dana and i just finished watching stephen king’s 1997 remake of the shining. i say with absolutely no irony or exaggeration that it was a foul fucking piece of shit in every way possible.
what were we thinking? we were curious, mainly. we knew it would probably be pretty bad, like most film adaptations of king’s books, but we wanted to see exactly what king had envisioned, what he wanted to do differently from kubrick and his classic 1980 version film, what king thought he could do better.
nothing was better. everything was worse. it was so laughably cheap and terrible, from the start to the finish…4 and 1/2 hours later. yep, king’s piece of crap is an epic piece of crap.
here’s what was so fucking awful i had to blog about it.
- all the actors sucked. the guy from wings, the kid with the gross and horribly distracting weirdly-shaped mouth, the black guy, the hotel ghosts…all d-grade performances. rebecca de mornay was the only decent one.
- weird, super bright colours. everything in the film had this strange look, like it was fake, because all the colours were so bright. sort of like when you could turn the contrast up so far on old tv’s that the colours would start to bleed into each other and distort. they were almost that bright, and it looked stupid.
- CHEAP special effects. the CGI was god awful but what was even worse was the non-CGI stuff, like when jack is being stalked by the hedge animals. it just goes back and forth between shots of jack panicking and still-shots of hedge animals with some bear and lion growls added in. no joke. my pal rid saw this on tv when he was like 10 and said he thought it was stupid even back then.
- the evil ghosts are inept. at the end of the movie, both jack AND the ghosts have forgotten to release the pressure on the boiler. give me a break. oh no, that means the ghost’s precious home is about to be blown up! so the ghosts get upset and start squabbling and try to open the pressure relief valve themselves, but they can’t! because they’re ghosts and their hands go right through the valve handle!! what a fucking joke. bumbling ghosts aren’t scary.
- a croquet mallet instead of an axe? jack’s weapon of choice throughout the movie is a croquet mallet, not an axe like in the kubrick film. i haven’t read the book (i tried years ago but quit because it came off like it was written for 12-yr old kids) but the croquet mallet is certainly a lot less menacing. it’s even comical, stupid-looking.
- “pup.” again, i don’t know if this was in the book or if it was changed for the sake of making a PG tv miniseries but it doesn’t really matter because no matter what, when the wings guy is supposed to be really fired up and angry at his son and shouts half-heartedly that he’s a “young pup,” it just sounds stupid. maybe a real actor could pull off a convincing delivery of that line but this guy didn’t.
- shitty ‘scary’ lighting. everything that is supposed to be scary in this piece of crap automatically gets a green light bulb placed over it. it reminds me of shitty haunted houses where they make you put your hand in bowls of spaghetti noodles and peeled grapes and say, “these are brains, and these are eyeballs.” fuck off. only 5-yr olds might think green lights are creepy. you can see an example of the scary green light in the pic above.
- super, super corny happy ending. i hate super happy endings, especially in movies that are scary or disturbing since it totally ruins the bad feelings you’ve been building up for the last hour and a half, but it’s sort of fitting here — the childishly scary show gets a childishly happy ending. and the whole “kissin’, kissin’, that’s what i’ve been missin'” recurring line is fucking gross and annoying. what a perfectly dreadful way to end a perfectly dreadful 4.5 hr slog of a film.
for those reasons, i think the miniseries version of the shining is straight up garbage. but what makes all of this even worse is that stephen king not only likes it, but thinks it’s infinitely superior to kubrick’s version.
king doesn’t think kubrick focused enough on jack’s alcoholism and the disintegration of the family’s relationship. he thinks shelley duvall “just screamed and acted stupid” in kubrick’s version. he thinks kubrick downplayed the supernatural elements of the story and played up the psychological ones. he thinks that because kubrick himself was an atheist, he couldn’t make a film about about ghosts that was scary or believable.
that’s all asinine horseshit. i think kubrick did a fantastic job of balancing jack’s alcoholism, the disintegration of the family, and both the psychological and supernatural elements in the film. king’s problem is that he’s a ham-fisted dunce who likes his films to be like kids’ colouring books with really thick, clear lines so that even fucking dummies can understand exactly what king intended. he wants to beat you over the head with each theme. he has no understanding of subtlety, tastefulness, balance, etc.
as for duvall’s performance, i guess it was very different from what king had written in his book (if rebecca de mornay’s version of wendy is any indication) but i certainly don’t think she portrays wendy as simply a screaming, stupid woman. i think her character is complex and believable — she’s a loving mother and partner, submissive, terribly nervous of rocking jack’s boat (and rightfully so considering his history of alcoholism and physical abuse), but ultimately unable to allow him to destroy her and danny. i think that’s probably pretty accurate for a lot of people who are partners with abusive alcoholics. in fact, i find that more believable than du mornay’s version of wendy, letting jack act like a psycho and toss her around without ever telling him, “you’re a violent freak, danny and i are leaving.” that response would be much more consistent with du mornay’s strong, reasonable character. but king is a dummy so he missed that inconsistency.
king’s criticism that kubrick couldn’t make a scary supernatural film because he didn’t believe in scary supernatural stuff is an interesting one. it’s a neat idea and somewhat intellectual, but it’s still complete bullshit. there is TONS of scary — legitimately scary, not ‘green lightbulb’ scary — supernatural stuff in kubrick’s version of the shining: the elevators releasing torrents of blood, the weird ghost twins, the woman in room 237, the unexplained men in the bedroom (one in an animal costume)…once again, king seems discontent with kubrick’s version of scary and would prefer more goofy shit like people wearing sheets jumping out and shouting BOO. king wants stupid simple scares, and plenty of em, and loathes anything remotely cerebral or legitimately scary.
you know, maybe the reason king claims kubrick’s version stinks and isn’t scary is actually because king finds it terrifying. maybe his pride can’t bear to admit that kubrick made something infinitely darker and more sinister than king could have, and rather than say “well done sir, you took my crappy book and made it into a fantastic film. i owe you a beer,” he prefers to act too cool and say, “nah it’s not scary. it’s not true to my original vision. he totally changed stuff. mine was better.” i honestly can’t see any other way that someone could claim the tv miniseries version is better than kubrick’s. it’s that ridiculous to me.
FURTHERMORE, some of the positive reviews for the miniseries version are absolutely jam-packed full of shit. entertainment weekly said
“There’s a deep, rich creepiness suffusing Stephen King’s The Shining that makes this miniseries the most frightening TV movie ever made.”
and variety said
“At six hours, its slowness is carefully calculated; the edge-of-your-seat creepiness unfolds with a languid believability that will rope in viewers early and hold them. This mini earns its massive length, using every minute to paint a picture of surprising emotional complexity and depth.”
these dick-sucking, uber positive reviews of something that is clearly garbage only further my belief that many professional critics are actually just writers being paid by the companies behind the film to pump it up. there is no way that anyone on earth actually feels like that about such a wretched diarrhea shit of a tv miniseries.
oh, and it got a bunch of awards too, for best makeup, best miniseries, blah blah blah. but i’ve already bitched about how awards shows are the same kind of dick-sucking industry blowhard bullshit as the above reviews.
go fuck yourself, hollywood. and stephen king. you’re all disastrous lunatics. the miniseries version of the shining eats my shit, and no one will ever convince me otherwise.