Odds and Dead Ends: A maze inside the mind / Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining

Stanley Kubrick’s masterpiece, The Shining, is my favourite horror film of all time. For those that (somehow) aren’t familiar with the film, it is the story of the new caretaker (Jack Torrance, played by Jack Nicholson) and his family at the remote Overlook Hotel over the winter, where ghostly apparitions send him spiraling into madness. Based on the novel by Stephen King, a major feature of the movie which wasn’t in the book is the hedge maze on the hotel grounds. In this article, I’m going to look at this maze, and how it acts as a kind of middle-ground representation of Jack’s ever-twisted mind, as it is changed by the hotel.

Please bear in mind that, as with everything I write for HorrorAddicts.net, in a short article such as this, there’s no way I’m able to cover the wealth of interpretations and analysis and ideas on this film. This is a starting point, where hopefully you can springboard yourself into your own thoughts.

It has been well documented that the layout of the Overlook Hotel is deliberately impossible. Doors lead to nowhere, rooms move, furniture shifts position; everything possible is done to very subtly disorient the viewer. For example, in the first scene of Danny on his tricycle, we pass an exit stairwell leading down, and doors that would appear to go through the thin wall and open up onto the stairwell itself. It is, in fact, a maze of dead ends and double-backs.

Even furniture subtly moves between shots. Rob Ager has documented all this extensively, and his articles and analysis on the subject can be found at his site, which I’ll put a link to at the end of this article. One example is the appearing and disappearing chair behind Jack when Wendy interrupts his writing. Needless to say, with someone like Kubrick, this kind of mismatching wasn’t just sloppy but done deliberately. It is a visual representation of the chaos and insanity that it will try to bring Jack into.

The hotel slowly ratchets up its presence and ghostly manifestations in order to slowly drive Jack mad. This is helped by subtly-suggested alcohol issues (a carry-over from the novel which isn’t nearly as prevalent but still present), and flares of temper. Aided by the claustrophobia of the hotel (‘“what the old-timers used to call ‘cabin fever’”’), and the irritations at being unable to write (‘“Lots of ideas, no good ones though,”’) it all provides the perfect platform for the Overlook Hotel to begin to exert its influence on Jack. The reasons for the Overlook’s attempt to drive Jack to madness are as heavily disputed and debated as almost anything else in the history of fan-theories, and they won’t be discussed here, purely for length reasons.

With the Overlook trying to get a hold on its caretaker, Kubrick wants to give us a middle-ground, to understand that the links between Jack and the hotel go beyond the surface level. Here he presents us with the iconic hedge maze. As I’ve already said, the hotel is a maze in itself, full of twists and turns, and what’s interesting is that almost no two shots of the maze are the same. The map outside the entrance doesn’t match the way Wendy and Danny walk, and the model Jack looks down on doesn’t correspond with either of these. Even the entrance Ullman takes them to in the film’s beginning is on a completely different side of the maze to when Danny runs into at the finale.

There seem to be strong indicators, then, that just like the hotel, the maze changes shape and form. Wendy even says in the kitchen with Halloran that ‘“This place is such an enormous maze I feel like I’ll have to leave a trail of breadcrumbs every time I come in,”’ so if you’re wanting verbal confirmation of this connection, then there it is. But how do we link the maze to Jack?

Firstly, the exterior shots of the Overlook at the beginning of the film don’t show a maze at all. It isn’t present until the whole family are exploring the grounds; when Jack has arrived. Additionally, when Wendy and Danny are exploring it on their own, Jack walks over to the model version in the foyer. We then switch to a top-down view showing a miniature Danny and Wendy walking around the central section. Because, as discussed before, the model and the actual maze don’t add up, we have to assume that this isn’t actually a top-down view of the real maze, but a subjective view of Jack imagining his wife and son in the maze.

By switching to a subjective viewpoint, Kubrick suggests a linking between Jack’s mind (his imagination), and the hedge maze. This doesn’t mean very much throughout the film as, for a large portion of the film, the maze fades into the background. However, right at the very end, it makes a reappearance as Jack chases Danny inside. Surely, as the maze is intrinsically linked with Jack’s mind, this makes sense for the finale to play out there. This is the point where everything combines, hallucination and reality, the Overlook and Jack. In a way, this is almost a proving ground, an arena that the Overlook has provided for their caretaker to show that he can follow out their wishes; that he ‘has the belly for it.’

Ironically, Jack eventually ends up following Danny’s footsteps, just like the trail of breadcrumbs Wendy mentioned at the beginning of the film. He follows Danny in the same way as he followed them through the model before. He has descended into a manifestation of his chaotic mind, distressed by all the factors that enabled the Overlook to push him into pliable madness.

