Just what was this scene in "The Shining" all about?

(This relates to Kubrick’s film and not that “thing” that was on TV a few years back.)

Towards the end, Shelley Duvall’s character is running around the hotel and she happens to look into a room where there are two people(?) wearing animal masks(?) sitting on a bed. I think I know what they’re doing, but I want to know why she’s seeing it.

Any ideas or should I chalk it up as a Kubrickism?

If you read the book (and it’s been awhile) there is a recurring “hotel memory” that Jack sees as he is being subjugated by the hotel. He sees flashbacks to a masked ball and even seems to “attend” it. Unmask! Unmask!

Wendy sees it because the hotel has gained so much power it is able to draw her in as well.

It’s a slice of the hotel’s history that she’s allowed to see, as Glory said. It is kinda random if you don’t understand. It’s easily one of the creepiest parts in the movie for me, not because of what their doing, but just…I dunno…aw man, now I’m not gonna be able to sleep…

It’s funny, I’ve seen just about every horror movie ever made without so much as flinching, but this one scene has haunted me so much I can barely talk about it.

In the book (and the mini-series IIRC) there’s only one guy in the dog or bear suit, and he only talks to Danny. As Glory said, it’s a flashback to a past guest. I can’t remember if Wendy was able to see anything like that in the book, but I don’t think she did. Probably one of the reasons Stephen King hates the Kubrick version so much.

Trying to put it in context of the movie is pretty hopeless, but its effect as horror seems to come from the total unexpected randomness of it, as well as the way Kubrick films it: we first see into the bedroom from very far away, not really able to see what’s going on, but then the figures stop, look directly into the camera, and WHAM! there’s a sudden crash-zoom so they fill up the entire screen. There’s a similar effect in a scene in Exorcist 3 that really creeps me out, too.

I know this is Cafe Society and not the Pit, but c’mon. Take that shot in context of the audio tracks happening around it, AND in context of the time period that they keep referring to, AND in context of what the two men are doing.

The Roaring 20’s were known as such for a reason. A lot of partying, illegal boozing and such. Although Prohibition was in force, people still found ways to cut loose.

To me, that shot is shocking because it hits the viewer with subliminal urgent messages. “Unmask, Unmask” indeed- the two men are engaged in oral sex. The shot is brief, but if you either remember it fully or watch it in slow-motion tracking in VHS or DVD you will see that just as the cut happens and you are brought to that shot, one man’s face is buried in the other man’s lap. There is no exposure of genitalia, however as you are hearing " Unmask, Unmask", ( to me at least ), we’re being told that these men are coming out of the closet. To each other, and to us. The elaborate costumes only serve to heighten the drama of that moment.

They don’t pull a face or laugh outrageously, they simply stop what they are both doing and stare at us. It’s a defiance, a challenge to stop judging and just let them be.

I’ve watched Kubrick’s “The Shining” over a dozen times on tape, and seen it screened several times. For personal ( and former career reasons ) it was very important for me to dig as much information on the style and shooting of that movie out as I could.

My two cents.


One thing I’ve wondered about: were these spirits, and others Wendy ran into, supposed to be dead people? Did they die at the hotel? Or were they just malignant snapshots of former guests, not necessarily dead (but not necessarily living, for that matter)?

I tend to think that the latter situation is the case, at least in the book. I think I remember that in the book, one of the two masked guys is supposed to be the big shot who ran the hotel back in the 1920s. But elsewhere in the book, Jack asks his rich friend (who got him his caretaker job) whether that same big shot was still a behind-the-scenes owner of the hotel. So, presumably, the big shot is still alive (in the outside world).

Enjoy the creepiness all over again!

Ugh, why did I click on that link?

Thanks for the nightmares, buddy!

Possible Spoilers I guess…

In the novel there is a character called Horace Derwent, who is based on Howard Hughes (the book makes it fairly clear that’s who its supposed to be). Derwent was a onetime owner of the Overlook. Jack first reads about Horace Derwent in the scrapbook he finds in the boilerroom. Jack later encounters Derwent at the ball (as a ghost, or during a “shining” episode or whatever), along with someone named Roger in a dog costume. Derwent makes Roger do tricks (roll over, sit up etc.), and another party guest aludes to the fact that Derwent is bisexual and Roger is homosexual and they have a thing going on. Later on, Danny does in encounter the man in the dog costume.

What I find interesting is that Kubrick is able to roll this up into one shot in the movie and still make his point. I don’t know if Catrooniverse read the book, but he got the gist of what’s going on in that scene and with these characters, and without all the exposition and backstory that King provides. Don’t get me wrong: I find both the novel and the film equally compelling. I’ve read the book and seen the movie several times; they are two of my favorites. I rather like the fact that they are such different thoughtful versions of the same story.

I also like how Kubrick gets more in of the story than at first glance. Take the scrapbook for instance. If you first watch the movie you’d think he left it out completely. But it’s in there. If you blink, you’ll miss it, but it’s in there.

Why couldn’t the person in the dog suit be a woman? But anyway, I never understood why these two were obviously engaged in oral sex. Everyone I asked told me the same thing. I just never saw this or why I couldn’t get it myself. Maybe I’m just too dense. But then it hit me. I never saw the uncut version of this film. I saw it on network tv with all the commercials and censoring. So all I saw was the close-up of this bizarre group. The part where the mutt’s backside is visible and its head is buried in something to the right was cut out.

Why? Because the character in the book was a MAN! D’uh!


Really? It never bothered me - except that it didn’t seem to fit the rest of the movie - almost as if Kubrick needed a few extra frames to fill in a gap or something.

The scenes that haunt me are the ones with the twins. Danny is playing and he happens to look up and see the two of them standing there, watching him. They look at him for a few moments, then turn around and walk away. Somehow that’s creepier than if they had started floating towards him. And they’re not transparent or ghostly white - but there’s something very unpleasant about them that you can’t quite put your finger on.

Then we have their hallway scene with the axe. Absolutely terrifying. Ever since seeing this film, I get uneasy turning the corner in a long, empty hallway.

"Malignant snapshots of former guests…" Very creepy phrase!

But thanks all for the suggestions! They make a lot of sense. If I ever get the nerve to watch the thing again, I’ll remember what you guys said.

The part that always creeps me out is the part with the old lady. shudder. Since then, whenever I’m in the bathroom, I always shove the shower curtain open.

Yes, me too. Also whenever I go into a bathroom and a hot, naked chick that has no reason being there climbs out of the tub and walks toward me, I would no longer dare to start making out with her.

Well, at least not in front of a mirror.