HORROR TRIVIA TUESDAYS – MARCH 14, 2017

STEPHEN KING WASN’T A FAN OF THE SHINING.

In 1983, Stephen King told Playboy, “I’d admired [Stanley] Kubrick for a long time and had great expectations for the project, but I was deeply disappointed in the end result. Parts of the film are chilling, charged with a relentlessly claustrophobic terror, but others fell flat.”

King didn’t like the casting of Jack Nicholson either, claiming, “Jack Nicholson, though a fine actor, was all wrong for the part. His last big role had been in One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, and between that and the manic grin, the audience automatically identified him as a loony from the first scene. But the book is about Jack Torrance’s gradual descent into madness through the malign influence of the Overlook—if the guy is nuts to begin with, then the entire tragedy of his downfall is wasted.”

(from Mentalfloss.com)

Jack Torrance (Jack Nicholson) arrives at the mountain-isolated Overlook Hotel, which is 25 miles from the closest town, to be interviewed for the position of winter caretaker. Once hired, Jack plans to use the hotel’s solitude to write. The hotel, built on the site of a Native American burial ground, becomes snowed-in during the winter; it is closed from October to May. Manager Stuart Ullman (Barry Nelson) warns Jack that a previous caretaker, Charles Grady, developed cabin fever and killed his family and himself. In Boulder, Jack’s son, Danny Torrance (Danny Lloyd), has a terrifying premonition about the hotel, viewing a cascade of blood emerging from an elevator door, and then falls into a trance. Jack’s wife, Wendy (Shelley Duvall), tells a doctor (Anne Jackson) that Danny has an imaginary friend named Tony, and that Jack has given up drinking because he dislocated Danny’s shoulder following a binge.

The family arrives at the hotel on closing day and is given a tour. The chef, Dick Hallorann (Scatman Crothers), surprises Danny by telepathically offering him ice cream. Dick explains to Danny that he and his grandmother shared this telepathic ability, which he calls “shining”. Danny asks if there is anything to be afraid of in the hotel, particularly room 237. Hallorann tells Danny that the hotel has a “shine” to it along with many memories, not all of which are good. He also tells Danny to stay away from room 237.

A month passes; while Jack’s writing goes nowhere, Danny and Wendy explore the hotel’s hedge maze, and Hallorann goes to Florida. Wendy learns that the phone lines are out due to the heavy snowfall, and Danny has frightening visions. Jack, increasingly frustrated, starts behaving strangely and becomes prone to violent outbursts. Danny’s curiosity about room 237 overcomes him when he sees the room’s door open. Later, Wendy finds Jack screaming during a nightmare while asleep at his typewriter. After she awakens him, Jack says he dreamed that he killed her and Danny. Danny arrives and is visibly traumatized with a bruise on his neck, causing Wendy to accuse Jack of abusing him. Jack wanders into the hotel’s Gold Room and meets a ghostly bartender named Lloyd (Joe Turkel). Lloyd serves him bourbon whiskey while Jack complains about his marriage. Wendy later tells Jack that Danny told her a “crazy woman in one of the rooms” attempted to strangle him. Jack investigates room 237, encountering the ghost of a dead woman, but tells Wendy that he saw nothing. Wendy and Jack argue over whether Danny should be removed from the hotel and a furious Jack returns to the Gold Room, now filled with ghosts attending a ball. He meets the ghost of Grady (Philip Stone) who tells Jack that he must “correct” his wife and child and that Danny has reached out to Hallorann using his “talent”. Meanwhile, Hallorann grows concerned about what’s going on at the hotel and flies back to Colorado. Danny starts calling out “redrum” and goes into a trance, referring to himself as “Tony”.

While searching for Jack, Wendy discovers he has been typing pages of a repetitive manuscript: “all work and no play makes Jack a dull boy”. She begs Jack to leave the hotel with Danny, but he threatens her before she knocks him unconscious with a baseball bat. She drags him into the kitchen and locks him in the pantry, but she and Danny are both trapped at the hotel: Jack has disabled the hotel’s two-way radio and snowcat. Later, Jack converses through the pantry door with Grady, who unlocks the door.