In the end, however, Jack is eventually outsmarted by Danny and stumbles around blindly inside. Whether you believe the ghosts are real or all just a hallucination is irrelevant, because everyone can see that Jack has slipped into madness at this point. Jack is unable to find his way out of the maze, out of his mind. He never recovers, even for a moment as King’s original character does in the novel, and so he freezes to death unredeemed and forever trapped inside the Overlook’s testing ground.

In the end, there really is a simple formula to understand this discussion: Jack Torrance + Overlook Hotel = Hedge Maze. It’s a simple concept, but one probably overlooked by many people watching for the first time, especially by those who aren’t accustomed to looking out for these kinds of interpretations in popular cinema. The Shining is a deeply layered text, and the idea presented is very much a theory, which probably disagrees with 50% of fan theories and analysis of the film, but that’s the way it works with The Shining; everyone has their own idea. In any case, I hope it piques your interest in re-examining the film, and re-watching it, of course. You could do worse things than re-watching one of the greatest films the genre has ever produced; just don’t let it get into your head too much.

-Article by Kieran Judge

-Twitter: @KJudgeMental

-A link to Rob Ager’s site, which I highly encourage anyone interested in film analysis to check out: http://www.collativelearning.com/

-check out my other articles at HorrorAddicts.net if you like this kind of analysis; I’m sure there’ll be something for you to enjoy: https://horroraddicts.wordpress.com/author/kjudgeimaginarium/

 

Guest Blog : 9 Fears that Loom in The Shining

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9 Fears that Loom in The Shining

By Theresa Braun

I finally read Stephen King’s The Shining. Why have I waited so long to read a book that came out in 1977? I blame Stanley Kubrick. The movie was so masterfully done and was so scary that I remember not being able to watch it when I was home alone. Suddenly, all the mirrors in the house seemed like they’d show me some horror I’d rather not face. I worried blood might start flooding the hallways, or I might hear an axe coming through the front door.

Then, someone told me to get on Netflix and rent the documentary Room 237, which analyzes some hidden gems in Kubrick’s film. It was then I realized I wasn’t the only one obsessed with the movie. Stumbling through some online resources, I discovered that Manny MassGrave Serrano wrote an incredible article about Kubrick’s masterpiece. (http://moviepilot.com/posts/3292123) But, I digress—back to King’s version.

Stupidly, I was afraid that the novel wouldn’t live up to what I experienced in the motion picture. However, I’m so thrilled when I finished King’s original work. So much more is present in the complete telling of the story, as is always the case. But many of you have probably read the book, so I don’t want to rehash the spooky plot details. What I do want to discuss is what it is that makes this book so terrifying. What fears does King tap into? After all, he’s known as the master of horror for a reason.

 

Significant Fears The Shining Reveals to Readers:

 

Nature & Isolation: As humans, we have an innate awareness that nature is a bitch and should be feared. Throughout the novel, we are reminded the elements have the upper hand as the wind is whipping and howling at the windows. Combine that fact with the terror of isolation. There’s a reason that solitary confinement is a punishment in prison. We need other people around us to remain sane. Even though the Torrance family has each other, that becomes less and less comforting. King plants that in our minds from the beginning, as Wendy thinks about the Donner Party and what shocking things isolation drives people to do. So when Jack destroys the CB radio and throws the part of the snowmobile’s engine into the snow, we freak out because he is intentionally keeping them captive at the hands of the hotel. That isolation in the midst of not knowing exactly what they are up against is freaking bone chilling.

 

The Supernatural: We assume the hotel is merely haunted by ghosts of the past. The idea that there are entities that can appear out of nowhere, talk to us and touch us from beyond the grave—that is enough to give someone a heart attack. However, there is something more menacing plaguing the entire grounds. Inside, inanimate objects move on their own, like the fire extinguisher hose. And things materialize out of nowhere, as in the party favors in the elevator, or the martinis Jack pounds back at the bar. Outside, the hedge animals come alive and there is something dark looming at the playground. Obviously, this supernatural phenomenon is more than a regular haunting. That evil force is so powerful that it gets into the heads of all the characters. Something that invades the very essence of ourselves is truly horrifying. The fact that the hotel can do this cranks up the fear factor. And, it also has the power to influence the characters’ actions, particularly Jack’s. This evil is referred to as the manager, which has this vague and powerful sound to it—but who or what is the manager? Is it a demon, the devil himself, or some primitive spirit that has been part of the land since the beginning of time? We aren’t exactly sure. King leaves it that way to make us wonder what diabolical entity is in charge of the Overlook. The not knowing is extremely unsettling

 

Murder/Violence: Probably the most obvious sign of evil in our midst is the killing or harming of human beings. And, that threat is present throughout the novel. The Overlook’s past is steeped in blood baths, the most notable is the mob slaughter in the Presidential Suite, but we know there has also been the last caretaker who murdered his family and then himself. Jack also embodies this. We see it in the very beginning when we find out he has broken Danny’s arm in a drunken rage, and later when he attacks a student. Sober or not, Jack has violent tendencies. So, it’s not that hard to see him making that final shift to the dark side because he is familiar with it. The hotel takes him one step further, urging him to kill his own family. That frightens us as readers since none of us want to become acquainted with such heinous behavior.

