Stanley Film Festival Recap

By Bruce Hall

May 15, 2013

But not as creepy as a birthday clown festival.

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A few weeks ago, a good friend of mine emailed me about the Stanley Film Fest, which was to be held at the iconic Stanley Hotel in Estes Park, Colorado. For those not in the know, this place was the inspiration for Stephen King’s Overlook Hotel in The Shining. The Stanley had a previous reputation for being haunted, and the story is that King saw the ghost of a child in his room, it gave him an idea for a book, and the rest is Jack Nicholson trying to ventilate Shelley Duvall with an axe. This seems like a pretty logical place to hold a horror film festival, and when my friend heard about it, he emailed me the link, and said - and I quote:

“You have to go to this.”

He was right, of course. But what he couldn’t have known is that I’d already made plans. I live about 90 minutes from Estes Park, and this writing about movies thing has been going pretty well, so yeah...why not? This is America - Rocky didn’t kick Drago’s ass for me to sit at home playing Mass Effect 3 when the first annual Stanley Film Fest was going on, right up the street. So, I snagged the Missus and I a couple of passes, and off we went. Now if you’re not a local, one thing you need to know about the Stanley Hotel is that it’s not as remote as the one in the movie. In fact, you can stand on the front steps and - assuming you’ve got a pretty good arm - chuck a baseball into the parking lot of the strip mall at the bottom of the hill.


Still, if you are facing with your back to the bustling town, you can totally pretend you’re Jack Nicholson heading back inside to tuck everyone into bed. With an axe. That is, until you see the Nicholson impersonator standing out front. I had to admit he was a dead ringer for the man, circa 1988. There he stood in a pair of jeans, a leather jacket and a pair of Ray Bans, smoking a cigarette like it was no big deal. People would walk out of the building, do a double take and stop for a picture. So stupidly, I did not. Don’t let me find out that was actually Jack Nicholson doing someone a solid, or I’ll hate myself forever.

Since there seemed to be an unfortunate mistake with my All Access Mega-VIP Super Platinum Press Pass, we arrived too late to see the first two films, Black Rock and Berberian Sound Studio. So we took in the rest of the establishment, and I got some photos on my state of the art 5 megapixel Casio from 2004. We picked up lunch at the hotel’s restaurant, where they gave us a private room off the main dining area (no doubt to make up for not recognizing me) where I enjoyed some kind of Elderflower drink out of a copper mug. Then I had a very tasty burger and yes - I did the line from Pulp Fiction. In front of the waitress.

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