When you think of summer films, Stanley Kubrick's The Shining is probably not the first title that springs to mind. A horror film based on a Stephen King novel, Kubrick's adaptation of the material is almost the antithesis of what we've come to expect from summer movies -- it's set during a snowy winter in the Colorado mountains and it's hardly a special effects extravaganza where audiences get to shut their brains off and bask in all the CGI splendor. However, if you look, you'll see the film debuted in American theaters on May 23rd, 1980, which puts it right at the start of the summer movie season.
While it may not be the quintessential summer experience, it's hard to deny -- unless you're Stephen King , who's gone on record repeatedly voicing his disappointment with the film -- that The Shining is one of the best horror films of all time. It's filled with terrifying moments and a manic performance from Jack Nicholson (just one of the reasons for King's displeasure -- he wanted a more "ordinary" actor for the part) that makes it utterly unforgettable.
It's not all bombast and blood rushing out of elevators, though. No, The Shining has some quieter moments -- scenes that are still fraught with the undercurrent of unpleasantness, but not quite as over-the-top as Nicholson hacking through a door with an axe screaming "Here's Johnny!"