Cinema Review: The Shining

DIR: Stanley Kubrick WRI: Stanley Kubrick Diane Johnson  PRO: Stanley Kubrick DOP: John Alcott • ED: Ray Lovejoy • DES: Roy Walker • CAST:  Jack Nicholson, Shelley Duvall, Danny Lloyd, Scatman Crothers

It’s no surprise that, with Stanley Kubrick directing and Jack Nicholson starring, that The Shining is often considered the greatest horror film ever made. Time and changes in the zeitgeist have done little to diminish the film’s incredible quality. If anything, it’s reinforced. Given how Hollywood regularly churns out by-the-numbers horror films with alarming frequency, it’s good to know that it’s not the genre that fails – it’s the directors and actors of these poorer films that do so. The Extended Cut – or for purists, the American version – features just under half an hour of extra footage that elaborates on key areas of the film that were left out in the European releases. While it’s fascinating to see certain elements explained more thoroughly and key scenes given more depth and time to develop, it’s obvious why they were cut from the film.

It’s not that they’re superfluous, it’s more that the film isn’t greatly served by their inclusion. It adds and contributes more to the tension with the additional knowledge. As well as the additional and extended scenes, the film itself was put through rigorous digital remastering and adds a great amount of colour and removes the traditional grain. Some might argue that it makes the whole film process soulless, but this is seeing The Shining in all its intended glory. None of the film’s performances have been lost or been dampened over the past thirty-two years. From Jack Nicholson’s near-comedic frenzy to Shelley Duvall’s teeth-grinding hysteria, The Shining continues to impress. This is a classic that is definitely worth revisiting.

Brian Lloyd

Rated 16 (see IFCO website for details)
143 mins

The Shining is released on 31st October 2012


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Bloody Countdown to Halloween – The Shining

As the spooky season raises its sharpened axe to soon fall upon us, the ghouls and goblins of Film Ireland wallow in the terror of the films that embrace the nutty freaks, bloody psychos and raging spoonatics with our ‘Bloody Countdown to Halloween’ – cue Vincent Price laugh…

 

The Shining

(Stanley Kubrick, 1980)
 

Scott Townsend

For any misguided soul who views the horror genre as inferior, The Shining is probably the definitive response. Stephen King’s lengthy novel provides a cheap pulpy premise: a writer takes a job as a caretaker in an abandoned hotel for the winter with his family. The hotel, however, has a dark past, and begins to cloud his mind. King’s book took this premise and filled it with literal monsters and the supernatural. Kubrick, meanwhile, threw out the hokier parts of the book (living hedge-monsters anyone?) and instead focused on the family and psychological elements. Famously, King wasn’t impressed, calling Kubrick a man ‘who thinks too much and feels too little’. It’s this rejection of horror-movie grammar, however, that makes the film great. Almost every scene takes place in either a brightly lit area or in daylight. There are no shadows for anything to hide in, no darkness. In Kubrick’s world, evil is perfectly visible, staring you straight in the face. There is no direct antagonist, with the only villain being the hotel itself and the madness it brings out it in the characters. Kubrick’s mastery of atmosphere, compostion and editing brings out a chilling quality in the most ordinary things – a ball being bounced against a wall, a child’s tricycle. Case in point – the scariest image isn’t the tidal wave of blood, or the hag in the bathtub, but simply two twin girls standing in a hallway with dodgy wallpaper.

Kubrick’s subliminal Lego message

Despite lukewarm critical reaction at the time, and King’s dismissal of it, The Shining endures as one of the greats. It remains terrifying despite one of the finest ever Simpsons‘ spoofs (‘That’s odd. Usually the blood gets off at the second floor’). Even on television, its chilling composition and electrifying sound design can haunt your dreams. The final shot raises a fascinating, head-scratching mystery that haunts you the more you think about it. And those twins are unspeakably creepy.