Danny writes “REDRUM” on the outside of the bathroom door in the family’s living quarters. When Wendy sees the word reversed in the bedroom mirror, the word is revealed to be “MURDER”. Jack begins hacking through the quarters’ main door with a firefighter’s axe. Wendy sends Danny through the bathroom window, but it will not open sufficiently for her to pass. Jack breaks through the bathroom door, shouting “Here’s Johnny!”, but retreats after Wendy slashes his hand with a butcher’s knife. Hearing Hallorann arriving in a snowcat he borrowed, Jack leaves the room. He murders Hallorann with the axe in the lobby and pursues Danny into the hedge maze. Wendy runs through the hotel looking for Danny, encountering ghosts and the cascade of blood Danny envisioned in Boulder. She also finds Hallorann’s corpse in the lobby. Danny lays a false trail to mislead Jack, who is following his footprints, before hiding behind a drift. Danny escapes from the maze and reunites with Wendy; they escape in Hallorann’s snowcat, while Jack freezes to death in the snow. In a photograph in the hotel hallway dated July 4, 1921, Jack Torrance smiles amid a crowd of party revelers.

(from Wikipedia.com)

 

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WRITTEN HORROR RECOMMENDATION WEDNESDAYS – FEBRUARY 1, 2017

Book – Pet Sematary (1983)
Author – Stephen King

Louis Creed, a doctor from Chicago, is appointed director of the University of Maine’s campus health service. He moves to a large house near the small town of Ludlow with his wife Rachel, their two young children, Ellie and Gage, and Ellie’s cat, Church. From the moment they arrive, the family runs into trouble: Ellie hurts her knee after falling off a swing, and Gage is stung by a bee. Their new neighbor, an elderly man named Jud Crandall, comes to help. He warns Louis and Rachel about the highway that runs past their house; it is constantly used by speeding trucks.

Jud and Louis quickly become close friends. Since Louis’ father died when he was three, he sees Jud as a surrogate father. A few weeks after the Creeds move in, Jud puts the friendship on the line when he takes the family on a walk in the woods behind their home. A well-tended path leads to a pet cemetery (misspelled “sematary”) where the children of the town bury their deceased animals. This provokes a heated argument between Louis and Rachel the next day. Rachel disapproves of discussing death, and she worries about how Ellie may be affected by what she saw at the “sematary”. (It is explained later that Rachel was traumatized by the early death of her sister, Zelda, from spinal meningitis—an issue that is brought up several times in flashbacks.)

Louis himself has a traumatic experience during the first week of classes. Victor Pascow, a student who has been fatally injured in an automobile accident, addresses his dying words to Louis personally, even though the two men are strangers. On the night following Pascow’s death, Louis experiences what he believes is a very vivid dream in which he meets Pascow, who leads him to the “sematary” and warns Louis to not “go beyond, no matter how much you feel you need to.” Louis wakes up in bed the next morning convinced it was, in fact, a dream—until he finds his feet and the bedsheets covered with dirt and pine needles. Nevertheless, Louis dismisses the dream as the product of the stress he experienced during Pascow’s death, coupled with his wife’s lingering anxieties about the subject of death.

Louis is forced to confront the subject of death at Halloween, when Jud’s wife, Norma, suffers a near-fatal heart attack. Thanks to Louis’s prompt attention, Norma makes a quick recovery. Jud is grateful for Louis’s help and decides to repay him after Church is run over outside his home at Thanksgiving. Rachel and the kids are visiting Rachel’s parents in Chicago, but Louis frets over breaking the bad news to Ellie. Sympathizing with Louis, Jud takes him to the pet sematary, supposedly to bury Church. But instead of stopping there, Jud leads Louis farther on a frightening journey to “the real cemetery”: an ancient burial ground that was once used by the Micmac Indians. There Louis buries the cat on Jud’s instruction, with Jud saying that animals buried there have come back to life.

