Horror Filmmakers Discuss The Legacy And Influence Of ‘The Shining’

It probably wasn’t very obvious at the time, but May of 1980 ended up being a pretty important month in the history of the horror film genre. Two weeks after Sean S. Cunningham introduced the world to Friday the 13th (you can read our oral history on it here) a different style of horror film was released, and unlike the incredibly low budget Halloween knockoff, this one was expected to be an epic cinematic experience. Based on Stephen King’s novel and directed by Stanley Kubrick, The Shining starred Jack Nicholson and had a budget of roughly $19 million that allowed Kubrick to make big, beautiful sets and truly deliver on his terrifying vision, even if it came at the expense of Shelly Duvall’s mental health. If Friday the 13th was the little engine that could, The Shining should have been a bullet train destroying everything in its path. Except some critics didn’t care for it either.

In 1980, the Razzies were created and Kubrick and Duvall were nominated for their efforts, while other critics didn’t care for the differences between the director’s vision and King’s original story. The Globe and Mail’s Jay Scott called it “an overreaching, multi-levelled botch,” while Variety wrote that Kubrick and King destroyed “all that was so terrifying about Stephen King’s bestseller.” Perhaps the most damning critique of this film comes from King, whose own screenplay was rejected by Kubrick. King has always been dissatisfied with the way that Kubrick failed to deliver on the real horror element of The Shining. (He also said that he never cares about the movies, but it’s The Shining that really gets him going.) What has always mattered, though, has been the film’s legacy to fans, as people have long considered The Shining to be a horror masterpiece, no matter how much it pisses King off.

For the film’s 35th anniversary, we talked to some of today’s aspiring horror directors and writers about the impact that The Shining has had on them and their work. But we started it all off by reaching out to someone who knows a thing or two about being a horror legend…