 

Others/The Ones We Love: We should never fear the ones we love or who love us. That is exactly what Wendy and Danny struggle with regarding Jack. When Jack’s tender and romantic with Wendy and when he’s sensitive and is bonding with Danny, we pray the good in Jack is stronger than the dark. Unfortunately, Jack represents the fact that we need to be afraid of those we love the most. We can’t control how they think, feel, or act. That feeling of helplessness is a very scary thing—especially when it’s at the hands of someone who is supposed to care for us the most.

 

Ourselves/Our Minds: Jack represents the deterioration of self-control, something that haunts us all. Will we do the right thing, or will we give into temptation? Not only that, but Jack’s journey is also about our perceptions. What are our real thoughts? What are we really seeing or experiencing? What is a dream and what is real? We see that Jack wants to be triumphant over himself. He struggles with wanting a drink for most of the novel—and he resists. He never breaks down and consumes the cooking sherry. It isn’t until he is seduced by the hotel’s liquor that he succumbs. Jack also continues to wrestle with what he sees and doesn’t see, which we notice in his denials to his family. For example, he refuses to tell them about the lawn animals or what he experiences in room 217. He denies it because he doesn’t want to believe, or maybe because he’s afraid he’s losing his mind. Either way is mortifying. None of us wants to lose our grip on ourselves or our reality.

 

Psychic Ability: As cool as it sounds to be able to see things no one else can, having the shining is apparently a horror in itself. When Danny starts to see all of the nightmarish visions regarding the Overlook, we are immediately afraid for him and his family. Overall, these sightings are more disturbing than they are helpful. We feel better for Danny when Hallorann is able to talk to him about his gift. Thankfully, it’s their psychic connection that saves Danny and Wendy in the end. However, Danny has to go through hell in the meantime, knowing what his father is going to do. But, most shocking of all, it’s Danny’s powers of sight that the Overlook wants. If only the hotel can keep Danny forever, it might just be able to absorb his talent and use it. In the end, it’s the shining that puts a target on Danny’s back. So, when we consider wishing for psychic powers, we quickly retract that wish—better to be in the dark.

 

The Past: There is a constant feeling in the novel that the collective past can haunt us. We see this when Jack finds the scrapbook in the basement with the clues to the history of the hotel. Even though Jack agrees to keep the hotel’s demons private, those demons are still in his midst while the family stays there. Not only that, but history is a constant menace, as Jack echoes the horrible crimes that Grady committed against his family while caring for the hotel. Furthermore, our personal pasts can destroy us as our minds regurgitate it over and over again. It’s always alive. This manifests in Jack. He’s riddled with his guilt over his past mistakes, mainly hurting his son and losing his teaching job. Wendy and Danny can’t forget either. The hotel knows that we can go certifiably nuts when we can’t move on from the past, so it constantly reminds Jack of his. The Overlook’s macabre mission: trap everyone forever in its past.

 

Being a Failure: This is probably one of the more subtle and realistic fears in the entire novel since we’ve all had it. That’s what makes it so monumental. Jack represents the fear of failure since he’s had several of them leading up to his caretaking of the Overlook. It’s his need to succeed that motivates Jack to stay. He needs to be redeemed by proving to himself and to Al that he is a reformed alcoholic who is fit to teach again. He also needs to prove to Wendy that he can be a husband and provider. If he allows the hotel to get the better of him, he has failed. He reminds us of this as the novel progresses. One of the reasons he goes into perilous situations, such as room 217, is because he says it’s his job. His future depends on the completion of that job. We cringe as his possible redemption slips through his fingers. As he fails, we are reminded of our failures.

 

Death: Impending death is all over this story. Jack is disturbed that he and Al may have killed a bicyclist one drunken night—so much so that he and Al quit cold turkey. The hotel itself is packed with dead people, a reminder that the Torrance family could perish at any moment. Hallorann also confronts his mortality. However, it’s the loss of Jack’s life that hits us really hard. He bashes his brains in with the mallet because he knows he’s already dead to his family and must sacrifice himself to the hotel. It’s grotesquely heroic. When he’s gone, we miss him as much as Danny does. Probably the most interesting scene is when the Overlook’s existence is put in jeopardy. The hotel uses Jack’s battered and deformed body to save itself, hoping to prevent the final explosion. But the supernatural forces are no match for the real-life machinery that dictates its imminent destruction. Death itself has the final word as Jack and the hotel go up in flames. Ultimately, none of us can escape our final end—and that is truly frightening.

