Photos From The Shining Set That Are Creepier Than The Film

Stanley Kubrick’s film adaptation of Stephen King’s novel The Shining is about as creepy as it gets. Hallways flowing with blood, paranormal activity, insanity… what’s not to be afraid of? If the movie didn’t scare you enough, take a look at some of these behind-the-scenes pictures that will make the hair on the back of your neck stand up.

Those Little Girls…

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So, apparently, these two twin little girls are equally as scary in real life as they are in the film. This must have been a weight off of Kubrick’s shoulders knowing that the girls simply had to stand in front of the camera in order to be horrifying.

Personally, I would have avoided the two both on and off the set, afraid they would curse me or try to attack me. Think of their poor parents that had to live with these two, while most people only see them in their nightmares.

A Somber Set

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Even though they aren’t filming, the entire set and crew look just as uncomfortable and eerie as the film itself. There’s not a single smile on any of the crew members’ face. If anything, they look concerned. Maybe it’s to help Jack Nicholson to get into character, or maybe the film was just too disturbing to even joke about.

This picture looks like it was taken as everyone was trying to come to terms with something awful that they all just witnessed. If you haven’t seen The Shining, this image could be very misleading.

All Work And No Play

I don’t know about you, but if I saw Jack Nicholson looking at me like this on set, I’d assume that the film was starting to get to him. It must be hard to act like a crazy person who is slowly losing his mind without becoming a little crazy yourself.

As his character writes, “All work no play makes Jack a dull boy.” Hopefully, throughout shooting, Nicholson was given periodic breaks to find his mind again instead of always playing a madman. Whatever it takes to get him to stop looking like that.

An Eerie Photograph

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This is just plain creepy. For the film, a real picture was originally used which was later photoshopped to include Jack Nicholson’s character. What makes this so weird is that it’s an actual photograph with real people who lived back in that time period.

If you’ve seen the film, you would understand what makes this fun fact so creepy. Little did these people know that a picture of them enjoying a party would later be featured in one of the most classic horror films of all time. Of course, Kubrick would settle for nothing less than true authenticity.

Smoke Break

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This particular image is exceptionally uncanny because it takes place in the room of one of the film’s most horrifying scenes. The actress Shelley Duvall is casually taking a smoke break off camera in the bathroom set that has scared audiences since its release.

What makes this picture so creepy is how calm Duvall appears, knowing that she either has or is about to film one of the most suspenseful and traumatizing scenes in the film. The picture is the opposite energy of what occurs in the film.

Dead on Set

This picture of Nicholson’s characters dead body on set is almost as unnerving as the actual scene in the film. Even though the snow and scene around the body are all props, the picture still accomplishes the stillness and eeriness that it depicts when the camera is rolling.

Chances are that the workers on set probably ran past this prop in hopes of not having to look at it as they pass by. The frozen body with the ax says it all, and the real feel of the whole scene makes it almost worse than the movie.

Right Out of a Horror Film

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This image embodies the uneasiness of The Shining. In the picture, it’s almost as if Kubrick and the girl are taking the picture, unaware of Nicholson’s presence. The expression on Nicholson’s face is nothing short of sinister as he smirks at the camera, although he is slightly unfocused.

This is the type of picture you find in an old shoebox that makes you uncomfortable to look at, and it doesn’t help that it was taken on the set of The Shining.

Too Realistic

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Although this is a picture from the filming of a scene in the movie, it’s still almost too realistic. The look in Nicholson’s eyes and face make him appear actually crazy, and Duvall’s body language makes her seem truly afraid.

Even though it is all for the show, the two are quite convincing. This must have made it hard for the rest of the crew with so much activity and emotions going on around them. I would be afraid that Nicholson was actually going to attack her, or that Duvall would end up really hitting him with the bat.

The Lone Cameraman

This photograph is yet another testament to just how eerie the set of The Shining truly was. Although all of that supposed snow is nothing more than a massive amount of salt and styrofoam, it is definitely convincing. Also, the lighting makes it all that more foreboding even though it is nothing but a movie set.

In order to have a convincing film, you need convincing sets, something that The Shining certainly isn’t lacking. This lone cameraman even looks as though he’s starring in his own horror film.

Laughing in the Face of Disaster

On January 30, 1979, in the middle of the film’s production, a fire broke out on a sound stage. The fire spread and grew quickly, and by the morning the sound stages for some of the films biggest sets were destroyed. These included the Colorado Lounge, the Lobby, and the hotel hallways.

