One of the most famous horror films of all time centers around a family trapped inside a haunted hotel. The Overlook Hotel is filled with terrifying ghosts and demons, yet the scariest elements have nothing to do with the supernatural scares and have everything to do with the horror that derives from human behavior.
Stanley Kubrick's adaptation of Stephen King's classic novel is filled with interesting details that you might not have known. Here are 10 facts surprising facts about The Shining that will totally change how you see the film.
10 Wendy Torrance Is Very Different In The Book
While Shelley Duvall does a magnificent job portraying Wendy Torrance in The Shining, Stephen King has admitted to his disliking for Kubrick's version of the character. In the book version of The Shining, King pictured Wendy as a "blonde cheerleader type" because according to the master of horror, having her this way creates more suspense as we witness her bubbly persona being torn apart by The Overlook Hotel. But it is not only the casting decision that bothers King about Wendy.
It's the way she is portrayed as a whole. While Wendy in the film is submissive and doormat-like as she allows her husband to walk all over her, Wendy in the book is much more of a fighter and she takes a whole lot more fearless action in the novel than she does in the film.
9 The Hedge Maze Was Originally Animal Hedges
Originally, the hedge maze from Kubrick's film was supposed to be animal hedges. In the novel, these animal hedges which are seemingly innocent turn out to be evil and they are capable of attacking. They get closer and closer to their victim every time they turn around. The film chose to take the maze route instead because back when it was filmed, they didn't have the technology or special effects to make the animal hedges spring to life. We still think the maze idea was pretty awesome in order to create a feeling of terror and claustrophobia.
8 The Room Number Was Changed For A Funny Reason
In the book, the forbidden room that The Torrances have been warned against is numbered Room 217. In the film, the room number is switched to Room 237 and this is due to a pretty humorous reason. Because The Shining had exterior shots from The Timberline Lodge, the hotel had made a request that they use a room number that didn't actually exist in their hotel in order to prevent guests from fearing that particular room. Guests who would've been booked in 217 would most likely request a different room and that would just create a whole lot of unnecessary debacles for The Timberline Lodge.
7 Danny Lloyd Wasn't Aware He Was In A Horror Movie
The young boy who plays Danny, (coincidentally played by an actor named Danny), had been told that he was in a drama rather than a horror film in an effort to protect the child actor's mental state. This was a smart move on Kubrick's part, and he made sure to take care of Danny Lloyd so the film making process wouldn't scar him for life. On a similar note, during one of the more horrifying scenes involving Danny, they used a dummy rather than actually using the kid because they didn't want to scare him.
6 King Was Not A Fan Of Nicholson For The Role Of Jack
Similar to King's feelings for Duvall as the role of Wendy, he was also not a big fan of having Jack Nicholson for the role of John "Jack" Torrance. This is mainly due to the fact that Nicholson seems to be type-casted in roles where he is rather off and menacing.
Appearance-wise, he looks like someone who could go easily mad, and this is not what the author pictured when he created the character. King didn't create Jack Torrance as a villain, but rather a troubled father with many demons despite the fact that he wants to be good. In the film, Kubrick paints a picture of a man who is sinister and cartoonishly awful from the start.
5 A Lot Of The Shining Is Based Off Of Stephen King's Own Life
Okay, so maybe SK didn't stay at a haunted hotel while swinging giant axes all over the place, (as far as we know), but much of his story was based on his own struggles with alcoholism and his obsession with working, while simultaneously being a good father and husband. He dealt with many of the same struggles as Jack Torrence in the book, which reveals a much more humanized version of the character as opposed to Nicholson's portrayal in the film.
4 The Film Was Originally Seen As A Joke
It is hard to believe that one of the most highly regarded films of all time was seen as a disappointing joke to audiences after its initial release. It was considered to be a bust back in 1980 because it wasn't traditionally scary enough to be a "good horror movie". Kubrick's film was even nominated for a Golden Raspberry Award which awards the worst films of the year. Shelley Duvall had also been nominated for a Golden Raspberry Award due to her acting in the film despite the fact that she put her all into that role.
3 Kubrick Made Duvall's Life A Living Hell
It seems like Duvall was unable to catch a break on set, even after the director called cut. Throughout the film, Stanley Kubrick made the directorial decision to break Duvall and make her life as horrifying as it was in the film. It was an artistic technique designed to isolate her and cause her to go mad in order to get the best possible performance out of her.
He would even tell the cast and crew not to sympathize with her, right in front of Duvall's face. According to Duvall on the subject, she had this to say: "If it hadn't been for that volley of ideas and sometimes butting of heads together, it wouldn't have come out as good as it did... it builds up anger and you get more out of yourself."
2 The Director Of Toy Story 3 Runs The Most Popular Website About The Shining
Funnily enough, the director for one of the most heartwarming and innocent Pixar films of all time is also the creator of "The Overlook", aka the most popular website based on all things relating to The Shining. If you watch Toy Story 3, you will notice a lot of references to The Shining, including the carpet which is designed to look a lot like the one from The Overlook Hotel and a license plate "237".
1 The "Here's Johnny" Line Was Improvised
It is crazy to think that one of the most famous lines in cinema history was improvised on the spot by the actor. Most of the time it just comes out of them without warning, and this was the case for Nicholson when he imitated the opening for Johnny Carson on The Tonight Show. The line has made it onto the list as one of the top 100 most famous lines in film history. The line "Here's Johnny" can even be heard in It: Chapter 2 (2019).