Lets get NASTY: Cannibal Ferox(81) and Cannibal Holocaust(80)

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There have been a few entries on the Nasty list, where i genuinely have no idea why they were included. Often it’s something that came along at the wrong time and pissed off the wrong stuffy Englishman, and thus found itself banned. Not the case with these two entries. They are the epitome of the word NASTY!

Cannibal Ferox (aka, Make Them Die Slowly), was released uncut on video in the UK via a group called Replay. Almost immediately the film came under fire for it’s scenes of extreme violence and sadism, as well as scenes of real animal torture and slaughter. It’s one thing to harshly depict rape and murder against humans, but don’t you DARE harm any of those cute lil fuzzy-wuzzies! Straight to the Nasties list with you!

Similarly, Cannibal Holocaust was released to instant infamy in 1981. With its reputation of Animal mutilation, rape, and torture coupled with a narrative style that has the audience almost believing the on screen carnage is real, it comes as no surprise that CA was successfully banned and prosecuted. In addition to obscenity charges, Director Ruggero Deodato was charged with Murder due to audiences being so convinced the on-screen deaths were real. After calling the supposedly dead actors as witnesses, the charges were understandably dropped, yet Deodato was still prosecuted for Animal Cruelty.

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After watching both of these films back to back, (BTW, don’t fucking do that. For serious.) it becomes pretty obvious that the two films are nearly identical in many respects. The plot of both films is virtually the same, that being a small group of Americans travel deep into the Amazon to study/document the supposed savages that reside there. The Americans torture/rape/push the Natives too far, prompting an intensely violent response, revealing that The Americans were in fact the true savages. Yet despite these nearly identical themes, both films take vastly different approaches to getting there. With it’s proto-found-footage format, and hyper-realism, CA also juggles a narrative dealing with the Medias obsession with violence and sensationalism, and the moral debate of just how far to go. All of the “recovered footage” in the film is filmed in a shaky style that really gives the impression of a handheld camera balanced on a shoulder, and really does look like unedited documentary style footage. Taking it’s cues from the popular Mondo films of the era(Look up what Mondo films are…I may end up doing a feature on them someday), CA paints a grim picture for the audience, that of a culture so motivated by their own entertainment…their own pursuit of thrills that it has left behind all of it’s civility. More than that, it holds up a mirror and lets us see a reflection of the damage that we, in our arrogance, visit upon those “less civilized than ourselves”. Social Commentary masquerading as an Exploitation film.

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Cannibal Ferox, on the other hand is an unabashed Exploitation Film hiding behind the shadow of Cannibal Holocaust. Gone is the Social Commentary, save for the general notion that “Civilized Man” is really just a giant asshole. In it’s place is a film that strives to hit all the same marks as Cannibal Holocaust, and up the sleaze while doing it. What i noticed right away is an incredibly Misogynistic streak through the film. Every female character in the film finds herself the victim of violence, is frequently called a Twat, or suffers some for of sexual exploitation or torture. Hell, in the opening credit scene, there is even a clear shot of a man on the streets of New York holding up a sign that reads : “Husbands of the world UNITE”, a clear reference to the backlash against the rise of feminism. With all the controversy stirred up by Cannibal Holocaust, Ferox seemed content with merely existing alongside it and being just as disturbing. The biggest difference is that while both films will likely upset you, the experience of watching Ferox will be over once the credits roll. Cannibal Holocaust will find a deep dark place within you to make a home.

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A lot of Exploitation films dont hold up well with the passage of time. Away from the grimy lights of the grindhouse cinemas, its pretty common for the once celebrated gems to be revealed as hokey, cheap, shallow and just plain shitty. These are two films that prove sometimes the filth of those fabled 42nd street cinemas will never be wiped clean. They remain today, just as troubling, shoking, unsettling…and yet entertaining, as they did yesterday. The next few installments of this series will see several other films from the Cannibal movie Boom, and when it is released, I’ll be doing a special Nasty report on the spiritual sequel to Cannibal Holocaust, Eli Roth’s Green Inferno.

 

And you thought the Bates Motel was twisted…

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What do you do when you set out to make a serious Horror film inspired by Psycho and the Texas Chainsaw Massacre, but you just don’t have the budget? You say “Fuck It”, go for comedy, and you make Motel Hell.

