Confession time: I didn't see the classic horror movie The Shining until my first year of film school. Though I had actually seen The Simpsons' "Treehouse Of Horror" parody of it (called "The Shinning" — notice the extra "n") during my childhood. But what I never realized about it is that The Simpsons parody of The Shining is so spot on. When I finally did watch The Shining, which is celebrating its 35th anniversary, I couldn't believe how many moments I recognized and how much my viewing actually enhanced the humor of The Simpsons sendup.
If you don't already know this, The Simpsons Halloween episodes are kind of like alternate universe anthology stories that spoof horror movies (and even Edgar Allen Poe stories) and there are usually around three in one episode. In the 1994 edition "Treehouse of Horror V," the opening segment is indeed "The Shinning," based on The Shining. Homer and the family become the caretakers of Mr. Burns' lodge. The catch? Burns turns off the TV and clears the house of beer. Homer notices the absence of his two favorite things right away and would do anything for them — so a ghost version of Moe orders Homer to kill the rest of the family in order to get his precious beer and TV back.
Sounds kind of familiar. While Homer's no author like The Shining's Jack Torrance, he does love his TV and beer, but would be kill his family for access to either? Here's how the rest of the episode plays out in comparison to the classic scary movie.
The Son's Psychic Abilities
Just like Jack's son Danny in The Shining, Bart has psychic abilities and can read Groundskeeper Willie's mind (except between 4-5 — that's Willie's time!). Willie tells Bart he has "The Shinning" (they added the extra "n" so they wouldn't get sued) and instructs Bart to call him if/when there's trouble with Homer.
This echoes Danny's special friendship with Chef Dick Hallorann, who points out Danny's Shining ability.
The Typewriter Scene
Bless the internet for having several videos that actually compare The Shining's scene with The Simpsons version of the scene. The Simpsons version is one of my favorite scenes in the entire scenes and one I can recite by heart. Much like in The Shining, Homer writes up insane stuff using a typewriter (and the walls) and chases Marge down with a bat, like Jack does to wife Wendy.
Except The Simpsons scene contains some of the funniest lines (and not as threatening as Jack's "bash your brains in" threat to Wendy):
- Homer: "No TV and no beer make Homer something something."
- Homer: "Give me the bat, Marge. Give me the bat. Give me the bat! (Homer makes crazy noises and scares himself, screams)
- Marge: "You stay here until you're no longer insane."
- Homer: "Can't murder now. Eating."
The Flood Of Blood
Identical. And they're equally chilling.
Homer isn't as good at bringing an axe to doors as Jack Torrance is in The Shining.
The Freezing End
The Shining doesn't exactly have a happy ending for the Torrance family. Jack freezes to death while chasing his family into the woods. I guess it's a happy ending for the rest of the Torrances.
As for the Simpson family, Lisa calms Homer's murderous rampage with Willie's TV and they embrace TV's warming glow together in the snow for a long time — and they freeze together. This only becomes a problem when the Tony Awards are on the TV and they're too frozen to change the channel.
Images: Fox TV (screengrab, 2); Giphy (6)