Scott Townsend

Check out our blood-soaked countdown of Halloween Horror here

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Cinema Review: Room 237

DIR: Rodney Ascher PRO: P. David Ebersole, Todd Hughes ED: Rodney Ascher CAST: Jay Weidner, Geoffrey Cocks, Bill Blakemore

Stanley Kubrick had, according to Room 237‘s retinue of commentators, an IQ of over 200. As such, his arc of vision was far more wider than the average cinema punter. The argument set out by Room 237 is that The Shining – easily the finest horror film ever made – is riven with hidden codes, subliminal messages and esoteric meanings. Some of these are reasonably well by film buffs and Kubrick enthusiasts. It’s well documented that Stanley Kubrick wanted to make a film on the Holocaust and that The Shining was, according to some, a way of Kubrick making a film about it. However, this isn’t the only theory about The Shining. Each of the film’s commentators set out their own individual theories and use archive footage from the film to back up their arguments. Some, naturally, seem more plausible than others. For example, the constant use of Native American iconography suggests that the film was commenting on the genocide of Native Americans throughout history. Others are more outlandish. Jay Weidner, a noted conspiracy theorist, sets out a baffling theory of both The Shining‘s hidden meaning and Kubrick himself. Without revealing too much, the theory is out of this world and is, surprisingly, very well evidenced throughout the film.

 

It’s true, Stanley Kubrick was a perfectionist. Nothing on the screen was happenstance. Everything was deliberate. And, as such, The Shining is scrutinised and dissected down to its very core. The film goes into massive detail about Kubrick’s earlier work and career, commenting on how Barry Lyndon – the film prior to The Shining – was ‘made by a bored genius’ and that he wanted to make something more subversive. A lot is made of how Kubrick used various subliminal messaging techniques adopted by advertising agencies throughout The Shining. However, the film doesn’t deal with the making of the film itself or the well-known difficulties that Jack Nicholson, Scatman Crothers or Shelley Duvall had with Kubrick. Little comment is made on the film’s reception or eventual cult status. This is a film for Kubrick enthusiasts and film historians. What’s more interesting is that the film, in a way, comments on how people can read into anything if it’s put under a strong enough microscope. Room 237 is an intriguing documentary that is worth seeing, both by fans of cinema and conspiracy theorists. However, given how the film makes extensive use of footage from The Shining and Eyes Wide Shut, it will be interesting to see if it gets a wide release as most of it was used under Fair Use legislation.

Brian Lloyd

Rated 15A (see IFCO website for details)
102 mins

Room 237 is released on 26th October 2012

Room 237 –  Official Website

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Horrorthon returns to IFI

Danielle Harris

Five days of thrills, chills and spills in store as IFI Horrorthon returns from 25th-29th October, boasting the genre’s scariest, bloodiest, and best; including a special guest appearance from ‘scream queen’ star Danielle Harris, the Irish horror breakthrough Citadel, a long-awaited look at the extended Nightbreed: The Cabal Cut, amateur surgery antics in Excision, the story of The Shining in Room 237, and a first look at Brandon Cronenberg’s Antiviral.

IFI Horrorthon has spent the last year collecting some of the most twisted fantasies ever committed to celluloid from across the world and returns once again as easily the most frightful festival on Ireland’s cinema calendar. The packed programme of 32 spine-tingling features has more new horror films than ever before with 23 Irish Premieres. There are sneak previews of upcoming releases, the pick of the international horror scene, genre classics back on the big screen and special guests including Danielle Harris, a veteran ‘screen queen’ as IFI Horrorthon Guest of Honour.

This year’s Opening Film is the Irish premiere of Antiviral, the debut feature by Brandon Cronenberg (son of David) which premiered in Cannes earlier this year. In a dystopian future, the celebrity-obsessed populace clamour to be injected with the ailments of the stars. Be prepared for plenty of injections, bodily fluids, weird plotlines and a definite sense that young Brandon is infected with his father’s artistic impulses. Behold the birth of a body horror dynasty!

IFI Director Ross Keane said ‘This year’s IFI Horrorthon promises to be one of the best ever. The programming team has managed to pack in more premieres than ever before and we’re delighted to be joined by some really special guests. It’s great to see Ciarán Foy’s Irish horror Citadel making such an impact on the international festival circuit and we’re very pleased to be hosting the Dublin premiere. And of course we’re delighted that Danielle Harris will be presenting the Irish premiere of her directorial debut Among Friends in a programme that is really strong on female horror voices.’

