True Horror, True Crime: The Shining

“The Shining,” inspired by the Stanley Hotel in Estes Park, Colo., was written by Stephen King and made into a film by Stanley Kubrick. The movie follows a family staying at an empty hotel during the winter. The events of the classic horror story take a turn for the worse when the father of the family loses his sanity and goes on a murderous rampage. Photo courtesy of IMDb

It’s that time of the year, when the ghouls come out to play, and fans of horror re-evaluate their favorite creepy tales. This spooky season, we’ve decided to take on the most terrifying true crime stories that have been turned into movies.

Sometimes the perfect scary movie isn’t just jump scares and gory deaths. Sometimes all you need is a good suspenseful psycho thriller to scare you ­— literally — out of your mind. “The Shining” is a classic film based on a Stephen King novel, and it does just that. However, what’s even more terrifying than the premise of the film itself is the hotel the film is based on. The Stanley Hotel, located in Estes Park, Colo., was the inspiration for the Overlook Hotel in King’s book and later in the 1977 film as well. What happened at the real hotel was just as scary as the storyline in the film and makes for a great “true horror, true crime” film.

The hotel that inspired King’s haunting thriller is just as chilling as the film — from haunted pianos to ghosts of housekeepers, the Stanley Hotel has embraced its horrible history in the years since King’s novel and the Stanley Kubrick film were created. The book and the film take place in Colorado, just like the real hotel, but the film follows a specific family as they spiral out of control over the course of two months staying in the hotel by themselves. King claimed to have created this idea based off of his experience at the Stanley when he and his wife Tabitha were the only two guests there.

Several events in the book and the Kubrick film were based on odd occurrences King experienced during his stay. Not only did he claim to have encountered a child, despite his wife and him being the only guests in the hotel, butKing also claims to have sat down and had a chat with a friendly barkeep, who apparently was not on the payroll. King’s novel and the film simply dialed up the horror and brought new life to the hauntings in the Stanley Hotel. The film itself is a dead ringer for the book, and actor Jack Nicholson truly shone in the film, playing an incredibly convincing madman. What starts out as a normal caretaker position quickly turns into a nightmare, complete with ghost children and possession. The film is set to a dynamic soundtrack, which anticipates scary moments with a rising crescendo of sound and punctuates important dialogue perfectly. Even the meaning of the title “The Shining” is woven into the story seamlessly, which is a nod not only to the brilliance of King, but also of Kubrick.

Nicholson, who was practically a one-man show in this film, shows every level of madness, from moments of startling clarity to sickening incoherence — and everything in between. He and the fictional Jack Torrence are so interconnected, it’s easy to imagine that the cast was terrified during filming. His famous “Here’s Johnny” scene is so iconic that no context is needed for it to shock and stun anyone who watches it, and the entire film is one scare after the other.

The Stanley Hotel has taken all of this terrifying creative energy and its own haunted past and created an entire industry to continue the legacy of this horror film. Guests can take ghost tours and learn about the haunted history, and during the Halloween season, guests can even celebrate with a “Shining Ball” to celebrate this iconic story. If you only like a bit of spooky scare, but definitely want a thrill, “The Shining” is perfect for you.