The Making Of 'The Shining' Was A Bigger Nightmare Than The Film's Story
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The Making Of 'The Shining' Was A Bigger Nightmare Than The Film's Story

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Vote up the most intriguing stories from the making of Stanley Kubrick's horror classic.

All kinds of horrific events occur in Stanley Kubrick's The Shiningbut the madness didn't end when the cameras stopped rolling. In fact, the horrors that took place behind the scenes may have helped to make the on-screen insanity feel more palpable for viewers. 

Adapting Stephen King's story took a toll on all involved, and there are plenty of stories about making The Shining that sound absolutely excruciating. Combine a notoriously obsessive director, a major star tackling a challenging role, and some complex visual imagery, and you're in for a remarkably taxing year of filming. Kubrick, Jack Nicholson, Shelley Duvall, and the rest of the cast and crew survived a real-life nightmare to deliver one of the best horror movies ever made.


  • 1
    23 VOTES

    A Secretary Had To Type One Phrase Onto Hundreds Of Pieces Of Paper

    The clue that proves Jack Torrance has gone mad is revealed when his wife Wendy peeks at the book he has allegedly been working on. Instead of finding a manuscript, she sees hundreds and hundreds of pieces of paper bearing the same sentence: "All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy."

    Stanley Kubrick wanted the scene to be visually unsettling, which meant that the audience had to see writing on a large number of pages. His personal secretary, Margaret Warrington, was instructed to type that phrase onto 500 of pieces of paper. (And then she had to do it again in four different languages to account for foreign releases of the film!) The task was undoubtedly grueling, and it took months to accomplish, yet it adds immeasurably to the impact of the scene.

    23 votes
  • 2
    21 VOTES

    There Was Only One Chance To Do The Twins' Death Scene

    Lisa and Louise Burns play the Grady daughters, those creepy twin girls who are spotted looming mysteriously around the Overlook. They also appear in one of the film's most gruesome scenes, as they're shown after having been murdered with an ax. It's a vital scene, and Stanley Kubrick had exactly one chance to get right.

    In 2015, the now-grown sisters told The Daily Mail that the shot of them lying in a pool of blood was one of the last to be filmed. There was only one set of the signature blue dresses they wear, and drenching them in fake blood was sure to ruin them. 

    The director had to plan the scene very carefully, as there was no room for a retake. Working against his usual multi-take instincts, Kubrick did indeed get the shot he wanted, and produced one of the picture's most memorable moments. 

    21 votes
  • 3
    20 VOTES

    Kubrick's Fear Of Flying Prevented Him From Shooting Certain Scenes

    Stanley Kubrick was notoriously afraid of flying, so he filmed his movies in London, where he also lived. That made it a little difficult for him to direct shots that couldn't be replicated in his hometown.

    Exteriors for The Shining were photographed in Oregon and Montana, where Kubrick refused to go because it necessitated flight. A separate crew had to shoot all the outdoor imagery for him, and he was not physically there to supervise any of it.

    Considering how in-control Kubrick liked to be, it's somewhat surprising to learn that he allowed others to take charge of shots that are pivotal for setting the movie's eerie tone. 

    20 votes
  • 4
    19 VOTES

    Kubrick Changed The Ending After The Film Was Already In Theaters

    The Shining ends with Wendy and Danny escaping, leaving Jack behind, frozen in the snow. Back inside the Overlook Hotel, the camera slowly zooms in on a framed photograph that shows Jack at the New Year's Eve Ball in 1921. However, at one point, a slightly different ending was in the works. 

    Frequent Pixar director Lee Unkrich runs a fan site dedicated to The Shining, and posted some cut pages of script that detail an alternate ending. In this extra scene, Wendy wakes up in a hospital, and is told by Jack's boss, Stuart Ullman, that no evidence of the creepy things she reported was found at the Overlook. Stuart then gives Danny a ball similar to the one Jack plays with earlier in the movie.  

    One week after The Shining opened in theaters, Stanley Kubrick had a change of heart about the two-minute coda. He ordered the scene to be cut from all prints in release and destroyed, so that it could never be reinstated. 

    19 votes
  • 5
    29 VOTES

    Kubrick Required A Ludicrous Number Of Takes

    Stanley Kubrick knew what he wanted, and he didn't stop until he got it. Doing multiple takes of scenes is common on movie sets, but Kubrick took things to a whole new level. The shot of Shelley Duvall waving a baseball bat in front of Jack Nicholson required 127 tries for the director to feel satisfied. Another shot, in which Scatman Crothers explains his character's ability to "shine" to child actor Danny Lloyd, was done 148 times.

    29 votes
  • 6
    28 VOTES

    Stanley Kubrick Drove Scatman Crothers To Tears

    Scatman Crothers has a small but pivotal role in The Shining; he plays Dick Hallorann, the Overlook Hotel's psychic cook. Although the actor has since praised Stanley Kubrick for his directorial skills, the two had at least one tense moment while on-set. For the scene in which Hallorann shows Danny and Wendy around the hotel kitchen, Kubrick demanded an endless string of takes. Around take 85, a frustrated and exhausted Crothers broke down in tears. He reportedly pleaded, "What do you want, Mr. Kubrick? What do you want?" 

    28 votes