Shining the light on The Shining

IMG_8972As one who torments myself with horror movies every so often, it is not often I come across a horror movie I can watch over and over and over again and get the same delight if possible even more on the repeat viewing.  The problem with watching horror movies over and over again is that either a.) you know where the surprise element comes the 2nd time around losing its valued scares b.) you know who the bad guy is already which is the come on for some movies, guessing who the bad guy is c.) it just gets old.  I have attempted to watch several horror flicks that gave me nightmares or sleepless nights the first time I’ve seen it.  In my confusion though, I was bored out of my wits in the 2nd viewing in every single film …save for The Shining.


It is simply glorious with every single viewing.  In some instances it is actually better because you notice more details on your repeat viewing.  To start off, the casting of this movie was just perfect.  Every actor performed as if they were born for this part.


Jack Nicholson, with the arch of his eyebrows and that infamous scheming smile, was sinister to look at even before anything happened.  Acting the psychopath he turned out in the movie, felt like second nature to him.  He looked like he was actually really having fun tormenting Wendy.  So many scenes worth noting where his acting chops were proven: scene with Lloyd at the bar, scene with Wendy on the stairs when he was trying to get a hold of the baseball bat, walking in the hall going cuckoo shaking his arms in the air, in the freezer when he was begging Wendy to open the door for him, when he was huffing and puffing by the door outside the bathroom chopping away with the axe. Jack Nicholson is Jack Nicholson for a reason after all.  He definitely looked like a guy with a million menacing thoughts going thru his head in the entire movie, which left you guessing what was running in his thoughts I every scene.


Shelley Duvall, though not gaining the same praises Jack got for this movie, should have also been given credit for her portrayal.  It definitely did not look easy.  Those droopy eyes surrounded by dark circles, her clingy stringy hair, and her lanky body made for the perfect victim who appears she is about to lose it herself any second.  If Jack looked sinister before anything happened, Wendy looked tormented from the very beginning.  She was a weak persona struggling to be strong at that very critical time. Oh and that staircase scene, may have been perfect for Jack but it was crazy good for Wendy.  Probably because they took 127 takes for that scene, Shelley was really actually exhausted and desperate.


Danny, who thought he was acting for a drama film had some tough scenes to do himself.  Talking to Tony and his finger I must say is tough.  When he got semi possessed and fell into a trance writing Redrum on the door was equally tough.  When he was grinding his teeth, eyes going loopy while he was in bed, you’d think he just went nuts or was having a real epileptic seizure.  It is commendable that a young actor can achieve such weird and awkward scenes and make it appear natural.  Though I cannot imagine for the life of me how he could’ve thought this was a drama.


Joe Turkel as Lloyd looked devilish, like Lucifer personified. Bill Watson looked suspicious. Stuart Ullman looked Presidential as the CEO.  Delbert Grady was endearing, mysterious and hypnotic all at the same time. Dick Halloran was queer and daunting. Every single person performed to a T.


Most horror movies are dark and gritty.  This was actually bright and clean.  Yet it achieve the scares and build-up of nerves it wanted.  The music and sound effects played a key role in setting the mood and making your heart jump, or building up that scare that just might be in the next corner.  The view of Danny biking continuously entering different sections of the hotel, with the sound of the wheel rolling on different textures on the floor was very hypnotic and nerve wracking at the same time. The flash view of the twins’ chopped up bloody bodies brought about the effect it wanted: asking yourself if “Did I just see that or not?”  Stanley Kubrick was a genius in his execution.


I would usually hate movies I cannot understand perfectly.  For The Shining though, despite not understanding a number of scenes which most likely is explained more extensively in the book, I enjoyed the film tremendously for the ride of emotions a horror movie is supposed to give you.  I do not dare touch the book as it may ruin my perfect experience with the film.  The Shining is a definite classic I will be watching forever and ever and ever and ever…


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