[All this week, leading up to our top ten horror films on Halloween, the staff at Flixist will be presenting ‘Scared Flixist.’ Here we will be talking about movies that really, truly scared us. There’s plenty of great horror out there, but a movie that truly gets into your head and creeps you out for years to come is a rare creature. These are those movies.]
When the email thread for Scared Flixist started up, I knew of only one movie I could really write about. The Shining is probably the only movie to really scare me. Like, nightmares and everything kind of scared. For an eleven year old, not being able to sleep because of a movie means it has to be scary, right? And I owe it all to my dad.
Read on for a tale of horror, nostalgia, and blubbering. Most likely in that order, too.
I owe a lot to my dad. He taught me everything I know about power tools, fishing, computers, and is partly responsible for my love of music and movies. He introduced me to B.B. King and The Quiet Man. O Brother, Where Art Thou? quickly became our favorite movie to watch together. And during long car rides, we’d sing along to the soundtrack at full volume. It’s safe to say that I trusted the guy’s taste in movies and music. Except he liked the Blue Colar Comedy Tour, but that’s not important right now.
It was the fall of 2001. I was in the sixth grade, and in love with horror movies. My brother introduced me to The Evil Dead and Halloween a few months before, and I really started going on a horror kick. I came down from upstairs to grab a drink of water or something before bed, when I saw dad was watching TV.
“Max,” he said, “come here. Watch this with me.”
“What is it?”
“It’s The Shining. It’s really good, and has Jack Nicholson in it. You’ll like it”
Now, it should be known that I’ve been a Jack Nicholson fan all my life. I had never heard of this movie before, so I sat down right next to him, and waited for the comercial to be over.
When the break was over, I saw Jack enter a hotel room. Room 237 to be exact. It was that scene. The rotting naked lady in the bathtub scene. Don’t remember it? Here, watch it right now.
I watched that when I was eleven. Eleven. After the scene ended, I remember looking up at my dad with this horrified look on my face. Want to know his reaction? He grinned at me, and told me to keep watching. And being the stupid kid I was, I listened to him. The movie kept going, and I kept getting more and more scared. Redrum, Jack talking to spirits, “All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy”, and Jack chopping down the door with an axe. I was petrified the entire time. But that was nothing compared to the chase scene.
Wendy is running through the Overlook, trying to find an exit. She sees the blood flood, and a bunch of old skeletons. But the scariest part of the entire movie was when she sees two dudes in a room doing…something. I couldn’t understand what was happening. But then they raised up, and THERE WAS A MAN DRESSED AS A DOG AND A MAN IN A TUXEDO LOOKING STRAIGHT AT ME!
Needless to say, I couldn’t sleep after watching this movie. And it took me three days to get over how freaking scary it all was. After a few days, I told my mom that I was having really scary dreams thanks to The Shining, and she told me a tale very similar to my own Shining story. Back when my family had their farm, my dad brought home a copy of The Shining he rented, and thought the family would like to watch it with him. So they did. And things got very scary, very fast.
As my mom tells it, it got to the point in the movie where Danny started chanting “Redrum, redum” over and over. She looked around, and everyone had left the room. My brother, and even my dad, left my poor mother alone with this movie. Being my mother, she finished it on principle. So it’s good to see that my even my dad was afraid of this movie.
But I do thank him for showing me The Shining. Even though it scared the shit out of me back then, it’s now one of my favorite movies ever. And because of my love of The Shining, I became a fan of Kubrick’s other movies. The Shining led to Dr. Strangelove, which led to Full Metal Jacket, which led to 2001, which led to all of his other movies.
My dad died before I could really thank him for getting me in to Kubrick. I really wish I could’ve watched The Shining with him one last time. But I’m not remorseful, or upset or anything about it. Purely wishful thinking.
Instead, I’ll just get scared by a guy in a fucking dog suit.