but at every turn we’re confronted with hints and indications that something just as bad, or maybe even worse, is fast coming down the track.

Jack Nicholson gives a faultless performance as the man who is growing crazier with each passing day. In fairness though, I think Jack Torrance may have been a little unhinged to begin with. He gives every indication of being a man on the edge, even before he’s cocooned at the hotel.

He’s absolutely foul to his downtrodden wife. Today, we’d call him a domestic abuser and cancel his sorry ass before you could say get my wife’s name out your mother-fucking mouth in front of an audience of millions at a glittering awards ceremony, lol. Sorry, couldn’t resist that.

Shelley Duvall is equally convincing as the wife who has to face the fact that her husband, the man who’s supposed to love and protect her and little Danny, is quite possibly the biggest threat to her and her little boy’s safety. Nowadays, she’d be calling a helpline to assist her and her young son to get as far away as they could from Jacky Boy, who’s possibly the worst and most abusive husband in cinema history.

Scatman Crothers is superb as Dick Halloran, the old chef at the Overlook Hotel who shares little Danny’s ability to ‘shine.’ He proves to be Danny’s only real ally, besides his mother, against the terrible evil that haunts the hotel.

Lisa and Louise Burns truly ‘shine’ too as the Grady twins (‘Come play with us Danny!’), and Danny Lloyd himself is fantastic as Danny ‘Doc’ Torrance, and he was only eight at the time, which is amazing. The hotel guests are all deliciously twisted and great fun. Watch out for the classic scene with Jack Torrance at the supposedly closed bar in the supposedly closed hotel…
 
The colours and patterns used in the hotel’s decor- the burnt orange, brown and yellow swirls and checks so popular in the ‘Seventies- add to the claustrophobic feel of this supposedly spacious location. What little Danny’s doing on his wee trike along the corridors of the hotel actually looks like tremendous fun. Giz a go of yer trike, Danny…!

Throw in a great script, great direction and a catalogue of ever-increasing shocks and you’ve got yourself a masterpiece. I don’t think there’s any more that I can add, really. If you’ll excuse me, I’ve got to go take my bath now. I’ll leave the door open though, if you fancy joining me. You can help me scrub the mould and algae off my back. It’s Room 237, by the way. Come on up when you’re ready. I’ll be waiting…

AUTHOR BIOGRAPHY OF SANDRA HARRIS.

Sandra Harris is a Dublin-based novelist, poet, short story writer and film and book blogger. She has studied Creative Writing and Vampirology. She has published a number of e-books on the following topics: horror film reviews, multi-genre film reviews, women’s fiction, erotic fiction, erotic horror fiction and erotic poetry. Several new books are currently in the pipeline. You can browse or buy any of Sandra’s books by following the link below straight to her Amazon Author Page:

http://www.amazon.com/-/e/B015GDE5RO

Her new book, THIRTEEN STOPS EARLIER, is out now from Poolbeg Books:

Her debut romantic fiction novel, ‘THIRTEEN STOPS,’ is out now from Poolbeg Books:

The sequel, ‘THIRTEEN STOPS LATER,’ is out now from Poolbeg Books: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Thirteen-Stops-Later-Book-ebook/dp/B091J75WNB/

DOCTOR SLEEP. (2019) REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

DOCTOR SLEEP. (2019) DIRECTED BY MIKE FLANAGAN. SCREENPLAY BY MIKE FLANAGAN.
BASED ON THE 2013 NOVEL, DOCTOR SLEEP, BY STEPHEN KING. ALSO BASED ON THE 1977 NOVEL, THE SHINING, BY STEPHEN KING, AND THE 1980 FILM OF THE SHINING BY STANLEY KUBRICK.
STARRING EWAN MCGREGOR, REBECCA FERGUSON, CARL LUMBLY AND KYLIEGH CURRAN.
REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

‘Well, hi there…’

Heeeeeeere’s Danny…! (PS, this line doesn’t actually appear in the film, I made it up but you’ll see why…)

It’s been a while now since I read the book DOCTOR SLEEP by horror maestro Stephen King, but I was hugely looking forward to seeing the film version when it came to Netflix. Well, it’s come to Netflix, I’ve seen it and I can now declare it top-notch stuff, lol. Just in case you were hanging on the edge of your seat waiting for my verdict…! It clocks in at a satisfying two and a half hours, so it’s good bang for your buck, and the great cast produces stellar performances.

Ewan McGregor plays Danny Torrance, all grown-up now after the events that traumatised him so much in THE SHINING, the 1980 film by Stanley Kubrick. The traumas were so great that Danny grew up an alcoholic, just like his old man, Jack Torrance, played by Jack Nicholson in the 1980 smash hit film.

