The Scariest Part Of The Shining Isn’t What You Think

The Scariest Part Of The Shining Isn’t What You Think


The Shining is without question one of the
most beloved and best regarded horror movies of all time. For many people, the ghosts are the scariest
part of the movie. For others steeped in horror movie criticism,
it might be the strange Overlook Hotel itself. But the actual scariest part of The Shining
might not be what you think. A lot of horror movies seem to lose their
impact over time. Very few people today above elementary school
age would find much to be afraid of in the Universal chillers of the ’30s and ’40s, despite
the reputations they have as groundbreaking classics today. There is no shortage of reasons for this,
including the evolving broadening of what is seen as acceptable in popular culture,
viewers being desensitized to things that were shocking in past eras, and so on. Regardless of what lies behind this phenomenon,
the fact is that over the course of 40 years, The Shining has maintained its reputation
as one of the scariest movies ever made, and it’s arguable that this reputation has only
grown over that time. A big part of its success comes from the way
the film plays up the physical space: an enormous, quiet, empty hotel that maybe isn’t quite
as empty as advertised. The fear that we all experience in a big,
empty building that anything could be lurking around the corner is made very real when Danny
turns a corner on his tricycle and encounters the ghostly Grady twins, possibly the most
iconic moment in a movie full of iconic images. Soon the Overlook is full to bursting with
ghosts: bartenders appearing from nowhere, revelers with bleeding scalps, parties filling
what should be empty ballrooms, naked ladies who aren’t what they seem, and, you know. That…guy in the costume. The lingering notion that anything could be
anywhere at any time the way the hotel ghosts are is one that tends to stay with viewers
way more than any jump scare. The feeling of doubting your own senses and
the ambiguity of what should be reality are a big part of why The Shining remains the
major cultural touchstone that it is. “You went into the room Danny said? 237?” “Yes I did.” “And you didn’t see anything at all?” “Absolutely nothing.” The Shining poses a lot of questions that
are not necessarily answered in the film itself, or at least not without close or repeated
viewings. In fact, deep readings discussing what The
Shining is “really” about are so common that there’s actually a documentary on the phenomenon,
called Room 237 after the notorious hotel room where something happens to Danny. According to people in this documentary, The
Shining is, despite appearances, actually a movie about American imperialism and the
genocide of Native Americans. “The site is supposed to be located on an
Indian burial ground, and I believe they actually had to repel a few Indian attacks as they
were building it.” Or, actually, it’s about the Holocaust and
that genocide. Or maybe it’s a secret retelling of the myth
of Theseus and the labyrinth of the Minotaur. Or, perhaps most famously, it’s Stanley Kubrick’s
secret confession that he was involved in faking the Moon landing. Did you know that if you play the movie forward
and backward at the same time, stuff happens? It’s a lot. With all those conflicting interpretations,
at least there’s one thing we can all agree on: this is definitely a movie about a haunted
hotel, right? Right? A relatively common strategy in horror movie
criticism is to ask what’s really happening in the movie if there’s nothing actually supernatural
going on. The goal is to figure out the metaphor behind
the supernatural presence and thereby get to the thematic meat of the film. All of the spooky, scary stuff becomes the
result of dreams, hallucinations, rumors, and urban legends. While this can often be a useful tool for
looking at stories from a new angle, it’s not universally helpful. That said, maybe there weren’t any ghosts
in the Overlook Hotel. “It’s just like pictures in a book, Danny. It isn’t real.” Roger Ebert’s review of The Shining, for example,
features the fairly common interpretation along those lines that recasts all of the
movie’s ghosts as visions and hallucinations by Jack and Danny. But if this is true and the ghosts aren’t
even a thing, then what’s the real threat to the Torrance family? If you only know one piece of trivia about
Stanley Kubrick’s Shining adaptation, it’s likely the fact that author Stephen King famously
hates it. He hates it so much that he had it remade
as a TV mini-series in the mid-’90s starring the fourth most famous person from the sitcom
Wings in the Jack Nicholson role. If you haven’t seen it, here’s a spoiler:
It’s bad. But King is happier with it as an adaptation
than he is with a film regarded as a crowning achievement in a genre and one of the best
films of all time. “Why?” you might rightly ask yourself. “Why would King hate Kubrick’s The Shining
so much?” Well, according to King himself, much of it
has to do with Jack’s character. He never cared for the casting of Jack Nicholson,
in part because Nicholson was so well known for his role in One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s
Nest, in which he plays a patient at a mental hospital. This, King thinks, gives away the game by
basically telling viewers that Jack will go crazy. In fact, King argues that Jack is unhinged
from the first moment we see him, which means he has no real character arc. For King, the tragedy of the story is seeing
an ordinary man overwhelmed by evil, and Kubrick’s adaptation loses that sense of tragedy. Consider, though: What if this is only part
of the reason? See if you can tell who this is describing:
a writer and a father of a young child, whose issues with rage and substance abuse manifest
themselves as antagonism toward that child. If you guessed that it refers to The Shining’s
central character, Jack Torrance, you’re correct. If you guessed that it also refers to The
Shining’s author, Stephen King, at the time of the novel’s composition, you are also correct. The Shining is a very personal work for King,
and Jack Torrance is the character he most closely identified with, even speaking about
how the inspiration for the book came from his own occasional but very real feelings
of antagonism toward his own children. “I did hurt him once, okay? It was an accident!” While King’s Jack is an ordinary man who is
driven to violence, literally transformed, by the influence of alcohol and the evil presence
