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40 years on, pop culture can’t stop referencing the Overlook Hotel carpet

40 years on, pop culture can’t stop referencing the Overlook Hotel carpet

Isolating with your family can take its toll and such was true for Jack, Wendy and Danny Torrance. How appropriate then, that half the world should find itself in lockdown for the 40th Anniversary of Stanley Kubrick’s horror film The Shiningthe story of a family holed-up in the isolated Overlook Hotel with it’s iconic hexagon-patterned carpet.

kubricks-carpet-the-shining-hexagonal-david-hicks
Danny plays with his toy cars on the Hicks’ Hexagon Overlook Hotel carpet in The Shining

Released by Warner Bros in USA on May 23, 1980 (October 2, 1980 in UK) and based on Stephen King’s 1977 novel of the same name, initial reception to the film was mixed. Over time however, it has gone on to be widely considered one of the most important horror films of all time. 

Jack Torrance (Jack Nicholson) becomes the out-of-season caretaker of the Overlook Hotel and plans to use his spare time to write a book. It transpires that the Hotel has a decidedly dark past. It weaves itself into Jack’s brain and sends him over the edge.

One of the most iconic symbols of the movie – the striking orange, red and brown hexagonal-patterned carpet from the Overlook’s corridor (which Danny Torrance trundles around on his tricycle) – has woven itself into many other people’s brains too.

The David Hicks-designed carpet has been parodied and referenced in many forms of popular culture, from films to games, art, graffiti, TV and more. You can even buy the officially licensed carpet exclusively from Film and Furniture, for your own home.

Visually referencing the Overlook Hotel carpet sends out a message: If you recognise it, it verifies that you are a true film fan; you get it; you’re in that particular culture club.

Let’s take a look at some key films, TV series’ and games which have referenced the most recognisable carpet in the movies.

Dreams video game

Fans of Kubrick’s The Shining have recreated huge portions of the Overlook Hotel in video game development software Dreams.

Dreams is a game creation system developed by Media Molecule and published by Sony Interactive Entertainment for the PlayStation 4 in which Players can create user-generated content. This could be fully-fledged games, mechanics, assets, sculptures, music, and art, which can be shared or remixed to be used in others’ creations.

Some clever players have recreated a full-scale version of the Overlook Hotel featuring the Gold Room, the Maze, the Lounge and Second Floor, as well as Room 237. Check out this video tour through every completed part of the hotel on YouTube accompanied by the film’s haunting score.

The tour takes us through the grand lobby of the Overlook Hotel (the design of which was influenced by the interiors of  the Ahwahnee Hotel at Yosemite) complete with renders of all the furniture and décor including Jack’s typewriter and pile of typewritten “All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy” papers.

The tour then takes us up the stairs to the corridor which is carpeted with our beloved Hicks’ Hexagon carpet. From here you can enter Room 237 with its purple and green carpet and lilac sofas and chairs, and then up to bedroom and through to the art deco green bathroom suite.

See if you can find the Grady Twins too!

Sid’s house in Toy Story

Pixar loves hiding Easter Eggs in their films and the Toy Story franchise is brimming with them – including a large nod to our favourite geometric carpet design.

The carpet was referenced in the first Toy Story: When Woody and Buzz try to escape Sid’s house, the upstairs carpet and wallpaper is a clear homage to The Shining‘s Overlook Hotel.

Toy Story references The Shining's Overlook Hotel carpet
Toy Story references The Shining‘s Overlook Hotel carpet

Toy Story Art Director Ralph Eggleston was apparently behind the inclusion of this reference, although the editor of this, the first Toy Story, was Lee Unkrich who we know to be a huge Shining fan.

Unkrich went on to direct Toy Story 3 where other Shining references include the waste truck at the start of the movie which has the license plate “RM237” in reference to Room 237.

The Shining x Toy Story art

L.A. based artist Kyle Lambert created a series of iPad paintings which are a mash-up of Toy Story and The Shining references. Lambert is a clever artist known for creating illustrated movie posters for the entertainment industry including the iconic key art for Stranger Things.

The Shining meets Toy Story art by Kyle Lambert
The Shining meets Toy Story art by Kyle Lambert

 

Of his The-Shining-meets-Toy-Story series Lambert told Daily Dead: “I began following Lee Unkrich, the director of Toy Story 3 on Twitter. As well as his journey to the Oscars with Toy Story 3, Lee often tweets about his passion for Stanley Kubrick and the movie The Shining which inspired him to pursue a career in filmmaking. Having seen both The Shining and Toy Story 3 for the first time recently myself, I thought it would be cool idea to mash the two movies together as a fun side project”.

See more of the images in the set on Daily Dead.

Academy Museum of Motion Pictures advert

Although The Shining failed to gain any Oscar nominations, four decades after its release it was honoured by the Academy with an advert to promote the Academy Museum of Motion Pictures.

