The Shining

Warner Bros.

Stanley Kubrick has never really been one of my favorite directors, and that’s probably no where more evident than in my preference of Eyes Wide Shut as the best of his films. In my defense I’d only seen five of Kubrick’s movies up until recently, but I also just really love the atmosphere, relationship commentary and black humor of the film. Warner Bros. has just released a new Blu-ray collection called Stanley Kubrick: The Masterpiece Collection, and it features eight of his films along with a handful of documentaries on his work and life including a brand new one, Kubrick Remembered. The eight films featured are his final eight (so his first five, Fear and Desire through Spartacus, are not included), but it serves well as a fantastic introduction to his acclaimed and eclectic career. The set also includes a hardcover book filled with thoughts and photos, but as with any collection it’s the movies that must speak for themselves.

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Babadook

There’s nothing scarier than being a parent. At first there’s the fear that the kid will be born okay, healthy. Then there’s the ongoing fear of physically harming them by accident, especially if you’re normally clumsy and especially especially if you let the idea of SIDS haunt your brain. And then there’s the continuing fear of psychologically damaging them or otherwise doing something unwittingly that will lead to the kid growing up to become a serial killer or worse. The potential to ruin your son or daughter is horrifying, and the worst is that such causation is not really provable and therefore, if even the fault of the parents, not easily preventable. It’s what drives the drama of We Need to Talk About Kevin, in which a mother thinks over her son’s upbringing in an attempt to consider the root of or recall possible signs of how and why he turned out to be a mass murderer. We Need to Talk About Kevin has been brought up in many reviews of The Babadook, a horror movie that similarly explores a mother and son relationship, only set in the moment rather than in flashbacks. And with the addition of a monster element, as the pair begin to be haunted by the title boogeyman originating from a mysterious children’s book. Before the Babadook even shows up in The Babadook, the movie is plenty scary for parents, particularly new ones, by depicting an extreme case of a child being terribly undisciplined and a mother at her wits end about […]

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Shining Elevator

Each year in October, I find myself revisiting the Stanley Kubrick classic The Shining, which has surpassed broad criticism from Stephen King throughout the 1980s to eventually become a heralded classic of horror cinema. Last year, I was inspired to re-watch the movie after seeing the sometimes nutty but always thought-provoking Room 237, which offers various theories about the hidden messages in the original film – including everything from Native American genocide to Kubrick confessing to faking the moon landing. One part of the film that was examined is that iconic blood elevator sequence, first seen by Danny Torrence (Danny Lloyd) in a psychic vision. A lot of discussion has surrounded this image, including the symbolic meaning of the blood as well as how the effect was achieved. With the twisted mind I have, my thoughts went somewhere else: How much blood would it actually take to fill the elevator lobby?

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Warner Bros.

“It wasn’t as good as the book.” That old refrain comes up with just about any film adaptation, and for good reason. (You know, because it’s usually true.) Books have all the time in the world to tell their story. 200 pages? A bit short, but no biggie. 1,200 pages? Okay, George R. R. Martin, but only because we like Tyrion so dang much. Books aren’t a visual medium and can use your imagination how they see fit. Books don’t have a budget. Books can easily get a character’s internal perspective. But sometimes the unlikely happens and the film is just as good as the book. And sometimes a miracle happens and it’s even better.

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Overlook Hotel in The Shining

With conspiracy theorists and devotees to the history and mysteries within room 237 making virtually nothing about The Shining a secret anymore, you would think that the existence of a prequel detailing the origins of the world’s worst winter getaway would be deemed unnecessary. And yet, Overlook Hotel, the companion film to Stanley Kubrick’s 1971 classic, is moving forward with Mark Romanek (Never Let Me Go; One Hour Photo) at the helm, according to Variety. Know any terrifying little twin sisters in need of their very first SAG cards? The premise for the prequel does seem intriguing. The film, scripted by former The Walking Dead showrunner Glen Mazzara, will be based on the original prologue to Stephen King’s 1977 novel, which was cut before the book went to production. But how did Mazzara get the unpublished prologue? Was it sent to him by hotel ghosts? Oh, Stephen King probably published it later? No ghosts? Right. Many years before Jack Torrance drags Wendy and Danny and his finger through a hellscape of writer’s block and cabin fever, the Overlook Hotel was, at the turn of the 20th century, the prize jewel of robber baron Bob T. Watson. If we retained nothing but this from US History class in high school, it is that robber barons all look like Mr. Monopoly, so keep that in mind whenever you think about this film and its premise. Watson scaled the Rocky Mountains of Colorado looking for only the finest location to build the most spectacular resort in all of the United States of […]

