“The horror is driving him crazy.” ~The Shining (1980)
This is the 17th of 31 posts in a row on horror movies. Yup, it’s October, baby.
IMDB Summary: 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.
Rotten Tomatoes rating: 91%
Why I love it: I love any movie where you find yourself rooting for the sick and twisted bad guy.
It’s a well known fact Stephen King wasn’t exactly jazzed about Stanley Kubrick’s film version of his book. (And I just realized they have the same initials.) From the article What Stanley Kubrick Got Wrong About The Shining on salon.com: “I felt that it was very cold, very, ‘we’re looking at these people, but they’re like ants in an anthill, aren’t they doing interesting things, these little insects.’”
I do wonder sometimes about what the fuck is happening and why it’s happening, which I’m pretty sure is exactly what you’re supposed to be doing. Recently I saw the documentary Room 237, which Stephen King also has a problem with, as you can see in this article on indiewire.com Why Stephen King is Utterly Wrong About Room 237. It’s a documentary about and basically for critics who like to take things way too far when it comes to finding meaning in every single nuance of every single element of The Shining. It’ll scramble your brain. You wonder how accurate it is considering Stanley Kubrick was notoriously and obsessively detail oriented. He had an IQ of 200. Do people actually make money figuring this shit out? Are we supposed to believe he helped NASA fake the Apollo moon landings then made a movie confessing his involvement? Jesus. I’m much more interested in what made Jack Torrance flip out. Or why a person in a bear outfit is doing something sexual to man in a tux while he’s sitting on a bed. (If you haven’t been given enough links, well, here’s another one. Read The 13 Secrets of the Bear Man on tumblr.com.)
All I know is it’s creepy, and you just have to be willing to take the ride, even if you don’t know what the hell’s going on. I know I don’t. All part of the fun.
The Torrance family moves into The Overlook Hotel for the off-season so Jack can write his novel. Scatman Crothers gives them a tour of the kitchen, and in the middle of his speech about canned meats and Post Toasties he turns to Danny and silently asks, How’d you like some ice cream, Doc? They’ve got it. They’ve both got “the shining,” as Scatman’s grandmother called it. Danny tells him about Tony, the little boy that lives in his mouth. He’s a weird little boy.
Jack types away and throws a tennis ball against the wall of the hotel lobby. Wendy becomes annoying when she interrupts Jack with too many inane questions while he writes. She doesn’t get it. She’s distracting him.
A snow storm outside is getting worse. Danny rides his big wheel and sees dead twins. Rumor has it they were butchered to death by their crazy father long ago in the hotel. Wendy worries about Danny. Jack sees a beautiful naked woman in the bathroom who morphs into an old, demented lady who laughs at him. He talks to Lloyd the bartender in the empty ballroom. Things start going haywire and Danny is chanting “red rum” for some reason. Wendy, whose anxiety has reached a fever pitch, comes across Jack’s manuscript. Pages and pages of “All Work and No Play Makes Jack a Dull Boy” in different configurations.
He’s pissed. But he’s not gonna hurt her. Wendy, his darling, is the light of his life. She didn’t let him finish his sentence. He said he’s not gonna hurt her. He’s just gonna bash her brains in. He’s gonna bash ’em right the fuck in.
(My old email was firstname.lastname@example.org. I had to give it up because it was too damn long.)
Danny scribbles the word “REdrUM” on a door. In the mirror Wendy sees the word “murder.” Things are way out of control. Scatman comes to the hotel, sensing something is wrong and ends up dead. There’s blood pouring out of the elevator. Jack uses an axe to hack down the door of the bathroom where Wendy is, who gives the most convincing performance of a human being being terrorized you’ll ever see. Her helplessness is accentuated by the drab bathrobe she’s wearing. She gets out with Danny. Jack ends up dead in the snow. The last thing we see is a photo from a Fourth of July ball, dated 1921, where Jack can be seen front and center. (Read about it in the article What Does The Shining’s Final Image Actually Mean? on whatculture.com.)
I never read The Shining, mostly because I’m not the biggest Stephen King fan. And Stanley Kubrick movies either tend to make me think too hard (2001: A Space Odyssey) or just freak me out (A Clockwork Orange). But I love Jack Nicholson. His face almost looks like a cartoon. I know I met him once but I don’t remember where. He was R.P. McMurphy. He was The Joker. So rad.