Original footage and newly shot scenes were incorporated in the advert to promote the “newly renovated” Overlook Hotel as staff are seen repairing and tidying up the aftermath of the Torrance family’s visit.

Staff clean and tidy the Overlook Hotel in created by Wieden+Kennedy's advert for the Academy of Motion Pictures Museum
Staff clean and tidy the Overlook Hotel in Wieden+Kennedy’s advert for the Academy Museum of Motion Pictures.

“If you’re looking for a remote, quiet get away, look no further than the newly renovated Overlook Hotel, with our famous garden maze and beautifully appointed interiors” the narrator of the spot says.

Minions Overkill Lab

The same famous Overlook Hotel carpet was parodied in the animated comedy Minions.

Herb Overkill's lab in Minions
Herb Overkill’s lab in Minions

Inventor Herb Overkill’s Lab flooring gives a very large nod to the dynamic carpet as the above film still clearly shows. His name ‘Overkill’ is a giveaway too!

Doctor Sleep returns to the Overlook

The 2019 film Doctor Sleep is based on King’s 2013 follow-up novel to The Shining and revisits the Overlook Hotel in gory glory.

Doctor Sleep (left) returns to The Shining‘s Overlook Hotel. (Right: The Shining)

Doctor Sleep director Mike Flanagan carefully reconstructed the spaces, production design and set decoration of Kubrick’s Overlook Hotel. The film even opens with Danny riding around the corridors on his tricycle over the carpet’s hexagons.

Passengers spaceship bar

In sci-fi space travel film Passengers starring Jennifer Lawrence and Chris Pratt, the large spaceship houses a grand and luxurious art deco-style bar. Production designer Guy Hendrix Dyas wanted the film’s bar to be both inviting and classic while simultaneously acknowledging the theme of interplanetary travel.

passengers-set-design-003-crop
Passengers spaceship bar. Note the carpet…

In discussing the design of the space ship bar, Set Decorator Gene Serdena (who was also set decorator on Doctor Sleep) says it references  “The marriage of historical styles—art deco, prairie school, disco—and occasional nods to classic cinema”. Given the layout of the bar, the barman and the floor covering (see above) – I think we know which ‘classic cinema’ is being nodded at…

 

Bojack Horseman

Even Bojack Horseman has been at it!

the shining carpet in bojack horseman
The Shining‘s Overlook Hotel carpet referenced in Bojack Horseman

In Season 6 Ep 1 Bojack visits Jameson H’s father’s house who collects movie memorabilia – including the Hicks Hexagon rug in reference to The Shining seen proudly (above) in front of the Forrest Gump bench.

 

Ready Player One

In Speilberg’s Ready Player One, the main characters are avatars inhabiting a virtual reality world known as the OASIS. Within this virtual world their second challenge takes place in The Shining.

The Hicks Hexagon carpet parodied in Ready Player One
The Hicks Hexagon carpet parodied in Ready Player One

Slash Film explains how Spielberg (who was friends with Kubrick) and company created the scene “by taking a ‘high-quality telecine transfer’ of a print of The Shining, and scanning it into a computer. From there, they digitally recreated the locations needed for the scene”.

Ready Player One scenes inside the Overlook Hotel include the corridor with the carpet, the elevator of blood, and the naked lady in Room 237’s memorable green art deco bathroom.

 

The Simpsons

The Simpson’s numerous parodies of The Shining is stuff of legend. The Guardian writer Ammar Kalia admitted recently that although he has never seen the film, he had gathered his knowledge of the Kubrick classic from The Simpsons homage: “… there is one horror I have lied about seeing on multiple occasions: The Shining. Whether on dates, with friends, or to strangers, I have used my viewing of The Simpsons’ parody of the Kubrick classic to feign knowledge, pretending that I, too, am a part of ‘the culture’.”

 

Overlook

HBO is currently working on a Shining spin-off series called Overlook with J.J. Abrams’ Bad Robot Productions.

Maurice Leslie shared his thoughts on this with us recently, and we will all await to see if Overlook will also make a nod to our favourite carpet in film.

 

Officially licensed Hicks Hexagon – as seen in The Shining – carpet, rugs and runners are available exclusively from our store.

The same famous pattern is also available as officially licensed wallpaper.

The Shining 40th Anniversary Special Edition (4K Ultra HD + Blu-Ray) is now available for pre-order. This limited edition set includes: 4K UHD Extended Cut, Blu-ray extended and theatrical cuts, exclusive booklet, letter from Stanley Kubrick to Saul Bass, Saul Bass early design illustrations, behind-the-scenes imagery, and a replica theatrical poster.

 

Do you know of any other references to The Shining Overlook Hotel carpet we may have overlooked? 


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