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Most Traumatizing Movie: THE SHINING

Here we are a little over a week away from the best holiday ever and it was asked of me to share with you my choice for most traumatizing movie. This wasn’t an easy task as I grew up on a steady diet of pop tarts, big macs and horror films.  My instinct immediately took me to a film that I now watch this time of year, every year, as an unspoken Halloween tradition.

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Sure, I mulled over many options before coming to this decision. I passed over titles like Killer Klowns From Outer Space, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre Part 2, The Exorcist and and even Hellraiser to land on a film that not only scarred me but helped shape me into the person I am today. And if you haven’t guessed yet by the title of this article or the images featured so far, I’m talking about The Shining.

Let me take you on a trip back in time to the year 1985. It was a Saturday afternoon and my mother had left to take my grandmother to the market. These trips would last roughly 3 hours and were rather epic as my grandmother loved touching all the fruit and vegetables in stock before making her purchase. On this particular afternoon, I had begun assembling my latest model toy car kit. I was a bit obsessed with these things and got pretty good at the hobby. So, to keep my 9 year old self company, I set up shop in front of our television and turned on Channel 5.

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What transpired for the next two hours had nothing to do with assembling a toy car and everything to do with my fear frozen body stuck watching Stanley Kubrick’s masterpiece play out on Network television. Just think of me like little Danny, peering at the blood soaked hallways through my fingers.

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Obviously at that age, I related all too well to little Danny Torrance as I was a bit odd myself (not much has changed really). But what really transfixed me to the screen was the horrifying performances of both Jack Nicholson as Jack Torrance and Shelly Duvall as his wife Wendy. It clicked to me many years later while watching the special features that Kubrick was reaching deep in his actors to deliver performances reminiscent of kabuki theater. And as a little boy, those elements struck cords deep in myself that still ring true today whenever I pop the Blu Ray in and press play.

Looking back on that moment in my life, watching this movie opened my eyes up to the emotional response movies really do invoke in people. I was horrified and curious at the same time. When Danny rode his Big Wheel through the halls of The Overlook Hotel, it was as if I was the one behind the handle bars. And when he came across The Grady Girls after turning that last corner who beckon to him to “Come Play With Us”….well you can be sure I was damn near pissing my Jordache Jeans!

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Famously written off by Stephen King and thusly becoming one of the most iconic horror films of all time, I have revisited the movie countless time and each time there seems to be something new to discover. When the documentary Room 237 was released, you can be sure I was scrambling to get my hands on a copy.


The documentary brings up multiple theories from the perspective of faceless “experts” I’ve never heard of. However, these theories are thought provoking and include references to the Native American Holocaust, Kubrick’s “confession” regarding his involvement with faking the moon landing and let’s not forget the disappearing Dopey. I’m not even going to talk about this image right here…

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The Shining is indeed a masterpiece that still provokes thoughts, theories and interesting discussions. While Stanley Kubrick did take liberties with the original source material to create this film, it’s worth noting the TV mini-series from the 90’s that Stephen King did endorse is a truly awful piece of work. And as I am writing this, I’m reminded that the highly anticipated sequel Doctor Sleep is now available! As if I didn’t have too many books on my “must read” list already…

Now, isn’t it about time you revisit The Shining? If nothing else than for this, my very favorite scene of the film (I can neither confirm nor deny re-enacting this scene multiple times on childhood friends in school).

July 4 Shining

Look, I can go on and on about this film and the place it has earned in my heart but nothing I write can truly bring it justice. And honestly, I have many tasks I need to tend to before the day is over (including another viewing of The Shining). But, I don’t think I can truly do this film the justice it deserves even if I shell out thousands upon thousands of words here for you to read. If you are still interested, however, here is a cool link to a thesis that picks apart the film that I’ve spent way too many hours randomly reading throughout the years.

This blog is part of a Halloween themed series here on Screen Invasion. A handful of the writers here are sharing their picks for most traumatizing movies, so stay tuned. Be sure to check out Cat’s entry about A Nightmare On Elm Street 4: The Dream Master and Christina’s piece on Clive Barker’s Candyman.  And don’t you forget to follow @ScreenInvasion on Twitter and Facebook if you know what’s good for you! Freddy, Candyman and Jack are watching!

So, tell me….what movie screwed you up as a child? Tell me in the comments below!

See our other Most Traumatizing Movies.

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The Author

Aaron Pruner

Aaron Pruner

Aside from contributing to Screen Invasion, Aaron is also the producer and co-host of the Pass The Effin' Remote podcast on GeekNation. He has written for the likes of Dread Central, Icons Of Fright, MTV Movies Blog and contributes weekly to GeekNation. He's a fan of genre films, hip hop and a nice bourbon. Oh and yes, he was Percy on VR Troopers.