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Mite Short Film

Why Watch? The twins down the hallway? Sure. The guy in the bear suit prepping for God Knows What? He’s okay. What’s really terrifying is what’s lurking in the carpet of The Overlook Hotel. The above image is a taste of the disgusting beauty in this short film from Walter Volbers, who crafted this amazing animation by himself over the course of a decade. Its location is both inconsequential and powerful, driving us through a familiar space of fear before diving deep into a new ecosystem that’s vibrant, richly formed and effective at making skin squirm away. It’s also unexpectedly funny, a sort of bizarre complete package that provides an alternative theory on what drove the caretaker crazy. More so than any specific sense of story, this is a pedestal to show off some profound CGI skills. Someone needs to hire Mr. Volbers yesterday. Every nanosecond is as detailed, fully realized and markedly shadowed as the still shot above. Stellar, astounding work. On the other hand, if you wash your hands every hour on the hour, you absolutely shouldn’t watch this thing. And now I’m staring at my rug suspiciously. Thanks, Mr. Volber. Thanks a lot.

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All this week, Film School Rejects presents a daily dose of our favorite articles from the archive. Originally published in November 2011, David C. Bell explores some of the toughest roads to the big screen for a score of great movies. Most films tend to be technological and logistical nightmares right from the start; clusters of egos working together with complicated equipment in an attempt to capture what is essentially a really elaborate lie tends to be a rather surreal process, so it’s not really surprising to hear that a whole lot of craziness can go down during the making of a movie – however as unsurprising as it may be, it’s still damn entertaining. That’s why DVD documentaries, in my opinion, are like the ultimate kind of reality TV: stick a bunch of millionaire actors, union laborers, and eccentric artists in a room with expensive and possibly life-threatening electrical equipment and you’re surely going to get something worth watching. These are the sets that were no doubt the worst to be party to, and the best to be a fly on the wall for – that is if you happen to be a really sadistic fly.

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IntroTransformations

There’s really no such thing as pleasant renewal when it comes to metamorphosis in a horror movie – only flesh falling off to expose whatever nightmare lurks beneath. It’s not unlike puberty, actually. Since we’re almost hitting the dark lord’s birthday, I thought we could celebrate by remembering some of the most nauseating horror movie transformations ever mashed onto the screen…

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IntroOneRole

Imagine if Edward Norton had made Primal Fear and decided to just bounce after that, or if Johnny Depp called it quits after Edward Scissorhands. Even though he was in a few films before that (including Nightmare on Elm Street), had that happened, no one would have thought twice about the guy – not unlike how zero people really think twice about the following actors and actresses…

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The Shining Triplets

On this week’s show, we launch a new feature called Convince Me, and in our inaugural edition, Geoff tries to convince me that The Shining deserves a remake (or re-adaptation if you’re nasty). We tie all of that up nicely with a pink bow by discussing the Torrance family conspiracy doc Room 237 with Nonfics editor-in-chief Chris Campbell (who also tells us a bit about the brand new site and how he plans to convert more people into documentary lovers). So come play with us. You should follow Chris (@thefilmcynic), Katy Perry (@katyperry),the show (@brokenprojector), Geoff (@drgmlatulippe) and Scott (@scottmbeggs) on Twitter for more on a daily basis. And, as always, if you like the show (or hate it with seething fervor), please help us out with a review. Download Episode #35 Directly Or subscribe Through iTunes

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news stanley film fest

I’m on record as saying that there seem to be too many damn movie festivals these days, and that’s coming from someone who loves movie festivals. Mainstays like Sundance and SXSW co-exist alongside smaller, local fests in just about every city in America, and there’s barely a week in the calendar year without one or the other. They’ve become more ubiquitous than unique, and you’d think I would be the last person to celebrate yet another one being added to the mix. But here I am. Celebrating. The Stanley Film Fest is brand new this year, and it immediately gets right what so many others get wrong. Location. The horror film fest takes place entirely at the historic Stanley Hotel in Estes Park, CO, which in addition to being a beautiful yet creepy locale is also the hotel that inspired Stephen King’s “The Shining.” Their inaugural fest promises to be a fantastically fun affair complete with parties, a horror-themed brunch, a ghost tour and more. Of course the most important element of a film fest is the film selection, and this one is no slouch. The opening and closing night films are Ethan Hawke’s new thriller The Purge and the Eli Roth vehicle Aftershock, respectively. In between are a lively mix of hotly anticipated follow ups from the directors of Rabies, Dead Snow and The Midnight Meat Train, thrilling changes of pace from Mark Duplass and Elijah Wood, a long overdue big screen showing of All the Boys Love Mandy […]

