The Horror Honeys: Come On You Raver, You Seer of Visions, Shine On You Crazy Danny

Come On You Raver, You Seer of Visions, Shine On You Crazy Danny

I’ve had very few long-term relationships in my life. Possibly the longest relationship I’ve had, aside from family and they don’t really count, is with Stephen King. I was introduced to his books at a fairly young age by a babysitter. I guess she either felt I could handle the material or she got sick of me asking her to tell me about what she was reading. Regardless, she gave in and gave me The Shining. Thus began my long suffering, unrequited love affair.  I began reading everything he had to offer at the time and then began collecting. I currently own every book in hardcover, and all but the first four are first editions. I even have a few paperback duplicates of the novels I read over and over, as well as some Kindle versions. The Shining is one of those novels. Every time I read it, I love it even more. My love is strong and true.
Jack Torrance, a struggling writer and recovering alcoholic, takes a position at the Overlook Hotel in the Colorado Rocky Mountains. The job is Jack’s last chance at success. He hopes to have the time to write the great American play, while trying to put the pieces of his family back together. His son, Danny, possesses remarkable psychic abilities; abilities which allow him to tap into the evil spirits that dwell in the hotel. As the family becomes more isolated because of the snow, the spirits become stronger and threaten the safety and sanity of Jack and his family.

King’s 3rd novel, The Shining was published in 1977. The idea came to him after a stay at the Stanley Hotel, a rather isolated hotel in Estes Park, CO. I’ve been to The Stanley and, although the surrounding area has changed a lot over the years, the hotel itself breeds creepy. The story is also influenced by King’s own struggle with addiction.
I would hope, at this point in time, everyone is familiar with the book, even though no one reads anymore. When I talk about The Shining with some people, the response is generally, “I saw the movie.” Disappointing, since the book is so much better. Unfortunately, the Stanley Kubrick movie has such a reputation, some film snobs (or those pretending to be) think it’s fucking genius, but have either never read the source material or read the book after seeing the film and think it’s not quite as good. I’m not sure some people understand that the book came first, and not the trash adaptation that Kubrick birthed.
Yes, you heard me right. I am not a fan of the Kubrick adaptation. Yeah, yeah, groan away, but I’m entitled to my opinion. In fact, I have found recently that many people share that opinion. That makes me smile!

Even at a young age, I knew a great story when I read one. So when ultra-cool sitter took me to see the movie, I was underwhelmed; not to mention, a little angry. This was nothing like the story I loved. Remember, I was a kid, so it wasn’t about acting or lighting or metaphors for me... it was about the story. I was a purist, even then. Kubrick butchered that for me and, and as I would come to learn in later years, King as well.
This movie, as well as Nicholson’s performance would forever be engrained in the minds of those who saw it. For me, however, Nicholson was never the Jack Torrance I envisioned when reading the novel. I’m not criticizing his performance. He’s a great actor and he played a great crazy person, but Jack Torrance wasn’t crazy. He was an alcoholic. I felt as if the character from the film and the character from the novel were battling completely different demons. 
Let’s face it, King’s books are not easy to translate to film, particularly those with complicated story lines, but The Shining isn’t really all that complicated.
In the novel, it was about new beginnings, starting over and succeeding to give his family a better life. The hotel had power, but it wanted Danny; it wasn’t about Jack, although he was still influenced by it and that slowly became his addiction. In the end, Jack has a moment of clarity and saves his wife and son. In the movie, it’s all about Jack. He quickly descends into madness and his only goal is to destroy his family to gain power. His family wasn’t all that important.
After getting the rights back, King did his own take in a 3 part miniseries in 1996. I happen to really like this version and I know I’m in the minority, but that’s OK. I’m not going to compare the films because it would be like comparing apples and oranges: not to mention, it would take all day. I like this “remake” because it’s a faithful adaptation of the novel. I also happen to think the performances of both Steven Weber and Rebecca DeMornay were fantastic. Again, trying to compare both Jacks is pointless. They were playing different characters with the same name. I stand by that.

Let me make one thing clear, I don’t HATE Kubrick’s movie. Over the years, and after many viewings, I have learned to appreciate it. Of course, that appreciation is born mostly from the technical. It’s stunning to look at, the score is amazing and yes, Nicholson’s performance is stellar, but I despise what Kubrick did with the characters. On this, my mind is made up.
Regardless of how we feel about this movie or the miniseries, I think we can all agree that both Danny’s were bad choices. Danny Lloyd appeared to be on some sort of sedative throughout the film and Courtland Mead was on a serious stimulant in the miniseries. Plus, that awful face. Both performances were dreadful and lends to the adage, children should be seen and not heard.
And don’t get me started on Shelly Duval…
Oh, and if you want another view into how seriously people take Kubrick and his “vision” of The Shining, watch the bat-shit crazy and HIGHLY subjective Room 237, which theorizes about hidden meanings and possible “fuck you's” to King in Kubrick’s movie. 
Some people have way too much time on their hands.