Ladies and gentleman, welcome to the Winter Wars! This 13-article series focuses on Christmas/winter-themed horror flicks, pitting them against one another in head-to-head battles to see which movie reigns supreme on its own snow-packed throne.
Today’s knock-down, drag-out is KING-worthy! Stephen King, that is. This horror master has done pretty much everything, including two major books (later films) that so heavily feature wintertime weather it almost becomes a character in the story. I present to you: “The Shining” and “Dreamcatcher.”
“The Shining” (1980) – A family heads to an isolated hotel for the winter where an evil and spiritual presence influences the father into violence, while his psychic son sees horrific forebodings from the past and of the future.
“Dreamcatcher” (2003) – Friends on a camping trip discover that the town they’re vacationing in is being plagued in an unusual fashion by parasitic aliens.
Both movies seem really cold. Jack Torrance literally freezes at the end of “The Shining,” and there is snow in every frame of “Dreamcatcher” that is set in the present-day (+1/+1). Both movies also have aspects of King’s own life: In “The Shining,” Jack Torrance struggles with alcoholism, something King admitted to in his book “On Writing;” the injury (two broken legs) that Jonesy must cope with parallels an injury King sustained after being hit by a car. (+1/+1) for having the guts to put yourself out there, Mr. King.
“The Shining” is usually listed on people’s “scariest” films lists, but it is not scary at all (-1). Then again, “Dreamcatcher” isn’t that scary either (-1). Where’s the horror? Not in Jack Nicholson’s performance. Overrated (-1)! Plus, Shelley Duvall is so whiny I can’t take her Wendy seriously, which is a shame because Wendy is one of King’s most under recognized female heroines – probably because of Duvall’s lackluster performance (-1). “Dreamcatcher,” on the other hand, is extremely well-acted and has an amazing cast all around (+1). It’s also very clever, while “The Shining” is really hailed as visionary because people like to call Stanley Kubrick a genius so they’ll seem cool (+1/-1). I can’t stress enough how overrated “The Shining” is. That said, the sheer weirdness of some scenes in “The Shining” and the buckets of blood the Grady Sisters bring is legendary (+1). The music video for 30 Seconds to Mars’ amazing anthem “The Kill” is also based on “The Shining.” Jared Leto knows what’s up (+1).
I’ve said it more than once and here’s another time to say it: “The Shining” is not as good as everyone thinks, but “Dreamcatcher” is more brilliant than anyone gives it credit for. Stop getting on the popular opinion train, people; it doesn’t do us any good.
THE WINNER, 4-1 IS… “DREAMCATCHER!”