What is it?
The following, quite simply, was the commercial released by the USA Network to support and promote the release of Nightmare on the 13th Floor. It pushed the film all the way up until it's premiere debut, in which it also played just before the actual film first aired. The commercial also functioned as the movie's trailer, and consisted of a series of selected shots from the film during advertising. Since the purpose of the trailer is to attract a wide and diverse audience to the film, these excerpts are usually drawn from the most exciting, funny, or otherwise noteworthy parts of the film but in abbreviated form and usually without producing spoilers. It was the perfect introduction to the film.
Almost all of the text below is elaborated upon during its particular inclusion into the walkthrough. This is the reason that a lot of the scenes below that also appear within the film do not receive the same definitive analysis as they do when read during their proper placement within the walkthrough. To get the most out of the film trailer, it is recommended that upon reading, you refer to the walkthrough, and then reread the text below.
|The USA Network was reaching a peak during the late 1980s and early 1990s and through that time they produced some of the finest films around. They still do, but as I've explained elsewhere on the site, they certainly had more of a reason to push the films of the era a little more. Previews like this are no longer commonplace on the station. But here, right from the beginning, the music helps catch the viewers attention by creating a build up. With the drums keeping a ear-catching rhythm, a series of five purple, blue and teal rhombuses created by sharp horizontal lines come together to form a star. The star lays itself against the film reel background turning white before sinking through the reel, and the reel rises away, towards the top left of the screen. The words USA PRESENTS, in a skinniner version of the USA Networks signature font travels past our view. The white letters lean to the right and appear atop a larger, reddish set of letters. The red letters reveal the USA Networks logo. As the orchestra helps to create a heart pumping intro, the announcer chimes in:|
Announcer: Next, on the USA World Premiere Movie:
The red USA logo shrinks down, appearing above a light blue version of the skinnier font reading WORLD PREMIERE MOVIE. The movie has appeared in several different countries, and all debuted at the exact same time - October 31, 1990 at 9:00 p.m. (local time). On that night, versions of the film translated in no less that six different languages premiered all around the world. It was one of the first times a worldwide telecast of a movie premiered in so many places, and was a collossal feat of electrical engineering and manpower that helped to truly set the standard for film debuts today.
|The USA Network used various versions of the "Futura" font to create the sans serif logos.|
The music builds up, coming to a dramatic finish as the stations ID card comes to a close.
|The trailer itself possesses its own ominous music that begins with a ringing that helps to call forth the listener's attention. It makes the perfect compliment.|
Announcer: A mysterious hotel...
The narrator's low, ominous sounding voice provides a creepy compliment to the imagery. Talk of "A mysterious hotel" begins inriguing the viewer.
The very first thing
that we see is the Wessex Hotel, shrouded in darkness. But all of a sudden, there is a flash of lightning, and a crack of thunder, and
the Hotel is illuminated with a ghastly glow. This scene does not appear anywhere within the movie, but it gives
such a quaint and charming structure as the Wessex an ominous and ghoulish feel.
Announcer: ...hides a deadly secret.
A deadly secret? The viewer gets the vibe that something horrible must be taking place inside of the hotel.
| The next image used in the preview, is the scene in which Mrs. Beecher is watching in fear as the shadow of the axe-weilding maniac comes
around the corner. This time, however the lighting casts a creepier feel, Mrs. Beecher is no longer in the frame, and we see the axe gleaming in
the ambient lighting, rather than just seeing it's shadow as it is coming around the corner.|
The vewier wonders what is going on. They see the axe, but it is being weilded by a mysterious figure shrouded in darkness, appearing mostly as a shadowed silhouette. They also see tattered red wallpaper, as light appears to be coming through windows surrounding a central column. And they know that the image more than likely takes place in the hotel, with the juxtaposition of it to the announcer just mentioning the hotel harboring a deadly secret. It becomes more prevalent this might be the case as we hear a scream.
