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The Shining

Hello MoFos! And welcome to another installment of At the Theater with The Gunslinger45! It is Father’s Day today, and what better way to celebrate the dads who brought us all into this world, then with a movie where a father tries to take his son and wife OUT of this world! And best of all I got to see this IN THE THEATER! There are many things I love about living in Texas. I love that pick-up trucks are in abundance, I love the low humidity (when compared to Florida), football is king, servicemen and veterans are held in the highest regard, rich history, steak is plentiful, plenty of Catholic churches, and very friendly gun laws. All of which appeal to the Catholic, vet, gunslinger, sports guy in me. But the cinephile in me LOVES the Alamo Drafthouse! A Texas based chain of theaters (a few are in other cities as well) aimed toward the serious movie buff. Not only do they have a VERY strict no talk, text, and cell policy, a bar with Shiner Bock, and some damn good dine in food, but they also regularly hold special events at their theaters. This included quote-alongs to movies, special Q&A panels, and best of all regular re-releases of classic movies on the big screen. It is because of this chain of theaters that I was able to see the likes of Taxi Driver, Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom, 2001: A Space Odyssey, and Jaws on the big screen. And today I got to see yet another Kubrick masterpiece on the big screen. I have been a big fan of this movie ever since I saw it. It is a horror classic. But how does it feel on a screen about 100 times larger than my TV? Well grab your axe and have a shot of the hair of the dog that bit ya, as we look at The Shining.

We all should know the plot of this film so I will keep this short and sweet. Based on the Stephen King novel, the film is set in Colorado (as opposed to Maine for once) and is centered on the Torrance family. Jack Torrance (Jack Nicholson) is an ex-teacher and writer from Vermont. He has secured a job as the winter caretaker of The Overlook Hotel. He is also a recovering alcoholic. Wendy Torrance (Shelly Duval) is Jack’s wife and they have a son named Danny (Danny Lloyd). Danny is a peculiar boy who has an imaginary friend named Tony. Tony tells Danny things that he could never know on his own; following in the footsteps on many a psychic child in a Stephen King novel. They are shown around the hotel by Dick Hallorann played by Scatman Crothers, whom you may recognize as the voice of Jazz from the 80’s Transformers cartoon, Meadowlark Lemon from whenever the Harlem Globetrotters crossed over with Scooby Doo, and Hong Kong Phooey. Dick is the head chef of the hotel and a man also blessed with the psychic talent known as “shining.” Danny asks Dick about the hotel and walks away with a warning about room 237, and to stay out of it. The Torrance family sets up shop at the Overlook Hotel and it becomes apparent to us the viewer that the establishment is not what it seems. Lots of very bad things happened in this hotel, and the ghosts of past guests and employees still haunt the place; particularly in the bar and in the dreaded room 237. As the winter goes on Jack becomes more and more unstable until the ghostly inhabitants finally push Jack over the deep end. And then we have Jack become one of the scariest film villains ever.

I LOVE The Shining! This is one of the scariest movies I have ever seen. Right up there with Jaws and The Exorcist. And Kubrick being a master filmmaker accomplishes this with the best tool a horror movie can have. Atmosphere! This film drips with an eerie, uncomfortable, and downright terrifying feel to it. Every shot, every cut, every slow motion scene of an elevator gushing blood makes this film a masterpiece of horror. Now I first watched The Shining only a few years ago on my laptop and a second time on TV. And each of those times the feel of the movie was intense. This time, on a larger screen and with a beefed up sound system, the movie reaches it true peak for terror. The eerie cinematography of travelling down the halls vie steady cam is amplified. It makes the viewer feel like they are traveling along the hall inside the hotel. The score is far more unsettling and creepy when it is being blasted out of the sound system in the theater. And finally Jack himself is all the more terrifying when he is on a screen the size of a two story apartment. Combine all these together and you have an incredibly intense cinema going experience. When I saw 2001: A Space Odyssey on the big screen I was treated to one of the best visual and audio experiences I have had at the movies. It was the perfect blend of classical music and beautiful visuals that at times was serene and other times intense. The Shining on the other hand is nothing but intensity and suspense. Pure and simple. From the time we first see the elevator open with a torrent of blood, the first introduction of the twin ghost girls, to when Jack screams out “HERE’S JOHNNY” we are locked into one hell of a scary movie. Slow and methodical in its pace, but every second is filled with tension and foreboding of what will happen when Jack finally snaps.

Now Dr Strangelove will always be my favorite Kubrick film. There is no question about that. But The Shining, is actually my second favorite Kubrick film. Now I love 2001: A Space Odyssey (my 3rd favorite Kubrick film) to death and I concur that it is Kubrick’s masterpiece. But that being said I just like The Shining more. I have always just been drawn more to films that tell me a story. And The Shining tells me one of the best haunted house stories ever. It is easily one of the best films Kubrick has ever made, and certainly one of the more popular ones. At least these days. When it was originally released, the critical response was mixed. And the damn fools at The Razzies made one of the most idiotic decisions ever by nominating Stanley Kubrick for worst director FOR THIS MOVIE! Thus proving that NO ONE should take the Razzies seriously EVER! But most famously, Stephen King the author of the source material hated the movie too. So much so he directed his own adaptation of The Shining into a mini-series that follows the book more closely. A mini-series that from what I have heard and read, is not scary at all. But the critics came to their senses and this film is regarded as the masterpiece it should be. It is a horrifying experience that if given the chance should be watched on the big screen. It would well worth the trip to the theater.