3. The Shining (1980) Dir: Stanley Kubrick
Perhaps an odd choice for a haunted house film in view of the weight of the talent involved. Stanley Kubrick was coming off a decade of redefining the historical epic and creating one of the most controversial films of all time. Similarly Jack Nicholson had produced an Oscar winning performance for One Flew Over the Cuckoos nest so what would happen when these two heavyweights got together?
First off there are several interpretations of The Shining and to view it simply as a haunted house film is perhaps short sighted but the overarching story is that of a family in a hotel where spooky goings on are taking place.
Jack’s descent into madness is surrounded by those tormented spirits that inhabit the hotel and in the end it is conversation with the spirit of Grady that push Jack to the murderous climax.
The beauty of The Shining is many fold, the graceful camerawork, the maze like corridors of the hotel echoed by the maze in the garden, the subtle but continuous ratcheting up of the tension. Many people view it as a horror film secondary to a Stanley Kubrick film, there’s nothing wrong with that but next time you view it just spend time and really think about the horror elements in the film – the witch in the bedroom, the creepy twin girls, the blood spewing lift. The Shining is a masterpiece of modern horror, a psychological study of a mans fragile psyche, a critique of the breakdown of the family unit but most of all a damn scary ghost film.