THE THROWDOWN : Norman Bates vs. Jack Torrance

Wednesday is Throwdown day at Keith & the Movies. It’s when we take two movie subjects, pit them against each other, and see who’s left standing. Each Wednesday we’ll look at actors, actresses, movies, genres, scenes, and more. I’ll make a case for each and then see how they stand up one-on-one. And it’s not just my opinion that counts. I’ll share my take and then open up the polls to you. Visit each week for a new Throwdown. Vote each week to decide the true winner!

*Last week the zombies (70%) annihilated the vampires (30%) in our horror movie frightfest.*

This week’s Throwdown is a bit of a stretch but it still should be a lot of fun. In keeping with my ’10 Days of Horror’, today we’re looking at two well-known hotel attendants who, let’s just say, have a few issues. Now I know Norman Bates and Jack Torrance’s connection to their hotels/motels are considerably different. But they have more in common than you might think. More importantly, both have gained an almost iconic status in the horror movie genre so why wouldn’t we let them square off? Here’s the question – which is the better/creepier hotel working madman? Is it Norman Bates or is it Jack Torrance. As always you make the final decision. Vote now and defend your favorite. It’s up to you!


I still remember the first time I saw Anthony Perkins as Norman Bates in the Alfred Hitchcock classic “Psycho”. You immediately know that there is something not quite right about him. As the owner of the isolated Bate’s Motel, Norman’s creepiest feature is his flirtation with normalcy. You watch him and he seems like a nice guy but there is that sense of unease that makes him a chilling character. Of course we find out that he is a deranged serial killer with a special “affection” for his dear mother. Norman has given us many great horror moments, none better than the shower scene murder of Janet Leigh. He appears in several other “Psycho” sequels but it’s the original 1960 masterpiece that still resonates.

“Heeeere’s Johnny!” How can you forget Jack Nicholson as Jack Torrance in Stanley Kubrick’s “The Shining”? While I’m not one that thinks “The Shining” is the horror movie classic that many do, I still really like the film mainly due to Nicholson’s whacked out performance. Jack Torrance isn’t the owner of the Overlook Hotel like Norman Bates. He’s a writer who’s hired to watch over and maintain the isolated hotel through the harsh winter offseason. The problem is that Torrance isn’t the most stable of men. His writer’s block and cabin fever don’t mix well with the supernatural presence in the place and before long he flies off the rails. He shares conversations with ghosts who soon convince him to murder his family. He takes off, axe in hand, to do their bidding.

This wraps up my ’10 Days of Horror’. So, which of these two crazy caretakers is the creepiest? Which hotel/motel would you be the most eager to avoid? Both have earned there spots in horror movie history. But it’s you who decides who’s really the best maniac of the two. Vote now and make your choice known!

22 thoughts on “THE THROWDOWN : Norman Bates vs. Jack Torrance

  1. Really tough call this one, but Norman Bates just about edges it for me as I think he’s the more interesting character. However, I think Nicholson’s performance is better and I prefer The Shining as a film, but only very slightly.

    • I like Psycho better but I do love the Nicholson performance. And you nailed it – Nicholson has the better performance but Bates is the more interesting character. Well said.

  2. Oooh Nice tie-in with my post Keith.
    I’m reluctant to say so as I love Nicholson in The Shining but I’ll choose Bates. Only because he more dangerous character; you don’t really see him coming like you do Torrance.

    • I haven’t seen either films but seems to me that Bates is creepier because he doesn’t seem as unhinged like Torrence but that’s when he got you. The less predictable one is scarier, but of course Jack is naturally a scary guy, ahah.

      • Exactly! That’s one of the things about Bates, at times he seems like a nice but lonely fellow. Yet there’s something unnerving about him. And I agree, those are the creepier ones!

  3. That’s a tough call, but I think I’m going to go with Norman Bates. There is something unsettling about him, when you first meet him, under that shy nice guy demeanor — plus all that damn taxidermy — creepy! But his wackiness is more understated. I think he could fly under the radar more easily than Torrence.

    • Great comments! And I forgot all about the taxidermy. Ewwwww. There is something about that understated creepiness that is very very effective. I’m with you 100%

  4. Bates for me, the last time we saw him in the movie was one of the scariest scenes I’ve seen. Plus people like him actually exist out there which only makes it all more frightening.

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