Stanley Kubrick was a director touched with a mania. Kubrick once made 70 year old Scatman Crothers do 120 takes of the same 3 second scene in the 1980 horror classic The Shining. Kubrick was going to make Crothers do 70 takes of another 3 second scene but the star of The Shining, Jack Nicholson, talked Kubrick out of it. Stanley Kubrick’s directing style was so frustrating that Scatman Crother broke down into tears at one point asking Kubrick what exactly he wanted. What Kubrick wanted was the perfect horror film and with The Shining that is exactly what Stanley Kubrick got. Even though most of the casting decisions Kubrick made went contrary to the vision of the story creator Stephen King, he was still able to create a movie that so terrified audiences that it was named one of the top 10 scariest movies of all time. But Kubrick was not all bad. Young actor Danny Lloyd, who played the clairvoyant Danny Torrance in The Shining, was well protected by Kubrick. He was so well protected that Danny Lloyd had no idea he was the star of a horror movie and didn’t learn about that fact until years later. But Kubrick was still Kubrick and his reputation preceded him to the set of The Shining. There is still some debate about how it all actually happened but the end result was that Stephen King was actually supposed to adapt his own book into a screenplay but in the end the script for The Shining wound up being written by Diane Johnson but Kubrick changed the script so much from day to day that he wound up getting a writing credit as well. Some say that King presented a script to Kubrick but Kubrick rejected it. Some say that King heard about Kubrick’s reputation and refused to write the script. Can you imagine a director scaring the world’s foremost horror author?
The Shining is about Jack Torrance who is a down and out English teacher who takes a job during the winter as a caretaker for a hotel up in the mountains. He takes his wife and his son with him and the three plan on spending the whole winter in that old hotel. But Jack’s son Danny can “see” things that other people cannot see and quickly Danny realizes that the Overlook Hotel, the hotel they are going to take care of, is alive with the ghosts from the past. As in other classic Stephen King stories there is one particular room in the hotel that holds more terror than the others. Ghosts start to appear all over the place and soon Jack begins to go insane. He spirals out of control until he finally turns on his family. The end result is a horrifying story that contains some of the most classic scenes and lines in movie history along with being one of the scariest movies you will ever see.
The Shining was a financial success and it helped to propel Stephen King to a career in film. It was King’s third movie and it was more than an adequate follow up to his first movie Carrie which was a horror hit as well. But Stephen King had very little to do with the making of The Shining and he often found himself at odds with director Stanley Kubrick. But the two were able to maintain a certain level of friendship that allowed the project to move forward. The two got so close that Stanley Kubrick would call Stephen King at all hours of the morning while they were shooting The Shining and ask King if he believed in God and other strange questions. Very strange behavior for a director who once said that he did not believe in Hell.