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Welcome to Nightmare on the 13th Floor. You and Elaine Kalisher are about to embark upon an incredible journey... Pay attention to detail, and try to look for keys to solving the mystery. Use this guide in conjunction with the film to obtain the greatest possible experience. Remember, as there are spoilers abound, it is highly recommended that you have watched the movie at least twice before delving into the pages of this site.








Welcome to Ft. Lauderdale, Florida. The screens fades from black to introduce a busy strip on the beach. It is bustling with activity, with men and women of all ages. We have a dad pushing his child in a three wheeled, double seated stroller, bicyclists, roller skaters, a guy with a surfboard, and a hip-hop-styled beat coming from a beachgoers' boombox.

Note:
All of these are implications of beautiful weather. The use of the beachgoers as a background element stress the importance for the concept of coming out of winter and leading into summer. This is seen as a time of emergence. As most objects come out of hibernation and dormancy at this time, it seems to be a time when anything seems possible, and doors unlock. While the beachgoers are just living up this beautiful time of year, they are important plot elements to counter the fact that Elaine may not get the chance to enjoy this time of year. She is a writer for a popular travel magazine, the "Traveler's Review". This time of year is perfect for vacation destination reviews. So while she has emerged from her dormancy in winter to enter a period of travel-inclined weather, she may not get the chance to complete the amalgamation. In fact, she may not make it home at all.

Foreshadowing the Future:
As the beachgoers ride by, we see that the two females on roller blades that were originally side by side are now split up and having to go around the man with a baby stroller and a bicyclist. As they are being split up, the one on the left glances to see her partner. As small as a hint as it may be, it represents many things: being broken apart by obstacles, the importance of friends and the buddy-system, and the fact that no friends mean being alone, and being alone means no one will come looking for you when you disappear in a old Victorian-styled hotel... Notice that even the little girl looks to the small brown teddy bear sitting in the seat beside her, before turning back forward.

While a detailed list of the extra's wardrobe used through this scene has yet to be added, notice that the female skater on the left is wearing a white t-shirt with an eagle on it. In the good sense, the eagle is symbolic as it represents the idea of flying free, despite the containment that the hotel will end up offering Elaine. It's also used to foreshadow the flight Elaine will soon take. In the bad, it represents the predatorial nature that the hotel will use as it descends down upon Elaine as well as foreshadowing the fight that Elaine will provide, as she becomes the prey, fighting off the advancing attacks of her predator.

Note:
The double stroller could possibly be symbolic, and could represent four possible scenarios. There is a chance that the father is expecting his second child, and already has a stroller for two. That would be a good thing. There is also a chance that there was a second, possibly deceased, child, and the teddy bear is a reminder of the child's former existence. This would be a bad thing. There is a chance that perhaps the little girl just simply wanted a place for her teddy bear (possibly an imaginary friend) and the stroller was bought to accommodate her desires. Strangely, that would be a good thing. Or perhaps there is another child that was left at home (possibly with his mother). This induces feelings of separation, which the film plays upon as a plot metaphor. The child looks to her bear as a reminder of her sibling. Sadly, the separation metaphor would be a bad thing.

Version Differences:
At 11 seconds into the film, directly after the roller skater on the left glances to her partner on the right, the Russian version of the film cuts directly to the shot of the window of Elaine's house, after the camera enters the house. It pans around the room like normal, but not after having cut the last 17 seconds out of the film.

Beachgoers go by, while six of them run across the road, hoping across the concrete divider separating the road from the strip:

Male Beachgoer: Hey, let's go to the game, you guys...
Female Beachgoer: Don't you hate... Hey, wait a second, I
   have to get the ball, Paul.


Note:
The friends running together further express the symbolism of being alone being a bad thing...

The camera follows a surfer that has entered on the left side of the screen. He walks by the beachgoers as they hop the concrete wall. The camera follows him as he walks towards the right side of the screen. We are focused on the yellow surfboard he is carrying.

On Closer Inspection...:
The surfboard appear to be decked out with marker-drawn teeth and the word "THEEH"... While it is unknown if this means anything, it could be a possibility that it should have read "TEETH", as in the teeth that bite, mangle and kill... It is also a possibility that the young surfboarder is typical of a beachgoing youth -- they would rather be surfing than being in school learning how to spell words such as TEETH. Let's hope that THEEH is either his name or a now-defunct brandname.









Everyone seems to be having a blast; typical of those who live near a beach during the spring and summer months. Unfortunately, on the other side of the continent, people aren't so lucky. Some of them will not get to experience the thrills of yet another summer... Some of them are disappearing...

