Before The Play: Some Of The Shining's Scariest Scenes

10,000 Magazines, #9,997
TV Guide, April 26-May 2 1997

I just read my April 26-May 2 copy of TV Guide.  (Well, I read the articles!)  That was the edition that had a cover feature of The Shining, with a great illustration of a snowbound Overlook and an angry Jack Torrance bearing a mallet by Wrightson.

I really was about to toss this aside, wondering why I bought an old TV Guide, when my friend Tim Heintzman told me, "If you were to take a closer look at your 1997 TV Guide, you should find an excerpt from Before The Play that was the original begining of "The Shining" but was cut. This is a part of the unpublished & uncollected works of the Stephen King canon." (HERE)

Wow!  Thanks Tim.  What an awesome read.  And, it gave the entire novel/story more depth.

Here are some scanned images from movie junk archive.  Actually, that website has scanned the entire King portions of  the magazine!

My favorite portion was titled, "Before The Play," by Stephen King.  King offered this note of explanation:
A novel for television is actually a play with its two, three, or four acts presented on different nights.  This was enormous help in adapting The Shining for TV, becuase in its first draft, the story was actually constructed as a play.  It was still a novel, and written in prose rather than dialogue, but instead of five separate parts (which was how the book was set up when it first came out), it was divided into five acts, as are the plays of Shakespeare (and there was a fellow who would probably have appreciated a big creepy miniseries." 
When I finished the book proper, I wrote a prologue called "Before the Play" and an epilogue called "After the Play."  A strenuously edited version of the epilogue stayed in (it's the books final chapter, and entirely different from the miniseries' final scene), but "Before the Play," which contained a number of strange events from the Overlook Hotel's earlier history, was cut out to keep the book from growing too long. 
In any case, there  was some pretty spooky stuff behind the opening curtain, and I'm glad to see the best of it restored to print here.  Whether or not you know the novel, it makes a nice appetizer to the ABC miniseries.  Enjoy it now. . . but maybe a little less later on. 
You know.  After the lights are out.  --Stephen King.
What follows three two wonderful, spooky, dark sections.  The first deals with a young woman named Lottie, and the second section is about Jack Torrance as a child and the abuse he endured from an alcoholic father and the third section is about a murder in the hotel.

I think King gives us the very best stuff first.  Lottie is a selfish, domineering young woman who enjoys lording emotional power over her wealthy young husband.  She forces him to go to the Overlook hotel, instead of on the overseas honeymoon he wanted.  He is fun loving and energetic, while Lottie is a manipulative person filled with anger.  What she experiences at the overlook is both dreadful and serves her right!

Lottie endures a series of nightmares that are terrifying.  Normally I am not interested at all in dream sequences in books -- but these are quite well done.  He dreams seem to revolve around fire and the Overlook.  My favorite is a dream in which Lottie gets on the elevator and . . .
Her unease heightened as the elevator descended and continued to descend . . . for far too long a time.  Surely they must have reached the lobby or even the basement by now, and still the operator did not open the doors, and still the sensation of downward motion continued.  She tapped him on the shoulder with mixed feelings of indignation and panic, aware too late of how spongy he felt, how strange like a scarecrow stuffed with rotten straw.  And as he turned his head and grinned at her she saw that the elevator was being piloted by a dead man, his face a greenish-white corpse - like hue, hie eyes sunken, his hair under his cap lifeless and sere.  The fingers rapped around the switch were fallen away to bones. 
Even as she filled her lungs to shriek, the corpse threw the switch over and uttered, "Your floor, madam," in a husky, empty voice.  The door drew open to reveal flames and basalt plateaus and the stench of brimstone.  The elevator operator had taken her to hell. 
There's lots more of that kind of stuff.  I wish they had included this in the printing of The Shining.  King says that they were concerned about the novel becoming too long (gasp!)  I think it opens the story up.  The Shining is a very closed, tight book.  It revolves around a few central characters.  But this introduction makes it clear as day: It is the hotel  that is haunted -- not just Jack Torrance.

Thanks, Chris C. for the links to find scanned photos.

1 comment:

  1. There's a priceless bit of info in Rocky Wood's unpublished, uncollected that goes into a bit more backstory on the overlook than, sadly, is in the tv guide version.

    My favorite bit is when he tells that one of the hotels early owners was a pair of brothers named Brandywine!

    One hotel to rule them all etc!