It is unknown who is screaming in the background, but it sounds as if it could be the character listed in the credits as Man 1. He is the person that gets murdered, right in front of Elaine's eyes. She was told it was a dream but she just doesn't quite believe that. The scream doesn't appear within the film, however, and the voice appears slightly unrecognizable, so it's hard to tell who is screaming for sure.
|Next we see a demonic
goateed figure (part of the concrete carving on the frieze that wraps around the Wessex Hotel between it's 12th
and 14th floors and the same one the film title becomes superimposed upon on Page 2), shrouded in darkness. But
all of a sudden, there is a flash of lightning, and the carving is illuminated with a ghastly glow. This scene
does not appear anywhere within the movie, but it gives already demonic imagery even more terrifying
We next see a picture of the man who started Elaine's quest to find the truth. When the elevator breaks down on Elaine's way to see the hotel's ballroom, he was the one was struck in the back by something we cannot identify, by someone we cannot see. It is a troublesome sight. He fell onto the carpet, where he happens to make contact with Elaine. Blood is drizzling from his mouth and appears to be in a lot of pain. In the film Elaine is mortified as she is unable to help. Powerless to help, she watches the man being dragged away from by the elevator by the very man who took his life.
Man 1: Help me!
We next see an image of Elaine. This is the one where she was trying to get the LAPD Detective Sargeant Madden to believe her - so that he will help her discover "the truth":
Elaine: I saw a murder.
We can make the logical assumptional that the young lady in the picture is referring to the images above, of the man with blood drizzling from his mouth. A murder? This definitely intrigues the viewer as it appeals to their fondness for suspenseful whodunnit type mysteries.
Doctor Lanier: Isn't it possible that you imagined all of this?
The viewer doesn't know who this gentleman is, but he appears to be acting quite sardonic in response to the young lady. This is the hotel's doctor, and he seems to have ulterior motives for wanting to reinforce that the young lady is just dillusional.
|During the movie, when the doctor asks if it was possible that she might have
imagined the murder, he is shown from afar, with all of the characters in the frame. Here, in the USA World Premiere
Movie's one minute preview, he is shown close-up. He sounds almost the same, with maybe a hint more sarcasm
in his voice. The look on his face shows that he definitely thinks she crazy. All of this is a reverse
pyschological ploy to divert attention away from themselves by passing Elaine off as a
We next see a man falling down an elevator shaft. This unknown man, who is screaming in terror, is later revealed to be Sargeant Madden, the police detective who Elaine spends ¾ of the movie trying to get to believe her.
Sargeant Madden: Ahhhhh!
We next see a shot of the hotel porter that does not appear in the film. He is wearing his dark blue uniform with gold trim and gold
rimmed porter's hat that is typical of his uniform, and standing next to a bellhop cart. He is smiling,
devilishly, and it's assumed he is up to no good... Especially showing him after showing the Sargeant falling down the elevator shaft. (Although the scenes are not related within the film).
Announcer: Checking in is easy...
We see picture of Elaine Kalisher, the film's heroine and the same young lady that claimed earlier to have witnessed a murder, is standing in front of a dark brown door. While this appears to be the same door she will examine later when she finally discovers the hotel's secret floor, it is not. In the background adjacent to the door in the film we see the orangish glow of a gaslight and the floor's red wallpaper. Here, however, is a blue light to the right of Elaine's head, a step looking pattern built into the wall, and a metal chainlink style grating in the spaces surrounding the step pattern. There is a possibility that this is a picture of Elaine looking out of the elevator, into the mysterious floor in which she will eventually discover. If she is looking out of the elevator, it comes from the perspective opposite that always shown within the film.
Letti: Looking for something sweetie?
This is the line that Wessex Hotel's service manager, Letti Gordon, used while speaking to the young engineer, Gail Myers, that comes onboard to help Elaine on her quest to find "the truth". This is when Gail spins around to see Letti Gordon, cigarette in hand, eyeing her inauspiciously.
The line is used to show that the hotel is trying to hide something. They are willing to do whatever it takes to stand in your way - if you try to get in theirs. Note that Letti speaks sweet and innocently while Elaine, on the other hand, asks in a tone that says she knows that the service manager is lying.
Elaine: What's up there Letti?
This line is used to show that the protagonist - the young lady seen earlier insisting she saw a murder - is now questioning the staff about the "murder" she saw earlier and is nosily investigating into this "mysterious hotel". Asking what's up there implies that she can not access it herself, and so she is trying to inquire about areas the staff feels are none of her business. This line comes from the scene in which Elaine is trying to figure out what Letti might have done with Peddler, a derelict originally suspected of murder...
