Here’s Johnny! (The Shining)

This Thanksgiving break I decided to sit down and watch the not so-wholesome family film, The Shining(1980), directed by Stanley Kubrick and starring one of my favorite actors Jack Nicholson. While I had seen the film before ages ago, I wanted to re-watch the film to see if I would have a greater appreciation for the film and not be afflicted with nightmares from the eerie setting of the infamous haunted hotel that is of course built on top of none other than Native American burial ground.

The Shining was Kubrick’s only real dive into the horror genre, but of course like all of Kubrick films, there is strong psychological component to the film. Even more so when the film is considered to be in the “psychological horror” genre. In the film, what in my opinion adds to the suspense and intensity of the film, is the slow paced nature of the film and subtle corruption of the characters. Especially Jack Torrance (Jack Nicholson) as he resorts back to his old habits of drinking and becomes influenced by the supernatural entities of the hotel.

The filming techniques used in the film, such as when the camera is at the same height level as Danny, Jack’s son, and when we see what Danny is seeing through via his telepathic hallucinations. These scenes truly immerse the viewer into the events unfolding in the hotel. One scene in particular, the famous “Hallway Scene” managed to instill a strong sense of claustrophobia and sensation of entrapment as I watched Danny riding through the halls of the hotel on his tricycle as he encounters visions of the past.

Hallway Scene

Jack Nicholson of doesn’t fail to deliver an excellent performance of a truly horrifying psychotic husband. As the film progresses and Jack falls deeper and deeper into the clutches of insanity, his outbursts to his wife Wendy escalate from irritation and annoyance when he  is interrupted by her when he is writing, to violent outbursts with clear murderous intent, such as the iconic baseball bat scene on the stairs, and of course, when Jack breaks down the bathroom door with an axe.

Jack Writing Outburst

“I’m not going to hurt you.”

Overall if you haven’t seen The Shining I highly recommend it. Watching the film is quite an experience and is by far one of my favorite psychological horror films. By the end though, you will be left that familiar feeling of having just gotten off a mental roller coaster, that you  get after having watched a Kubrick film.

 

“I am vengeance, I am the night, I am Batman!”

Imagine you’re on a date and just leaving the midnight showing of Skyfall. It’s dark, cold, and you’re walking to your car. As the crowd disperses, a few men start walking behind you as you walk across the empty parking lot. As you get closer and closer to your car, you notice the group is walking faster and getting awkwardly close to you two and your car is the only one is sight. As you go to open the door they push you against the car and demand for you money and pull out a knife. You fumble and pull out your cash, dropping it on the ground. There’s a whoosh of material and sound of struggle. You look up and the thieves are on the ground writhing in pain. You notice in the corner a dark figure and you lock onto eye starring back at you. You turn your head to look at your date and next thing you know, whatever was there is gone. Could it be? Is it really? I had to be… Batman…

Batman originally appeared in the 1930’s and was known to have the comedic “BOOM! POW” with Adam West. Tim Burton’s Batman now takes a darker spin filled with Prince being played in the background and sets up the Batman Anthology that ran into the late 90’s.

If you’re looking to find the backstory of how Batman is developed, this isn’t the movie for you. You are immediately immersed into action with the bad guys fearing “The Bat!”

Bruce Wayne may look like a pushover, but rest assured, this glasses wearing, tuxedo sporting millionaire has deep hatred in his blood for those evil-doers and his solution is a  glove covered back fist! Played by Michael Keaton, who starred in Gung Ho and was fresh from another famous Tim Burton film, Beetlejuice, had the right attitude and innocence to pull of the role.

Jack Napier, who is turned into Joker, is played by Jack Nicholson. Being known more for his role in The Shining, Nicholson is able to play the nuisance role superbly

Accompanied by the BEAUTIFUL Vicky Vale, Kim Basinger, this movie is able to not only pit Batman versus Joker to save Gotham, but the damsel in distress. Just like all the movies from the 80’s, this one has the potential to make your night at home just as nostalgic.

Make sure to check this out and see what inspired the Batman Animated Series.

