It’s an iconic horror film that remains a classic over forty years after its original release. The themes of The Shining make it a perfect accompaniment to Halloween, but it can be enjoyed at any time of the year.
Those of us who have watched the movie many times will consider ourselves fans, but here are some facts about The Shining that you may have yet to learn.
1. The Shining’s Inspiration
While the movie is based on Stephen King’s book of the same name, director Stanley Kubrick took inspiration from another film release. It’s said that The Shining was inspired by Eraserhead, a 1977 horror written and produced by David Lynch.
2. The Most Iconic Line Wasn’t Scripted
“Heeere’s Johnny” is the most memorable line from The Shining, but it wasn’t part of the original script. As Jack Nicholson takes an axe to the bathroom door, he ad-libbed the words, using The Tonight Show as Inspiration.
3. Breaking Down the Doors
Speaking of The Shining’s most famous scene, 60 doors were harmed during the making of this section. Kubrick was a perfectionist, and some of the filming took months to shoot. Jack Nicholson’s axe damaged 60 doors before Kubrick was satisfied.
4. Stephen King Submitted a Script
As the writer of the original novel, Stephen King also delivered a draft script for the movie. It’s said that Stanley Kubrick didn’t even bother to read it, preferring to collaborate with Diane Johnson on the final script for The Shining.
5. Jack Nicholson, The Screen Writer
Stephen King may have been rejected, but central actor Jack Nicholson did help to write a scene in this iconic movie. As he told the New York Times in 1986, he helped with the scene at the typewriter, where writer’s block contributes to Jack Torrance exploding with rage. Nicholson drew on the experience of being under pressure in life, and Stanley Kubrick was happy to include his contribution.
6. Kubrick’s Absences
By the time The Shining was shot, Stanley Kubrick was based in England, and he had developed a fear of flying. With the film supposedly set in Colorado, this meant sending fact-finding teams before a film crew took aerial footage of other locations, including the Glacial National Park in Montana.
7. Fire Destroyed the Set
Because of Stanley Kubrick’s unwillingness to travel, most of the scenes were shot at Elstree Studios in the UK. As filming advanced, a fire broke out at Elstree, destroying several sets, including that used for The Shining. An electrical fault was blamed, and rebuilding added an extra $2.5 million to the budget.
8. Changing Rooms
As anyone who has ever watched the film will know, many of its most memorable moments take place in Room 237 of the Overlook Hotel. The Timberline Lodge in Oregon, the location for those scenes, asked for the actual room number to be changed from 217. They were concerned that future guests would avoid this location when making bookings. At the Timberline, Room 237 doesn’t exist.
9. Getting Lost in the Maze
Ahead of the maze scene, Stanley Kubrick was concerned that the layout was too easy. Challenged by the crew to back up his theory, he entered the maze and became trapped. It’s also said that this scene took a month to shoot as the team kept losing their bearings.
10. Conspiracy Theories
So many films become associated with popular conspiracy theories, and The Shining is no exception. However, this movie led to one of the most bizarre suggestions ever. The story is that Kubrick made The Shining to confess to playing a part in faking the moon landings.
11. Jack Beat an Impressive Pack
It’s impossible to imagine The Shining without Jack Nicholson in the starring role, but he beat off several high-profile names. Stephen King had suggested that Christoper Reeve or Jon Voight could be ideal as Jack Torrance, while Stanley Kubrick is known to have considered Robin Williams, Robert De Niro, and Harrison Ford.
12. Nicholson’s Cheese Diet
While this has been dismissed as a myth in some reports, Jack Nicholson seems to confirm that he endured a diet of cheese sandwiches in the run-up to filming. It’s food that he hates, and it helps him become intense and angry, just like his character.
13. Shelley Duvall’s Endurance
It’s widely known that Kubrick pushed Shelley Duvall to her limits during filming, as he wanted to build her frustration levels. In David Hughes’ biography of the director, she tells readers that her hair was coming out in clumps by the end of filming.
14. Danny Lloyd was Unaware of the Horror Element
Stanley Kubrick was keen to protect Danny Lloyd, who was just six years old when he played Danny Torrance, Jack’s son. Danny would have felt he was part of a drama movie, as the horror element was kept from him, and a life-sized dummy was used in specific, more distressing scenes.
15. Stephen King Hated it.
We know Stephen King’s draft was ignored, but is that cause enough for the writer to dislike the movie version? King is on record as saying that The Shining was the only adaptation that he hated. He wasn’t happy with Jack Nicholson’s casting, and he felt the final product lacked passion and emotion.