10.02.2007

The Shining

How delightful to find ourselves in the month of October! This is my favorite month in my favorite season. I love the transition from summer's glory into the long sleep of winter. I love it when the leaves flee their branches and scatter over the brown grass and the smell of woodsmoke floats on the air and the streetlights are still on when you leave for work in the morning.

It's a fun month, filled with celebrations of life and death and everything in between. It's a time for masquerades and transformations--not all of them pleasant. It's filled with stories of the fantastic and macabre and even the staunchest skeptics among us can't resist the urge to indulge in a chill or two when the moon is high and yellow.

I also love it because the needle of our collective film compass naturally swings to horror at this time of the year. Everyone has an opinion. Everyone has a favorite.

I'm going to attempt to look at thirty-one movies in the genre this month. That's pretty ambitious, so we'll see if I can get there. But I knocked out Land of the Dead yesterday and at least for now, my resolve is high. I have my favorites, and I'll share them down the road a stretch.

But I'd really love to hear about the films you guys love. Which movies kept you up at night? Which made you shudder when you turned out the lights? Which keep you from letting your hand hang off the side of the bed, fearful of what might be waiting beneath the box-spring?

Please comment on your favorites and your viewing experiences and we'll have us a little chat by the fireside on the best Halloween horror films in the field.

I'll share first--The Shining. Stanley Kubrick's masterpiece drives home the horror of repetition. From the creepy music in the opening credits (coupled with the fly-away shot of the Torrances' car on that winding mountain pass) to the monotone of Danny's big wheel in the hotel's empty corridors--Kubrick's film deftly depicts a slow descent into madness. Shelly Duvall's wide-eyed (but charismatic) performance is an effective counterweight to Jack Nicholson's smoldering intensity as he slides into lunacy.

The bloody elevator scene. The decomposition/seduction scene. The iconic
"little pigs" scene.
The chilling setting and excellent supporting performance by Scatman Crothers (picture above).



It all adds up to a really fine film (though one of the most widely debated as well). Agree or disagree?


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