Posted By Cilantro Che Guevara on March 6, 2013
The gay porn studio I work for, CockyBoys, recently released the third and final film of its eye-opening psychological horror trilogy, The Haunting. Directed by CockyBoys owner, Jake Jaxson, The Haunting trilogy has spooked fans old and new with its unique twist on the multiple film genres it tackles — you got everything from drama to horror to camp to straight up porn here. And when combined into one, there’s something really unique and original here that should not go unnoticed. While the most common (and easiest) sub-genre in porn is parody or camp, it’s obvious to me that everyone involved in these films takes their work very seriously. And that’s a rare thing to find in porn, which is seen to a lot of people as quite possibly the most disposable niche in the entertainment industry.
When Jake Jaxson was editing the third film in the trilogy, A Kiss Before Goodnight, and I was looking at the rough cut for him, there was something else that really stuck out to me that wasn’t as obvious to me in the first two films… the shout outs to one of the best filmmakers of our time, Stanley Kubrick. I don’t think Stanley K. has ever made a straight-up porn film (this is arguable!), but if he ever did, it might be something like A Kiss Before Goodnight. When I mentioned the Kubrick references to Jake, he smiled told me that the musical theme used throughout all the films was actually a piano version of the Clockwork Orange theme, the Funeral March of Queen Mary II.
Now since I have a film school background and I’m used to writing 10-page papers analyzing things like what Judy Garland’s purple dress really signifies in Meet Me in St. Louis, I often feel like an idiot when I notice subtle things that may or may not have been intentional in films to add depth. But like one of my TAs in college said to me once, “the job of a viewer and analyst is to write about what the filmmaker was thinking while creating the film, subconsciously or not.”
So here are ten Stanley Kubrick references I found (intentional or not) in CockyBoys’ gay porn movie, The Haunting: A Kiss Before Goodnight:
10. The Opening Credits
The Shining is one of the most referenced films in the trilogy — right down to its title which kinda sounds like The Haunting. But these opening credits are one of the first visual things that jump out to you as Kubrickian. With its looming opening wide shots of a car speeding down a desolate, winding mountain road, all three Haunting films set the same sort of daunting, helpless tone as The Shining. Even the angled shots are similar, as seen in the above two photos!
9. Symmetrical “Crazy Face”
A lot of people say that a person’s physical beauty is dependent on how symmetrical their face is. Um, wrong! The more symmetrical, the more creepy is what I say. Stanley Kubrick seemed to figure this out and used symmetry to pronounce the unsettling duplicity on a person’s face. He not only used it in The Shining (first photo), but also in A Clockwork Orange (second photo), and 2001: A Space Odyssey (third photo). Christian Wilde’s Klaus Heist makes an excellent addition to the symmetrical “crazy face” shot.
8. Wide Shots of Minimalist Space Age Furniture
This one is kind of “out there,” but as I was watching the house tour scene in The Haunting Part III, I was reminded of a very specific shot in 2001: A Space Odyssey (top photo). There’s a wide shot of a big room with minimalist funky furniture that barely takes up any space. The furniture is placed in a way that balances out the shot, also leaving plenty of open space in the room. The shots are slightly angled, offsetting the symmetry to make the viewer feel just a tad uncomfortable.
7. The Bowling Pin Technique
IDK if this is actually called “The Bowling Pin Technique” — that’s something I just made up — but I have seen this triangular composition of objects quite frequently. Not just in film, but also in the bowling alley, when a flock of birds are migrating in the air, and when the Mighty Ducks are enforcing their secret play on the rink (could Stanley Kubrick have influenced The Mighty Ducks?!) Anyway, when you view this formation straight on, you feel much differently than when you’re viewing it from the ground or from behind. It’s like a spear is pointing directly toward you, or a group of mean high school girls are about to push you down and call you fat.
6. Wall to Wall Folk Paintings
In A Clockwork Orange, you always see these strange drawings whenever the characters are in a house. The still shot from the movie up there is from one of the more vocal scenes showing art obsession. With the characters taking up the bottom portion of the frame, and the art extending upwards out of the frame forever (seemingly), you get the feeling that all this art is crushing the characters. It’s like the art is overwhelmingly inherent in society for no good reason. It’s a bunch of collected points of view that amount to nothing. When applying an almost identical shot to H3:AKBG, we immediately get the impression that Klaus is a man both dedicated to his work and crushed by it.
5. Contrast-y Silhouettes
Silhouettes are always creepy because of the uncertainty in shadows. They somehow evoke emotion without putting a face to the feelings. It’s alarming when you can tell what’s going on in a film without being able to identify the person in the frame. In A Clockwork Orange, you see these mysterious figures beating up a homeless man without being able to see their emotions about the matter… prohibiting the viewer any sort of empathy. Because the father’s face is hidden behind shadows and dark profile shots in the entire Haunting trilogy, we are unable to relate or detach ourselves from the emotions going on his head either. Quite intriguing!
4. A Collection of Quirky Inanimate Faces
Now I’m gonna use this example to really fuck your world up!!! A Clockwork Orange features the above shot showing six disturbingly emotive inanimate masks — five male faces and one female face. This foreshadows the controversial rape scene that happens immediately after, earning the film an X rating. Now in The Haunting, this shot features five FULL inanimate/animate faces on pottery mugs also symbolizing the forthcoming rape scene*. Shortly after this shot, Christian Wilde fucks Max Ryder in FIVE rooms in the house — the dining room, the drawing room, the bedroom, the staircase, and the living room! Check yourself — it will freak you out!
*Technically not rape because Max Ryder consents, giving the best delivery of the word “OK” The Sword has ever heard.
3. Ominous Upward Shot with Ceiling Shadows
Kubrick is known for these upward shots making the viewer feel very small and helpless when looking up at a giant figure who’s experiencing some sort of mental freak-out. It’s totally intimidating to the viewer, not helped by the ominous shadows of the figures cast on the ceiling behind them. Director of Photography of The Haunting films, R.J. Sebastian, uses the same effect to startle the viewer when watching poor Max Ryder get pounded on the top of the staircase. This is one of the many scenes in The Haunting trilogy that transforms chills into thrills.
2. Forced Moment of Realization
Technically not Kubrick related in the cinematography sense, this reference is related more to the story in A Clockwork Orange than the camera work. But honestly, how many times does a film have a super unlikeable protagonist who becomes forever changed in the end after being forced to watch his greatest fear come to life right before his very eyes?
1. Crazy Dead Man in the Snow
This one is kind of LOL. I just love this scene in The Shining so much when you see the dead crazy man in the snow delivering the silliest facial expression of all time. You are more likely to laugh at this scene than you are to feel bad for the guy, which also goes for the “crazy dead man in the snow” scene in THP3! You probably won’t laugh at this scene, but like the scene in The Shining, you are still denied any sort of inlet into this tortured man’s psyche… unable to hate him or sympathize with him at all.
So that about wraps up today’s lesson in Useless Shit I Learned in Film School, but I hope you did take something away and that many more viewers of The Haunting trilogy picked up on the same subtle references. But are there more?! I’m sure there are, so let me know what other ones you find by emailing me here: firstname.lastname@example.org. I will give one lucky reader a free trial membership to CockyBoys who sends me a reference I deem most relevant to the artistic porn canon… or something. And if you had no idea what The Haunting trilogy was before reading this post, I recommend you check out the first seven minutes of the 51-minute feature film below. And if you want to watch the entire film, just click here to sign up!
Follow me on Twitter: @CockyCilantro