There are a lot of ways to make a grand entrance, but one surefire way to make sure the spotlight is securely upon you is to destroy a door with an ax, stick your head through, and snarl with a wolfish grin, “Here’s Johnny!” Watching a maniacal Jack Nicholson doing that strange sort of half-dazed gait around the corridors of the Overlook Hotel with a huge ax in his hand never gets boring. He’s not just a man on the edge — he’s fallen off it, banged his head, and awoken in a twilight world of shadows, bloodlust, and insanity, where he has been crowned the Prince Regent. When Jack Torrance calls out in his sing-song voice, “Come out, come out, wherever you are,” it’s a game of hide-and-seek from hell.
Torrance’s transformation from a loving husband and father to a slavering murderer by the demonic powers of the Overlook is unsettling enough for the audience, but imagine what it must have been like for his poor wife Wendy (Shelley Duvall). When he starts chanting, “Little pigs, little pigs, let me come in,” you know things have pretty much reached the point of no return. Each blow of that ax against the door shatters the remnants of reason and hope that Torrance can be saved. He’s now a plaything of whatever diabolical madness possesses him.