If we asked you to name some iconic horror film backdrops, The Shining’s Overlook Hotel and it’s mind-bending maze probably made your list. Long time fan of the film, MythBuster Adam Savage, has set out to create probably the most accurate model of the iconic hedgemaze ever concieved. He explains:
“Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining is one of my all-time favorite horror movies. There’s an exhibition from the Kubrick archives traveling around the world right now, and I’ve seen it three times in two cities so far. Twice at LACMA in Los Angeles and again at the TIFF in Toronto. There’s a whole section in the exhibit devoted to The Shining, and in that section, I started for some reason to get excited about the Overlook Hotel maze. It’s such an iconic character in the film, and one of the ways in which the film departs significantly from the book. I also took note that the maze they had in their exhibit didn’t meet my standards for accuracy. So I started to gather information, with the idea that I might make my own.”
Most of you will be aware of the role of the maze in the film, and how it has almost become a full-fledges horror character in it’s own right. The hotel was designed for the film by iconic art director Roy Walker, and is based in part on several different real hotels. The extremely elaborate maze features prominently in the film, ultimately instigating it’s climax. But did you know that scenes were shot at several different mazes in order to achieve the illusion of vastness. These included a set for exterior shots of the entrance, a smaller scale smaze built in a lot, an overhead model, the model we see within the film, and the maze seen in the climax (around 1/4 of the actual size depicted). Savage opted to follow the actual model seen in the hotel when constructing his model.
The first task for Savage was to calculate the scale and measurements of the project, then to find an appropriate material to simulate the hedges.
His construction of the maze structure was divided into three parts. Outside – Rectangular with column and arch details around the perimeter. he “heart” center of the maze. These hedges are taller than the body hedges. And the main body of the maze, with identical 3/4” thick hedges. As well as regular wall, the maze also contains a huge number of archways.
Tiny individual details such as column caps, and crowns had to be added to the pieces, before the artist could begin to assemble the maze.
He then mapped out the exact position of scenery items, including hedges, the cabin, lights and model people. The final steps involved cleaning up and assembling the maze according to his maps.