Why ‘The Shining’ Still Terrifies Us

Lisa Rosman in Signature:

ScreenHunter_2078 Jul. 05 20.52“The Shining” may have been released thirty-six years ago, but it still occupies as much real estate in our cultural imagination as it did when it first lurched into theaters on a wave of gushing blood and geometric wallpaper. The documentary “Room 237” (2012) explored the myriad theories and rumors surrounding the hotel horror flick to a groundswell of ballyhoo. Earlier this year, mainstream news outlets reported that a paranormal expert had claimedhe’d seen two ghostly figures in a photo taken at the Colorado hotel where the film was shot. And a pivotal moment in this season’s finale of “Girls”referenced the film’s classic “Heeere’s Johnny” scene. There may be no clearer indication of zeitgeist status than a hat tip from Mz. Lena Dunham.

Unlike many cult favorites (hello, “Lebowski), “The Shining” knocked most everyone’s socks off from the get-go – even when theyacknowledged its flaws. It was that rarest of things: an improvement, rather than a shoddy adaptation, of a Stephen King novel, not to mention a Stanley Kubrick film that eschewed the director’s characteristically icy elegance for over-the-top violence. The film vibrated, really, with a red, red rage. Or was that red rum?

As an ‘80s kid, I knew about “The Shining” for years before I ever got to see it: You only had to growl “red rum” at a slumber party, and no one was going to sleep a wink.

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