Monday, October 31, 2011

Happy Halloween Little Pigs!

What makes The Shining stand out is its all-pervading atmosphere. It has its shocks and creepy moments but what really gets you is that slow, pulsing dread. Very few horror movies are genuinely scary, especially as you get older, but The Shining does it still. It's also got Jack Nicholson letting loose the Big Bad Wolf inside, the giddy release of it, especially in the famous 'Here's Johnny!' scene below.
'Little pigs, little pigs, let me come in', he calls, returning the nursery rhyme to its original fear setting, unleashing its allegorical power. It's not just scary though, it's funny, hysterical, in both meanings of the word, pure grand guignol ham. Maybe it's this tension, this close-to-the-edge quality, that inspires butterflies in the stomach every time I watch it. Every time.

And then there's the original trailer, a masterclass in less is more. Of course, when you've got an image as good as this, with all the deadpan clarity of a nightmare, what more do you need? Imagine seeing this in the cinema at the time, having no idea what's coming. Can you imagine the impact it must've had?

And finally, the mournful, unsettling theme by Wendy Carlos and Rachel Elkind, based on Hector Berlioz' interpretation of the Dies Irae, a medieval poem about the day of judgment, the last trumpet summoning souls before the throne of God, where some are saved and some are cast into eternal flames. It's grave music, complete with eerie electronic wailing, the souls of those unsaved no doubt, and it sets a suitably desolate mood for this Halloween night. Enjoy!

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