We next see a brown door with a golden number "9" placed atop it. The door opens to reveal an older styled room, atypical of anything expected to be found today.
|Versus the movie, we see this room from a slightly different angle. Literally. The first thing that we notice that is different is that the antique, and undoubtably original number "9", perfectly centered, and adorning the door to the room numbered 9, is seen straight on. The closest that we come to seeing the room number in the film itself is during two shots seen of it as the Sargeant is holding the door open. It is on the door, visible to the Sargeant's right. But it definitely isn't as clear and legible as it is now.|
The second difference is that in the film, after the door bursts open, the camera is inside of the room, behind the small table, facing the Sargeant, who is peering into the room, looking for signs of movement. It then cuts to the Sargeant's view into the room - looking at the fireplace and window. Here, however, as soon as the door bursts open, we see the shot of the fireplace and window. It is a lot darker than the shot that wound up in the film. It was also filmed at a slightly different angle. While the images appear to be almost identical, pay attention to the fireplace mantle, on the right side of the screen. In the film, it runs downhill to the right at a slightly larger angle than it does in the shot used in the film's preview, which appears to have been shot more straight on, rather than filmed on an angle.
We next see a man's bloody face drop into the view of a small 2' by 1½' opening. We will later learn that this is Sargeant Madden, the LAPD Detective Sargeant that Elaine will spend almost half of the movie trying to get to believe her.
Following the scenes within the film, we see Elaine, mortified at what has just happened. She immediately reaches up and covers her eyes, hoping that the nightmare is just that, but it's not. The only person she had left on her side is now laying dead on top of the elevator that has started this whole thing.
Announcer: ...but checking out can be murder.
The line definitely intrigues viewers. Checking in is easy, but checking out can be murder. Definitely doesn't sound like the kind of hotel that you go to on a luxury vacation!
We next see a shot of Elaine that was used when she was on the way to her room, to try and telephone the police. The Sargeant was murdered, which we know as we just witnessed above and Elaine was was trying to escape. Running into the staff twarts her progress and she is forced to run back into the heart of the hotel. She chooses to try and make it to her room and use the telephone, and thus a German tilt of the corridor symbolizes the franticness of the situation, as Elaine desperately seeks security and shelter.
We see a hand reaching for a doorknob. This is Sargeant Madden's hand, as we will learn, right before he attempts to open the door to Room #9, swinging it open and revealing the contents of the room, as we saw above. He was looking for he killer, but doesn't find him in Room #9... He will eventually find him, but, as we saw above, it doesn't end well for the poor, overworked police detective, as we also saw above.
Elaine: Help me!
There is a shot of
Elaine, peering through one of the windows in the Wessex Hotel, screaming for somebody to help her. This scene
does not appear anywhere within the movie, but it's most natural placement would be during the epic chase
sequence, as there are windows that Elaine will pass by as she is running... The only thing that can contradict this, is that there is daylight flowing through the windows during the chase sequence, implying that it is earlier in the day, while the pictures here depict darkness. It will be dark by the time all is said an done, but for now, at least during the chase sequence, it looks very bright out, so the true placement of this scene is unknown.
Through the light being cast upon the wall, we see a silhouette of a man holding what appears to be an axe. The axe is raised, poised to strike. It comes down, swinging, and upon impact we hear a loud boom followed by a scream:
Elaine (?): Ahhhhh!
The almost 2-second long scream that is used here, comes immediately after Elaine yelling "Help me!" in the cut scene above. The immediate juxtaposition of the two sounds, sound very much as if it could have come from Elaine. it doesn't appear anywhere within the film, but we can tell that it definitely comes from Elaine.
Announcer: James Brolin
Running a practice over on 32nd Street, Dr. Alan Lanier also runs a small office at the Wessex Hotel, becoming the regular doctor upon the prior hotel doctor's retiring. Seemingly happy, the doctor see This is a picture of the doctor when he arrives at Elaine's room for their "date".
Announcer: John Karlen
John Karlen stars as Detective Sargeant Madden, the completely overworked, yet extremely effective at what he does, LAPD Sargeant, who is thrown into the middle of all of the madness at the Wessex Hotel when Elaine Kalisher insists she witnessed a murder, somewhere in the hotel. Although every floor was examined, and nothing found, Elaine refuses to quit searching for the truth. The Sargeant is thrown into a a world he never thought possible and, this time, it seems, it would have been better if he had never found "the truth"...
The picture of the Sargeant used here has been flipped from it's original state.|
Announcer: Louise Fletcher
Hardworking and extremely proficient, Letti Gordon (played by the remarkable Louise Fletcher) keeps the entire bottom two service floors of the Wessex running smoothly and efficiently. She is in charge of accepting deliveries and packages, authorizing entry for the laundry service, flower deliverers and other workers, manning the kitchen and ice sculptors and planning activities for the day for areas of the Hotel such as prep for the Garden Cafe and the Ballroom. She seems to have ulterior motives, however...