One thing I’m glad King was not afraid of is a happy ending. Now, there is a tragedy at the end of the novel; however, there is clearly hope for Hallorann, Wendy, and Danny to go on with their lives. Next book on my list: the sequel to The ShiningDoctor Sleep, published in 2013.

*********

Theresa Braun

Theresa Braun was born in St. Paul, Minnesota and has carried some of that hardiness with her to South Florida where she currently resides. She enjoys delving into creative writing, painting, photography and even bouts of ghost hunting. Perhaps growing up in a haunted house in Winona, Minnesota is to blame. Traveling as often as possible is one of her passions—in fact, her latest adventure took her to Romania for a horror writers’ workshop where she followed in the steps of Vlad the Impaler. She writes horror fiction and her latest short story “Shout at the Devil” appears in Under the Bed Magazine.

Twitter :@tbraun_author  www.facebook.com/groomanddoom

HorrorAddicts.net 118, Mercedes Yardley

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Horror Addicts Episode# 118

Horror Hostess: Emerian Rich

Intro Music by: Valentine Wolfe

mercedes yardley | dark matter noise | stephen king movies

Find all articles and interviews at: http://www.horroraddicts.net

83 days till halloween

83 days till halloween

la guns, crystal eyes, anne rice, queen akasha, vampires, glam metal, heat, sunburn, seaworld, scarela, mike bennett, h.p. lovecraft, addict on the street: jean batt, live baycon, haunters, drag king,  guillermo del toro, strain books, donny marisue, goth dj neshamah, loren rhoads, the dangerous type, kindle books, wait for books, lasher, anne rice, books, matthew weber, a dark and winding road, d.j. pitsiladis, david watson, serial killers, highwayman, ink, glenn benest, dale pitman, morbid meals, dan shaurette, chicken a la king, dawn wood, dark matter noise, hell’s frozen, grant me serenity, jesse orr, black jack, dan shuarette, stephen king movies, it, storm of the century, stand by me, pet cemetary, the green mile, the shining, salem’s lot, christine, shawshank redemption, the mist, creepshow, misery, graveyard shift, firestarter, maximum overdrive, room 237, langoliers, bag of bones, dead mail, angela, halloween costumes, penny dreadful, the stig, top gear, birthday suit, ursula, mimielle, dyed hair in the pool, swimming cap, ask marc vale, vlad, blood stains, mercedes yardley

 

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HorrorAddicts.net blog Kindle syndicated

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h o s t e s s

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David Watson, Dan Shaurette, Marc Vale, KBatz (Kristin Battestella), Mimielle, Dawn Wood, Lillian Csernica, Killion Slade, D.J. Pitsiladis, Jesse Orr, A.D. Vick

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HorrorAddicts.net 117, Mike Robinson

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Horror Addicts Episode# 117

Horror Hostess: Emerian Rich

Intro Music by: Valentine Wolfe

mike robinson | pamela moore | penny dreadful

Find all articles and interviews at: http://www.horroraddicts.net

97 days till halloween

sycamore leaves, aha, bret alexander sweet, backstreet boy n’sync zombie flick?, sharknado, a christmas horror story, will shatner, halloween carols, daniel ford, a.d. vick, tales of dark romance and horror, free fiction friday, lillian csernica, books, david watson, loren rhoads, as above so below, mike robinson, negative space, wicked women writers, masters of macabre, morbid meals, dan shaurette, nightmare fuel, candyman, d.j. pitsiladis, deadly pixy sticks, pamela moore, dawn wood, jesse orr, grant me serenity, black jack, kbatz, horror blogger alliance, penny dreadful, kristin battestella, hbo, deadmail, angela, halloween costumes, jeffery, bullies, goth bashing, pamela, podcast authors, mark eller, mike bennett, rhonda carpenter, marc vale advice, norms, horror movies, zombies, maniacs, vampires, instant death, protect yourself, survival, horror addicts guide to life, mike robinson, cryptozoology, author reads, stephen king, the shining, storm of the century

Horror Addicts Guide to Life now available on Amazon!
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HorrorAddicts.net blog Kindle syndicated

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Write in re: ideas, questions, opinions, horror cartoons, favorite movies, etc…

VOTE FOR YOUR FAVORITE MMM / WWW contestant.

