The opening credits appear throughout this sequence. Pay attention to the imagery
- they tell a harrowing tale of torture and power.
Tip: For a more complete experience, play the theme music
in the background while you read through this page:
"Nightmare on the 13th Floor - Main Theme"
- Jay Gruska
We start with an image of a terrified victim, obviously being tortured, and being
looked down upon by his torturers - demonic, monster like creatures, laughing ominously and smiling with
excitement as they cause pain upon this man...
On Closer Inspection...:
The cast names are written in a red Caslon Antique font:
Starring MICHELE GREENE
Michele Greene (from TVs "LA Law") 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...
The scenes transition from one to another with ominous fade in and
outs used to build a sense of dramatic flair - the darkness of the imagery and the use of blacks and
greys add contrast and mood to the nightmarish carvings...
For more detailed information on any of the characters
listed throughout, please refer to the Cast section of this guide.
The scene fades upon a similar incident - a mortified victim, with a look of terror in his
eyes, screaming in agony as serpents and demonic figures prey upon his weaknesses and eventually, his soul.
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 camera slowly pans to the left, showing more of one of the balder demons - complete with pointed ears, and
a wide, devilish smile...
The camera continues panning to the left, where we notice a familiar sight - one of the axes placed behind the
first figure - the demonic-looking goateed figure - that we were introduced to when the movie title first appears.
You can see part of the figures face to the left of the axe.
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...
There are more carvings of the arabesque. Pointy-eared demons with a look of evil... Slithery serpents...
Smiling yet stern, Alan Fudge plays
the roll of Jacob Rogas, manager of the Wessex Hotel. Like the rest of the staff, he has a friendly and
professional demeanor and, as manager, seems to solve problems around the hotel effectively. When faced with
the possibility of jailtime and the closure of the hotel, however, the usually calm and confident Mr. Rogas
turns into a nervous wreck. Because he would anything it takes to save both his reputation and his hotel, a
little reassurance is all it requires to help to get him back on the right track.
The next image presents the same as the first: a terrified victim, obviously
being tortured, and being looked down upon by his torturers - demonic, monster like creatures, laughing omniously
and smiling with sure excitement as they cause pain upon this man...
And JAMES BROLIN as DR. ALAN LANIER
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 seems very proficient at
his practice. He joins upon Elaine's quest to find "the truth", and although he helps
provide her with answers to most of her questions, he tries hard to keep her from
delving too deep, in an effort to keep her safe...
Also Starring TERRI TREAS
Terri Treas plays the roll of Judith Teller, an ex-flight attendent who spent many years in the air, and, after
being put up at the hotel for a night, fell in love with the place and decided to put in an application. Now
the conceierge of the hotel, Judith will do anything she can to make sure your stay is the best one yet. To
make sure, however, all one must do is call with a request, and she will take care of it personally.
Polite and well-worded, Abraham is the
operator of the Registration Desk of the Wessex Hotel. Played by Alan Haufrect, Abraham will help find you a
room, find reservations, and arrange for your luggage to be taken to your room. Although he is extremely
efficient at what he does, he is generally softspoken. Don't worry about any questions or concerns you may have,
however, for he is happy to help accommodate you in any way he can.
There are more images of horned beasts, strangulation and other acts of
Juliana (Juli) Donald plays the
roll of Juli, the perky young hotel waitress. Charming in appeal, she will serve you coffee and croissants as
you dine in the hotel's "Garden Cafe". She also brings you the telephone if you have a call. She is a good
girl that seems to have a lot on her mind...
Working for the City Engineer's
office, and possessing access to the floor plans of the Wessex Hotel, Kerry Noonan plays the roll of Gail Myers,
a sweet young lady who helps Elaine on her quest to find out if there really is anything hidden within the hotel
Strong and proud, Creeson is the
doorman of the Wessex Hotel. Played by Steve Eastin, he is the first staff member you will meet upon arriving
at the hotel and provides your initial welcome and goodbye. He will open taxi doors for visitors arriving and
leaving, secure your luggage, and make sure it is given to the hotel's porter. He prevents derelicts from
hanging out around the hotel, and although he is sometimes ignored, he maintains a sense of diligence.
Norma MacMillan plays the roll of Mrs.
Beecher, a kind old lady who spent 30 years of her life with her husband down on a little farm they own in Silo,
Minnesota. After her husband passed away two years ago, she became "free-as-a-bird" and decided to do a little
sight-seeing as a present to herself. She is now staying at the Wessex Hotel while she is in town to attend a
convention on crystals, "three blocks down and one block over" from the hotel. She must have forgotten about
breakfast with Elaine... or did she?
Jeff Marcus plays the hotel porter.
He is in charge of carrying a hotel patron's luggage to his room, opening and closing both ventilation and
windows, and help provides a valuable service to the hotel by running errards or delivering food, drink or
newspapers to the patron's room.
Harvey Vernon plays the roll of
Father Thomas G. Bergin, a priest whose faith relies solely in God, and although he knows that Satan is
real, he doesn't necessarily believe that contact with Satan may be made by the taking of human life. His
father, however, believed strongly that it could, and spent the rest of his life looking for answers...
Molly Morgan plays as Wendy, Elaine's
sweet and caring, but a little clumsy, housesitter who watches over her place while she is away writing
articles. She checks the mail, waters the plants, and takes care of Elaine's best friend - her cat Stanley.
