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7 Little-Known Facts About The Shining

No movie has generated more theories or more rumors than The Shining. Here’s the truth behind the trivia.


The Shining is a rare horror classic that is famous both as a book and a film. The novel by horror master Stephen King was adapted for the screen by no less a genius than Stanley Kubrick. Although the stories of the two are surprisingly different, horror aficionados have long loved both. Ever wondered how turning a great book into a great movie worked? These pieces of The Shining trivia may help make it a bit clearer.

1. The hotel The Shining is based on is actually haunted.

stanley hotel the shining stephen king little known facts

The exteriors for the hotel in the movie version were filmed at the Timberline Lodge on the slopes of Mount Hood in Oregon. But the hotel that inspired Stephen King’s story is the Stanley Hotel in Colorado. The Stanley is always included in lists of the most haunted places in America. Kitchen staff have reportedly heard partying in the empty kitchen, and music coming from the ballroom’s piano when nobody is there.

Read More: Mile-High Horror: The Haunted Halls of the Stanley Hotel 

ahwahnee hotel interior the shining

Today, the Stanley has dedicated one in-house TV channel entirely to The Shining, so guests can watch it any hour of the day or night. Interiors were shot in a studio – they were inspired by yet another hotel, the Ahwahnee in Yosemite National Park.

2. Stephen King only spoke to Stanley Kubrick once.

stanley kubrick the shining

Stephen King reportedly hated Stanley Kubrick’s movie because of the many changes made. According to The Guardian, King tells a story about the one conversation he had with Kubrick before production of the film. King says he was shaving when his wife told him Kubrick was on the phone. He was so startled he cut himself and came to the phone with blood running down his face. Appropriate. Kubrick, who was firm about making his own movie, didn’t initiate any further conversations with the novel’s writer.

3. Supposedly, Kubrick wanted The Shining to read as an allegory for the genocide of American Indians.

We’ve all heard the story about how Kubrick was sending a message in his film about the genocide of Native Americans. Remember that iconic shot of the Indian on the Calumet baking powder cans? You can read a full account of the theory from reporter (and Shining fan) Bill Blakemore’s story in the Washington Post.

4. The twins grew up to be quite normal.

grady twins the shining movie

Those creepy Grady twins were played by British twins Lisa and Louise Burns. They dropped from public view after the film but released a photo of themselves all grown up in 2014. Lisa grew up to be a lawyer and Louise a scientist. They were ten when they made the movie and say Jack Nicholson was like a father to them on the set, even though the character he was playing was no one’s idea of a great dad.

Related: 50 Little-Known Horror Movie Facts Every Fan Should Know 

5. Danny had no idea what The Shining was about.

Danny Lloyd was five years old when he played Danny Torrance in the film. Kubrick was reportedly so protective of him that he did not tell him the plot. Lloyd (along with his mother, father and older brother) spent a year in London shooting the movie. The whole time, he thought he was acting in a drama about a family who lived in a hotel, not a horror movie about a psychic kid and a psychotic dad. He was banned from the set during the bloody bits. Lloyd says he was ten before he saw the real film. Today, he’s a biology professor and prefers documentaries to dramas.

6. Jack Nicholson was surprisingly good with an axe.

The terrifying “Here’s Johnny!” scene with the axe was shot with a real door. Nicholson was a volunteer firefighter and knew how to use an axe. He demolished the fake door so quickly, they had to use a replace it with a real one.

7. Some people believe that The Shining proves that the moon landing was faked.

fake moon landing confession the shining

There was an elaborate conspiracy theory running around the internet for a while that the moon landing was faked and Kubrick helped the U.S. government with the scam. According to the theory, Kubrick left clues about his complicity in The Shining. Neil Armstrong really did go to the moon, of course. Kubrick’s daughter grew annoyed enough at the myth that she tried to debunk it in 2016. You can hear more about this, and the Native American theory, in the documentary Room 237.

Photos (from top): © 1980 Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc.; paurian / Flickr; Maria Castelló Solbes / Flickr; Justin Kern / Flickr; GabboT / Flickr; © 1980 Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc.