Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Top 20 Horror Movies - #5) The Shining (1980)

One of the things that I'm doing this month as I celebrate Halloween here in the Land of Way is taking the time to rank my Top 20 Horror Movies and my Top 20 Horror Novels.

I want to be clear that I'm basing these choices on my own humble opinion.  I'm not trying to rank these movies in accordance with their place in pop culture, but I'm offering up my take on the best horror films that I have ever watched and enjoyed.  There are some familiar candidates that I consider to be great pictures that didn't make the cut because there wasn't room, and there are some films that are widely regarded as great pictures that didn't make the cut because I feel that they are overrated.  There are also a few instances where it was difficult to determine whether or not a movie belonged to the horror genre (I said "no" to Aliens but "yes" to Jaws), and it may also be worth noting that this is largely a modern list (as long as you're okay with my classification of modern as anything after 1960) that only features one lonely creature from the so-called "Classic Monsters" films produced by Universal Studios.

Thus far, the list includes:

#20) The Fly (1986) 
#19) The Howling (1981)
#18) Night of the Living Dead (1968)
#17) Alien (1979) 
#16) Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1978)
#15) Suspiria (1977) 
#14) Phantasm (1979)
#13) Evil Dead 2 (1985)
#12) Creature from the Black Lagoon (1954) 
#11) The Descent (2005)
#10) Fright Night (1985)
#9) Halloween (1978)
#8) Return of the Living Dead (1985) 
#7) An American Werewolf in London (1981)
#6) Deep Red (1975)

And now, ladies and gentlemen, here's Jack!  Don't worry, he's not here to hurt you.  He just wants to bash your brains in. 

Top 20 Horror Movies - #5) The Shining (1980)

More akin to a different vision of Stephen King's terrifying book than a faithful adaptation of that titan's work, this Stanley Kubrick venture is definitely one of the most striking horror films of them all.  Jack Nicholson is front and center throughout, and he wrings every drop of entertainment out of an iconic part.  True, Nicholson's Jack Torrance lacks the depth and the warmth that makes his literary counterpart's sinister downfall a tragic affair.  Yet his take on the character yields one of the most sensational villains in the history of the cinema, as Jack's work in The Shining is both horrifying and a joy to behold.  It is most certainly a performance for the ages, and thought it towers over the motion picture itself, Kubrick's peerless direction and Shelley Duvall's emotionally charged acting are also superb assets that are integral to the success of this beloved classic.  While some may chafe at the way Kubrick disregards many aspects of the source material, the movie has an irresistible appeal and it is clearly a horror film of the highest order.  The technical merits of The Shining are beyond reproach, and while there can be no doubt that Stanely Kubrick was both immensely talented and incredibly prolific, I think that this terrifying journey into insanity and violence is his most remarkable film.  Furthermore, though his career is littered with fabulous star turns, this is probably my favorite example of Jack's magnificent talent as well.  The Shining is both legitimately creepy and totally fascinating, and it greatly benefits from the presence of a gifted cast and one of the finest directors in the history of the cinema.

Shelley Duvall had a great time working with Stanley Kubrick on The Shining.
Nicholson exudes both charisma and menace as he chews scenery and positively owns the screen.

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