in the Overlook, Kubrick says that his adaptation is more about the evil side of humanity as
a whole. As King’s criticism rightly points out, Kubrick’s
Jack is crazy and violent from the beginning. The hotel just gives him an outlet. So while King might say he doesn’t like Kubrick’s
film for its narrative shortcomings, isn’t it possible that he also doesn’t like what
the movie seems to say about him as a person? If Jack is bad from the start, what does that
say about King? One convincing line of argument about The
Shining is that Jack is the only real threat and that, indeed, there are no ghosts in the
Overlook at all. Jack’s visions are the result of cabin fever
and/or alcohol withdrawal, Danny’s “shining” visions are dreams, and so on. Of course, this particular argument raises
the question of who lets Jack out of the storage room after Wendy locks him in there, but there
are theories and explanations for that as well if you want to dig into it. If there are no ghosts in the Overlook Hotel,
the only malevolent force, the only real danger, is Jack Torrance himself and the abusive behavior
toward the wife and son that he brought into the hotel with him. Let’s look at one of the most notorious scenes
in the film, the one the documentary was named after: the ghost in Room 237. Taking the film’s narrative at face value,
we see Danny lured to the room, which is thought to be locked but is instead open. He subsequently appears with bruising on his
neck, saying a crazy woman tried to strangle him. Jack later investigates the room and finds
the ghost of a naked woman who is at first attractive to him but then turns into an old
crone with rotting flesh. He then tells Wendy he saw nothing. “I think he did it to himself.” Okay, so: If there are no ghosts in the Overlook,
who strangled Danny, and how do you explain what Jack saw? Filmmaker and analyst Rob Ager suggests that
the answer can be found in a scene that seems otherwise innocuous: the one in which Danny
comes in for his toy truck and Jack tells him how much he loves him. The short version of Ager’s breakdown is that
this scene, which is notably scored with very dramatic and ominous music, is cut off before
we can see Jack strangling Danny for waking him up. Danny never goes into Room 237, and neither
does Jack. Jack’s encounter with the woman in 237 is
Danny having a dream that mirrors his own frightening experience with his father. “You did this to him, didn’t you?” Many commentators, especially those who espouse
the “no ghosts” theory, have noted that in every scene in which Jack encounters a ghost,
there is a mirror present, or in the case of the storeroom, a polished metal door, and
that Jack is always facing them. From one perspective, this could simply mean
that Jack is literally seeing things, misinterpreting a reflection as something else. On a more symbolic level, it’s a reflection
of that evil side Kubrick sees in humanity. But the fact is that duality and reflection
are everywhere throughout the film, from the REDRUM written on the wall to the Grady twins
to the second Jack in the photo at the end, and so on. Doubles are everywhere in The Shining. An exceptional essay from Catapult goes into
how the motif of doubles plays into the theory of the uncanny, the idea of taking something
familiar and twisting it just enough to make it unsettling. The Shining is all about ambiguity and doubt,
and this sense of uncertainty and unease is the same as that felt by victims of abuse. The power dynamics of an abusive relationship
are partly based on causing one’s victims to doubt their instincts, creating false senses
of security through doubt and gaslighting, turning a home into a place of insecurity
and terror, as Jack does to Wendy and Danny, and, indeed, as the movie does to its viewers. One of the most discussed shots in the film
comes at the very end, after Jack has frozen to death and Wendy and Danny have escaped,
when the camera slowly zooms in on a photograph from a July 4th party from 1921, which clearly
shows Jack among the revelers in the ballroom. Kubrick has said in no uncertain terms before
that this, quote, “suggests a reincarnation” for Jack Torrance. “Been away, but now I’m back.” “Good evening, Mr. Torrance. It’s good to see you.” “It’s good to be back, Lloyd.” The idea of reincarnation is not isolated
to Jack. There’s also the implication that Charles
Grady, the previous caretaker of the Overlook who murdered his family, is the reincarnation
of Delbert Grady, the butler who tells Jack that he’s always been the caretaker. The idea of reincarnation not only reinforces
the motif of doubles seen throughout the film, it also bears the symbolic weight of the cycle
of abuse. Violence is often, but by no means always,
passed down from one generation to the next, as our parents and others close to us are
the ones who teach us how to behave and interact with others, even if only subconsciously. Somewhat ironically, the novel version of
The Shining gives even more focus to the idea of the cycle of violent abuse by giving the
story of Jack’s father, himself a belligerent drunk who abused Jack. While Jack’s father does not appear and is
not mentioned in the film, Rob Ager argues that it is actually him talking to the bartender
about accidentally hurting his son. Nevertheless, the film makes it clear that
the history of violence at the Overlook goes back generations, literally to its foundation
on stolen Native land. Violence begets violence, and the fact that
Kubrick decided to leave the Overlook standing at the end, as opposed to King, who blew it
up, lingering on the haunting image of former-life Jack, hints strongly at the immortality of
evil. While it seems at the end that Wendy and Danny
have escaped Jack, and metaphorically the cycle of abuse, the track record at the Overlook
seems to indicate that the lure of evil is hard to resist. While deluges of blood and ghostly twins are
pretty spooky images, the idea that each of us plays host to potential violence is a much
more haunting idea. While constantly working to restrain our darker
impulses may seem like it will make us dull boys, consider how it worked out for Jack. Check out one of our newest videos right here! Plus, even more Grunge videos about your favorite stuff are coming soon. Subscribe to our YouTube channel and hit the
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100 Comments on "The Scariest Part Of The Shining Isn’t What You Think"