Music by JAY GRUSKA
Film Editor SIDNEY KATZ A.C.E.
The camera focuses on the face of the tortured victim seen at the beginning of the sequence. The fixation of
the camera is on the look of sheer terror in his eyes. The concrete carvings are extremely elaborate: eye
balls, nostrils, lips, teeth, even eyelashes are present. Someone obviously put a lot of time and attention in
to the creation of these images.
The sun plays a vital roll here. While the fixation is on the look of terror
in the man's eyes, the sun begins moving around the image, creating a shadow. The shadow slowly begins covering
the man's face, engulfing it in darkness. This is an important plot element as it suggests the man's fate is
sealed... Many people are afraid of the dark, and the darkness appearing over his eyes induces a certain fear:
not only is the man being tortured, but by losing the ability to see what is happening, all he can do is feel the
pain of wreeting agony being created by his torturers. The encroaching darkness adds credence to the idea of not
wanting to be alone, as it appears the man is being dragged to hell, tortured the whole time, with no one to help
or hear him scream.
Production Designer PHILIP DEAN FOREMAN
The music lightens up and things begin to become cheerier. The mood now seems
lighter and it begins to feel like maybe things might be okay, after all.
It is slowly being revealed that the demonic imagery are part of an elaborate concrete mural.
The mural is revealed to be part of an elaborate frieze, wrapped around a building.
The use of demonic imagery around the frieze of a building is stereotypical
in the design of buildings today. The artwork is generally regarded historically as a way of keeping evil spirits
from entering the building. This is reminiscent of a homeowner who places mirrors in his windows or a layer of
salt in front of all of his openings. The concept is based upon the fact that demons do not know that they look
like demons, nor do they accept the fact that they look so morbid in nature, and so to see themselves (or a mural
of other demons) would be enough to scare them away. Fear in a demon, however, seems to be a contradiction, and
whether or not the frieze is successful in its plight to keep evil out of the building, is unknown...
the purpose of the design of the frieze was originally a good one, nobody suspects anything with the hotel being
wrapped with demonic imagery. Having it is a good thing, because it is meant to ward off evil. And because
everybody knows this, there is never any thought put in to the notion that the imagery depicts horrific events
that may have transpired within the hotel... Right?
Director of Photography TOM RICHMOND
The frieze is part of an elaborate entabulature, with decorative cornicepieces above and below. The cornice on
top of the frieze is directly below a row of windows, set amidst a beige/antique white colored wall.
There are 3 foot, double-hung, 16-panel gridwork windows throughout the wall, directly above the frieze.
Supervising Producer JEFFREY M. HAYES
Written by J.D. FIEGELSON & DAN DiSTEFANO
On Closer Inspection...:
The 14th floor contains exactly 10 feet highs worth of brick above the cornice
of the frieze to the bottom of the architrave.
Errors in Continuity:
The movie later reveals that the frieze is concealing the hotel's 13th floor.
The entabulature runs from the very top of the 12th floor windows to the very bottom of the 14th floor windows.
The hotel has 16 floors (main floors, that is; we eventually learn there are 19 floors, total) and that there are
three sets of windows above the top cornice of the frieze - the 14th, 15th and 16th floors, respectively. The
14th floor is the beige/antique white colored floor, while the top two floors are the natural color of the brick,
same as the 4th through 12th floors. This is proven later on as the rendering of the hotel provided in the
blueprints at the City Engineer's office depict three sets of windows above the frieze. As the camera pans
towards the top of the building, however, there are only two sets of windows. Where is the 16th
Directed by WALTER GRAUMAN
The camera stops its focus on the sign on top of the building. It's a gigantic sign, 16 feet in width and 8 feet
in height. It's lettering, a prominent white serifed font, reads "Wessex Hotel", and resides upon the gigantic
black metal gridwork used to support them. When the building was first built, and there weren't any tall
buildings blocking the view, it is likely that the sign added a prominance to the building that allowed it to be
seen from several miles away. This probably made the hotel a busy hub for business travelers.
On Closer Inspection...:
The cream colored architrave above the final floor is
separated from the same colored crown moulding on the top by exactly 2 feet of brick. This buildup allows for
the hiding of the rubberized roof used to cricket the water into hidden gutters built into the building, which
help to carry the water to the garden in back of the hotel.
The Victorian-style architecture helps provide a characteristic charm to the hotel.
As the West began to become more populated, building materials started to
become more readily available, and craftsmen skilled in the usage of these materials began moving into the region
in clusters. Because of this, architectural styles began to change. Loneliness became a thing of the past as
comforts of home began being added into their daily living. To remind them of home (in this case, the East), they
began incorporating the Victorian-style architecture the Easterners brought over from England when the county was
first founded. What would wind up occuring would be a charming array of elegantly built structures that would
definitely achieve their purpose: the loneliness of the range would be replaced by a sense of stately and homely
eloquence. Before too long, Western towns such as Los Angeles would become the busiest communication hubs in the
This is one reason why hotels like the Wessex are so large and grandeurious.
And with this the opening credits sequence comes to an end. Elaine's flight arrives at the airport in Los Angeles
and she is able to catch a cab. The Wessex seems like a perfect place for Elaine to relax for a few days.