He’s in recovery, though, going to his AA meetings and working in a hospice as an orderly. He’s still got his powerful psychic ability known as ‘the Shining,’ and, as he uses it to comfort dying patients, they in turn call him Doctor Sleep. That’s the title explained, at any rate.

His dear old pal from the first movie, Scatman Crothers as Dick Halloran, the chef from the Overlook Hotel, has visited him psychically to help him to deal with his old ghosts from the hotel, who’ve continued to plague and terrorise him.

I love the idea of the lockboxes in Danny’s mind. Catherine Deneuve tried to do something similar in THE HUNGER, but as her lockboxes were physical rather than psychical, her boogeymen all escaped and gave her what for, lol.

I also love the adorable, fluffy hospice cat, who has the ability to suss out who’s about to shuffle off his or her mortal coil. A most intriguing characteristic, unless you’re the one on whose bed the moggy chooses to park his furry butt. Then it’s Goodnight, Vienna…

Anyway, Danny is not without his problems in this excellent sequel. There is a band of very bad nomadic people known as the True Knot on the loose, extending their lives by shortening other peoples’.

They feed off other psychically gifted individuals by inhaling their ‘steam’ at their moment of death. Rose the Hat, a beautiful young woman who just so happens to be one of King’s most interesting characters, is their leader.

When we meet them, though, the cult members are starving for lack of psychic steam. One of their member, Grampa Flick, dies of actual psychical starvation. He’s played by Carel Struycken, an actor with a condition known as acromegaly which gives a person enlarged hands and feet and sometimes enlarged or elongated facial features as well.

Like the actor Rondo Hatton, who suffered from a similar condition, Struycken has used his appearance to his advantage to get acting jobs. He did a fantastic job as Mr. Moonlight in the film adaptation of another Stephen King classic novel, GERALD’S GAME (2017).

Anyway, Danny becomes aware of the True Knot when a little girl with outstanding psychic abilities, Abra Stone, informs him of their existence after they kill a little boy and devour his ‘psychic steam’ as he dies in agony.

Reluctantly, Danny gets involved with Abra and they plan together both to lead law enforcement to the boy’s grave so his parents can have closure, and also to take out the True Knot, and I sure as shit don’t mean for a romantic dinner.

The final showdown happens at the only place where it could ever have happened… at the Overlook Hotel, where you’ll meet some old friends who, if you’re like me, might just have given you nightmares for years after you met them first in the original SHINING film.

I just loved that Danny goes here again after all these years, and that a man who looks a lot like his father but isn’t his father greets him from behind the iconic Gold Bar…

I just love this film. Bruce Greenwood, who plays the rich businessman trying to spice up his flagging sex life in GERALD’S GAME, appears here as the leader of Danny’s AA group and the hospice boss. Jocelin Donahue plays Abra’s beautiful and young-looking mother.

Ms. Donahue is one of my favourite scream queens as she starred in THE HOUSE OF THE DEVIL, an excellent horror film from 2009, and she was also in INSIDIOUS: CHAPTER TWO (2013), as the young version of Barbara Hershey’s character.

Also, Carl Lumbly, who appears here as the ghost of Dick Halloran, used to play Detective Martin Petrie in CAGNEY AND LACEY, a brilliant cop show from the ‘80s. He wasn’t really the detective I had eyes for, though. That was Detective Victor Isbecki, played by the fantastically muscular Martin Kove who took his shirt off and bared his superb hairy chest in the opening credits every week. Can I get a ‘phwoaaaaar…?’

I must go and read the book again now, if I can remember where I put it. One thing I don’t get about the film. When the Overlook is burning (sorry, spoiler!), how come the authorities get there so dang quickly? Those roads are supposed to be impassable in the snow. Certainly they are in the original film. Ah well. It’s only a technicality. Enjoy the film. Oh, and bring back Rose the Hat, she’s magnificent…!

AUTHOR BIOGRAPHY OF SANDRA HARRIS.

Sandra Harris is a Dublin-based novelist, poet, short story writer and film and book blogger. She has studied Creative Writing and Vampirology. She has published a number of e-books on the following topics: horror film reviews, multi-genre film reviews, women’s fiction, erotic fiction, erotic horror fiction and erotic poetry. Several new books are currently in the pipeline. You can browse or buy any of Sandra’s books by following the link below straight to her Amazon Author Page:

http://www.amazon.com/-/e/B015GDE5RO

Her new book, THIRTEEN STOPS EARLIER, is out now from Poolbeg Books:

https://amzn.to/3ulKWkv