This gem has rightly become a tongue in cheek Cult Classic. Released in 1980, and like so many films reviewed here, didn’t do particularly well until it eventually found it’s audience on home release. What comes as a total shock to me is the producers didn’t think to market the film with a limited run of Smoked Meat! Which leads us in to the plot…

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The Motel Hello (the “O” flickers on the sign, conveniently) is run by the Murderous Brother and Sister duo of Vincent and Ida. In addition to the Motel, the grounds have a small farm, a “secret garden” (we’ll get back to that), and a smokehouse where Vincent makes his “Famous Smoked Meat”. Naturally the secret ingredient is HUMAN FLESH, and they will go to any lengths to protect their secret, as well as maintain their supply. Particularly Ida. Vincent sets and maintains booby traps near the Motel to ensnare new victims which he takes to the secret garden, buries them up to their neck and feeds them through tubes until he is ready to cure and smoke their flesh…because for some idiotic reason, he only smokes three at a time.

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Along the way, we meet the third and youngest sibling, Bruce. In a true twist of unpredictable comedy genius, Bruce left home at a young age and became an officer of the law! What crazy situations will this lead to? As it turns out, a lot of bizarre situations that will leave you scratching your head and wondering “What kind of mind thinks up Daffy Bullshit like this?” For fuck sakes, Vincent dons a giant Pig mask during the climactic chainsaw battle…for no fucking reason!

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As random and nonsensical as this film is, it is a lot of fun and had me laughing way more than most Horror-Comedies. I’ve said many times before that often the stupider a Horror film is, the more i enjoy it, and in Motel Hell, we have another perfect example. The absurdity of films from this era seems to make them age like a fine wine, only getting better/shittier with age. I’m hoping to start hosting semi-regular Double Bill Screenings in the Greater Vancouver area, and Motel Hell is a perfect example of the kind of films i hope to showcase. Do you have any suggestions for other titles to screen? Venues to host? Ways i can pull this off while spending and or losing as little money as possible? Contact me, and let’s make this shit happen!

6/10 Random Pig Masks

The Cryptid Crypt: The Mothman Prophecies

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I labored greatly over the decision whether or not to include this review under the banner of the Cryptid Crypt. The film is much more a psychological thriller than it is a creature feature. The nature of the Mothman itself is not unlike this film, in that one can constantly ask “What is it?”, and never receive a definitive answer. Ultimately I decided to include it based on two things. 1) There needs to be way more entries into the Cryptid Crypt, so i better not let an opportunity go to waste. 2) Monsterquest devoted a whole episode to the Mothman, which as far as I’m concerned, gives him all the Cryptid Cred he could ever need.

“We’re not allowed to know”

This film flew under my radar for a great many years. 2002 was an interesting year for Horror fans, post Scream era, just as Asian Horror films were starting to catch on, and before Hollywood Remake fever hit it’s frenzied pitch. Several films came out during this time which didn’t fit into any category and stood out as stellar films in their own right, such as 28 Days Later, Cabin Fever, May, and of course, The Mothman Prophecies. During this time, Not only did i not have regular access to the internet, but i was frequently quite broke. My only hope of seeing Horror films was to rent them, and with a limited budget, i wanted to make sure i wasn’t disappointed by what i selected to watch. Ultimately i relied on word of mouth as well as what trailers i was able to see on TV. I can’t recall whether i was unimpressed with the trailer or if i heard a poor review, but I stayed away from this film until 2 weeks ago. I can’t even remember what made me decide to finally give it a chance, but once i did, I felt compelled to watch it several more times. Each time i would end the experience feeling uneasy and slightly on edge. Not afraid, but as if the film was trying to tell me something that i wasn’t able to decipher yet.

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As cheesy as that may sound, it fits in not only with the Narrative of the film, but with the overall execution as well. The story follows John Klein(Richard Gere), as he struggles to move on with his life in the wake of a Car accident that claimed the life of his wife Mary(Debra Messing). Before she succumbs to her injuries, Mary seems terrified and disoriented because of what may have been an encouter with the Mothman causing the crash, leaving behind strange drawing s of an ominous winged creature she says she saw that night. Two years later, John is functioning, but clearly broken. He is sent on assignment to Richmond Virginia yet mysteriously drives to Point Pleasant West Virginia in a span of time that should not have been physically responsible, and with no memory of having done so. Once in Point Pleasant, John becomes wrapped up in the accounts of several locals who are reporting strange and inexplicable occurrences and sighting of a familiar looking winged creature.