The camera pans to the right, following the beachgoers as they leave offscreen.

Note:
The palm trees in the background, the ocean, the beach... it's a busy setting that would make a decent resort destination. Perhaps Elaine should have stuck with an article on the joys of being around the beachfront, rather than deciding to travel around the country to visit the elegant and charming Wessex hotel...

On Closer Inspection...:
The road runs in between a retaining wall, separating it from the beachfront, and a row of purple flowers. The colorful flowers, along with an awning in Corinthian dentile style, give it a quaint and elegant touch.

There is also a telescope on the porch, which is more than likely used to not only watch the stars but to watch the waxing and waning of the tides.

Note:
The telescope is an important item towards establishing the correlation between Elaine's curious nature and her quest for knowledge, and how she applies these skills on an everyday basis in her career as a writer.

As the camera pans around, it fades around a wall to move itself inside of the house, showing that the beach is a setting seen through the windows on the outside of Elaine's house.

There are older, wooden, venetian style shutters on the standard gridwork window, and as the camera pans we obtain a sense of eloquence.

The walls are a soft yellowish/beige/cream with a semi-gloss white trim. With the sun rushing in through the bay window, it gives the room a cheery, elegant feel, and helps provide the perfect atmosphere for Elaine's growing plants...

On Closer Inspection...:
There are all sorts of elegant expression within Elaine's sitting room. There is a grand piano, adorned with a vase-full of colorful fresh cut flowers and a photo more than likely of a family member. The bay window provides a perfect ledge for the potted plants sitting upon it. We can see a solitary bush separating Elaine's house from her neighbors' -- a white vinyled house with gridwork windows and black shutters.

It is possible this is symbolic, as it expresses more on the concept of closeness as a whole as well as the concept of individuality. While neighboring houses in communities such as these are so close together, the bush in between them represents a space of separation. The elegantness of Elaine's domicile is her way of individualizing herself in a location with so many people.

The camera pans to reveal more elegance: Decorative lamps, chairs, a small potted tree and a 16-shelf bookshelf atop a decorative bureau.

Note:
It is more than likely that many of the magazines found within the bookshelf contain articles Elaine has written throughout the years. It is also likely that she has read most all of the books. This adds credibility to her intelligence and prominence as a writer. All of these facts are crucial to giving you a sense of Elaine's personality, without even having met her.

The camera continues panning to reveal more decoration: gray plaid chairs, an ornate oriental rug, a nice dining room set with a chandelier suspended above it, cabinet doors with glass panels to reveal the contents inside, and long door handles on the outside of a bright red door leading from a small foyer.

The left door opens to enter 12-year-old Wendy (played by actress Molly Morgan). She is carrying a brown tabby in her arms and seems to love animals. There is an abstract picture of a cat on her sweatshirt, lending credibility to this notion. The brightness of her blue and yellow sweatshirt and matching yellow sweatpants are characteristic of her youthful nature. She lifts her right leg back and uses it to shut the door behind her. She walks to the chair to her left and sets him down.

Note:
As Wendy sets the cat down, she utilizes an integral part of any kind of acting - the concept of the stage turn. Wanting to stay out of view of the camera, and for the audience to be able to see her face, Wendy makes sure that she steps around to the backside of the chair. This allows you to see her putting the cat in the chair rather than only being able to see Wendy from behind. She almost forgets this integral turn, but compensates by speeding around the chair.

The camera zooms in towards the chair. Here we get a better view of the cat as Wendy places it upon the chair. Wendy is a sweet little girl who helps look out for Elaine's house while Elaine is away gathering research material for her next masterpiece of an article. Wendy also looks after Elaine's pet cat, Stanley. Apparently, he had gotten loose and ran off, but Wendy was able to find him.

Wendy: Now you, stay!

On Closer Inspection...:
We can see Stanley in the background jump off of the chair during the following shots, however, he returns just in time for a pat from Elaine before she leaves.







Wendy looks around for Elaine, while at the same time eying Elaine's collection of porcelain antique tea kettles. She yells,

Wendy: Elaine! I found Stanley!

Elaine, from off camera, yells to Wendy:

Elaine: Where was he!?

Wendy begins climbing up onto a bar in the kitchen to get a closer view of Elaine's collection of tea kettles...

Wendy: ...In Mrs. Calucci's apartment.