  1. None of it is scary. It's not terrible but I thought it was very weak compared to the source material and one of Kubrick's worst films. Eyes Wide Shut was the worst. He's made some good ones but he's very uneven and I think highly over-rated. It had moments but it's overly stagy. Being shot so symmetrically, he sucked all the energy out of it like he so often did. The entire caretaker returning bit was a complete waste of time. "Here's Johnny" was funny but killed the momentum. The blood looked completely artificial. It's probably more fun to analyze than to watch.

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  2. Kubrick was meticulous. I have to believe that he cast Nicholson as Jack Torrence because of his role in Cuckoo's nest. I still remember seeing The Shining for the first time when it was new in theaters. The first time the Nicholson had a close up I, my friends, and most in the theater laughed out loud because of the barely controlled insanity that he projected. And his cruelly unsympathetic reply when Danny complains of being hungry. So everyone in the theater knew what to expect. Didn't reduce the impact of the movie or the scares as Torrence then did exactly as expected and sank in to madness.

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  3. To me the scariest moment was when Wendy looked at Jack’s typewriter and “manuscript”.

    “All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy”

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  4. The scariest part is that Jack is an obvious homosexual (he's reading a Playgirl magazine early in the film) pedophile who is clearly sexually abusing Danny

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  5. Being deserted alone with that physco man watching and plotting to kill his family is the scariest, with a Ax! The boy was almost scarier than the real ghost, little daddy ,in the making.

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  6. This video has one thing in common with both Stanley Kubrick and his version of The Shining: it's full of hot air and not much else. "What does that say about King?" Uhh… nothing? Because Kubrick didn't comprehend King's writing or King as a person at all, but was himself a shitty egomaniac? Pretty simple.

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  7. I lost interest when they give no explanation to who opens the food storage door…Telling us to go look into it..Piss off

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  8. Personally the scariest part of the film and one of the many reasons why I consider it my favorite horror movie of all time is how it could happen in real life. Anyone could have a breakdown and have the urge to hurt their loved ones if pushed hard enough over the edge. That simple fact of it being easily able to translate from screen to reality is what really makes The Shining horrifying to me.

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  9. Two good but very different stories. I can love and appreciate both as well as the book. I don't classify the movies even remotely the same. Scariest part (original) movie for me is the isolation—and having your spouse become someone you don't recognize. That is scary when it happens in real life let alone isolated in a 'haunted' hotel.

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  10. I dont care if stephen king says it's crap…I love that one better than the remake..I watch this one alot lol…and oh..I heard from other people they said this was one of the real haunted places in the world..I think the Cecil hotel was another

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  11. The scariest parts are all the hidden items that have nothing to do with this story, but others.😉

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  12. "There are no ghosts" "There is no supernatural"

    What? One of the great things about The Shining is the build up. We're not entirely sure if these ghostly beings are real or just in Jack's head until he's let out of that freezer by Grady, and we realize that the hotel is alive or at least in some way conscious.

