Movie Poster, The Shining

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Danny! Danny-boy!

Jack Nicholson practically growling his son's name as he succumbs to the evil forces harbored by the Overlook Hotel and sets out to slaughter his family is one of the more terrifying scenes in a movie that's basically a master class in terrifying imagery, start to finish.

Which is why, 40 years after its theatrical release, The Shining remains one of the all-time horror movies, the monster in this case being an entire building—and, of course, the demons within that just need a little nudge and a stiff drink to rear their ugly heads.

Subsequently, Stanley Kubrick's polarizing adaptation of Stephen King's haunting, so-scary-Joey-has-to-stick-it-in-the-freezer novel is also one of the most picked-over films of the 20th century, with endless analyses and theories put forth in essays, books, frame-by-frame breakdowns and films about the film, such as 2012's Room 237, which lays out nine interpretations of what, exactly, Kubrick had in mind.

But if going through all that sounds like a lot of work and no play, do not fear—we've done the sifting for you and, in honor of The Shining's 40th anniversary, have distilled the history, the lore, the myths and all the rest into 40 secrets about the making of this unforgettable film.

Also, SPOILER ALERT! This guide contains spoilers for both the book and the movie, so if you want to step away and read the novel and then watch the film first, go ahead. We'll be right here.

The Shining Book Cover


Stanley Kubrick, The Shining Set


Timberline Lodge, The Shining, The Overlook

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The Hotel, Shelley Duvall, The Shining

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The Bloody Elevators, The Shining


Jack Nicholson, The Shining, Typewriter


Room 237, The Shining


Danny Lloyd, The Shining, Overlook Maze

Hawk Films

Vivian Kubrick, Stanley Kubrick, 1986 Full Metal Jacket


Leon Vitali, Stanley Kubrick, Filmworker

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Danny Torrance, Danny Lloyd, The Shining

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Shelley Duvall, Danny Lloyd, Jack Nicholson, The Shining

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Scatman Crothers, Danny Lloyd, Shelley Duvall, The Shining

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Danny Torrance, Danny Lloyd, The Shining

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Shelley Duvall, Danny Lloyd, The Shining

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Lisa Burns, Louise Burns, The Twins, The Shining

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Philip Stone, Jack Nicholson, The Shining, Grady


Jack Nicholson, The Shining

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All Work and No Play Makes Jack a Dull Boy, The Shining

Jack Nicholson, Shelley Duvall, The Shining

Warner Bros.

Joe Turkel, Jack Nicholson, The Shining, Lloyd

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Jack Nicolson, Stanley Kubrick, The Shining Set

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Shelley Duvall, The Shining, Axe


Jack Nicholson, Shelley Duvall, The Shining

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Jack Nicholson, The Shining, Here's Johnny


Danny Lloyd


Danny Lloyd, The Shining

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Louise Burns, Lisa Burns, The Shining Twins


Stephen King, 1980

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Barry Dennen, Barry Nelson, Jack Nicholson, The Shining

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Jack Nicholson, The Shining, 1921 Photo


King wrote in 2001 in the introduction for a new edition of the book, "My single conversation with the late Stanley Kubrick, about six months before he commenced filming his version of The Shining, suggested that it was this quality about the story that appealed to him: What, exactly, is impelling Jack Torrance toward murder in the winter-isolated rooms of the Overlook Hotel? Is it undead people or undead memories?

"Mr. Kubrick and I came to different conclusions (I always thought there were malevolent ghosts in the Overlook, driving Jack to the precipice), but perhaps those different conclusions are, in fact, the same."

But Kubrick wasn't trying to infer otherwise. In his version, The Shining is indeed a ghost story.


He confirmed to his biographer Michel Ciment, "For the purposes of telling the story, my view is that the paranormal is genuine. Jack's mental state serves only to prepare him for the murder, and to temporarily mislead the audience."

It's choose your own adventure, King or Kubrick, on the way to Jack's demise, but the journey will scare the crap out of you all the same.

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