It's 'Ghost Hunters' vs. 'The Shining' on Sci Fi
It's the Stanley Hotel in Estes Park, Colo., where King and his wife once stayed in Room 217. The huge Georgian hotel, built by Stanley Steamer tycoon F.O. Stanley and opened in 1909, was transformed in King's imagination into the snowbound, haunted Overlook, home to a troubled caretaker, his frightened wife and psychic son.
Directed by Stanley Kubrick, the 1980 movie version of "The Shining" shot in some U.S. locations, but was largely filmed in the U.K. But in 1997, ABC premiered a miniseries version of the tale, filmed at the Stanley itself.
This past February, the "Ghost Hunters" team arrived at the Stanley to see if there were real hauntings to back up tales long told about the structure. Led by full-time Roto Rooter plumbers and part-time paranormal investigators Jason Hawes and Grant Wilson, co-founders of Rhode Island-based The Atlantic Paranormal Society (TAPS), a team blanketed the hotel with cameras and audio recorders, along with taking readings of temperature and electromagnetic fields.
"They had sent e-mails to us in the past," Hawes says. "We really wanted to check out the place. They pretty much closed down a bunch of floors for us and kept people off of them, gave us all the rooms we needed to check."
"They were great people," Wilson says. "They wanted it done well. We were there for about a week and a half."
While viewers will have to wait for the episode to see if there were supernatural scares -- aside from Hawes having some fun with a hatchet and a prop door from the miniseries -- the Stanley offered unique experiences of the perfectly natural sort.
First, there were the elk present when the team drove up.
"There were probably 20 or so elk just standing at the hotel," Wilson says.
"They said they're like dogs in the area," Hawes says. "People get ticked off because they're constantly crossing the road, stopping traffic."
Hawes also had a close encounter. "I'm standing outside one night, it's like one o'clock in the morning. I'm getting as close as I can, snapping pictures. I hear a noise, and I turn to my right, and there's one looking right at me, only a couple of feet away. I'm like, 'Oh, hi.'"
Then, high in the dry Rocky Mountain air, there was the static electricity.
"One time," Hawes says, "me and Grant were walking down the hallway, and my head" -- which, in Hawes' case, is shaved bald - "ended up too close to a sprinkler pipe, and the spark that came off of that hit my head, knocked me to my knees. Grant, how big was that spark?"
"We were seeing five-inch long sparks," Wilson says, "and they were probably a quarter of an inch wide. It was serious stuff."
"It just leveled me," Hawes says. "It went through my head, and I felt it come out my knees."
"You were cross-eyed."
"Oh, man, that was a shocking experience."
Long before they had a TV show, Hawes and Wilson were doing paranormal investigations and working for Roto Rooter. Hawes says they still do plenty of investigations that don't wind up on television, and they still unclog toilets and fix leaky pipes.
"Me and Grant still work for Roto Rooter," he says, "and I don't think that will ever change. I'm sure it hasn't hurt business. They definitely get a lot of extra calls. We've heard people have actually broken things in their house and requested me and Grant."
"It's part of our lives," Wilson says. "We work for Roto."
What also hasn't changed is the pair's workmanlike, problem-solving approach to the paranormal. They claim at least 80 percent of cases have ordinary explanations ranging from the structural to the pharmaceutical.
"We've had people with marijuana stashes," Wilson says, "and that's their ghost right there."