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apollo 11 shining code

If you’re up late tonight and looking for a movie to watch, Rodney Ascher‘s documentary Room 237 is the perfect thing to transition from Easter to April Fools’ Day. It’s about theories and analyses people have about Stanley Kubrick‘s movie The Shining (see our different reviews of the doc by Kevin Kelly, Brian Salisbury and Landon Palmer). Therefore it’s both about “Easter eggs,” as in things hidden in the movie and fools, pranks, hoaxes and all those kinds of things associated with the joker’s holiday on April 1st. I’d like to hope that IFC released the doc, which premiered over a year ago at Sundance, on this very weekend because of Easter and April Fools’ Day are back to back. Maybe it’s just a coincidence. But Room 237 makes us wonder if there’s such a thing. Room 237 hit theaters on Friday and had a decent debut weekend showing on only two screens. But it was also released the same day on iTunes, Amazon Instant Video and cable On Demand outlets to rent for a relatively low cost. There’s no reason not to be seeing this movie-lovers’ treat. And if you don’t even like or care about The Shining, it’s still very interesting and fun and worth the look, because it’s about more than The Shining. It’s about ways of seeing and thinking and believing, and taking things too seriously and not, and Kubrick is simply a very good aid for illustrating and exploring all of that.

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Room 237

In 2006, during the initial years of YouTube’s expanding popularity, this mash-up of The Shining went viral. By recasting the tone of Stanley Kubrick’s canonized 1980 horror film as a romantic comedy, complete with a Peter Gabriel song, the video’s act of both subverting and highlighting genre conventions made an incredibly effective case for how audiences can actively rework, rethink, or even contradict some of Hollywood’s most sacred texts. It’s this particular web 2.0-enabled democratic approach – not only to The Shining, but to movies in general – that lays the groundwork for Rodney Asher’s Room 237, a “subjective documentary” that investigates theories around the most notorious adaptation of any of Stephen King’s novels. Room 237 lends a microphone to five select uber-fans of The Shining. We never see these fans, and we only peripherally come to understand a bit about them (one is a history professor, another a father who sees his relationship with his son as similar to the one shared between Jack and Danny (!)). Instead, Room 237 devotes its entire running time to letting these individuals expound on their diverse theories about The Shining, while the film’s visual portion exercises these theories through visiting, revisiting, slowing down, and reversing clips from The Shining and Kubrick’s other works, filling out the gaps with clips from other films, both famous and obscure.

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Room 237 Teaser

This homage trailer from conspiracy documentary Room 237 is nothing short of amazing, but it’s probably also the only thing they could make to try to sell the movie. I get that there’s a lot of love for Rodney Ascher‘s flick — the critical quotes in this very ad are witness to that — but it’s not like there are images from the movie itself that could make their way into a piece of marketing. Especially not legally. That’s because the movie is comprised solely of shots from The Shining that are laboriously tortured with slow motion and freeze framing to give a bigger bullhorn to several theories regarding the hidden meaning of Stanley Kubrick‘s interpretation of Stephen King’s novel. Fans of the iconic Shining teaser trailer should get a kick out of this:

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IntroBehindScenes

It seems very rare that a behind-the-scenes documentary will earnestly try to show how the movie is made over trying to sensationalize the process. After all, who exactly is the demographic watching these things? Is it people who are genuinely interested in learning the techniques, or is it casual fans of a particular movie peeking behind the curtain? A good documentary caters to both – but above all should be honest in how the film was made. I’d like to explore some of the most earnest examples that I’ve come across. Either as stand alone films or DVD extras – these are documentaries that show, for better or for worse, the good and the bad aspects of the movie making process. This is stuff that no film goon should miss.

