Creepy Comforts: Vegetarian Chili + A Look Back On The Shining (1980)

Jeremy: If you've been with this blog from the beginning (and if so, holy shit thanks for putting up with us!), you'll know of one of my earliest stories of my history with the horror genre: The VHS cover of 1980's The Shining. What is it about Jack Nicholson's insane toothy grin, blown up to the size of a VHS cover, that caused my younger self to hide this tape wherever I could to avoid having to look at that damn face again? For years i'd only seen the scenes of blood pouring out of the elevator, and some of the opening shots and that was good enough for me to give a big old "Nope!" and avoid the film like the plague. And like I mentioned, the VHS cover didn't help matters once I knew I had that lovely image waiting for me somewhere in the film. But as time would have it, and if memory serves it would be somewhere around this time of year, I and a couple of brave, and stupid kids my age decided it was time to slide that bad boy out of the slipcase and watch the film already. Cue months of nightmares that would finish off my year, and give me fresh ones for the next.

It took me some time to have the stomach to revisit The Shining again outside of catching glimpses of other people watching it, at least at the time knowing which scenes I was cool with and which I could peace out from before things got real messed up. When the time in my life came that I decided I not only wasn't going to shy away from horror films (discovering too that I was kidding myself that i'd share my families love the genre if I gave it the chance), but actively seek out all that I could, it wasn't an immediate shift for me to come back to The Shining. Hell, it still remains one of the most tense, disorienting films i've ever seen. A nightmare of celluloid. So, it would take a year or so but eventually getting through all the other classic scary flicks (The Exorcist, Texas Chainsaw Massacre, Pinocchio, etc.), I was ready to dive back into the belly of the beast. And cliche as it may be, I still come to the conclusion ever since that The Shining is one of the greatest horror films ever made.

With so much attention to detail by director Stanley Kubrick in order to create such an effective horror film, The Shining begs for re-watch after re-watch in order to discover just how many ways symbolism and other such literary techniques were employed here. For anyone looking for a further look into the film, i'd recommend checking out the documentary Room 237 (2012) for a intensely deeper look into Kubrick's intentions for what's on display. While I seem to manage to pick out several different things with each viewing, there's always been some personal standout scenes. The old woman in the bathroom for one, was the first scene to give me nightmares from the film, while the image of a frozen to death Jack lingered with me far after the film was over. I found every scene dealing with the hedge maze, especially the one of Jack over a miniature replica of it, to be some of the best shots of the whole movie, along with the buildup to the death of Dick Hallorann. Such a jarring moment that far surpasses the effectiveness of nearly any slasher death scene i've seen. I, like anyone else could go on forever (The Grady twins in the hallway, the ballroom party, etc.), but i'll leave it at this: The Shining is not only my favorite Kubrick film, of many amazing others, but is a timeless film that I believe will always exist on any greatest list of horror films till as long as we can still talk about them.

Sara: I am not going to lie, I can't remember the first time that I saw The Shining. I, a product of the eighties, was spoon-fed slasher flicks like Friday the 13th, and Scream. The Shining was a little too much of a slow-burn for my A.D.D. mind as a child, therefore I could never get through it. When I finally did (most likely at some sleepover), it scared the shit out of me. I couldn't wrap my mind around what was essentially Jack Torrence's mind: what was supposed to be real, and what wasn't. The infamous lady-in-the-bathroom scene Jeremy discussed freaked the hell out of me, because I thought she as a real person who turned old and decayed in his arms. The creepy twins Danny saw over and over, my adolescent mind couldn't make heads or tails if they were ghosts or more of his imaginary friends. To this day I still can't decide, and that's part of the beauty of this film.

The most unsettling scene for me, however, was the furry sex scene. Now, I am not here to kink-shame anyone, but remember, I was far too young to be watching this film in the first place, so when I asked my parents what the hell the freaky ass bear was doing (you gotta admit those seventies-era  animal costumes were terrifying), they didn't want to tell me what was going on, so they acted like I had no idea what in the hell I was talking about. So, I had just watched a movie where I could not tell what was real and what wasn't, and here my parents were telling me that the scene that scared me the most wasn't in the movie. It's safe to say that I then started to believe that I was seeing crazy shit, and therefore did not watch that movie again for several years. In all honesty though, probably a fail-safe way to get your kid to stop watching movies that are not age-appropriate. Kudos, mom and dad.

Now that snow has already made its debut here in Detroit, it is time for comfort foods, and of course, hiding indoors watching movies. The reason we picked this slow burn to pair with some comfort food is the winter theme. So without further ado, a recipe for some crock pot vegetarian chili:

Serves eight

3 small zucchini, chopped
1 medium yellow onion, chopped
4-5 garlic cloves, minced
1 bag carrot sticks
1 can of chili beans
1 can of Amy's lentil soup
1 bag of Morning Star "meat" crumbles
1 can of tomatoes with chilies
2 veggie bullion cubes
24 ounces water

Chop all veggies, and throw everything in a crock pot, making sure to rinse the beans from the can. Cook on low 7-8 hours, stirring occasionally. I added hot sauce to mine. FYI this makes A LOT, so prepare to eat it for four days in a row, cut the recipe in half, or just freeze half the batch.

This Thursday is our Thanksgiving themed #BHorrorMovieNight and we will be watching Blood Rage (1987)! Start the movie (Available through Amazon) and tune into Twitter at 9:30 EST to join us, just make sure to use the hashtag! We are definitely making a drinking game out of this one, so you won't want to miss out on taking a shot each time the phrase "That's not cranberry sauce!" is uttered on the screen. Until next time, keep it creepy, kids.