Off Topic

Special Feature On The Shining


As we wrap up the end of summer and enter my favorite season…Autumn, I wanted to talk about a scary movie. My favorite scary movie actually. THE SHINING by director Stanley Kubrick. I will discuss the music a little so its not entirely off topic but every now and then its nice to get these things off your chest. So WHY is The Shining So SCARY???

This is not easy to answer because the movie is quite unconventional and not your traditional horror flick. This film has barely any cliches; it is a horror movie that takes place in the day time kind of experience. But I will begin with the music.

What we have is this stylistically modernist art-music that is startling from the very beginning of the film. Composer Wendy Carlos, who previously did the soundtrack for A Clockwork Orange with her unique interpretations of Beethoven, comes up with some crazy demonic synthesized material to showcase here. Mr. Kubrick also used a lot of strange avant-garde sounds that really set the mood for this film. It is effortlessly disturbingly creepy from the beginning right through to the end, because the music is constant.

Now let’s focus on the camera. What’s really creepy about The Shining is the fact that it’s filmed in Stanley Kubrick’s trademark “detached” style. The camera is watching the events unfold. The camera IS the hotel watching them. The camera IS the evil spirit watching them.

You never know what could happen next. Like most Kubrick films, it’s never straightforward and nothing is ever predictable. Events happen randomly and unexpected: balls rolling down the corridors, twin girls randomly appearing and speaking at the same time, a naked woman kisses Jack Nicholson’s character and then turns saggy and green (as you do). It’s like the average dream of hallucinations mixed with schizophrenia. Quite weird and yet, very disturbing. Which, makes it even more genius.

On a side note, I don’t really care that Stephen King hated this film based on his novel. Boo F%$king Hoo! So what? This is an independent movie not to be so meticulously compared to a book. I first saw this film when I was 10 years old never reading the darn book and yet it stands out in my head quite lovely. Purists will find faults in the film but I frankly don’t give a damn. It was Kubrick’s vision and it was delivered quite brilliantly actually.

So a lot of tension builds throughout the movie. I am always at the edge of my seat, sweating while watching it. The slow building of pace adds to the excitement, to the intrigue and I become more and more engaged with the characters, and more drawn into the film, meaning that each and every shock in the film affected me deeply and profoundly.

There are gut-wrenching images such as long hallways, snowy mazes, Jack holding an axe and so on. There are no other horror films that work like this one. HALLOWEEN only works because you know what happens next, yet with this, you just give up and let it work on you again.

Maybe it’s the crazy concept: the idea that a husband and father is going to kill his son and wife. As you might have noticed, I am struggling for answers here, the thing about this film is, I can pick it apart, dissect how it works, yet the fact of the matter is that it still works no matter what. It has something that you can’t place your finger on. Or in other words, perhaps it’s so mysteriously atmospheric, that it creates a disturbing feeling, because it’s so unnatural, and you never know what could be hidden around each corner.

But for me anyway, what’s most frightening about The Shining is the fact that I don’t know why I’m so terrified while watching it. I just am.


Off Topic

Nostalgic Evening Under The Stars….THE DRIVE-IN MOVIES!!!!


I’m at the drive-in with my wife. We’re at the Cascade Drive-In in West Chicago. It’s a classic and has been around for several decades. This place is one of the few remaining in Illinois. We decided to take a trip down memory lane and relive our youth from the 1980’s. We pulled up to the booth earlier to get our tickets. The lady saw me hand her a credit card and was like, “We only take cash. Sorry” in a concerned tone for us. I did not realize that they do not take credit cards. Ooops! She suggested that we drive a few blocks away to an ATM in order to get cash so we can still enjoy the movies. So we did a U-Turn, pulled out of there as the dust and smoke spread from the gravel road as we peeled away! I was frantic! You would have thought I was on 10 cups of espresso! Although, I did have a couple of coffees earlier. But, nonetheless, I was panicked and freaking out! So off we went to the ATM.

Then we finally got back after the 15 minute delay. We made our way to our parking spot which took me a few extra minutes because I was trying to get the “right” spot! Got to be suited perfectly. I hurried out of the car to set up the lawn chairs. Everybody has their chairs either in front of their car or behind them if they backed in their space. Tailgating of course is an option too. The gravel is everywhere. The chairs are everywhere. There’s a little puppy on a leash off in the distance. They’ve go classic 50’s and 60’s music playing over the P.A. system. People are throwing footballs around. It’s kind of funny and nostalgic all in one.

You got to love the tall white screen projector up ahead, far in the front. No obstructed views, which is good. This truly is a thing of the past. Even some classic convertibles start pulling in. There’s the infamous snack bar that’s sort of recessed like a dugout off in the distance behind us. The sun is slowly setting to the west. The portable radios can be attached to your window. Just cranking the volume is good enough. All of the speakers scattered around the gravel parking lot echoes enough to hear what’s going on. Plus you can tune your radio station to 88.5 FM and listen to the films on your car stereo. I am just sitting here waiting for the movie trailers to begin.


It’s the middle of August. It’s fairly cool outside. Not freezing but it’s certainly not blazing hot either. Just cool enough yet just warm enough for I can sit here in my jeans, t-shirt and a light jacket and I’m just fine. We may have to eventually climb into the car once the temps drop and the bugs come out. But for now, it’s all-good. It’s all right because now Booker T and the MG’s are playing their famous song, “Green Onions.” It’s good to see all ages here. You got ten-year-old kids walking around. There are people our age in there 30’s reliving their own youth. Plenty of people our parent’s age doing the same thing. We kind of have all of the age groups represented here to recollect this fond memory of drive-in movies. A dying breed. These outdoor theaters may stick around for a while. But I don’t know for sure.

As my wife sits next to me in her chair, she has her sketchbook on her lap as she doodles and tangles away some splendid artwork. Denny loves to draw. She achieves Zen from doing this. But it’s so nice to sit here in front of the car and relax as the daylight fades and watch people walk around and go get snacks and just simply walk around to “walk around.” That’s what we like to do. Plus its good exercise. Good way to stretch the legs. Be active. Socialize. Chat. Catch up. No booze allowed, of course. But there are always a few who sneak it in. I haven’t seen any myself but it wouldn’t be that hard to slip it in your car and take a swig here and there. But that’s not why I’m here. I think other people are here to just escape. Perhaps some of the kids in high school are here to make out in the backseat of their car.

I will admit those speaker devices are very interesting and I have no idea how old they are. It would be interesting to research that fact. It’s sorta like going to the carhop where you roll your window down. The girl on roller skates brings out your food on a tray and kinda hangs it off your window. Clearly the device is intended to clip on your window as you listen to the film. It’s something they have definitely retained here at the Cascade and they certainly refused to part with them at all for they are here in abundant quantities. All of this instrumental, pop radio from the baby boom era like what you would hear at the diners is a nice treat for my ears. It’s a fitting touch.

Now they do play new movies here. Our double feature here tonight is KICK ASS 2 and ELYSIUM. Both of which seem quite favorable action and sci-fi flicks! I would imagine that some of these places have those #throwback nights. I don’t know for sure, but its certainly a #throwback environment. The mood is evoked, even with a digital projector. Sorry, no film reels or cigarette burns here. You get a better high definition for the outdoor viewings. The time now is seven minutes after eight. The anticipation is starting to get real. I recommend this kind of a movie experience for everyone.

Time to enjoy to movies!!!!