One of the strangest anomalies in the world of "queer horror" is the appearance of the dogman in Stephen King's The Shining (some contend that it is a bear costume). Interestingly enough, of all the things that Kubrick chose to omit in his film version of the horror masterpiece (wasp's nest, topiary animals, boiler room explosion), he chose to keep a strange and cryptic appearance of the dogman.
The strange image of the man in the dog costume (who is about to perform fellatio for the man in the tuxedo) is glimpsed by Wendy as she runs through the Overlook in terror for her life and her son's life because Jack is on his homicidal rampage.
At this point in the story, the haunted hotel has come to life, and there are numerous bizarre images parading around (the famous blood-wave from the elevator shaft, for example). Wendy is running down the hall when she glimpses these characters. At first, the man in the tuxedo (Derwent) is lying back on the bed out of view, and the dog man's bare ass can be glimpsed sticking out the open back of the dog costume as he is doing something (perhaps licking some spilled caviar off the front of his friend's cummerbund). With a great dramatic flourish of the music, these two creepy characters look up at Wendy, the camera zooms in, and Wendy runs away with terror. Of course, the hotel is supposed to be empty, so a man in a dog costume giving fellatio to a creepy Peter Cushing-looking character would probably freak me out too.
Generally, the reaction to this moment in the film is What the Fuck? And I think this is an appropriate response. However, I've been wondering how much the queer sexual element of the scene influences the strong WTF reaction--like it's two parts pure bizareness and one part homophobia.
Of course, the moment is not nearly so mysterious when you read Stephen King's original book. Except, well, I guess it's also incredibly bizarre in the book too.
In the book, the man in the tuxedo is revealed to be Derwent, the corrupt playboy, jet-set owner of the hotel. According to one of the ghost-guests, Derwent is bisexual, and he has a fling with Roger (dog costume) in Cuba. Now, Roger is desperate to continue the love affair while Derwent is finished with Roger. As a way to torment and humiliate his former lover, Derwent asks Roger to dress as a dog for the masquerade ball, and the entire evening Derwent forces him to perform degrading tricks while everyone laughs at him, including pouring a very phallic bottle of foaming champagne all over Roger's dog mask. Of course, this all happened in the distant past of the story, and it is happening in ghost-vision replay for our hapless caretaker and his family.
From my perspective, this is a pretty disturbing portrayal of a desperate homosexual willing to do anything for the attention of his fickle lover (in Kubrick's film, Roger is ready to go with his easy access, rear end flap--a handy feature in any dog costume). The degradation and humiliation of this gay man in a dog costume is so seemingly random as to elicit a WTF response, even when everything is explained.
The degradation of Roger in the dog costume at the masquerade ball is bad enough, but the dog man makes another appearance in the book. A monstrous, surreal version of Roger in the dog costume appears in the hallway outside of the Torrances' room. In this scene, Roger blocks the hallway so Danny is not able to leave. Here is a description of Roger:
"His eyes were tiny and red. He was dressed in some sort of silvery, spangled costume. A dog costume, Danny realized. Protruding from the rump of this strange creation was a long and floppy tail with a puff on the end. A zipper ran up the back of the costume to the neck. To the left of him was a dog's or a wolf's head, blank eyesockets above the muzzle, the mouth open in a meaningless snarl that showed the rug's black and blue pattern between fangs that appeared to be papier-mâché.
"The man's mouth and chin and cheeks were smeared with blood."
This disco-dog costume is very different than what is seen in the Kubrick film. Note the emphasis of the word "rump" and the tail with a "puff" at the end. The dogman becomes a bizarre queer monster. Also, I like how the head could be a wolf, invoking the Little Red scenario with young innocent Danny alone in the hallway with the scary homosexual. If perchance, you might be thinking that I'm reading too much into this, here is a quote from our queer dog-monster in the hallway:
"'I'm going to eat you, little boy,' the dogman answered...
"Danny flinched back but didn't run. 'Let me by.'
"'Not by the hair of my chinny-chin-chin,' the dogman replied. His small red eyes were fixed attentively on Danny's face. He continued to grin. 'I'm going to eat you up, little boy. And I think I'll start with your plump little cock.'
"He began to prance skittishly forward, making little leaps and snarling."
Not only has the queer dogman become the voracious wolf of fairy tales, but his appetite is made explicitly sexual, linking the dogman character to the stereotype of gay-man-as-molester. The dogman already has blood all around his mouth--does this mean he has already been eating plump cocks? And he's prancing.
After Danny escapes, we hear more from the dogman:
"'Get it up!' the drunken dogman cried out from around the corner. His voice was both violent and despairing. 'Get it up, Harry you bitch-bastard! I don't care how many casinos and airlines and movie companies you own! I know what you like in the privacy of your own h-home! Get it up! I'll huff...and I'll puff...until Harry Derwent's all bloowwwwn down!' He ended with a long, chilling howl that seemed to turn into a scream of rage and pain just before it dwindled off."
On the one hand, the dogman is a pathetic stereotype, a sex-crazed homosexual screaming for Derwent's attention and ready to "devour" little boys who cross his path. On the other hand, he is portrayed as a victim of Derwent's closet; the dogman is denied access to Derwent's elite privileged world because of his status as a gay outsider. And to make matters worse, Derwent goes out of his way to publicly humiliate the dogman (Roger is referred to as "dogman" in the passage with Danny, and only later does the audience learn his real name is Roger).
It is also very interesting how the "dogman" metaphor transforms into a fairy tale wolf subtext with a sexual punchline about "blowing Derwent," which brings us back to the appearance of Derwent and the dogman in the Kubrick version.
Here is another example where queer difference is aligned with wolfish bestiality in the world of horror. So the famous Kubrick WTF moment is actually a lot more complex and layered than it might initially appear, involving gay male stereotypes and fairy tale subtexts, not to mention a really kinky dog costume.