It has been close to 40 years since we first visited the Overlook Hotel and the spooky world of The Shining, adapted from Stephen King’s book by Stanley Kubrick.
But unfortunately for those of a nervous disposition, it is now time to go back. That’s because King’s chilling follow-up book Doctor Sleep is headed to the big screen, courtesy of The Haunting of Hill House director Mike Flanagan.
Picking up several decades after the events of The Shining, Doctor Sleep finds the older Danny Torrance (Ewan McGregor) still irrevocably scarred from the trauma he suffered at the Overlook. Danny has found some semblance of peace, but that is soon shattered when he comes across a young girl with the same extrasensory powers as his own.
On the run from a vicious cult, The True Knot, and their leader, Rose the Hat (Rebecca Ferguson), Danny must face his fearful past to stop them on their violent quest for immortality.
In anticipation of Doctor Sleep's release this Halloween, not to mention the upcoming 4K re-issue of The Shining, we’re taking a look back at the five most nail-biting scenes from Kubrick's terrifying horror classic…
1. Going down
As the elevator doors open it begins with a trickle, and you start to wonder what is happening, but before any rational answers enter your head you’re soon drowning in a tsunami of blood.
The sheer avalanche of claret is so visually striking that you might even be transfixed enough to appreciate it before you feel the need to cover your eyes with your nail-bitten fingers.
The scene is so full of suspense, and is the perfect, terrifying portent of what’s set to befall young Danny (Danny Lloyd) and his family.
2. A dull boy would be preferable
Danny’s poor mother Wendy (Shelley Duvall) really does go through the wringer. Thinking that her husband Jack (Jack Nicholson) has been working hard on his book all this time, she comes to the unfortunate discovery that he has, instead, lost his mind.
Thanks to the influence of the mysteriously eerie Overlook Hotel, Jack is suffering from a serious case of cabin fever. The perpetually nervous Wendy approaches the ominously lone typewriter, and our nails are bitten down to nubs, as she realises that her once-normal husband has just become the unhinged villain of the piece.
With her husband's mind fractured, and sporting the kind of crazy eyes, pointy eyebrows and shark’s grin that only Jack Nicholson can muster, Wendy’s torment has only just begun.
3. Here’s Johnny!
Clearly the most iconic scene from The Shining, the famous use of an axe and an innocuous talk-show catchphrase is a suspense-building masterclass.
Demonstrating perfectly the height of the father’s mental instability, Nicholson first turns a children’s nursery rhyme into something quite terrifying, before hacking through a locked bathroom door with the aforementioned axe, and venomously delivering the now-iconic, “Here’s Johnny!”.
His manic, violent chopping barely distracts from the chorus of petrified screaming coming from his wife (and the audience), who soon learns that barricading herself in the bathroom is not enough to stop Johnny and his hatchet.
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4. Not in a playful mood
For such a large hotel, The Overlook often feels very claustrophobic (aided by Kubrick’s eerily surreal Steadicam cinematography). It's never creepier than when Danny is riding his bike through the halls, minding his own business, when he turns a corner and is all of a sudden face-to-face with two twin girls who are... rather unnerving, to say the least.
After asking Danny to join them (surely the least appealing playtime ever conceived), the screen suddenly flash-cuts to the horrific sight of the two girls dead and bloodied, before flashing back to the twins seemingly alive and well. With each flash they edge closer and closer to us and poor little Danny, whose horror-stricken face mirrors our own.
5. Room 237
Entering Room 237 is something that TripAdvisor would not recommend. As Jack cautiously makes his way through the infamous room, where the dead bodies of the aforementioned girls were placed, a menacing smile creeps across his face as he walks into the bathroom and finds a stunning woman taking a bath.
As she propositions him, and the two of them kiss, the ominous music (courtesy of classical master Bartok) telegraphs that something is highly amiss. The reason why our teeth are on edge soon becomes clear, as Jack realises the beautiful woman he thought he had embraced is in actual fact a living, decaying corpse who staggers after Jack, laughing demonically while he makes his escape.
Jon Fuge is a writer who blogs for Cineworld as part of our news team.