Scary Good: Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining

Scary Good: Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining

Movie Poster website:; Movie Poster Art: Viktor Hertz

I don’t like violence; I don’t like gore. I don’t run out to see the next scary movie out in theaters. But, I do watch Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining every Halloween and every time I catch it playing on TV. To me, The Shining supersedes any horror movie because it’s infused with Kubrick’s quirky genius. Nothing has and, for me, nothing will ever come close to this suspenseful masterpiece. Stanley Kubrick also happens to be Mr. ShuGar’s favorite director of all time.

The Shining tells the story of Jack Torrance, played by Jack Nicholson, who is hired to serve as the caretaker of the spooky Overlook Hotel during its offseason. He, along with his family, moves into the resort during the winter and experience a series of supernatural events, which ultimately lead to murder. Even though the movie is based on Stephen King’s novel, Kubrick makes it his own and succeeds in thrilling us in every scene.

A few months ago, Mr. ShuGar and I, along with some friends, explored the Los Angeles Country Museum of Art’s Stanley Kubrick exhibition. We were in Kubrick heaven! They even had Jack Torrance’s typewriter – All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy! Mr. ShuGar was especially impressed with all the camera lenses Kubrick had in his collection. Kubrick started his career as a photographer before he pursued filmmaking. You can see his photographic eye in every meticulous scene in The Shining.

I love that LA has art exhibits like these. One of the many reasons why I heart LA. Below are some of my favorite pics from the exhibit.

As soon as I heard there would be a documentary coming out about uber-Shining fans, I got so excited. I have so many unanswered questions in the movie that I was looking forward to finally getting some answers. Room 237 interviews several Shining fans and gives them a platform to share their theories behind the hidden meaning(s) of the film.  From claiming The Shining is about the Holocaust to proclaiming it tells the story of Man landing on the moon, the documentary features a range of far-fetched explanations of Kubrick’s chilling film.

I was disappointed, to say the least. Instead of solving The Shining mysteries, I left the documentary more confused about the film. I wanted, and expected more.

I would like to share with you  some of my favorite scenes in The Shining and some questions that continue to gnaw at me.

What is happening to Jack Torrance?

Is he being possessed or is the true Jack Torrance coming out? Up until this scene, you see Jack transforming into a psychopath slowly and subtly. However, in this scene there is no doubt he’s gone to the dark side. The way he snaps at his wife, Wendy (played by Shelley Duvall), sends chills down my spine every time. I feel like Wendy should have taken the hint and taken her son, Danny (played by Danny Lloyd) far, far away from The Overlook Hotel after that confrontation.

Who opens the pantry?

Was it Grady? How? The preceding “bat” scene is actually one of my favorites. I love to see Jack lose it and Wendy finally stand up to him. She takes him to the pantry and clearly locks the room. In this scene, Jack, now confined to the pantry, has a conversation with the old caretaker, Grady, about Jack’s responsibility to “correct” his wife and child. The door somehow mysteriously becomes unlocked and allows Jack to wreak terror to his family.

Why the animal costume?

What are they doing when Wendy sees these two men? Is that a blow job? This is classic Kubrick – weirdly weird. Once Jack is released from the food storage room, all the ghosts of The Overlook are exposed and out in the open. Wendy, in her frantic attempt to find her son Danny somewhere in the hotel, encounters these “ghosts” and a series of other unexplainable events that leave you feeling terrified.

Was Jack always the caretaker?

At the end of the movie, you see a picture of Jack among other hotel guests in the year 1921. How is that possible? Was Jack reincarnated? Was he a ghost? I love that Kubrick ends with this scene – the ultimate unanswered question.

I wish we had more horror movies like The Shining. Kubrick doesn’t feed you everything, but, instead, relies on the audience’s imagination. It’s refreshing to watch a film with so many layers that leaves you with more questions unanswered every time.

I will watch The Shining forever and ever and ever and ever….