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Stanley, Here We Come


I was sixteen when I first saw The Shining… and I thought it sucked.   Before you send hate mail, let me explain.  I was on a high school bus trip to Boston, for some reason one of our teachers thought it was alright to show this educational film on the ride home.  While I was excited to see it, it was on an eight inch screen that was tinted pink and had a squiggly line across the middle.  I could look at the clearer screen a few rows up, but an eight inch screen ten feet away was no IMAX to say the least (that and this was pre-Lasik and I didn’t have glasses).  As the film played there was hooting and hollering, laughing and jokes that emanated from the smell of sweaty boys and stale McDonald’s bags.  Regardless, I was able to block most of that out and focus on my girlfriend sitting next to me.  I tried to pretend like we were on a romantic date at a theater, but with french fries hitting me in the head every few minutes, the romance really wasn’t there.  

After missing most of the opening of the movie as my fellow classmates settled down, I started to pay closer attention to the film, mostly because my girlfriend wasn’t allowing my hands to wander under her shirt with the nosy girl (who never combed her hair) sitting in front of us.  At this age I was already a massive horror fan, but missed out on many classics as the local Blockbuster always wanted to see my ID when I tried to rent anything over a G rating.  Therefore, this was a great opportunity to see a so called “classic” horror film.  Maybe it was the fact that the blood coming out of the elevator was a bright pink or that Jack’s face thorough the door was comedically distorted by that squiggly line, but I was not impressed.  

The following year, the made for TV version of The Shining was set to air.  I had my reservations as I did not like the original with its squiggly pink blood, but regardless I was able to talk my family in to watching the movie with me over the course of several nights, as it clocked in at around five hours.   Each night we all sat riveted to our television as we watched the funny guy from Wings smash his way through a hotel with a mallet.  Maybe it was the fact that there was no squiggly line down the screen or that everything didn’t have a pretty pink glow, but I loved the movie.  What I loved the most was that they filmed it at the actual hotel where Stephen King got so spooked, that he was inspired to write the story… The Stanley Hotel.  

Sixteen years later, I had seen the original several more times.  I liked the film more, but still not nearly as much as the remake.  (Before you argue with me about how Kubrick is a master and the film a piece of history, Stephen King himself hated the original movie.)  I also read the book and enjoyed it thoroughly.  Having consumed all the media revolving around The Shining over the years, it never occurred to me that I would one day get to go to the actual hotel… let alone that the trip would be in the company of a horror legend… or even more so insane, that I would get to spend several nights alone in room 217….

When an opening in our schedule popped up, Kane and I didn’t want to stop traveling and fly to opposite sides of the country for only a few days off, then have to fly back to meet up.  Therefore we started throwing around ideas of where we could go, somewhere fun that we could bring Shawn our camera guy to film us doing stupid stuff.  I tossed out some ideas that were tame to say the least, most of which got me dead looks and no response from Kane.  After not making a decision, we both headed off to bed.  As I plugged in my night light and grabbed Ralph my teddy bear my phone rang.  Seeing the picture of Jason Voorhees on the screen, I knew Kane had come up with an idea.  Without even letting me say hello, Kane simply said, “The Stanley Hotel”.  I replied with two words, “Book it.”   

The rest of that night I spent on my laptop researching the hotel, reading everything I could about Stephen King’s classic novel and his real experiences at that hotel.  When I finally gave in to the urge of sleep, I thought about the movies and the episodes of ghost investigation shows that filmed there over the recent years… that was when I sat up right, realizing, I was about to not only sleep in a hotel known for inspiring one of the most famous horror stories of all time, but that it was actually haunted… and terrified little me was going to go there with a lunatic and have to spend the night, no, not night, nights, plural… what the hell was I getting myself into?