Ah, yes, only a few more days until Halloween. What better way to get into the mood than with this 30-minute behind-the-scenes documentary about the making of The Shining called View From the Overlook by filmmaker Gary Leva?
As a bonus, I added a few images from the set of the film.
It may have warped me to a degree, but as a kid in a house with cable and HBO in the 80s, I was subjected, one summer, to at least a dozen viewings of Stanley Kubrick’s horror masterpiece, The Shining.
To this day, I rank The Shining in my top five favorite films. I consider it a near-perfect piece of cinema, and a great deal of what I love and admire about the film has to do with its brilliant utilization of music.
The use of modern classical is similar to Kubrick’s “we’ll use what’s in my record collection” method of scoring 2001: A Space Odyssey. Though Kubrick selected the repertoire, music editor Gordon Stainforth can take credit for painstakingly matching musical passages to the motion picture. Wendy Carlos and Rachel Elkind-Tourre additionally recorded new original works specifically for the film.
Before I had ever heard any avant-garde experimental or industrial music, this was the music that really spoke to me—as a (weird) kid—searching for a soundtrack that represented fear, alienation, and madness. The soundtrack to The Shining was my introduction to a whole world of 20th Century classical that sent me down a path to discovering some of my most-loved pieces and composers. I have The Shining to thank for introducing me to the work of Krzysztof Penderecki, my favorite composer.
The soundtrack remains one of my favorite, most-played albums in my collection. Due to licensing problems, it hasn’t been released on CD, but the vinyl still turns up if you look hard enough (but its rarely cheap).
The pieces found on the soundtrack album are, to my mind, almost inextricably linked to the images in the film. This is precisely why I recently set about hunting down some live video performances of these works, in an effort to deconstruct what makes this music so effective. I have to say, watching full orchestras perform these works is mind-blowing to me.
Collected here are live performances of almost all of the tracks from the soundtrack LP of The Shining. Even if you aren’t a fan of the film, you may want to cut off all the lights and play these in a darkened room for the ultimate Halloween-season soundtrack. It doesn’t get much more terrifying and madding than this. Put on some modern classical, be alone with your thoughts, and completely delve into madness.
If you’ve seen Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining—and who hasn’t?—then you certainly remember the deliciously creepy moment when Shelley Duvall’s Wendy Torrance finally takes a peek at the manuscript her husband Jack has been working on for months—only to find that it’s just hundreds of pages of the phrase “All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.” It’s an important scene because it establishes Jack as “starkers,” as the British say, once and for all, a dead-ender case with no hope for rescue, who incidentally wants to take an axe to his wife and son.
Now, the online application Psychotic Writer allows you to generate your own personal Jack Torrance looney-tunes novel. Press the button and off it goes! I went to the trouble of timing it. In 60 seconds it generated 12 full “chapters” of perfect, demented Torrance gobbledygook. When you hit “stop” you can then see the full PDF of the novel as it stands. You also have the option of creating a single chapter as a PDF.
Here’s what I know about sculptor and artist Rainman, the man responsible for the sinister as fuck action-figure of Alex from A Clockwork Orange (pictured above), and many others that are about to blow your mind. Rainman is a rather secretive cat, but according to his his Facebook page he’s based in Korea and currently works for video game giant CAPCOM (the makers of the 1987 video game Street Fighter). He studied animation at Kyungsung University, a private school in Busan, South Korea. Rainman is an accomplished painter and in 2013 he released a 500-page book called Not Afraid, which featured his conceptual artwork. He also likes Dr. Dre.
That’s pretty much all I know about this incredibly talented man.
As I often post about unique action figures here on DM, I knew when I found Rainman’s creations I had struck gold. That is because Rainman’s collection includes some of the most bad-ass members of cinematic history. Like Travis Bickle from Taxi Driver, Alex from A Clockwork Orange (who comes with a glass of milk and other “accessories”), Tyler Durden from Fight Club, Jack Torrance from The Shining and many, many others. In some cases, Rainman will put together what I can only describe as “play sets” for his figures. For example, one collection of figures from The Shining not only included Jack and his trusty, door-busting ax, but also Danny Torrance along with a replica of his little blue bike, the Grady Twins, and a small version of the infamous carpet from the hallways of the Overlook Hotel.
Let’s have at look at Jack and his pals, shall we?