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Soon, John becomes totally consumed with the phenomena that he is consumed with finding answers. About this time is when he speaks with Ingrid Cold. Only conversing to John over the phone, Cold is a mysterious and haunting figure whom we are to assume is the Mothman. Cold makes prophecies about disasters, and chillingly tells John in specific detail things that could only be known if he were inside John’s head.

“If your friend thinks he’s talking to God, he’s off by more than a few degrees.”

Ingrid Cold is the personification of the unexplained within the film. Giving voice to occurrences that cannot be. What do you do when the things that cannot be, suddenly ARE? John tries in vain to connect the dots through the divide of rational and irrational and comes dangerously close to losing himself in the process.

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This movie is a very strange trip. It manages to achieve a certain aesthetic flow, drawing you in while adding mysterious, often surreal layers, yet never once is it forceful or feel like it’s leading you by the hand. Several scene transitions are accompanied by mild electrical interference, giving the impression of being monitored. Adding to the semi voyeuristic tone is the use of POV camera angles, but who’s Point of View are we seeing this from? When Mary wakes up in the hospital, she darts her gaze frantically around the room, the POV appears to be hiding behind a partition and peering out at her bed. Other shots appear as it they are peeking out from behind trees, drifting above moving cars, or even flying over the city.

This film haunts on a subliminal level. As i mentioned before, I have now watched it several times, not because I feel like I’m getting closer to some hidden truth, but because i have the unshakable feeling that there is more to the film that I am not seeing. If a character on screen should appear in a mirror, their actions don’t always match the reflection. This may be the most blatant clue to the viewer that things may not always be as they appear to be.  The film is an adaptation of a book by the same name written by the real life John Klein who documented the supposedly true accounts of Point Pleasant locals who had encounters with the Mothman, leading up to, and after the infamous Silver Bridge Collapse in Point Pleasant. How much is truth and who much is fiction will likely never be answered to universal satisfaction, yet the film certainly succeeds in making me look closer at not only the film itself, but the mysterious events that took point in Point Pleasant, and I encourage you to do the same.

7/10 Collapsed Bridges

If any readers have suggestions or requests for the Cryptid Crypt, or any other section of the blog, feel free to comment below.

Rad Moon Rising

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It’s very rare when merely the title and poster for a film can sell it so effectively. Especially in this day and age. What is Wolfcop about? It’s about a Wolfcop. Nuff said. This little slice of exploitation heaven keeps things simple and it’s paid off in spades!

The story of how Wolfcop came to be is rather unique. Director Lowell Dean entered the very first Cinecoupe Fastrack contest. After beating out 9 other entries, Cinnecoup amped up Dean’s budget, and a guaranteed release in Cineplex theaters across Canada. Most independent films never get theatrical release, and if they do, it is often through smaller cinemas in select markets. To see a film come from such humble beginnings and receive national attention is incredible.

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Cast and crew knew they had to make the most of their opportunity, so to build hype for the June release, they hit the festival and convention circuits hard! Before the June 6th premier, Wolfcop already had legions of fans, and thanks to the support of investors drummed up at festivals, a sequel has already been greenlit. Words can’t express how impressed I am with how this film has been promoted. I was given a limited edition Wolfcop comic while standing in line, and Wolfcop himself is a sexy centerfold in this months Rue Morgue magazine!

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But how was the film? I’m pretty sure I fell in love with this film long before I saw it, so trying to be objective is a bit difficult. I put this one right up against Hobo With A Shotgun as two of the best films in the last five years that deliver an insanely good time. Wolfcop makes good on all the madness suggested by it’s title, yet manages to be more than just an 80’s tinged exploitation romp. Surprisingly, it works rather well as a straight up Cop-flick. Leo Fafard(our Wolfcop, Lou Garou), Jonathan Cherry(conspiracy nut/sidekick Willie), Sara Lind (sultry barmaid Jessica) and Amy Matysio (Hardworking cop Tina) each turn in solid performances that somehow make such a ridiculous premise seem natural and believable by perfectly balancing the dramatic and the silliness.