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Remaking a movie is a tall order, and transitioning a story from another medium to film is even tougher. So it’s no surprise that details frequently get changed to accomodate a new era of filmmaker or the different “beats” associated with a feature-length movie. It becomes a problem, however, when one of the things cut to accomodate an extra action scene turns out to be vitally important to the plot, leaving the movie with a scene or detail that only makes sense if you’re familiar with the original. Things like…

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The Scariest Movie Ever

After laughing about the completely unplanned, totally-done-by-your-votes match-up between The Ring and The Thing in the Axe-Wielding Eight Round, I’d like to talk about two types of movies that didn’t make the cut. There are. of course, the 24 movies so far that have been chopped off the block by you clicking a Facebook button, but there are also a bunch of movies that didn’t get placed on the original bracket to begin with. There are two reasons that your favorite scary movie didn’t make it. One, it’s a finite list (and a small one at that). Two, we aren’t mind readers. For the most part, our bracket was conventional in honoring the classics, but we also tried to spice things up by including newer films and even a few that maybe weren’t seen by wide audiences (Session 9, you will be missed…). Today’s post will seek to celebrate some of those movies you suggested we were morons for leaving out. We’ll also run down the numbers, laugh some more about the rhyming Ring/Thing battle, and get serious about the predictions. We’re down to 8 insanely strong horror flicks, so it’s even more important to get out the vote because the margins are going to be razor blade thin. Or you can vote first and then read all this

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31 Days of Horror - October 2011

They said it couldn’t be done. A fifth year of 31 Days of Horror? 31 more terror, gore and shower scene-filled movies worth highlighting? But Rejects always say die and never back away from a challenge (unless you count that time Luke Mullen was challenged to shave off part of his beard), so we’ve rounded up the horror fans among us and put together another month’s worth of genre fun. Enjoy! Synopsis: The small mountain town of Santa Ynez has got a bit of a problem with road rage. More specifically some raging lunatic in a Lincoln Continental Mark III is mowing down pedestrians left and right. The local police department, led by debonairly mustachioed James Brolin, is doing everything they can to identify the psychotic driver of this death machine and put an end to his maniacal joy ride. As the roadkill count rises, a horrifying revelation comes to light: there is no driver.

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Room 237 Teaser

There are a ton of horror classics that get revisited by movie fans around this time of year, but perhaps none are more dense, rich, respected, and downright creepifying as Stanley Kubrick’s unique take on Stephen King’s story of old hotels, hauntings, and Jack Nicholson going crazy, The Shining. Apart from being one of the greatest horror films of all time, The Shining is often just considered one of the greatest films of all time, period. And that’s why it’s developed an over thirty-year history of ongoing post-film discussion. The Shining’s legions of fans are devoted, so much so that many of them spend countless hours poring over ever little detail of the film, trying to suss out and decode what every little splatter of blood, every surreal image, every number on a hotel room door means in the greater scheme of things. The cult surrounding this film is so interesting that director Rodney Ascher and producer Tim Kirk decided to make a documentary about it. Their film is called Room 237, and they describe it by saying, “Room 237 is a subjective documentary feature which explores numerous theories about Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining and its hidden meanings. This guided tour through the most compelling attempts to decode this endlessly fascinating film will draw the audience into a new maze, one with endless detours and dead ends, many ways in, but no way out. Discover why many have been trapped in the Overlook for 30 years.”

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There is something of a perfect storm of artistry in 1980’s The Shining that more than accounts for that film’s widely held distinction as a classic. The novel was written by Stephen King, a guy even your great-grandmother’s skittish bridge partners recognize as a master of literary horror. The inevitable film adaptation was then directed by certified mad genius Stanley Kubrick. Anyone who’s seen the film, and there are probably a few, knows that eerie supernatural atmosphere and strikingly offsetting imagery abound. What may not be so ingrained in the collective consciousness is the legion of conspiracy theories surrounding The Shining. Rodney Ascher‘s documentary Room 237 seeks to shed light on these various conspiracies with the help of a host of unseen interviewees whose explanations are then diagrammed using footage of the celebrated horror film and other inserted images. On the surface, hearing the name and digesting the premise of this doc, Room 237 offers extraordinary promise to genre fans. The idea of actual mysterious, ominous context to our favorite horror films somewhat legitimizes our fandom and presents the possibility of mining new scares out of movies we’ve undoubtedly watched enough times to have memorized  forwards and backwards. In fact, Room 237 actually suggests a new, hidden meaning to The Shining exists in viewing it backwards and forwards simultaneously; one transparently laid over the other. This feat may be difficult to accomplish, but it exists in a realm of intrigue along with the age-old theory of listening to Dark Side […]

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published: 12.19.2014
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published: 12.18.2014
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published: 12.17.2014
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