Elaine sounds a little annoyed.:

Elaine: Wendy, don't let him do that while I'm gone! Mrs.
   Calucci hates him!

Wendy: Yeah, I know, he pees on her couch...

Spotlight On...:

Mrs. Calucci


Calucci - The origins of the name "Calucci" are hard to trace, but they are of Italian origins. It's likely that the name comes from a spelling variation of "Colucci". Deriving from the Medieval "Colutius", a cross variant of "Cancello", the word means "Gate" or "Fence" in English. Being Elaine's neighbor, this corresponds to earlier talk of closeness and separation and the use of dividers to provide individualism.

On Closer Inspection...:
The calender reads May 1990 (this is more than likely the real-life month and year the movie was made. While the film was released in October, it is definitely spring, and not winter. Upon arriving at the Wessex, there is no mention of Halloween, through the dialogue, or through decorations, and the sun outside caressing the beachgoers implies it was earlier in the year. May seems about right. There is strong evidence to support this found later in the movie...

On Closer Inspection...:
There are 3 tea cups, and 7 porcelain kettles on the shelf, including a kettle in the shape of a rabbit. These have obviously been acquired throughout the years at various locations Elaine has visited and written articles about.

Wendy reaches for the porcelain rabbit, grabs it, and turns around...

The kettle slips right out Wendy's hand, crashing down onto the floor below, leaving a pile of broken and shattered porcelain on the light oak hardwood floor and maroon colored Oriental rug.

On Closer Inspection...:
Was Wendy even holding the rabbit? It doesn't appear so. While it is scripted to be an accident, Wendy has a hard time dropping it accidentally. Instead it appears that she wasn't even trying to hold it. She dropped it too effortlessly to appear natural.

Spotlight On...:

Wendy


Wendy - Wendy is Germanic for "Wends" or "vandals", or Welsh for white circle or moon... Wendy could be considered a vandal, after all, she just broke one of Elaine's prized tea kettles! And her youthful comings and goings, (going from her house, Mrs. Calucci's, and Elaine's), she could be considered reminiscent of the moon as it goes through its cycle from New Moon (going) to Full Moon (coming).

Elaine, still off camera, yells:

Elaine: What was that!?

Wendy quickly responds:

Wendy: Nothing!

Down the steps with an arm full of luggage comes the owner of this house, 28 year old Elaine Kalisher. (Michele Greene) She is a travel writer for a popular magazine, the "Traveler's Review", and was trying to get ready for a trip to Los Angeles, California. She is going to be staying at the "Wessex Hotel", a Victorian-style hotel built at the turn of the century. It would make a wonderful and charming article for her magazine. She is wearing a cream colored suit blazer top, white blouse, and a decorative belt buckle adorning a belt atop her floral print dress.

On Closer Inspection...:
There is a blue giraffe made out of glass on a bookshelf in the living room. This is symbolizing her love for travel. It is a possibility that she has been to Africa, and has written articles about it, and that the giraffe is a reminder of her experiences.

From the Cinema:
NOTTF makes reference to several other horror films of the time, one of the biggest being "The Shining", Stanley Kubrick's 1980 recreation of the Stephen King novel of the same name. "The Shining", another hotel horror flick released 10 years prior to NOTTF's release, is referenced several times. Directly, we have the use of lighting as a plot device, Elaine's name (which means "torch" or "shining light"), the overwhelming feeling of isolation, the oversized rooms, the use of mirrors, set pieces which resemble faces, spatial anomalies, the chase through the hotel, and the killer using an axe. We'll talk about those items as they come up in the walkthrough. For now, however, two more references to "The Shining" are provided. Wendy could potentially be referencing Wendy Torrence, wife of killer Jack Torrence, and Elaine's cat, Stanley, could be referencing either Stanley Kubrick, "The Shining" writer, director and producer, or the Stanley hotel, the real life hotel in which Stephen King based his novel "The Shining". Another possible reference is that Jack Torrence and Elaine Kalisher are both writers, and both are writing about the hotels they are staying at. One final note worth mentioning - Jack Torrence actor Jack Nicholson played alongside "Nightmare on the 13th Floor" actress Louise Fletcher (who we will meet later as Wessex Hotel Service Department manager Letti Gordon) in the 1975 drama "One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest". But also starring alongside Louise Fletcher in the same movie is Scatman Crothers - who would go on to star alongside Jack Nicholson as Dick Hallorann in, you guessed it, "The Shining".

















Elaine stops to assess the damage.

Elaine: Wendy...

