Just when I was about to hit the hay on Friday I caught THE SHINING on cable and naturally I was trapped watching it until it was over. At some point I was miraculously brought back to the first time I ever saw it in the theater. I was under age at the time but my father was somehow able to get my brothers and I in. Did he slip the ticket taker a Washington or two? No, this story takes place in the good old days when nobody gave a crap. To be honest, the movie disturbs me much more now as an adult than it did when I was a kid. As a kid, it kind of disappointed me and here’s why…
Flipping through some magazine, perhaps FANGO or STARLOG, I caught a picture from DAVID CRONENBERG’s THE BROOD. The picture was of a bunch of the little brood brats coming through a doorway or something. Later, I saw the yellow poster for THE SHINING with the distorted face in it and I wrongly thought, “That’s the movie with those creepy mutant kids in it that I saw in that magazine!” The trailer for THE SHINING with the elevator piqued my interest even further. I knew that when the elevator door opened all those creepy kids would jump out and wreck havoc! So when I finally got to see THE SHINING this is exactly what I was waiting for with doe-eyed, clammy anticipation. When the elevator scene finally did occur and NOBODY came out of the elevator, I was flattened like Silly Putty on a comic strip.
Poor confused me, I had built something up so big in my head and it was never meant to be. It was all my fault, my imagination whipped up this impossible coolness that no movie could ever possibly live up to. I mean really, if THE BROOD kids came out of that elevator in THE SHINING the sheer awesomeness of that event would probably tear the universe in half.
I learned a valuable lesson that day and I’ve only made that same mistake of forging impossible expectations out of shear obliviousness a couple thousand more times over the years. By the way, THE SHINING, I should give you some credit for freaking me out with the guy in the dog costume bit, I certainly wasn’t anticipating that. Oh, and the old lady, mission accomplished with that one too. O.K. SHINING, I’ll admit it, you were really scary but you would have been even scarier with some BROOD kids thrown into the mix.
What I really wanted to say is how cool was my Dad for taking me to see THE SHINING? I’m sure some might tsk tsk such a thing but look how well adjusted I turned out! O.K., well maybe I’m not the best example but look at how well adjusted my brothers turned out. Uh, maybe that’s not such a good idea either. Well, actually screw the well adjusted! Can anyone really stand those people anyway? I just want to push them down a flight of stairs.
So thanks DAD! Thanks for taking me to see THE SHINING. That movie is not exactly the best commercial for Dads but you took me anyway. Now that I mention it, I kind of remember having a new found fear of you after seeing NICHOLSON go bonkers, so if that was the idea all along, all I have to say is, “Well played sir, well played.”
Thanks for taking me to see GODZILLA VS. THE SMOG MONSTER, JAWS and PROPHECY too. Those are some of the strongest memories from my youth. It may not be traditional family fare but I also recognize that you taught me how to BEHAVE in a theater and I think that was more important than anything MARY POPPINS could teach me. Really, I think all of those horror and sci-fi movies trained me to approach the world with a bit of awe and respect and I’m glad I wasn’t force fed the, “It’s all about ME!” dreck that is considered so appropriate for kids.
Thanks for telling me ghost stories too and for not throwing away my FANGOS. I know I wasn’t the most normal kid in the world but as the saying goes, “I learned it by watching you!”