Castle of Horror: The Shining (1997): The Stephen King Retrospective

Castle of Horror: The Stephen King Retrospective The Shining

In the lobby of the lovely Stanley Hotel in Estes Park, Colorado sits a gift shop, right next to the wide, wooden central stair. The gift shop long ago embraced the one thing that the Stanley is most famous for above all else: its place as the inspiration, so the legend goes, for Stephen King's horror masterpiece The Shining. That novel, about a haunted hotel called the Overlook, was said to spring from King's experiences as one of few guests at the hotel at the end of tourist season. The Stanley has embraced the connection. There are blood-dripping Stanley Hotel mugs, t-shirts, coasters, all manner of things labeled The Shining. There's a door you can put your face through and take a picture. That sort of thing. The Stanley is and remains a gorgeous one-hundred-and-ten-year old Colonial Revival hotel, but just as the Overlook is haunted by ghosts, the Stanley is haunted by The Shining.

The Stanley could hardly avoid the connection if it wanted to now, for one other reason: in 1997, Stephen King, finally given the tools to engage in a frontal assault on Stanley Kubrick's 1980 film of The Shining, wrote a new version that director Mick Garris filmed on location in and around the original hotel itself.

This new Shining brought forth by King and Garris was a very different beast from the cold Kubrick masterpiece. This Shining was a three-night ABC miniseries, an opportunity for King to bring back into the story what Kubrick had left out. Jack Torrance struggles with alcoholism in Kubrick's Shining, but he also is generally an angry, edge-of-exploding guy all along. When he flips out, we're not all that surprised. The book, and the 1997 miniseries, instead shows Jack's struggles and attempts to stay sober. They are very different works.

The result of spending more time on the character of Jack was that the miniseries, despite Jack's inevitable fall, is an overall warmer picture– both because the characters breather more, and because the first hour and a half precede the deadly winter storm that will trap the family in the end. The hotel feels homey and approachable, and the long, pleasant lobby is galaxies away in tone from the sinister space of Kubrick's studio-built 1980 lobby.

With the soon arrival of Doctor Sleep in theaters, the Castle of Horror podcast is exploring a few Stephen King movies, starting with the 1997 Shining, which of course is as haunted by the 1980 Shining as the Stanley is by the whole business.

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The Team: Hosted by Jason Henderson, author of the upcoming Young Captain Nemo and the upcoming Castle of Horror Anthology; featuring Drew Edwards, creator of Halloween Man; Tony Salvaggio, lead singer of the band Deserts of Mars, lead guitarist of the band Rise from Fire, and co-creator of Clockwerx from Humanoids; attorney Julia Guzman of Guzman Immigration of Denver; and Jamie Bahr, lead singer and upright bassist of the rock and roll band Danger*Cakes.


About Jason Henderson

Jason Henderson, author of the Young Captain Nemo (Macmillan Children's) and Alex Van Helsing (HarperTeen) series, earned his BA from University of Dallas in 1993 and his JD from Catholic University of America, Columbus School of Law in Washington, D.C., in 1996. His popular podcasts “Castle Talk” and “Castle of Horror” feature interviews and discussion panels made up of best-selling writers and artists from all genres. Henderson lives in Colorado with his wife and two daughters.