Shining Examples

Trick or treat? Here’s a little of both…

The iconic 1980 movie THE SHINING, as well as the appeal of board games are two subjects that have both been previously explored here on the pages of SCENIC WRITER’S SHACK. This time ’round we get to take a look at both at the same time.

Anything of remote significance that happened back in the year 1980 is now commemorating it’s 40th anniversary. That includes the Stanley Kubrick directed master piece of horror THE SHINING starring Jack Nicholson. Naturally there has been a re-issue of the film to coincide with this anniversary, complete with all the requisite extras –

Last year saw the release of what was touted as a sequel to the original film. DR SLEEP, based on Stephen King’s 2013 novel, starred Ewan McGregor and was met with mixed reviews.

Now there’s a thousand piece jigsaw puzzle –

and THE SHINING boardgame. For those who can tolerate overly long ‘unboxing’ videos, the one below unpacks literally everything about this game in minute detail –

In THE SHINING: ESCAPE FROM THE OVERLOOK HOTEL, players assume the roles of Wendy and Danny Torrance as they search for a way out of the hotel.

To escape, players have to contend with puzzles and obstacles along the way, including Jack Torrance, the ax-wielding antagonist immortalized by Jack Nicholson in the 1980 film. By using the psychic ability to “shine” players can unlock clues and solve puzzles that bring them closer to the exit.

The new game is part of the Coded Chronicles game line, and because the objective is to beat the game instead of each other, there’s no limit on how many (or how few) people can play. A full game is estimated to take two hours or more to complete, and this version is recommended for players 17 and older.

On this particular anniversary the story of a struggling writer and his family self-isolating for a winter of productivity only to slowly descend into a murderous nightmare feels especially haunting. Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, people everywhere have been forced to cope with the mental and physical consequences of solitude. 

With the monotonous sameness of our 2020 daily rituals insidiously driving us all collectively up the four walls, we can spare a thought for the type of next-level cabin fever laid bare in this all-powerful, almighty cinema classic.

Ps. What’s that? You want a bonus read? Ok, if you insist

Pss. And because it’s Halloween, there’s this…

Top Ten Favorite Films of the 1950’s

When the swarm of literally tens of thousands of films nesting inside a dedicated movie buff’s head or in a beard-like formation atop of the lower portion of their face reaches critical mass and the buzz becomes too busy to ignore, there’s but one thing to do – not counting inspired uses of a vacuum blower – and that’s compile a Top 100 list.

This particular hive will be organised according to time period – nominating ten beloved films from each of the decades from the 1940’s through to the 2010’s. That will total eighty films, so twenty selections will be included for the 1970’s and 80’s – ‘my‘ decades.

The 1950’s was a decade marked by the post World War 2 boom. The struggle between communism and capitalist systems around the world was in full swing. Politically this time included the assignations of the King of Jordan (1951) and the Presidents of Panama (1955), Nicaragua (1956) and Sri Lanka (1959). The invention of the solar cell and the opening of the world’s first nuclear power plant (in Moscow) took place in this decade.

Academy Award winners for Best Picture during this decade were –

And here are my ten favorite films from this period –

Every frame of these ten films a feast!

Ps. Concise as this list is, naturally there were regrets for the favorite films room couldn’t be found for. Janet Leigh and Tony Curtise’s HOUDINI (1953) was one such film.

The sci-fi/’horror’ classic THE THING FROM ANOTHER WORLD (1951) was another. An omission of downright atomic proportions was inexplicably somehow not managing to find room for Mickey Rooney’s retro-hilarious THE ATOMIC KID (1954). Still wondering how that oversight happened…

Pss. Wanna see another person’s ‘Best Films of the 50’s’ list? Click HERE

Kursk: The Last Mission

Twenty years ago, the world held it’s breath and watched an unfolding drama take place in the Barents Sea amidst the Arctic Ocean off Norway.

Russia’s most powerful, nuclear-powered attack submarine at the time, the KURSK, had suffered two cataclysmic on-board explosions – one so powerful it was detected by seismologists around the globe – and sunk to the bottom of the seabed to the relatively shallow depth of 107 metres below the ocean’s surface.