Since she made her big screen debut in Halloween 4, Danielle Harris has become one of the most popular actresses in Horror starring in many of the Halloween and Hatchet franchises. The first ‘scream queen’ to visit IFI Horrorthon, Danielle Harris’ presence underlines the growing importance of female artists in horror, a trend evident throughout this year’s programme. In particular we’re pleased to present her directorial debut Among Friends that tells of a dinner party that goes wrong when the hostess decides it’s time to make her guests pay for their wrongdoings. Danielle will introduce the film and take part in a Q+A. She’ll also introduce screenings of genre classics Halloween 4 and Shiver and will add a touch of grisly glamour to the IFI Horrorthon long weekend.

Citadel is one of the best and most awarded of Irish horror films in some time; an urban horror story in which a grieving husband must protect his daughter from violent neighbourhood children. The film premiered at the Galway Film Fleadh, picking up the Best First Irish Feature Award and has since won a string of awards at film festivals around the world. Director Ciarán Foy will introduce the film and take part in a Q+A.

Film fans craving some amateur surgery and body modification won’t be disappointed; there are two excellent films with female protagonists supplying exactly that. Excision, undoubtedly one of the year’s best horrors, is a dark and disturbing tale of a social misfit with twisted dreams of a career as a surgeon which, needless to say, she starts to make a reality. American Mary by the Soska Sisters tells the story of someone who, in contrast to Excision, has the training (she’s a disillusioned medical student) but starts using her skills in the underground world of extreme body modification.

Other highlights of the IFI Horrorthon for this year include; a preview of Room 237, the widely admired documentary by Rodney Ascher about Kubrick’s The Shining (which will be re-released in a new version at the IFI from 2nd November); Sleep Tight, which sees the co-director of [Rec] pitch a misanthropic and increasingly obsessed concierge against a naturally positive tenant; andan extended and vastly improved ‘The Cabal Cut’ version of Clive Barker’s Nighbreed that will close the festival.

Finally of course there’s the Surprise Film; tickets don’t hang around long for those wanting to see Dublin’s best kept secret. This is always one of the most highly anticipated films and the rumours are flying but, as usual, the IFI Horrorthon team are saying nothing until the projector starts to roll.

Tickets for IFI Horrrorthon are available now from the IFI Box Office on 01 679 3477 or online at www.ifi.ie. Individual tickets cost €9 (€10 for the Opening and Closing Films) range of special festival passes from 1-5 days are available on the phone or in person. IFI Daily Membership (€1) or IFI Annual Membership (€25) is required for all films.

For a full programme and more detailed information please visit www.ifi.ie/horrorthon

IFI Horrorthon Schedule

Thursday October 25th
19.30 Opening Film: Antiviral
21.50 Room 237
23.50 Detention of the Dead

Friday October 26th
13.00 Manborg
14.20 Midnight Son
16.30 Calibre 9
18.30 Citadel – + Q&A with director Ciarán Foy
20.30 Silent Hill: Revelation
22.30 Double Bill: Zombie Flesh Eaters/Deep Red
23.00 Slice and Dice: The Slasher Film Forever
23.15 Rites of Spring

Saturday October 27th
12.30 Eurocrime!
15.00 V/H/S
17.10 Dracula: Prince of Darkness
19.00 American Mary
21.00 Among Friends – Q&A with director Danielle Harris
23.15 Young Frankenstein
23.15 Tulpa
23.30 Bad Meat

Sunday October 28th
14.00 The Monster Squad – 25th Anniversary Screening
16.00 Shiver – Introduced by Danielle Harris
18.20 IFI Horrorthon Surprise Film
20.30 Excision
22.20 Halloween III: Season of the Witch – 30th Anniversary Screening
23.00 The Devil’s Business
23.00 After

Monday October 29th
11.00 Short Film Showcase
13.00 Nightmare Factory
14.40 The Burning Moon
16.20 Sleep Tight
18.15 Halloween 4: The Return of Michael Myers –Introduced by Danielle Harris

20.20 Closing Film – Nightbreed: The Cabal Cut
The IFI acknowledges the financial support of the Arts Council.

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