Jack's evil spell

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 08 November, 1994, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 08 November, 1994, 12:00am

JACK Nicholson's performance in The Shining (Pearl, 9.30pm) is over-the-top; a precursor to his even more over-the-top performance as The Joker in Batman. He has rolling eyes, hyperactive eyebrows and by the end of the film - based none too carefully on Stephen King's novel - he is lurching around like some B-movie Quasimodo.

The Shining retains the skeleton of King's Gothic book, but inexplicably jettisons some key elements. Nevertheless, the film is a powerful exercise in (sometimes campy) horror.

Jack Torrance (Nicholson) is a former schoolteacher looking for the solitude necessary to write a novel. He accepts a position as off-season caretaker at a Colorado resort, the Overlook Hotel. It is a mountainous region and often cutoff from the rest of the world in winter. When he accepts the job Jack is warned that the solitude can have undesirable side-effects; some years earlier the caretaker axed his wife and two daughters to death.

Jack takes his wife (Shelley Duvall) and son (Danny Lloyd) to the hotel. His son has a gift that the hotel's chef calls 'The Shining' - he can 'see' events from the future and the past. While riding his bike through the hotel's labyrinth halls, he begins to have horrific visions. Jack, a recovering alcoholic, is having visions of his own. They are also not pleasant.

Director Stanley Kubrick teamed up with cinematographer John Alcott for The Shining. The pair had worked together on the controversial Clockwork Orange. It is this pairing that gives the film much of its eerie power - the visuals are disturbing, more disturbing than the story.

There is another problem with the film; it is long. Kubrick originally released it at 146 minutes before trimming it to a mere 142.

CLINT Eastwood does himself no favours in Pink Cadillac (World, 9.30pm), a formula adventure with a formula list of characters; cynical bounty-hunter, wayward woman, evil neo-Nazis. Eastwood is hired to track down a bail-jumper (Bernadette Peters) whose husband wants her back, not because he particularly loves her, but because she has absconded in his 1959 pink Cadillac convertible.

THOSE of you who saw the first part of Invasions From Outer Space, an episode of The Green Hornet (World, 7.30pm), will have seen the Hornet and Kato confronted by a rotund alien dressed in Wal-Mart cooking foil. In the special effects department X-Files (Pearl, 8.30pm) fares a little better. Sculder and Mully are sent to investigate when a team of physicists at an Alaskan outpost become a frozen snack for a parasitic alien life form.

MOST Hakka folk singers are in their 60s and shy about performing in public. When they die their songs will die with them; they have been passed on by word of mouth and not written down. The younger Hakka generation is less interested in Hakka history and more interested in a quick buck. Hong Kong Connection (Pearl, 6.50pm) investigates Hakka culture, while there is any of it left to be investigated. The programme's second report looks at the exodus of businessmen to China, where factory space, and the people who fill it, are cheaper.

THE yuppies of Thirtysomething (World, 2am) are having a New Year's Eve party in November, which only goes to show that mobile telephones can give you brain damage. Friends arrive bearing food and drink; there is dancing, piano-playing, singing and general merriment. Those who were not invited can count themselves lucky.