Note:
Elaine doesn't seem to get mad. She doesn't yell, anyway, and seems to be able to accept what has happened fairly gracefully. This helps to establish even more about Elaine's personality: she is a kind and caring person. This becomes deeply relevant later on.

Wendy seems saddened:

Wendy: ...It slipped.

Elaine sets down her luggage and walks casually toward Wendy.

Elaine: It's alright.

Wendy seems sadder now, as the realization of what she has done begins playing on her.

Wendy: But it was your favorite one...

Wendy puts her head down.

Elaine tries to reassure Wendy, and help her to feel better:

Elaine: That's okay, honey, I don't have a favorite one. I'll
   get a new one on this trip!

Foreshadowing the Future:
Elaine will indeed find a charming new kettle to replace the one that Wendy dropped... Unfortunately, her priorities change when something more pressing and important come up and she doesn't end up buying it. It is unknown whether or not she ever went back to purchase it or not, but with everything that ends up happening, she probably decides she doesn't want it after all. But perhaps a memento of survival could be in order...

Elaine: Look, I gotta go...

On Closer Inspection...:
There are red apples, oranges, and limes in the fruit basket on the counter of Elaine's quaint little kitchen. This is symbolic for establishing her love for healthy eating. Also, the fruits are sweet, and so is Elaine. Healthy eater, compassionate, curious, an avid reader and writer... all of Elaine's qualities are anthropomorphed and personified into the items contained within her background decorum.

Because Elaine was rushed downstairs to inspect the damage from the dropped kettle, she didn't have a chance to fully get ready. She still has to put her earrings in. She begins with the left one.

Elaine: Um, look, tell your mom that I'll call her when I get
   back and...

She finishes up the left ear and begins to put the one in her right ear:

Elaine: ...Don't forget the mail and don't forget to water the
   plants.

Wendy can smile again, for she knows Elaine isn't mad at her.

Wendy: Yeah, I know.

Elaine: And lock up when you leave.

Elaine grabs her suitcase with her right hand, pulling it closer, while at the same time turning, and reaching to her cat, Stanley, with her left hand. He had jumped off of the chair while Wendy was reaching for the porcelain rabbit kettle, but he has returned to say goodbye to his master.

Elaine: And you...

Elaine gives Stanley a pet on the head

Elaine: You be a good boy, okay?

Note:
As a travel writer, Elaine prefers traveling, rather than being settled down at home, strapped with a man. For this reason, she is not married. Seemingly enough, her only friends are her cat, Stanley, and Wendy, her housesitter/catsitter. She prefers living alone, but incorporates art and eloquence in her life and seems to be doing very well for herself. The grandeur of her 2-story house overlooking the beach implies that she must be a very good writer, at that, as she is obviously paid well enough to afford these amenities on her salary alone...

It does slowly become obvious that Elaine is beginning to choose a different life path. After years of traveling, maybe she does want to eventually be able to settle down, as she states "I'm tired of living out of a suitcase"...

Just after petting Stanley, Elaine reaches down with her left hand to pick up the smaller of the two bags she had set down earlier. She gracefully lifts herself back up and turns to Wendy, giving her a smile. Her right hand gingerly transfers the larger suitcase in front of herself and into her left hand, while turning to face the double doors. She looks charming and seems very jovial at the task at hand.

Elaine: Bye, bye!

With this, Elaine is ready to embark upon a massive journey, 2,332 miles away.

Note:
Distance is prevalent, you will note, as it is a reminder. She will be a long, long way from home. If anything was to happen to her, she would be so far away that no one might come looking for her... And no one wants to be away from home when something tragic happens. Being that far from home, away from the comforts of her own house, her perky little housesitter, and her loving tabby, enforces of earlier established concept of loneliness and isolation, and how being one with no friends will lead to you possibly disappearing...

Changing Future History:
Elaine has obviously traveled to many different locations throughout her years as a writer. But she has never gone on a journey like the one she is about to. She is about to make the biggest choice of her life. One that means, literally, life or death. She should have chosen another location to write about, but perhaps the choice wasn't hers to make. Because of this one event, her life will never be the same again. To her it is simply just another assignment: a Victorian-style hotel, delicious croissants, polite and friendly service... but what she will learn is that looks can be deceiving and that she must use every skill in her repertoire to be able to survive. It will push her to her limits and she won't stop until she can get the whole story... It will become her only vice.

