31 Days Of Horror – Why The Shining Still Scares Us

Come and play with us Danny.

Give me the bat. 

KDK 12 calling KDK 1.

You’ve always been the caretaker, sir. I should know. I’ve always been here.

Would you look at that? A whole bunch of familiar quotations from The Shining and I didn’t even throw in the most famous one. The point is, Stanley Kubrick’s interpretation of the classic Stephen King novel (it strays way too far from the source material for me to call it an adaptation) is far more influential than simply two words and an axe through a doorframe. The Shining is one of thee great horror films of our lifetime, one that’s influence continues to be felt today.

Find out where and why after the jump!

In The Beginning

I’ve been watching The Shining since I was a child. Now now, don’t call any parental groups on my mom or my dad. It’s just one of those things. Horror movies were around and accessible in the early 80’s, especially with the advent of VHS machines. I was in the same room with Dad when he was skimming through the film for the first time. I know it scared him. I don’t remember much of that first time; maybe the twins, possibly the garden. It feels like that was the first time I saw those images, but our mind can sometimes plays tricks on us. What I do remember is taping and edited version of the film off of the ABC affiliate from Buffalo when I was ten or eleven and watching it over and over and over. Three hours on a VHS tape, fast-forwarding through commercials. Later I would buy it on VHS, then HD-DVD (yes, I was one of the few who owned that format), and finally owning a Blu-Ray copy in the Stanley Kubrick box set. The film is in my top ten. I know I’m not the only one.

Seeing The Influence

In September 2012 I was lucky enough to see the world premiere of Rob Zombie’s Lords of Salem at the Toronto International Film Festival. Watching the director’s fifth film, it’s hard not to see Kubrick’s fingerprints all over it. Surreal moments are a staple of both, along with an impressive use of long camera shots in the hallways of each films given settings. Kubrick pioneered those images – it’s The Shining where creepy hallways were defined. In fact, the film offers an interesting juxtaposition – the setting of the Overlook Hotel is large in scale, but Kubrick’s choice of shots and momentum manages to still convey that sense of isolation and doom that the Torrance Family is subject to.

Think about the images that and sounds that fill The Shining – Danny’s Big Wheel as it rolls from carpet to floor to carpet again. It’s brilliant and builds tension. Or the quick edits of Delbert Grady’s twin daughters, murdered by an axe and lying bloody in the hallway. The blood.

Room 237.

Honestly, I’m writing about these moments now and they’re creeping me out.

Isn’t that the power of a perfect horror film then? That it sticks with you after repeated viewings. That its images are permanently etched into your minds eye, free to return whenever you call upon them. And sometimes when you don’t.

The Shining has stuck with me since I was a small child. I figure it will stick with me forever.

And ever.

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One Reply to “31 Days Of Horror – Why The Shining Still Scares Us”

  1. I was having my morning cup of coffee when I read your take on the movie and watched the film and you’re right, this movie has not lost its punch to the gut in chills.

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