    Then the final shot where we finally understand that Jack is 'The Shining', he's a manifestation of the hotel let loose into the world to bring more guests for "the party". He's the cycle of violence that keeps perpetuating itself, which Danny and Wendy manage to escape in the end.

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  13. What a load of fuckin nonsense, it's an absolute classic, and scares the shit out of me every time i watch it 😳😱

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  14. Scariest part is the demonic realm that is actually real, like the older guy says to the kid, the shining, seeing the spirit world. 3 characters see the spirit world, not just the guy who goes crazy. He's just the one who is freindly towards the demonic realm, mirrors are gateways to the demonic realm.

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  15. No matter how Steven King envisions this film, it has definitively stood the test of time and is still very scary/eerie well made film ,all thanks to Stanley Kubrick ,a person much like Steven who is a perfectionist ,And I think the many aspects of the movie is why it's remained so scary!

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  16. Strange little mixture this movie. Usually when directors mess with the script and change the story, it comes off as complete Hollywood trash. The magic of the "editing" leaves everything mysterious. Are there ghosts? Is it just Jack? You never really knew. And that was the very thing that really made this one work.

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  17. Definitely when I think Substance abuse and child abuse I think of Jack torrents but I suppose I can see that with Stephen King himself. Another thing I see with Stephen King is a psychopath homo sexual pedophile which is easily explained by the fact that he needs to fascinate about little boys generals in every book he has ever written.

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  18. This movie is like many songs; It's open to many interpretations, most still don't make sense. The book fills in many holes, it would be way too long if all the holes were filled in the movie, it got panned when it first came out, & very few liked it or found it scary. Frankly, it's one of the most overrated films ever made, & only time has bestowed it to be a good film. Still, I had fun watching it & trying to figure out wtf was happening.

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  19. This should be renamed "The scariest part of THE FILM The Shining…."  If you read the books, you know there ARE ghosts as well as a further malevolent force, possibly demonic, that is not fully identified.

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  20. I just discovered something that tells me Dr. Sleep is likely to bomb. Written, directed and edited by the same guy. No objectivity means no ability to distance himself far enough from the plot to relate key pieces of information to the audience. More proof that Hollywood producers never learn.

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  21. Does anyone know where I can find the prequel to The Shining? It's called Before The Play and it was written by Stephen King. I'm not sure if it's one of his unpublished works or not.

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  22. My brother and I watched this movie when it came to HBO about a year after it’s release. I enjoy all of the subliminal interpretations of it that have come out over the years (especially the one about Ullman wearing a JFK wig 😂). But I can tell you that, even as a 9 year old, I knew this movie was about the genocide of the Native Americans. That may not be the terminology used at the time, but it was no secret. So, I kind of wish we could just accept that and move on.
    (Also, this movie was one of those generational things where adults at that time -baby boomers – didn’t like it and kids -gen X’rs – did. So the whole “it wasn’t appreciated for its time” narrative is wrong, and insulting.).
    On a personal note: my brother was about 12 or 13 and it disturbed him so much he couldn’t sleep and my mother had to stay in his room until he finally stopped crying. Which was very much NOT my brother. Nothing scared him. I, on the other hand, apparently feel asleep the first time we saw it, or didn’t find it interesting because I was not frightened at all, and couldn’t stop laughing at my brother. (The old woman freaked me out, but I was probably too young to understand much of the disturbances.). 30 years later and I can now see why my brother was upset. Not just the movie itself, but my brother was also old enough to witness my father’s drinking and subsequent fighting of my parents. I can see where he may have seen Wendy as a reflection of our mother and Jack, my father, even down to the clothes they wore. So he probably saw the movie very differently than I did. I was 4 when my parents split, and have the luxury of only pleasant memories. (Although I must say for my dear departed dad’s respect that after my mother left him, he cleaned up his act and went on to become an upstanding father who raised my younger brothers after remarrying my step mother.). And the world of cinema got its revenge on me for laughing at my hysterical brother about a year later when I saw “The Exorcist”. I remember visiting my aunt the next day for dinner and I begged my mother to let us stay longer bc I was too afraid to go home and go to bed. 😂

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  23. Kibric meant Jack's behavior to be ambiguous right until the big reveal when Wendy sees the man in the costume with the other man on the bed. At that point, the viewer knows the hotel is actually haunted and it's all not delusions. Also, Danny and Halloran actually "shine" and can use their minds to talk to each other and see things.