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Emerian Rich

s t a f f

David Watson, Dan Shaurette, Marc Vale, KBatz (Kristin Battestella), Mimielle, Dawn Wood, Lillian Csernica, Killion Slade, D.J. Pitsiladis, Jesse Orr, A.D. Vick

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Horror Addicts Guide to Life Author Spotlight: Steven Rose Jr.

Steven Rose Jr. writes horror and dark fantasy, including an anthology called  The Fool’s Illusion.  For Horror Addicts Guide To Life  Steven wrote  two articles in the book entitled Horror And Dark Fantasy and Tomb Toons and Kid’s Horror. In his essays Steven gets into the differences between horror and dark fantasy and gives us a history of horror aimed at children. To read Steven’s work, along with several other articles on living the horror lifestyle, pick up a copy of Horror Addicts Guide To LifeRecently Steven was nice enough to tell us what he likes about horror:

What do you like about the horror genre?

18521949Ever since I was a little kid (4 or 5) I’ve loved that sense of mystery and the unusual that the darkness and grotesqueness of much horror conveys. Because I like the unusual, I like the supernatural monsters and alien/mutant creatures of horror; a lot of sci fi, especially in film, overlaps with the horror genre.

What are some of your favorite horror movies, books or TV shows?

One of my favorite all-time classic horror movies is The Shining, a movie that is so chilling that I was not able to watch it all the way through until several years into my 20s. I love the classic Universal monster movies, especially the Frankenstein and Wolfman films. When it comes to Dracula, however, I just can’t get into Bela Lugosi’s enactment of the vampire (although I’ve liked a lot of the other horror characters he’s played, especially the mad scientist ones). I like Christopher Lee’s enactment of Dracula in the British Hammer films much more. Lee portrays the vampire a lot more realistically, in my opinion. (Lugosi comes across as over-acting the part.) When it comes to contemporary horror films, I have not really seen a lot of newer horror films that I really like. A couple that I were really good and are post-2000 are Universal’s remake of the Wolfman and the Alien prequel, Prometheus. I thought they did a great job giving a gothic ambience to the Wolfman re-make and Prometheus gave interesting background to the earlier Alien movies without info-dumping (a term us fiction writers use that refers to background information in a story where it’s not needed).
Favorite books: I like Edgar Allen Poe’s stories, especially “The Fall of the House of Usher” and “The Pit and the Pendulum”; I like Lovecraft’s The Call of Cthulhu; The Manitou by Graham Masterton; Joe Hill’s 20th Century Ghosts; the list is nearly infinite especially since there’s so many horror short stories that I really like because I’m a big lover of the short story in general (that’s what I normally write, as far as fiction goes.) But my favorite classic novels of horror are Frankenstein and Dracula, not only because they star monster characters who have been most iconic in modern horror but also because it conveys so much meaning on a literary level.
Television: I haven’t really been a big fan of horror television, although I’ve liked many of the dark supernatural episodes of the original Twilight Zone, such as one about a living ventriloquist puppet that torments its owner and another about the ghosts of murdered Jews who come back to haunt their Nazi oppressor. I like television horror-hosted movie shows such as Elvira’s Movie Macbre of the ‘80s, Sven Goolie’s show and Mr. Lobo’s Cinema Insomnia of today and the 1970s’ Creature Features hosted by Bob Wilkins in which this last one I grew up with. Horror- hosted movie shows such as these often feature B-rated flicks that are so horrible they’re good which I like right up there with the, believe it or not, A-grade or big budget horror films. I like the pop culture of the eras many B movies grew out of and reflect, especially the 1950s through ‘70s.

Another television show that I’ve always liked, although it’s not supernatural horror, is the original Outer Limits. MV5BODk0Nzg3OTAwMF5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTgwNDM0OTIzMDE@._V1_SX640_SY720_Many of the episodes were dark, featuring menacing monsters from other planets or from mad science experiments. And even though I’ve only seen a couple episodes since it debated about two years ago, I thought Sleepy Hollow was pretty good. Even though it’s way off course from Washington Irving’s short novel, The Legend of Sleepy Hollow, as a TV show and so within itself it’s been made really good and utilizes the Biblical apocalyptic theme well during this trending time of post-apocalyptic zombie themes (even though Sleepy Hollow isn’t a zombie series like Walking Dead is, in which this second one I was never able to get into by the way.)

In what way do you live the horror lifestyle?

