Sometimes the criteria I use to judge a great horror movie isn't just it's inherent quality, but how much it effects my day to day life. There are a small handful of horror movies that didn't just define how I watched movies, but actually informed the way I live my life. Taking that in consideration, probably one of the most, if not THE most, important horror film in my life would have to be Stanley Kubrick's version of The Shining.
A lot of purists, and Stephen King, hate what Kubrick did with the movie, arguing that it changes just about everything from the book, but then I'd like to enter into evidence the completely crappy remake that Stephen King went back and did in the 90s. I forced myself to sit through it, and as a result put Mr. King on my personal shitlist for the better part of a decade. I was that offended by the movie.
Now... I have to make an admission here. A statement so blasphemous that my 'cool film buff' status may be revoked by the cultural mafia. I've never quite understood the appeal of Stanley Kubrick. There, I've said it. A great weight has been lifted. Actually, let me backtrack a little. I do understand the appeal of Stanley Kubrick, I've just never been as big a fan as most people think I should be. I like the majority of his movies, and a couple I do agree are classics. The problem is that he's always seemed so damn cold. His movies are so technically perfect, and incredibly sterile. That's opposed to other technically proficient masters like Hitchcock, or Akira Kurosawa, both of whom were able to inject warmth into their perfection. Kubrick's warmest movie, arguably, is 2001 A Space Odyssey, and that's only because the villain is a robot and we automatically associate with the human protagonist.
The Shining, however, has always been a favorite. One of the greatest movie going experiences of my life was seeing this film in a theatre during a Halloween retrospective. I'd seen it countless times on video, but until I saw those sweeping hallway shots on a big screen I had never truly experienced the movie. It's one of those rare movies that still has the power to scare the bejeesus out of me. Admittedly by now it's more a remembered fear, but I'm not going to admit how old I was before I could watch the scene where Jack visits room 237 with unclenched eyes.
And that, to bring this full circle, is the lifelong change this movie wrought on my life. I still cannot use a restroom in which the shower curtain is closed. Those of you who have seen the movie will surely understand.