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  24. "The Shining" is and will continue to be the most magnetic, most terrifying, and most well-made horror movie of all times.
    Forget all the stupid theories: "Indians, Moon Landing. . .", and just think about the magnetism that keeps us totally and completely involved in the "horrors of the Overlook" as they evolve.
    It is the complete audience involvement that makes this movie so potent and so horrific!
    Stanley knew how to involve an audience in his continuing plot! This is what makes his movies so potent!
    Count the number of times when the suffering actors and actress look into the camera with "the eyes of terror."
    These eyes are not only representing horror, these eyes are peering into the viewers' soul, as if they are so horrified that they invite the viewer into what they are suffering.
    There are times in the movie when terror is not happening that the characters continue to look into the eyes of the audience to make sure that they keep the audience eye-contact going.
    This eye contact and "cry for help" is what makes the movie "total involvement" for the audience in what is transpiring in the movie.
    It is the closed eyes of the Jack Nicholson character: dead in the maze that represents the "end of the tale," the end of the terror, and the confirmation that "the eyes have it" in this magnificent Stanley Kubrick movie!!

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  25. The Shining will always be one of my favorite movies, and the scariest part to me was the elevator opening and all the blood coming out😭😭🤪🤪

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  26. This movie wasn't the least bit scary to me. It actually made me laugh. That stupid kid running around saying red rum over and over again was so annoying to me. And Shelley Duvall can't act at all. Terrible movie.

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  27. The scariest part is how far Kubrick strayed from Stephen King's vision, to the point that Mr. King publicly slammed the film.

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  28. I guess the trycycle in Aliens was an hommage to this, since it uses a very similar camera angle.

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  29. Oh, I have no doubt that Stephen King took aim at white America and the "EVIL" blue-eyed devils that are responsible for everything bad in the world that ever happened to anybody. Stephen King is a far-far-left wing simp…a Communist sympathizer. I won't spend a penny in his direction ever again. Never.

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  30. Wendy must be removed before the other guests arrive. They can't raffle off Danny if Wendy is still alive.

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  31. 5:07 if you haven’t seen the movie, he’s saying, “I’m not gonna hurt you. I’m just gonna bash your brains in”.

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  32. I still think that Halloween, Friday 13th and paranormal activity were the scariest ones definitely not chucky

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  33. Excuse me, but people saying there are actually no ghosts in this story are fucking stupid. This is a ghost story. Get over it, dumbass.

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  34. I didnt find the shinning scary it was different. Think they should of showed the story behind the twins

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  35. Maybe the true beauty of The Shining is that people see their own fears mirrored back at them. If you fear ghosts then the ghosts are real. If you fear a lone man with an axe stalking down deserted halls then that's all there is. I'd like to think that both are real and they're just feeding on(or reflecting) each other.

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  36. I just noticed at the beginning of video ( 0:14 ) where Jack is locked in the pantry. For a split second he glances at the camera.

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  37. The Shining is absolutely the best movie ever. My favorite! It could not be any more perfect. Jack Nicholson and frankly all of the actors are excellent. I have loved 💜 this movie for years. Only somewhat recently reading the book, which is quite different but also a masterpiece. I love SK books, my favorite author.
    The remake series that was made sucked 👎

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  38. Dude, the actual film version of The Shining is not bad. Stephen Weber actually plays Jack Torrance–not whoever the hell Jack Nicholson was. And why Shelley Duvall is a a great actress, she couldn't exactly be Wendy when the script told her to be the complete opposite. Stephen King said "[when Stanley Kuberick called me up, he flat-out said that my book wasn't about what I, the author, had written it as being about.]"
    Both versions have their merits, but you'd be kidding yourself if you think that Kuberick's Shining is a good adaptation. And I say that loving his movie.
    I know that wasn't even the comment that was made or implied, but goddamn. Everyone's entitled to their own opinion, but come on, they are literally two different stories. You can hardly compare the two.

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  39. I'm more inclined to the theory that this was Stanley's warning to the world that Hollywood is full of pedos. Jack is abusing his own son.

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  40. The doctor sleep movie will be trash. The usage of "redrum" and image of the twin girls pisses me off. Those are iconic images and they are used in the trailer simply to sell the movie to shining fans, but the movie will be garbage and shining fans will be pissed off…

    Fuck Hollywood

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  41. P.S. I think the best way to experience a lot of King's work is to listen to his readings of his own work. You would be surprised at how much humour is hidden in there! X

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  42. If everything was all in Jack's mind, who let him out of the freezer? And how did he get in the picture on the wall in the end?

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