• Paul D. Wilke

Still Shining

I have a few movies I love to watch at certain times of the year. Thanksgiving means it's time for Planes, Trains, and Automobiles. As Christmas rolls around, it's time for Elf, It's a Wonderful Life, and A Christmas Story (of course). But it all starts in October when I revisit some of my favorite horror movies. The Exorcist still scares, though it feels more dated as the years go by.

Cabin in the Woods is an excellent comedy-horror that spoofs some of the genre's most familiar tropes. And all these years later, I still have a soft spot for An American Werewolf in London and Jacob's Ladder. But if I had to pick a favorite out of the bunch, it would be watching Jack Nicholson's maniacal portrayal of pure bonkers madness in The Shining.

The premise is terrifying enough: Nicholson's character, struggling writer and recovering alcoholic Jack Torrance, takes a job as the winter caretaker at the Overlook Hotel up in the Colorado Rockies. The catch is that Jack and his family will be cut off from the world and snowbound at the hotel from November until May. Oh, and the hotel is haunted. What could go wrong? Well, a lot, it turns out, especially when Jack's sanity begins collapsing with the hotel's not-so-subtle help.

"Drink up, Mr. Torrance."

The hotel, itself almost a character in the movie, never fully reveals its motives and looms in constant menace throughout. It's creepy, and the music and camera angles amplify the creepiness. The hallway with the two twin girls and the elevator pouring blood are iconic scenes. Even if you haven't seen the film, you probably recognize them.

But while Stanley Kubrick's brilliant direction and John Alcott's memorable cinematography set the tense atmosphere for the film, Nicholson's portrayal of Jack Torrance made it the classic that it remains to this day. Nicholson's body language, a smile that's always a bit of a sneer, and that cackling laughter all captured Jack Torrance's slip-slide-and-away descent into madness.

So on that note, I've compiled some classic Crazy Jack moments from the film. Some of these really stick with you.

Sometimes a photo is enough; often, a GIF will do, but there are scenes you just have to watch to get the full experience. Enjoy.

And a bonus: the Shining is still on Netflix this month.

Staring into the Abyss

The Empty Ballroom Scene

The Ballroom Party Scene

The Bathroom Scene with former caretaker Delbert Grady

The Stair Scene

And the famous "Here's Johnny!" scene

Staring into the Abyss Forever

Folks, that's great acting!

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