 

The Shining

“Heeere’s Johnny!” 

            This was one of the most terrifying movies I have ever seen, which came as a surprise to me. Although I had heard about how scary it was, I had a pre-assumed opinion that since it was made in 1980, it wouldn’t compare to the horror techniques of the 21st century. I was very wrong. Stanley Kubrick, who is a master of the moving camera and traveling shot definitely delivers on this film by not using your typical “slasher flick” characteristics or thumping soundtrack in order to frighten the audience. Kubrick adds such a creepy and eerie feel by using traveling camera shot as well as choppy cuts of montages such as in the scene with Danny and the twins in the hallway.

The film starts off by introducing us to the Torrance family consisting of Jack, Wendy and their troubled son Danny. They arrive at the Overlook Hotel, where Jack has taken a job to be caretaker of the hotel when it closes for the winter. Wendy seems unsure but Jack convinces her that they need the money and he will be able to work on his new book. Meanwhile Danny seems to have some schizophrenic tendencies claiming that a man named “Tony,” talks to him; Tony is not a good guy. They meet with the hotel’s manager, Halloran who takes an interest in Danny claiming he has a ”shine.”

As the staff leaves, the Torrance family settles into their new home. Danny begins to have strange encounters with unfriendly and horrifying spirits and Jack starts to slip into insanity while Wendy feels alone and helpless. When Wendy starts to realize that the hotel possesses some demonic force and that Jack is beginning to go insane. She then realizes that she must save herself and Danny.

Although this movie was terrifying, the directing and acting was incredible. I would really recommend this movie to anyone who can handle it. I must warn that I found myself covering my eyes and jumping at some parts, those who frighten easily should not watch this. Kubrick is an absolute genius and the directing is really well done. I think it holds up to time and is relatable to now because Jack Nicholson is still on the movie scene and since it wasn’t made in the slasher film way where the blood looks fake and the villians look fake, it still proves to be scary in today’s time.

Why So Serious?

After viewing the 1989 Batman starring Michael Keaton last night (which was a trial by the way–Amazon Instant Video and I are seeing other people) I started to compare Jack Nicholson’s take on the Joker to Heath Ledger’s.

Perhaps I am simply biased towards Nolan’s trilogy, which is, in my humble opinion, one of the best super-hero movie franchises ever created—but the character Nicholson portrays, while certainly deranged, leaves something to be desired. Take the creation of the Joker for example. I find it difficult to believe that a run-of-the-mill gangster can become ten times as psychotic—not to mention pasty— as a result of falling into a vat of mysterious green liquid. Ledger’s character, though he never gives a precise account of where exactly his scars came from, leaves viewers completely convinced of his psychological instability. Whether this Joker’s tortured psyche stems from parental abuse or a failed marriage, Ledger’s character always leaves me wanting to put my hands in the air and say, “Okay, buddy.  I got it. Just don’t kill me.”

Another reason I find myself favoring Nolan’s Joker is the rivalry that the director develops between Batman and the classic villain. There are two almost identical scenes in both the 80s Batman and The Dark Knight. In Batman, the Joker stands with his arms wide, willing the “flying bastard,” to come closer. In this scene, Batman flies directly at his enemy, fully prepared to kill him. Similarly, the only reason the Joker wants to engage the caped crusader is to pull out a ridiculously huge gun and deal a fatal blow. In The Dark Knight, a similar scene takes on an entirely different dynamic. In this scene, the Joker stumbles down the street, randomly shooting a machine gun muttering, “Come on, come on I want you to do it. Hit me. Hit me!” This scene functions so differently due to the backstory of both characters—Bale’s Batman, with his “one rule” against taking life, cannot bring himself to hit the Joker, however much he might want to. The Joker knows this, and continually challenges Batman to break his moral code. It seems, particularly in this scene, that he wants to be the first casualty of Batman’s war against organized crime in Gotham. The surface enmity of Nicholson and Keaton simply cannot compete with the ethical, “battle for Gotham’s soul,” of The Dark Knight .