Not really believing, Louis thinks that the subject is finished – until the next afternoon when the cat returns home. But it is obvious that Church is not the same as before. While he used to be vibrant and lively, he now acts ornery and “a little dead”, in Louis’s words. Church hunts for mice and birds much more often, but he rips them apart without eating them. The cat also smells so bad that Ellie no longer wants him in her room at night. Jud confirms that this condition is the rule, rather than the exception, for animals who have been resurrected in this fashion. Louis is deeply disturbed by Church’s resurrection and begins to wish that he had never done it.

Two-year-old Gage is run over by a speeding truck several months later, and Louis very nearly manages to prevent the accident. Overcome with despair, Louis considers bringing his son back to life with the help of the burial ground. Jud, guessing what Louis is planning, attempts to dissuade him by telling him the gruesome story of the last person who was resurrected by the burial ground. Jud concludes that “the place has a power… its own evil purpose,” and may have caused Gage’s death because Jud introduced Louis to it.

Despite this, and his own reservations about the idea, Louis’s grief and guilt spur him to carry out his plan. Gage returns from the dead as a monstrous, demonic shadow of his former self and kills both Jud and Rachel. Louis confronts his son and sends him back to the grave with a lethal injection of chemicals from his medical supply stock. After burning the Crandall house down, he returns to the burial ground with his wife’s corpse, thinking that if he buries the body faster than he did Gage’s there will be a different result. The book ends with Louis sitting with his back to the door playing solitaire listening to Rachel’s reanimated corpse walk up behind him to drop a cold hand on his shoulder while her voice rasps, “Darling.”

(from Wikipedia.com)
Pet Sematary is one of those books that just stays with you long after you’ve read it. Hell, Most of Steve’s books are like that, but this one was haunting in a particular way. Everyone who has lost someone has wished that person were still alive. But this book makes you realize, there’s a cost to everything. Are you willing to pay it? Amazing book. One of King’s best. Although for me The Stand, IT, and The Dark Tower series tie as his absolute best for me. Pet Sematary is highly recommended on this Written Horror Recommendation Wednesday.
— Erik

 

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HORROR TRIVIA TUESDAYS – JANUARY 31, 2017

STANLEY KUBRICK ALLEGEDLY TYPED ALL OF THOSE “ALL WORK” PAGES IN THE SHINING.

No one is quite sure whether Kubrick typed 500 pages of “All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.” Kubrick didn’t go to the prop department with this task, using his own typewriter to make the pages. It was a typewriter that had built-in memory, so it could have turned out the pages without an actual person. But the individual pages in the film contain different layouts and mistakes. Some claim that it would have been characteristic of the director to individually prepare each page. Alas, we’ll never know—Kubrick never addressed this question before he died.

(from Mentalfloss.com)

“All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy” — or, rather, a homicidal boy in Stanley Kubrick’s eerie 1980 adaptation of Stephen King’s horror novel. With wife Wendy (Shelley Duvall) and psychic son Danny (Danny Lloyd) in tow, frustrated writer Jack Torrance (Jack Nicholson) takes a job as the winter caretaker at the opulently ominous, mountain-locked Overlook Hotel so that he can write in peace. Before the Overlook is vacated for the Torrances, the manager (Barry Nelson) informs Jack that a previous caretaker went crazy and slaughtered his family; Jack thinks it’s no problem, but Danny’s “shining” hints otherwise. Settling into their routine, Danny cruises through the empty corridors on his Big Wheel and plays in the topiary maze with Wendy, while Jack sets up shop in a cavernous lounge with strict orders not to be disturbed. Danny’s alter ego, “Tony,” however, starts warning of “redrum” as Danny is plagued by more blood-soaked visions of the past, and a blocked Jack starts visiting the hotel bar for a few visions of his own. Frightened by her husband’s behavior and Danny’s visit to the forbidding Room 237, Wendy soon discovers what Jack has really been doing in his study all day, and what the hotel has done to Jack.

(Synopsis by Lucia Bozzola from Allmovie.com)

 

I can see that mad bastard, Kubrick, typing all those pages up. I love the stories about his manic, dictatorial ways as a director, but I feel bad for his actors too. Either way, I’ve never had any problems with Kubrick’s version of The Shining (even if Stephen King was less than pleased with it).
— Erik

 

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