In its first hour, the trailer for the upcoming Dark Tower movie adaptation starring Idris Elba and Matthew McConaughey racked up more than 300,000 views on YouTube alone. Like the Stephen King series on which the film is based, the Dark Tower trailer contains references It and The Shining that you missed, no matter how many times you've watched it.
The Dark Tower series follows Roland Deschain, the last gunslinger, as he makes his way across Mid-World to save the titular Tower, which is the linchpin that secures all worlds. Each level of the Tower contains a different world, pretty much like a giant multiverse stacked into the sky. In Mid-World, the Dark Tower manifests as an actual, physical structure. In our world, it's a beautiful singing rose growing in an empty lot in New York City. Funny how these things work out.
Plenty of writers have tried their hands at creating parallel worlds in which all of their books take place, but few have done it with as much style as King. The Dark Tower series contains myriad connections to other King books, including The Stand, 'Salem's Lot, and Hearts in Atlantis. King even includes references to other writers' work in his gunslinging saga, which features prominent links to books by J.K. Rowling, Richard Adams, and Sir Thomas Mallory.
Now that we've got that out of the way, here's your last chance to spot the references to It and The Shining in the Dark Tower trailer. Watch the video one last time, and then I'll reveal them both — with pictures! — after the jump.
Still didn't find them? It's OK. The Dark Tower trailer's references to other King books are really well-hidden.
The reference to The Shining comes first in the Dark Tower trailer. Jake Chambers sits down with his therapist to discuss his dreams about Roland and the Tower, but it's clear that the counselor doesn't believe Jake's visions are real. A tremor shakes the room, and the therapist reaches over to steady a nearby table. The next shot reveals that the table holds a framed photograph of an infamous Rocky Mountain retreat: the Overlook Hotel.
In The Shining, struggling writer Jack Torrance signs on to be the Overlook's off-season caretaker, and brings his wife and their son to live with him through the winter months. When the little family gets snowed in, the Overlook's old ghosts come to haunt them, aiming for young Danny Torrance, but ultimately settling for his father. The novel was inspired by a family trip to the Stanley Hotel in Estes Park, Colorado.
King fans know that there have been two adaptations of The Shining: a 1980 film by Stanley Kubrick, and a 1997 miniseries by King himself. The miniseries adaptation used the Stanley Hotel to represent the Overlook, but that's not the resort depicted in the Dark Tower trailer. Instead, Jake's therapist has a framed picture of Mount Hood's Timberline Lodge, A.K.A. Kubrick's version of the Overlook Hotel.
If you thought that reference to The Shining was difficult to spot, just try to catch the homage to It. Seriously, blink and you'll miss it. (Hint: pause the video somewhere around 1:29 or 1:30.)
During a montage sequence showing the disrepair that has crept over Mid-World — evidence that "the world has moved on," in Dark Tower parlance — Jake happens upon the broken-down remnants of a playground and carnival. He walks among what appear to be the chains of an old swing set, and then we see a wide-angle shot that shows him standing near the buried body of an ancient statue. Only the statue's floppy wizard hat and gloved hand are visible, but the hand holds a bunch of four giant balloons. Behind it, an unlit sign tells us that this was once the Pennywise Circus.
To my knowledge, there is no Pennywise Circus in any Stephen King book or story, not even the ones that include Pennywise the Dancing Clown. However, there's a huge Dark Tower connection in the It novel, and it involves King's scariest villain.
See, IT is a malevolent creature that lives underneath Derry, Maine, and only comes out every 27 years or so to feed. No one knows exactly where IT came from, but some of the members of the Losers' Club — a group of seven Derry pre-teens who fight off It in the 1950s — have a pretty good idea that IT's not of this world. From the novel:
Richie nodded. "IT came from . . . outside. I got that feeling. From outside."
"Outside where, Richie?" Eddie asked.
"Outside everything," Richie said.
OK, so IT's probably just an alien, right? Wrong.
When Richie says that IT came from "outside," he isn't talking about outer space, but from Todash: the space that exists between the levels of the Dark Tower, where all the most inconceivable evils dwell. The fact that IT comes from the Todash Darkness is driven home by this internal monologue from Stan Uris, who references the Tower when he wonders what else lies in the underworld where IT lives:
[T]here's a stink down in that dark, and after awhile you think maybe there's a whole other universe down there, a universe where a square moon rises in the sky, and the stars laugh in cold voices, and some of the triangles have four sides, and some have five, and some of them have five raised to the fifth power of sides. And in this universe there might grow roses which sing. Everything leads to everything, he would have told them if he could.
Singing roses, huh? Where have I heard that before...
Did you spot any references in the Dark Tower trailer that I missed? Share them with me on Twitter!