This is a clever, fun, charming, and most of all BADASS film! A perfect blend of practical creature effects, gore, action, the occult, intrigue, humor, werewolf jokes, and marketability. Praise be to Wolfcop, our new Cult Movie Hero! 

Yes, I know I told you next to nothing about the plot…Just go see it, or you will never forgive yourself!

9.5 out of 10 Drunken Werewolves!

We’ve got Cabin Fever

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Did you see the first two? Great, forget all that shit because none of it was important.  The first two installments of the Cabin Fever franchise establish the tone of our films as fun, which quickly spirals into hysterics, paranoia, and flesh melting. We are introduced to recurring shithead supporting character Deputy Winston, and watch a deadly, fast action g flesh eating virus lay waste to the cast of both films. When I heard a prequel was announced, I had assumed we would see the origins of the disease, and how it was introduced to the woods in the first film where it infected the Hermit’s dog. I was mostly half right …Mostly.

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Meet Patient Zero. Yup…the fat Hobbitt. The film opens with the virus already spreading, yet he seems to be immune. A carrier. He is taken to an isolated research bunker on a deserted island somewhere in Latin America where scientists attempt to study him and develop a cure for the virus. In one of these scientists, we meet one of the biggest teases of the film.

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She walks around the she time with her cleavage out and we NEVER actually see her tits. Its a real shame. We do however get to see an infected subject projectile vomit blood all over her, and she takes part in the coolest catfight I’ve ever seen. It’s fiesty bitches LITERALLY tearing each others skin off!

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There is also a group of childhood friends who have taken a boat to the island for a bachelore party, so here we have our comic relief as well as some fun twenty some things to identify with…but there is a problem. Anyone who has seen the first two films knows full well that these kids are doomed. I found it hard to get invested with them when I know they are just going to melt.

I had a bit of a problem with the plot as well. The film doesn’t explain how the Virus came to be and infected the first victims, neither does the climax of the film sync up with the events of the first film, so we could potentially see more prequels. I did very much enjoy the gore effects, and despite the flaws I mentioned, I think this was a decent film. It gives us exactly what we’ve come to expect from the Cabin Fever franchise, and sheds some light on the back story. Time will tell if more prequels are on the way. As scary as the idea of a fast spreading deadly pandemic is to me, I admit that I’m much more afraid of having my skull caved in by a massive black dildo. (Watch the film, you’ll see.)

King Of Monsters

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*BIG FUCKING SPOILERS AHEAD!!! (Although, if you can’t guess what happens in a Godzilla movie by now, i should probly come over there and hit you over the head with a Tack-Hammer)*

31. Before 2014, there have been 31 Godzilla films. consider the scope and magnitude of this for a moment. A film legacy like that is truly the stuff of legends. Debuting in 1954, Godzilla has been portrayed a number of ways and has fallen in to the realm of cliche many years ago, but at the heart of the character, has and always will be an allegory for the misuse of atomic energy and the perils therin. 1950s Japan still felt the sting of the Atom bomb attacks on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and had just received a memory refresher when a Japanese fishing boat was exposed to the Bikini Atoll weapons test, leaving the fishermen with radiation poisoning. Godzilla (More accurately known as Gojira) is a personification of the growing fears of a Nation, that would one day grow to encompass the Planet.

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There is a reason that the original 1954 film holds up to this day, and it sure wasn’t because of the sweet Monster suit.  Eventually, American studios decided they wanted to take a stab at making a Godzilla film, with plans for a 1983 3D version being scrapped early on, and 1994 attempt being shelved part way through production. Then came 1998…Third time’s a charm, right? Fuck No.

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The less said about that hunk of shit the better. It was so bad that Toho studios bought back the rights, and the ’98 designs, renamed it ‘Zilla, and explained it wasn’t really Godzilla, that some idiot had just confused a lesser monster for Godzilla in the film…then went so far as to have Godzilla kill ‘Zilla in “Final Wars”. Enter Gareth Edwards. A relative unknown with only one full length film to his credit, 2010’s Monsters. If you haven’t already seen Monsters, please do check it out, and you’ll see why I breathed a sigh of relief upon hearing he was attached to direct. Simply put, the man knows how to properly bring appropriate life to monsters while making sure the human stories don’t get lost in the massive shadows cast.