While Rainman’s articulated sculptures are breathtakingly life-like, I am equally impressed by the “secret items” that he often includes with his various figures, such as a miniature version of the last book Vincent Vega ever read, Peter O’Donnell’s Modesty Blaise (included with his sculpt of John Travolta from Pulp Fiction), Jules’ “Bad Motherfucker” wallet, a teeny-tiny version of the “TIME: Man of the Year” mirror from The Big Lebowski (that comes with his “Dude” figure), and the skanky blue bathrobe that comes along with his “Fighter 1999” figure (aka, Tyler Durden from Fight Club).
Yes, you heard me right. A board game based on Stanley Kubrick’s mind-fucking film The Shining actually exists!
The Shining board game counters and pieces (front and back images)
The two-player game was created back in 1998 along with assistance from Stephen King. Which makes this an extra cool find as King (as you probably know) wrote the 1977 novel on which the film is based. The prolific author even acted as the games very first tester. Best of all? You can download the game FOR FREE and put it together yourself.
The Shining board game pieces
The Shining board game gameplay with Jack Torrance and snowmobile
As far as gameplay is concerned, it all starts with the news of the approaching winter storm, which in turn enables the ghosts that inhabit the Overlook Hotel to get to work scaring the shit out of The Torrances’. One player gets to be the Torrance family, while the other player is the House (or the Overlook Hotel). According to a detailed review of the game via a Stephen King fan site, The Torrance family members are able to “engage in mental attacks on the ghosts” and there are even “implements of destruction” available to use such as a snowmobile, an ax in the garage (because, of course), a mallet, and a knife in the Overlook’s kitchen. Aparently the game isn’t a long, drawn out affair and can be completed in a relatively short period of time. The only gripe that I read about was that if players do not monitor the Overlook’s boiler pressure closely enough, the entire hotel gets blown to kingdom come.
The Shining board game map one
The Shining board game map two
If this sounds like a good time to you (and it should because all work and no play will make you a very dull boy), you can download the game here.
One of the best things about being Stanley Kubrick would be that people like Scatman Crothers, who played Dick Hallorann in The Shining, would just spontaneously write songs about you and sing them to you. I feel like if that ever happened to you, your life would be complete. And no, you can’t just substitute Kanye in for Scatman or something like that. Biz Markie, maybe.
Anyway, in a 1980 interview conducted by Mick Garris, Crothers discusses Kubrick’s excessive perfectionism (as represented by the unwieldy number of takes) and then essays a rendition of a little song he composed about Kubrick during a down moment on the set of The Shining—it sounds like there were plenty of down moments to choose from.
Even more fabulously, Scatman, true to his name, actually does do some scat-singing in the song. Here are the lyrics to “Stanley (Does It All)”—Scatman was very insistent about the parentheses there.
There’s a man
Livin’ in London Town
He’s a world renown
Yes, he’s really got the fame
Stanley Kubrick is his name
He does it all
He does it all
I’m tellin’ y’all
Stanley does it all
He’s a writer, he directs
He produces his projects
He’s the man behind the lens
And Stanley always wins
He’s a man who looks ahead
Can make you think he raised the dead
It’s and cuts all his flicks
He’s a genius with his tricks
He does it all
He does it all
In the tradition of Portland, Oregon’s motto to “keep Portland weird,” here’s a bunch of faux-trading cards based on The Shining done up by PDX-based blog, Man is the Warmest Place to Hide. Rian Callahan, the blogger who runs this excellent 80’s horror loving site, says he created the cards simply because they didn’t exist and he thought that they should. Not only do I love the way that Callahan’s brain works, he’s also done an incredible job on the cards managing to show what looks like actual wear and tear on the edges.
Callahan says the series is an “ongoing project”, but sadly hasn’t done a new card since May of 2013. Hopefully he’s got a few more in the works because I really need to see a trading card version of Jack Nicholson’s “Here’s Johnny!” scene and Danny Torrence screaming “REDRUM!” Don’t you agree? One NSFW image is included below.
Here’s a scene from The Shining where the ghost of “Delbert Grady”—the previous caretaker of the Overlook Hotel—is digitally removed. Not that we didn’t already know that Jack Torrance was losing his shit, but this tinkered with scene makes him look even more unhinged.
CineFix does a very good job here of translating the unforgettable images and motifs of Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining into the halcyon days of about 1989, when the most effective hack to fix your malfunctioning cartridge was to blow into it.