I wear horror fandom tees, such as ones with Cthulhu prints, skull images, Universal Monster tees. I wear a ‘70s long-hair style and a full beard, which most people seem to be scared of the ‘70s. [laughs] I collect horror memorabilia, especially skull figurines, and use Halloween items I’ve bought on clearance for year-round interior decorating. For example, I have a “painting” of a figure that metamorphosizes from an 18th century naval captain to a dead pirate captain that was manufactured as a Halloween decoration but I hang it in my living room year-round. I don’t dust off the cobwebs in most places in my house. I’m fascinated with crows since they’re so much like ravens and so I’ll take extra effort to avoid hitting them while driving on the road no matter how much an angry driver in back of me is blaring his/her horn or yelling curses to me for “holding up” traffic. I call our local countryside coyotes “little wolves” or “mini wolves”, and I’ll stand several minutes outside at night admiring the full moon. For me, rain and thunder storms are beautiful weather (especially in fall and winter). Also Halloween is like an autumn version of Christmas to me, and so is my ancestral Day of the Dead which for me the two don’t contradict each other. Other words in my Lexington of horror that I use in everyday settings: I call my apartment maintenance man and the cemetery groundskeepers “caretakers”; I don’t call the underground level of a house a “basement”, I say “cellar”; I’ll say “coffin”, not “casket”; I’ll say “grave-“ or “tombstone”, not monument; and I never call a cemetery/graveyard a “monument park”.

My sense of humor tends to be pretty dark too. I listen to pop music by horror-inspired bands, especially the Groovy Ghoulies (who are no longer together) and the Phantom Jets, both who are local to my home area of Sacramento. But a few of my favorite horror rock songs by more notable artists are Michael Jackson’s “Thriller”, Warren Zevon’s “Werewolves of London”, the Rocky Horror Picture Show’s “Time Warp” and, of course, Bobby Boris Pickett’s classic “Monster Mash” which was probably my very first rock song I really got into.

What are you currently working on?

I was working on a second book of short fiction which I originally planned to release in August of this year but it looks like it won’t happen that soon. That’s because I’m trying to submit some stories to some magazines and, because many literary magazines don’t want simultaneous submissions, I would have to write up some new stories for the book. I plan to title it The Hidden. However, if my short story submissions don’t follow through, then the book release may not be delayed for too long (hopefully no later than the fall, ideally in time for Halloween).

Where can we find you online?

My book of short fiction, The Fool’s Illusion, is available on Amazon in both print and e-format (Kindle) [http://www.amazon.com/Fools-Illusion-Steven-Rose-Jr/dp/1491092548/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1431652461&sr=1-1&keywords=the+fools+illusion]. You can sometimes find sample stories of my book at my blog, A Far Out Fantastic Site (faroutfantastic.blogspot.com) as well as ones I have not yet compiled in a collection. Not all of my stories in Fool’s Illusion and on my blog are necessarily horror but most are dark to some degree. I also have a sci fi “column” at the news site, Examiner.com.  [http://www.examiner.com/scifi-in-sacramento/steven-rose-jr ] My Twitter page is @StaRosep2, The Fool’s Illusion Facebook page is [https://www.facebook.com/TheFoolsIllusion?ref=hl] (you may have to be logged into Facebook to see it), or you can email me at strosejr@gmail.com.

13 Questions with Michaelbrent Collings

As mentioned earlier in the week by David, our featured author for episode 80 is none other than Michaelbrent Collings. The best selling author of Apparition, the first chapter of which will be featured on our HA episode on Saturday.

After asking my first question, I knew this interview was going to be a blast. Just read what Collings had to say about his first time on Horror Addicts. “You know that feeling you get when you win a Nobel prize right after you find out your lottery numbers came up? It’s like that.  Only less.   Seriously, it’s nice to be here.  I always enjoy talking to people who appreciate horror.  So since you guys not only APPRECIATE horror, but are actually ADDICTED to it, I like it that much more.”

Now I don’t want to get you too excited about hearing Michaelbrent’s Apparition. Though the story is amazing, we will only be sharing the first chapter with you. So once you are hooked, feel free to head on over to Amazon and pick up your very own copy. But for those of you unfamiliar with Apparition here is a summary of the novel by Collings himself. “Apparition is the story of a family.  Brother, sister, mom, and dad.  Only one night the mother suddenly goes crazy and tries to stab her children to death.  The father saves them, but the mother then turns the knife on herself.  A year later, what’s left of the family is still trying to heal, to come to terms with what’s happened.  But it’s not over.  Because whatever force turned the mother into a murderess… has also set its sights on the father.  He has to find a way to rid himself of a supernatural entity that wants to possess him and use his body to kill his own children.”

Michaelbrent then went on to explain the inspiration for his novel, “Basically, whenever I write a scary story the first thing it has to do is scare ME.  And as a father there are very few things more frightening than the specter of losing a child.  So I took that kernel of a concept and played with it, finally realizing that far worse than simply LOSING a child would be the idea that you had to KILL one of your kids.  And Apparition was born.”