Our story uses the first third setting up the story and establishing the back story of the Monsters. Yes, Monsters. We will see Kaiju Battle! Rather than give you a detailed description of the intricate(though not complex) events, I’ll give you the basics. Mankind’s use of atomic energy have awakened an ancient creature referred to as Gojira, and along with him two Parasites referred to as MUTO who feed off of atomic energy. The two species seem to be closely linked, but through somewhat ambiguous means. They explained it, and I was paying attention, but it still wasn’t really clear. De Facto Japanese Science dude Ishiro Serizawa (Ken Watanabe) theorizes that Gojira might be natures way of “restoring the balance” and that if left to his own devices, he will hunt down and destroy the MUTO. Of course, that’s exactly what winds up happening, but as he puts forth this theory, I couldn’t help but ask myself “what the fuck is he basing this on?” We are given no evidence that Gojira will behave this way…if anything I would assume Gojira would be pretty pissed at humanity after we tried to stuff a 15 kiloton Nuclear Bomb up his ass the last time he showed up. But I digress…

Along the way we get a good performance by Bryan Cranston who plays Nuclear Plant supervisor Joe Brody who lost his wife in the meltdown triggered by a MUTO years ago and becomes obsessed with finding out the truth in the wake of the coverup that follows. Brody’s son Ford ultimately becomes our hero, but i found it hard to become invested in him. Which leads me to my biggest gripe about the film. The Humans. Cranston does a fine job, and despite some questionable character direction, Watanabe is also good(I think it’s just because his accent sounds cool as shit), but other than that, i found it nearly impossible to connect with any other person in the film. Not only was there no emotional investment, but i found them all just a little too accepting of what’s happening. One scene shows a large crowd of people fleeing a Muto attack, the city literally crumbling around them…might as well be the world as they know it collapsing as they are being attacked by a gigantic creature that shouldn’t exist…only to run right smack dab into Gojira, and even bigger nightmare! Their brains should be screaming at them that this can’t possibly be happening…THIS CAN’T BE REAL!!! Instead, the whole crowd just turns 90 degrees and keeps running. I would have expected at least a who people to be frozen with fear, or suffer a complete mental break. Not all, just some…but the most we get from people is just panic. I know i’m knit-picking with this example, but the majority of my problems I had with the film began and ended with the humans. Then i realized that there could be no more perfect metaphor.

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“The arrogance of man is thinking that Nature is under our control”

As in the original film, the catalyst of all the trouble is mankind meddling with a power that is too great, trying to harness a force of nature. The weakness is humanity, and that cannot be illustrated more plainly than beholding the sheer might of  Godzilla. He is the personification of our worst fears in an Atomic age, Powerful, unpredictable, destructive, and unstoppable. It’s a heavy realization to sink in, and this film is not afraid to kick you in the teeth in a few more subtle ways as the disasters depicted in the film recall some of the more grimly iconic moments from recent history. The ruble and dust clouds from skyscrapers crumbling in the streets echo the chilling visions of the 9/11 attacks, the tourist resorts washed away by tidal waves remind me too much of the handheld footage from the Boxing Day Tsunami, and the destruction of the Nuclear plant, well it doesn’t take a genius to see shadows of Fukushima. Even the Military basically knows they cannot succeed. Their only shot is to use a manually armed nuclear weapon to lure the Kaiju away from civilians, and detonate. They know full well that these creatures feed on radiation, and that their only hope is that the payload of the blast itself is enough to kill them…but it’s really just a guess. Before deployment the troops are briefed that there is no extraction plan. “You walk out of there or you aren’t going home”. When you consider how gung-ho and cock-sure the Military usually is, it’s rather grim to see them approach a situation pretty much saying “Yeahhhhh….so this probly isn’t gonna work, but we have to try SOMETHING…so let’s just hope for the best?”. The Military are not the heroes, but helpless on-lookers, as terrified and enthralled by the Kaiju-battle as we all are. Forced to watch, Petrified and in awe of events and things that are bigger than them. Impotent with their man-weapons and Stars and Stripes patches. I can’t help but think this to be a comment to Americas Interventionist failures.