The game that CineFix shrewdly chose to mimic here appears to be the old LucasFilm (later LucasArts) game Maniac Mansion—the title alone is an almost perfect recapitulation of The Shining, and the gameplay appears to have been too.
Stanley Kubrick was a notorious perfectionist—Slim Pickens turned down the role of Dick Hallorann in The Shining, eventually played by Scatman Crothers, because Kubrick refused to promise to limit his number of takes on any of Pickens’ shots to under 100.
So it’s no surprise that Kubrick gave some thought to the foreign-language versions of his movies. One of the pivotal scenes in The Shining occurs when Wendy Torrance, played by Shelley Duvall, comes upon the thick, typewritten manuscript that her husband Jack has been working on for weeks, only to find that every single page is covered with thousands of iterations of the creepy phrase “All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.”
Kubrick understood that the power of the scene is considerably blunted if you can’t understand the text and therefore must rely on a bland, impersonal, possibly poorly translated subtitle at the bottom of the screen. So Kubrick took the time to shoot four other versions of the scene, for use in the Spanish, Italian, French, and German cuts of the movie. According to The Overlook Hotel, a website run by Toy Story 3 director Lee Unkrich that is dedicated to Shining ephemera and lore, “Kubrick filmed a number of different language versions of the ‘All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy’ insert shot as Wendy leafs through Jack’s work. Many of these alternate language stacks of paper can be seen in the Stanley Kubrick Archive.”
Il mattino ha l’oro in bocca
(The morning has gold in its mouth)
Was du heute kannst besorgen, das verschiebe nicht auf morgen
(Never put off until tomorrow what can be done today)
No por mucho madrugar amanece más temprano
(No matter how early you get up, you can’t make the sun rise any sooner)
Un Tiens vaut mieux que deux Tu l’auras
(What you have is worth much more than what you will have)
The link provided by The Overlook Hotel is 404, and my lengthy, feverish attempts to track down pictures of these “alternate stacks of paper,” alas, came to nothing. I would love to see these stacks of paper!
I was able to track down stills of the German and Italian versions on the Internet, but I can’t vouch for their authenticity. They do look legit, though.
Here’s the legendary “All work and no play” scene—in English:
Dean Cavanagh is that very rare breed – a maverick whose talents have been successfully proven over several different disciplines.
He is an award-winning artist; a screenwriter and playwright, writing the highly acclaimed Wedding Belles with Irvine Welsh and the forth-coming movie version of the hit on-line series Svengali. He has also been a journalist, with bylines in i-D, NME, Sabotage Times and the Guardian. Dean is also a documentary-maker, a film and TV producer and a musician, with along list of collaborators, including Robert Anton Wilson.
Now the multi-talented Cavanagh has written and directed (with his son Josh), his first movie - the much anticipated Kubricks.
In this exclusive interview with Dangerous Minds, Dean talks about the ideas and creative processes behind Kubricks. How he collaborated with Alan McGee, and developed the film with his son Josh, discussing his thoughts on cinema and synchronicity, and explaining howKubricks came to be filmed over 5 days, with a talented cast this summer.
Dean Cavanagh: ‘Stanley Kubrick has always fascinated me in that he was clearly trying to convey messages through symbols, codes and puzzles in his films.
‘For me his genius was in the way he presented the ‘regular’ audience with a clear narrative structure and for those who wanted to look deeper he constructed hidden layers of subjectivity. He was clearly a magician working with big budgets in such an idiosyncratic way that it’s hard not to be intrigued by him and his oeuvre.
‘I’ve been following Kubrick researchers like Rob Ager and Jay Weidner for the last few years and I really wanted to dramatize a story based around Kubrick as an inspirational enigma. There is a wealth of material about the esoteric side of Kubrick on the net and Ager and Weidner are great places to start the journey from.’
DM: How did you progress towards making ‘Kubricks’?
Dean Cavanagh: ‘I’ve been writing screenplays and theatre on my own and also with Irvine Welsh since the 1990’s. Up until last year, I never really had any desire to direct a film but Alan McGee encouraged me to have a go. He offered to produce a film if I would write and direct with the emphasis being on us having total control. This was music to my ears after having mainly dealt with people who are always looking for reasons not to make a film. Alan’s credo was “just do it and let’s see what happens”. There’s a great freedom in working with him.’
Read more of Dean Cavanagh’s exclusive interview, plus free ‘Kubricks’ soundtrack download, after the jump…