03/18/2010 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

The Shining : Scariest Hallowe'en Book -- and Movie! -- Ever

I read The Shining before I ever saw the movie, when I was maybe 12. It's an incredible book, one which taught me to fear hotel room bathtubs, what a topiary was, why you can't forget about the boiler, and the phrase "officious little prick" (I've met plenty of them since then). It's also one of the scariest movies I have ever seen — despite the fact that I knew the book backwards and forward and knew exactly what was coming. Yeah, right — Stanley Kubrick had me right where he wanted me.

But back to the book, in honor of my younger self reading it breathlessly at 2 a.m. with a flashlight. It was scary — oy, so scary! — but that was just part of it. The book was about so much: The uneasy relationship between Jack and Wendy Torrance; their fragile ESP-burdened child Danny; his secret communications with the kindly hotel cook, Dick Halloran, the sad Grady family, how families recover from alcoholism and abuse (though that part sorta went over my young head at the time); how parents are supposed to deal with "special" children with imaginary friends, and the right — and wrong! — ways to deal with writer's block.

One of the most central characters in the book, though, was that of the Overlook Hotel. Based on the real-life allegedly-haunted Stanley Hotel in Colorado, The Shining weaves the Overlook's history into the story, including all the sad backstories of the various ill-fated guests. As a kid I lapped all those details right up. (I really loved this book.) As lore (and Stephen King) has it, King and his wife checked into the Stanley for a getaway the night before it closed for the off-season, and were the only Screen shot 2009-10-31 at 10.29.33 AMguests in the hotel, sleeping in the haunted Rm. 217 (which became the haunted Rm. 237 of the film, and which was the scariest part of the book for me, as I recall). King wandered the deserted corridors of the Stanley, had the bartender — named Grady! — serve him drinks, and woke from a nightmare about his child running in terror down the hallways of the hotel. Guess what all that inspired?

I hate horror movies in general but I make a huge exception for this one, not only because of my early affinity for Stephen King (see here) but because this story — and this movie — are so damn good. Starring Jack Nicholson in what might be his most iconic role, and Shelly Duvall as maybe the scaredest-looking wife in movie history, it's a classic movie filled with classic clips. The elevator doors, suddenly splashing forward with blood. Redrum redrum redrum. All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy. "Heeeere's Johnny!" Could there be a better horror movie for Hallowe'en, including any movie with "Hallowe'en" in the title?

My take: No. So because I am a nerd, and because during my formative years I did a LOT of flashlight-reading of Stephen King novels, I spent some time today pulling together some of the very best of The Shining as well as some of the more amusing derivative material ("Heeere's Homer!"). For that and all the redrum in between, please see the links below; otherwise, Happy Hallowe'en and remember, all work and no play makes Jack — and you — a dull boy, so go out and have fun.

Best of The Shining: Clips, Parodies and Recut Trailers

My Bloody Elevator
Redrum Redrum Redrum
Heeeeere's Johnny!
The Hallway Scene
The Hallway Scene - Family Guy

"Wendy, Give Me The Bat."
All Work and No Play...
Room 237
The Simpsons Takes On The Shining
Heeeere's Homer!
The Shining Trailer...Recut
Fun With Furries
Sometimes When We Touch (And Hack Each Other With An Ax)

Lego Shining
The Shining: Final Scene
R.I.P. Jack Torrance

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