Maybe a few of you are not entirely familiar with the name Collings but it rings a few bells. Well, Addicts you are most likely thinking about the All Write writing seminars, created by….you guessed it, Michaelbrent Collings. “Yup, it’s my baby.  I started it for a few reasons.  One is that I am partially based out of Idaho, and I’ve found that there is a lot of interest in writing in general out here.  There are also a lot of folks who are interested in screenwriting, which I know a fair bit about – I’m a member of the WGA and a produced screenwriter.  So I looked around and realized that there was a large group of interested people who didn’t have nearly the same number of opportunities to get quality instruction as you might find in Los Angeles, and decided that someone had to change that.  More than that, though, I wanted to create an “A to Z” seminar where people could come in and learn a tremendous amount about the art and craft of writing – everything from poetry to novels to screenplays.  Not just a refresher course or one of those seminars where they pump you up and get you excited but don’t actually teach you much; I wanted to provide the most comprehensive writing seminar available ANYWHERE.  And hopefully that’s what we’ve got in All Write.”

And if that wasn’t what you were thinking of then I am sure it was one of around a dozen of stories written by Collings. “[All of my books are] available as both print and e-books.  I love e-books (there’s something wonderful about having an entire library with me wherever I go), but I’ll never leave print books behind.  There’s just something about the smell…[I am also both self-published and traditionally published. But I have had far greater success with my self-pub works.  We’re in a moment of real change in the publishing and literary world, and it’s exciting to see that.  It’s becoming less and less about whether you’ve been published by one of the big houses, and more and more about how many people actually download your book.”

Being such a well known horror author I was curious about what it was that attracted Michaelbrent to the genre. “I like a few things about the horror genre.  One thing is that it’s one of the few genres left where you can posit the existence of something beyond this life.  It has become more en vogue to pretend that everyone in literature is an atheist – or at least an agnostic – which I have found does not really mirror human existence.  Most folks believe in God, most believe in Heaven.  I think writing about those things makes for a richer experience, and horror by its very nature allows for that, since it so often deals with the supernatural and “the beyond.” Another thing I like about horror is that the stories are dire enough that, perhaps ironically, they allow for characters to rise above themselves and become truly heroic.  Everything is more powerful when placed under the magnifying lens of terror, including the (I believe) inherent goodness of humanity.  The best horror stories elevate and inspire just as much as they terrify.”

Here’s a little tid-bit for all you fans out there, Collings’ favorite scary stories growing up. “Probably a three-way tie between Jackson’s The Haunting Of Hill House, King’s The Shining, and Koontz’s Lightning.  All three of them are pinnacles of what they are trying to do.  Gun to my head, though, I’d probably say The Haunting wins by a nose.  Jackson’s story is so subtle, so artful.  The creepiness of it crawls into you; seeps into your bones so gradually you don’t realize how scared you are until it’s far too late to just put down the book and walk away.  Wonderful stuff.”

Now to all the horror and especially the vampire fans out there, be on the look out for Michaelbrent’s upcoming projects. “Well, I’m working on a couple things.  Something I’m working on that HA fans might want to look out for is a book I’m calling the anti-Twilight.  It’s going to be called Hooked, and though it’s a vampire tale, I’m doing some very fun things with the vamps that cast them in a light that is brand new.  No one has ever touched on this aspect of vampires before, so it should be a fun and (hopefully) creepy tale.”

For more information on Michaelbrent Collings, be sure to check out these websites!

http://www.michaelbrentcollings.com
http://fandemonium.org/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=114:author-guest-michael-brent-collings&catid=2:guests&Itemid=68
http://www.facebook.com/MichaelbrentCollings

Knightmist’s Top Ten Reviewed Movies

Since I have begun reviewing Horror Films I have found that the list has grown to account for over sixty films.  These films have ranged from classics to modern movies.  I have covered genres from straight horror, thrillers, psychological, b-movies to the comedic.  As another year comes to an end, I thought it was about time I looked back at all those films.  It’s also important to remember those films so they do not show up a second time on Horror Addicts.  So below I’m sharing a blurb on what I’d consider the top ten films of those I have reviewed.  There is no specific order to this list as they all could easily be the number one in my list.

Salem’s Lot (1979) David Soul, James Mason, Bonnie Bedelia

Salem’s Lot is one of those Television mini-series that left people speechless after seeing the series. Now it’s available for the masses to watch through DVD rentals and other forms of media.  It’s a story that came from the mind of Steven King and takes you to a small town besieged upon by a dark and ruthless vampire.  This creature will turn everyone from small children to adults and this film shows the battle between those who know what is happening and those who choose to run.

