May 3, 2013

Blu-ray Essentials- The Shining (1980)

When it comes to buying horror movies on Blu-ray, we have one issue; we already own so many horror movies on DVD, that upgrading them all to Blu-ray would cost a small fortune. There are some titles that we have to own in the best format available however, and so we open to you our Blu-ray Archives which consist of what we consider to be Must Own Horror & Genre Blu-ray's.

The Shining (1980)
Warner Bros.
Price: $10-$15
Discs: 1 50 GB Blu-ray Disc
Video: 1080p
VC-1 (14.68 Mbps)
1.85:1 AR
Audio: LPCM 5.1 (48kHz, 16-bit)
English/French/Spanish: Dolby Digital 5.1
Subtitles: English, English SDH, French, Spanish
Region Free

Because Stanley Kubrick was a mad genius? Because Jack Nicholson's performance is truly inspired and over the top? The creepy twins? "Here's Johnny?" There are plenty of reasons to own this Classic, chief amongst them being that this movie is truly a one of a kind Horror experience.

Stephen King hated Kubrick's version of his book, because it deviated from the source material, and sometimes drastically. Kubrick had his own ideas about what the story should be, and he turned King's work into more than the simple Horror story than it was.

I can't imagine a movie version without this scene.

I personally much prefer the Kubrick-added maze element more than King's topiary animals coming to life. I also like Kubrick's ending better than King's; I mean, a haunted boiler explodes, killing Jack? That just never grabbed me.

In the book Jack goes after everyone with a croquet mallet instead of the ax he wields in the movie, which seems less effective and even silly to us. The book has no river of blood, no creepy twins in the hallway...

The point is that we liked King's book just fine, but as an experience, we much prefer the film version of The Shining. As drastically altered as it was from the source material, its layers of subtext, mood, and Kubrick's meticulous attention to detail made it a great cinematic experience for us.

...and who doesn't love a good deluge of blood?
After recently watching Room 237 (a documentary about The Shining and its supposed hidden meanings and symbolism), I quickly went and grabbed my DVD copy of The Shining, eager to compare and contrast the two. I was horrified to find that the 200 DVD version that I owned looked painfully awful; the colors were off, the picture was grainy and scratchy, and the overall quality of the entire disc was just plain bad. Worst of all, the movie was presented in a 4:3 aspect ratio, which to the uninitiated, is a square in the middle of the screen.

I went and bought the Blu-ray the next day.

While the picture on this BD may not be perfect, it sure looked near enough perfect to us. Granted, we had just tried to watch the movie in its shoddy DVD form, so that may have played into our "wow factor" a little bit, but the movie truly does look gorgeous in its 1080p Blu-ray form. Everything appears lush and crisp, and made this 30+ year old movie look brand spanking new. Bottom line is that this Blu-ray transfer of The Shining is gorgeous, and if you love the movie and still own the DVD version, you really, really need to upgrade asap.

He is even creepier in 1080p.
The Lossless mix given to us here is a good one, but it's nothing to get excited about. This isn't Reference Quality audio by a long shot, but everything here sounds as it should, and it isn't distracting in its less than stellar delivery. We're not Audiophiles by any means, so to us, it sounded fine. True Audiophiles may find it a bit lacking though.

This scene actually had its own backstory in the book.
We weren't blown away by the amount of Special Features included on this disc, but what we do get is pretty interesting, especially for Kubrick fans. Then again, we bought this disc for an upgrade in Video Quality, so we were happy to get whatever extras this disc offered us. It's all just a fun little bonus to us.
  • Audio commentary with Steadicam inventor/operator Garrett Brown and Kubrick Historian John Baxter. 
  • Documentary The Making of the Shining, with optional commentary by Vivian Kubrick
  • View from The Overlook: Crafting the Shining
  • The Visions of Stanley Kubrick
  • Wendy Carlos, Composer
  • Theatrical Trailer
...and scene.
As a film, The Shining is a clinic in filmmaking. It doesn't creep us out like it once did, but re-watching it is a stark reminder of just how damned good Stanley Kubrick was at telling an exacting, multi-layered story. I can truly understand how this movie doesn't appeal to some people, but for us, watching it is a unique experience that we always enjoy, on some level or another.

As a Blu-ray, The Shining is a crisp and gorgeous visual experience that really needs to be on every Horror fan's shelf. It's not a perfect transfer, nor is the disc overloaded with tons of extras, but for fans of Kubrick's oft-maligned masterpiece, it is the definitive format to own it in. We came for the improved visuals, and got a solid, all-around package that left us satisfied.

If you like the movie in any way, shape or form, or are just curious to see what all of the fuss is about, the Blu-ray version is the only way to see it. We also urge you to check out the Room 237 documentary about the movie and its themes, because it truly enhances the viewing pleasure of the movie in a fun way.

The Movie
The Blu-ray Experience.
It looks like Stanley Kubrick was more fun than some people gave him credit for. I'm pretty sure this picture looks fun... or maybe it's creepy. Creepy fun. Alright, maybe he wasn't very fun at all.


  1. Awesome blogsite! Here is mine! We review horror films....over coffee!

  2. Do you have tea as well? We prefer tea.

    Admittedly, Horror and Tea would make for a horrible website name though :)

  3. I honestly thought this was the worst movie.

    I thought it was boring.. I laughed at the twins because they seemed so stupid and not at all creepy.

    I really think this movie is overrated.

  4. Yeah Anon, I absolutely get how people don't like this movie. For us, and especially me personally, I've have a love for The Shining since childhood, so my view on it is partially based in sentimentality.

    This is one movie I can't really argue over when people say "I hate it."

  5. I wish that I could divorce the film from the novel - I don't adore all King's works by any means, but I did love The Shining, and when the film came out, I was crushed by the things I missed from the book. I think if I could separate the 2, I might be able to find an appreciation for the film, but there were so many things I was looking forward to that never materialized, and I just felt cheated. And angry, which is not the way to Advanced Film Appreciation....

  6. I think for us, looking at The Shining as "Kubrick's Horror Film" helps us appreciate it more than if we thought of it simply as a Stephen King adaptation.

    It did deviate wildly from the book, and even King himself seemed to hate it because fo that fact.