Clutching both bags with her left arm, in a manner obviously perfected by years of repetition, she uses her now free right hand to open the door on the right (the same one Wendy entered from). As the door opens we can hear incoherent chatter coming from the busy strip outside. After a long day of writing, it makes you appreciate the quietness and serenity acquired by being able to lock yourself in your own private sanctuary.

Foreshadowing the Future:
When the innate banter from the exterior was stifled upon Wendy's original arrival (by shutting the door), and returns now that Elaine opens the door, it's a subliminal plot device that shows you never know what might be on the other side of the door, hidden away. There are several times throughout the film in which a door is opened and something completely unexpected is waiting on the other side.

Musical Note:
The main theme music begins with a rising crescendo, and Elaine is now hidden behind the door as she exits. The door begins to shut quickly as Elaine closes it from the other side, and at the exact same time that the door hits its frame, there is a bang and a pop, and the music kicks in with a lively and ominous tune, while the engine of the plane emits a strong and powerful roar.



"Nightmare on the 13th Floor - Main Theme"
- Jay Gruska


Jay Gruska is an impeccable artist with an amazing gift for turning emotion into song. While his name is obscure, and a lot of people probably haven't heard of him, he has written for many wonderful series, including "Charmed" and "Supernatural", both of which are defined by topics of an other worldly nature. Mix in reality shows such as "Beverly Hills, 90210" and "Saved by the Bell", as well as suspenseful crimesolvers like "Matlock", and you get an artist that can write a score to depict any emotion, and incorporate these elements into one score, to give you a complete experience that will scare you, make you laugh, make you cry and definitely get your heart racing!

Note:
Shot during a time when American cable networks were extremely strict when it came to censorship on television due to the high number of children viewers, gore, bloody violence, foul language and sexual encounters were out, and thus it was up to the music and imagery to make the viewers feel emotion. This movie did a very good job achieving this through the use of a gifted score, beautiful, intriguing backdrops and an indepth and engaging plotline.

As the plane builds up speed along the runway, it begins to ascend into the sky.

It begins lifting its wheels up inside of its belly.

Foreshadowing the Future:
Seemingly enough, the plane's belly engulfing its wheels is an important plot element, as the quaint and charming Wessex Hotel seemingly enough engulfs its visitors...

The plane lifts up to expose its underneath. It is reminiscent of a bird, and expresses the element of freedom and how some people are not free... they end up dying horrible deaths. It is much better to be free, and be able to travel wherever, whenever, as Elaine is used to... The view of the plane's underneath also resemble a face. Not really a happy one, not really sad. It provides more of an element of creepiness, if anything...

Location, Location, Location:
For more information, be sure to check out the Real-life Filming Locations section of this guide.

Elaine is supposed to reside in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida. This would mean that she more than likely would reside on Florida State Highway 1A... However, all filming locations for this movie, even the ones supposedly in Florida, and Washington, were filmed in Los Angeles. There is evidence of this throughout. The quest to find each location used within the movie isn't easy. And when you factor in that the movie is a little over 20 years old, a lot of the landscaping is sure to have changed. Certain buildings might have been torn down due to dilapidation or the fact that it was just "in the way of progress"... It is also possible that a lot of these locations were filmed in a studio.

It is unsure where Elaine's house is located. Hopefully it is still there. It is obviously located on a road opposite a strip of beach, adjacent to the ocean. Keys to finding it include the flower bed running along the front, the design of the awning of the porch, the window shutter style and the bay window on the side. If I have any luck finding this house, I will post an update.

Ft. Lauderdale Airport - It is assumed the sequence with the plane departing was filmed at the Ft. Lauderdale Airport (since renamed the "Ft. Lauderdale Hollywood International Airport"). However, as all filming locations are in Los Angeles, the airport used was more than likely LAX, the primary airport in Los Angeles, and one of the busiest airports in the world. Ironically enough, LAX was more than likely the one Elaine was to arrive at, upon arrival in Los Angeles!

The screen fades in upon a demonic concrete carving depicting a somewhat evilish-looking, goateed figure, with hair parted in the middle giving a sense of prominence to his piercing stare. His head appears in front of two axes, one of both side of him, facing in opposite directions, but both pointing away from him. The film's title, "Nightmare on the 13th Floor" appear over the image. The image is extremely symbolic in terms of foreshadowing the film's plot, as will the entire credit sequence be.

Note:
By waiting to show the credits, we were able to add empathy for the the characters, and create a sense of dramatic build-up. The imagery used in juxtaposition with the softness of Elaine's personality create a sense of uneasiness and unassurativeness.


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