My only other gripe with the film is minor. I wish Gojira had been more of a menace to mankind, rather than go into his protector role so early. I wanted the unyielding force of nature to punish our foolish world for daring to toy with a power so great! But with all the other grim allegories within the film, I completely understand why he was made or Savior. We needed hope. We needed to know that yes, terrible things will happen. Some are because of mistakes we have made, others are beyond our control. But maybe with a little well placed help we can be put back on the right path? Fuck it, I’ve had enough of metaphors. Less story, more huge monster battles! Let’s see updated versions of Anguirus, Rodan, Gigan and King Ghidorah!

Sure, there were a few things that bugged me, but overall i felt this was a really strong film. The visuals are amazing as well as the sound! THAT ROAR THO!!!!!  It feels like Godzilla was finally done right by Hollywood and hopefully we can look forward to many more sequels. And hopefully you’ll take this chance to check out the 31 other films in the Gojira catalog. Some get a little silly…like Gojira throwing the weirdest looking dropkick in history, as well as doing a victory dance…but show me ANY film series who has that many entries doesn’t start to run out of good ideas.

 

Thanks for reading, Creeps!

Illuminating the Shining

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Where to begin with this film? Aside from stating that Kubrick’s The Shining is one of my favorites of all time.

If you haven’t seen this film, go watch it this very second. Finished? Great, now go watch it a few more times. You back? Ok, now what if i told you that you still haven’t watched this film enough to grasp everything that is going on here? Go read Stephen King’s novel. Now go study the works and life of Stanley Kubrick. And I mean STUDY!!! Now go study the history of Colorado, and of the Genocide of the American Indians, and the Holocaust, and the Moon Landing. How is this all relevant?  Because Stanley Kubrick seems to have had a LOT to say when he made this film.

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On the surface, the film differs greatly from King’s novel while still keeping the general concept, setting and characters. The film opens with a beautiful shot showing the picturesque drive up the the Overlook, set amidst an ominous droning score peppered with flourishes that almost sound like ghostly whispers. We are introduced to Jack Torrence, charged with serving as the Winter caretaker of the Overlook Hotel in Colorado. With him is his wife Wendy, and young son Danny.  Danny has a powerful yet uncontrolled pychic ability referred to as Shining which allows him to see “ghosts” of traumatic events from the Overlook’s past. As the winter months wear on, Cabin fever sets in and Jack slowly spirals into madness. Kubrick portrays this chillingly through the use of his score and the deranged performance of his star, Jack Nicholson. The “Thousand yard stare” of Jack as a faint yet persistant “ringing” sound capture the mood perfectly.

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There are so many frightening elements to this film that to get into them would involve a shot for shot description of them, and it STILL wouldn’t do the magic of this film justice.  You truly need to see this film for itself. It is a masterpiece on the surface…and then there is what lies beneath. Since Kubrick has never come right out and said “Hey, here is all the weird hidden messages and in-jokes I put in this film”, we will likely never know the full extent of his intentions. A good place to start, for those who need a little help with peering behind the curtain is to watch the 2012 documentary “Room 237″.  The film includes footage from The Shining, and other Kubrick films, along with discussions by a number of Kubrick enthusiasts. The film has nine segments, each segment focusing on different elements within the film which “may reveal hidden clues and hint at a bigger thematic oeuvre.” Some of the elements touched on are references to the genocide of the American Indians, The Colorado Gold Rush, The Holocaust, coincidences and tricks within the films continuity, and in what is most interesting to me, the allegations and possible hints that Kubrick helped fake the Moon Landing footage and used this film as  sort of “confession”. Keep in mind, Kubrick was an unusually meticulous film maker, so if it appears in his film, it is not an accident.  There are three Labyrinths within the film. The hedge maze outside the Overlook, The Overlook itself, with it’s twisting and turning corridors and impossible layout, and lastly, the film itself is the most complex maze of all. 

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Once you start digging into the hidden meaning of the film, you could literally go on and on forever. There are so many layers and elements that once they are illuminated, we may never be the same. That is the true Shining. But just remember, “All work and no play, make Jack a Dull Boy”.  If you enjoy this film entirely on the surface, then by all means, take it for what it appears to be, and your experience will still be great. Please keep in mind when delving deeper…no matter how sure we may be about a hidden meaning, it is all just specualtion that can NEVER be proven… “It’s just like pictures in a book Danny, It isn’t real”