The Shining (1980) Jack Nicholson, Shelly Duvall, Danny Lloyd

This is another Steve King entry into my list and do not see this as a trend, it’s just another great film. The Shining is a film that takes you deep into the psyche of its main character.  It’s a study of what a man will imagine and eventually do when he is placed in a place of solitude. In this case, the man goes insane with a little help from the local spirits. This film is set apart by the young actor and the role he plays in the film making this a stunning film.

Dog Soldiers (2002) Sean Pertwee, Kevin McKidd, Emma Cleasby

British Soldiers are dropped into the highlands to take part in a training mission.  This seems a simple enough tasks but then they discover that things are not as they seem.  The troopers eventually end up finding themselves under attack from an unseen enemy who later does get revealed. They are being attacked by a pack of werewolves and then it becomes a battle of who will survive. A great survival movie with a great cast and even better great looking werewolves that scare

Fido (2006) K’Sun Ray, Billy Connolly, Carrie-Anne Moss

The world has seen a dramatic war in which men, woman and even children had to fight for their lives.  Humanity eventually beat back the hordes of Zombies that were created from radiation from space and a genius found a way to control the zombies.  This takes us to the town of Willard where a boy’s mother is able to get the family a zombie.  Timmy befriends the zombie and names him Fido and we get a story that is quite unique.  Things eventually get interesting in town and we see a boy do anything he can to save his dog, oops I mean his Zombie.

Let the Right One In (2008) Kare Hedebrant, Lina Leandersson, Per Ragnar

It’s the 1980’s and a boy lives alone with his mother in Sweden.  The boy is somewhat of a loner in school and is often bullied by a group of kids.  One day while out in the courtyard of his apartment complex he meets a young girl.  They eventually strike up a friendship, of sorts, and at times even speak through Morse code. The girl is different and has an old man as a caretaker and after a while we find out she is a vampire.  Their friendship is tested and things began to go wrong in town as she thirsts. This film was so well received it got an American remake called Let Me In (2010) staring Kodi Smit-McPhee and Chloe Grace Moretz.

Perfect Creature (2007) Dougray Scott, Saffron Burrows

This film came to the US in a straight to DVD release and was made in New Zealand with a well-known cast for that part of the world. The movie is set in a steampunk type of environment and takes place in a city that resembles Victorian London. There is a mix of cars, zeppelins, radios and black and white TVs that help to sell the world.  What makes this land stand out is the fact that vampires are seen as a church and are called the Brotherhood. Their job is to help to protect humanity and aid mankind by providing medicine for disease. However, one of the Brotherhood breaks ranks and begins attacking humans and it’s up to a female cop and a brother to track down the killer. As they track him a story unravels that is unique and quite surprising.

Slither (2006) Elizabeth Banks, Nathan Fillion, Michael Rooker

A meteor crashes near the town of Woodsville and unlucky town member Grant Grant is infected by a creature that had traveled within the meteor.  This creature begins to kill pets and eventually starts taking over the people in town. It’s up to the Sheriff Bill Prady to discover what is going on and save the town and anyone that has not been infected.  This film is a dirty pleasure as there is plenty of humor and some interesting scenes in the film that will either have you laughing or going ick.

The Strangers (2009) Liv Tyler, Scott Speedman

A man had just proposed to his girlfriend only to be turned down by her.  They return to the vacation home of his parents to relax before seeing what will happen with them.  As they are there a blonde woman stops at the home and asks for Tamara. After they tell the stranger it’s the wrong house things return to normal, or they think. After James leaves to get some smokes for Kristen, the woman returns. After this we begin to see people watching her from outside and then eventually within the house. It only gets worse for the couple form that point. This film takes the fears of home invasion and turns it on its head and most of all the creepy middle of nowhere setting adds to the film.

The Host (2006)

A South Korean Horror Film that takes a unique look at the killer creature tale. The film centers around a family that will do everything it can to get their missing little girl back. She had been taken by a creature that had wreaked havoc along the waterway killing people and taking the girl back to its home. The family which has a gold medalist archer, snack bar owner, his son and an additional son do all they can to find the girl. This leads to moments of challenge within the family unit and some comedy. It’s a great film as it explores the family as well as seeing the girl try to stay alive when in the creature’s lair.

The Exorcist (1973) Ellen Burstyn, Linda Blair, Max Von Sydow

In truth I should need to write very little about The Exorcist as it’s a horror classic and has been scary audiences since its original release.  The film has been followed by some conflicts and legends behind the filming of the movie. Most people remember a scene in which Linda Blair’s character tosses up enough pea soup that it appears as if it wouldn’t stop.  This film continues to make it on lists of scariest films ever made and should continue to be listed for some time. The plot is simple enough a young girl becomes possessed and the exorcism that takes place to save her. The film is pure terror and one that still sticks in the mind of viewers after seeing the film years in the past.