What is known is that 23 sailors amongst the crew of 118 survived the initial explosions. They lived on for as long as six days after the sub had become a crippled tomb with dwindling on-board oxygen supplies submerged in total darkness and plummeting inner-hull temperatures.

We know this with certainty due to dated, hand-written notes recovered – turns out pen-ink inscribed paper is still readable many months and years after being submerged in seawater – from the bodies of sailors who clung to life as long as they could, huddled together in the still intact, but slowly leaking and filling ninth compartment of the stricken Oscar 2 class submarine.

I’ve watched the 2018, Colin Firth-starring movie KURSK – re-titled THE COMMAND for it’s U.S release – read the book by journalist Robert Moore the film was based on – and vividly recall following every news and television report of the unfolding tragedy and failed rescue attempts I could gather back in August of 2000.

The book in particular offers up a deluge of revealing details of what went shockingly wrong in both the initial accident and the subsequent botched rescue attempts.

The Kursk was finally raised from the ocean floor in 2001. In a stunning technical achievement, Dutch contracting consortium MammoetSmit International succeeded in pulling the 155 metre sub ashore. It was the heaviest object ever lifted from such a depth.

These pictures show what the Kursk looked like BOTH before and after the disaster.

After a year-long investigation, it was confirmed that torpedo malfunction was to blame. This gave lie to several semi-official rumors at the time about a US sub downing the Kursk, or that it collided with another vessel or an abandoned World War II mine.

The Kursk had taken a decade to design, three years to build and just 135 seconds to destroy. The calamitous ticking time bomb in it’s midst was the HTP 65-67 torpedo (two of them were on-board on the day) that had been loaded into tube number four on the starboard side of the submarine’s bow compartment.

HTP stands for ‘high-test peroxide’ – a concentrated form of hydrogen peroxide (water with an extra oxygen atom). The propulsion system responsible for driving the torpedo through the water at a speed of 30 knots relied on a chemical reaction taking place within the torpedo between HTP and kerosene.

The particular HTP torpedo in tube number four had last been serviced six years previously in 1994. Over the intervening time, deep within it’s casing, corrosion had invisibly begun to weaken gaskets close to the tank that contained the HTP. It was a chemical cocktail waiting to begin a chain reaction once it came into contact with the copper-lined torpedo tube.

Britain had banned the use of HTP torpedos back in 1955 after an explosion on-board the HMS Sidon killed 12 sailors. An exhaustive investigation by the Royal Navy concluded that hydrogen peroxide was too volatile to be stored within the confines of a submarine’s torpedo room.

Never again did a British submarine go to sea with weapons that used HTP. The same could not be said for Russia’s Northern Fleet forty-five years later.

Another feature of the tragedy laid bare in the book is the fateful timeline forever associated with the rescue attempts.

The Kursk sank to the bottom of the ocean bed on August 12, 2000. It was not until five days later on August 17 that a Russian submersible attempted rescue. Despite numerous tries it was unable to create a vacuum seal with the crippled sub’s hatch.

More delays followed during which Russian military leaders and newly elected President Vladimir Putin – who had been in office only three months when the disaster unfolded – debated whether or not to accept International help.

On August 20 British and Norwegian crews arrived at the disaster site in the Barents sea. Finally on August 21 – nine days after the submarine sank – they were granted permission to attempt a hatch opening. When they did they discovered the 9th compartment of the sub – where all the survivors of the initial blasts had gathered – was completely flooded.

Kursk: The Russian Submarine Catastrophe's Game Adaptation Gets A Ton Of  New Info -

It was widely considered had Russia responded more promptly and accepted foreign assistance more readily there would have been a much higher chance of the sailors who survived the initial explosion having been rescued alive.

The original tower of The Kursk submarine today serves as a memorial in the Russian port city of Murmansk.

Ps. Can you believe there is now a Kursk video game? Available on PC, Mac, Sony Playstation 4 and Xbox One, the game has been released by a Polish company.

According to the developer, after the first few minutes depicting the explosion, the game should then go on to last at least 10 hours.

Players apparently not only have the opportunity to feel like a member of a submarine crew, but are also able to influence the story through their choices, including moral ones. Decisions made have a significant impact on the ending of the game, of which there are several versions.