This is the shot of Letti after Gail Myers has gotten onto the service elevator.
Announcer: ...and L.A. Law's Michele Greene
Michele Greene stars as the lovely Elaine Kalisher, a writer who travels around the world writing articles on 5-star travel destinations. She is curious in nature and will stop at nothing until she has obtained the whole story. Elaine leaves her quaint suburban home in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida, headed for Los Angeles, California, to write a travel article on the acclaimed "Wessex Hotel", a Victorian-style hotel built in 1898. She ends up getting more than she bargains for and the scope of her article completely changes – from croissants - to murder...
This is a shot of Elaine right after she has arrived on the 13th Floor. She spent most of the movie trying to validate its existence, and here she has finally found it. In the film, the primary door seems to open, almost by itself. The retractable metal gate also appears to open by itself, and does so only a split second after the primary door begins sweeping open. Through the gate we can see Elaine, wide eyed as she stares out.
Elaine maintains this look as both doors sweep out of her way and we can get a better look at her face.
The audience feels for Elaine. Seeing her running through the corridors, seeing a man with an axe, seeing the dead Sargeant on top of the elevator... It's the makings for a perfect movie.
There is a picture of Sargeant Madden, the hardworking, overworked and underpaid investigating detective for the Los Angeles Police Department, running in fear down the hotel's 13th Floor. At the time, of course, the viewer doesn't know anything about the true identity of this rotund man running in terror down this scantily lit corridor.
This scene comes during the Sargeant's unfortunate run-in with the hotel's 13th Floor. He was trying to hunt down the murderer, and put an end to all of this madness, but he winds up suffering a tragic fate instead.
We next see our heroine, Elaine Kalisher, clutching the elevator control panel and looking up in fear before looking around.
This scene was what initially sparked Elaine's curiousity. This was used at the beginning of the film when Elaine is on her way to the hotel's ballroom, on the hotel's top floor. The elevator malfunctions and sends it plummeting. The elevator's emergency brake kicks in and the elevator comes to a crashing stop, leading to Elaine smacking her head and then witnessing a murder upon prying the elevator door open.
We next see a picture of the elevator's floor number indicator, which resides above the elevator door. In an dimly orangish yellow light, the number "12", positioned between a simiarly lit larger arrow on top and smaller arrow on bottom fades away to black. This is symbolizing the elevator's ascent from the 12th to the 13th Floor, and was used twice throughout the movie. Once during the sequence with Gail Myers, and once during Elaine's final ascent. This doesn't include times when the numeral faded, but then relit to denote its arrival on the hotel's 14th floor. This scene, specifically, comes from when the viewer sees it, during the sequence in which Elaine finally reaches the hotel's hidden 13th Floor.
Announcer: When the elevator stops...
We see the 13th Floor, via a shot of it seen right after Elaine has originally witnessed the murder. The victim is being dragged off, and Elaine takes one final look at the floor, seen in the image at left, before sinking back into the elevator into a unconscious state.
Heart racing drum rolls compliment the fear the audience is acquiring.|
We now see a shot of a giant circuit breaker type of lever, which we will learn controls the service elevator, but forcing the elevator into a state in which it ignores all naturally given commands. Forcing the switch upward will make the elevator ascend, while forcing it downward will make the elevator descend. We see a hand, protruding from a white garment which itself protrudes from up under a black robe type garment. This is the killer, wearing an executioner's style robe, controlling the elevator by forcing it to bring unwilling patrons to the floor. The hand is raising the lever, and this means that he is summoning the elevator upward. This is the scene used where he forces Elaine onto the floor, in an attempt to take her life.
Announcer: ...the nightmare begins.
We see a shadowy silhouette of the killer, holding a sharp pointed fireaxe, as he makes his way in front of the eerily lit red based, tessilating wallpaper. He is on his way to claim another life. This scene is used many times throughout the movie.
Announcer: Nightmare on the 13th Floor...
The announcer's voice changes immediately from it's ominous tone, used throughout, to a happy-go-lucky type that helps to ease the racing hearts of fans acquired through the preview.
Announcer: a USA World Premiere Movie
The ominous music comes to a end while the screen fades into the hustle and bustle of a busy beach setting, and the official start of our journey.
CONTINUE TO PAGE #1