This photo looks like something out of a post-apocalyptic film, as Kubrick can’t do anything except laugh at his misfortune. The fact that the fire broke out during the filming of The Shining makes it all that much more curious.

“Joking” Around on Set

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This is a picture taken of actor Scatman Crother’s stunt double on the set of the film. As we can see, he has put on the costume made to look like he has been struck with the axe wielded by Nicholson.

Although this is clearly a joke, it goes to show the morbid type of humor that was encouraged during the making of the movie. The crew members didn’t have much to play around with on set, so they resorted to the costumes and props used when people are murdered in the film.

Casual Dead Body

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This is a polaroid taken of actor Scatman Crothers as he lies in a pool of fake blood on the set of the film. Originally, the scene itself with the body and all of the blood is already sickening enough.

However, what makes this photo really unnerving is that it is a polaroid. It makes the photo seem like it was taken from police evidence, making it hard to differentiate if the photo is real or if it is just a picture taken from the set of the movie.

Hinting at Genocide

This is an image of the Ahwahnee Hotel in Yosemite National Park, a real hotel which Kubrick used to model the set of the Overlook Hotel in the film. Although the Native American designs aren’t mentioned in the film, Kubrick went to great lengths and troubles to build the set with such a theme. It’s speculated that the reason for this was to use to use the movie to draw the attention to the genocide of the American Indians by the early Americans. Although there are some convincing arguments, after all, it is just a theory.

The Other Man Behind The Camera

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Cinephelia & Beyond
Cinephelia & Beyond

This is a photo of director Stanley Kubrick and John Alcott, the director of photography for The Shining. According to Cinephelia & Beyond, there were no more than ten crew members on set at a time (aside from the exterior snow scenes) because Kubrick liked to keep a small crew to save money and because he liked to work at his own pace.

Kubrick first employed Alcott when filming 2001: A Space Odyssey, taking over as lighting cameraman after Geoffrey Unsworth. The two would go on to become frequent collaborators.

He Didn’t See The Movie Until He Was 16

This is a behind-the-scenes look of young actor Dan Lloyd, presumably waiting for direction while filming scenes in which he plays with his toys in the hall. While the then-5-year-old didn’t know he was making a horror film at the time, he did eventually find out, finally watching The Shining for the first time when he was 16.

Lloyd told New York Daily News that he wasn’t all that frightened when he finally saw it: “I just personally don’t find it scary because I saw it behind the scenes. I know it might be kind of ironic, but I like funny films and documentaries.”

Why Didn’t Lloyd Get Any More Acting Roles?

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Sunset Boulevard/Corbis via Getty Images
Sunset Boulevard/Corbis via Getty Images

Here is a picture of 5-year-old Lloyd alongside the director himself, Stanley Kubrick. Kubrick is probably showing Lloyd the results of a scene he just filmed or showing him some of the ropes of movie-making.

Unfortunately, The Shining is pretty much Lloyd’s only acting credit, save for another easily forgotten television appearance. He told New York Daily News, “We kept trying [to get cast] for several years… until I was in high school and I stopped at about 14 with almost no success… I’m glad I was in ‘The Shining.’ It was not a bad experience for me. It just wasn’t something that panned out and I decided to go back to being a regular kid.”

My Father Is An Axe Murderer

Sunset Boulevard/Corbis via Getty Images
Sunset Boulevard/Corbis via Getty Images

Jack Nicholson’s crazed portrayal of father-figure Jack Torrance must have been pretty frightening for a young child actor like Lloyd. Here, Lloyd looks pretty frightened to be ‘comforted’ by his on-screen dad.

Luckily Lloyd was aware that Nicholson was just playing a character. He told New York Daily News of the time he wandered on set while Nicholson was filming his scenes with the axe: “He was doing some major acting. Then between takes he saw us and came over and started hopping around like an Indian with his axe like a tomahawk… He was probably just trying to break the mood.”

Robin Williams In The Shining?!

Sunset Boulevard/Corbis via Getty Images
Sunset Boulevard/Corbis via Getty Images

Considering how iconic Jack Nicholson was in his role as Jack Torrance, it’s hard to imagine anyone else in the role. However, Kubrick did have other actors in mind just in case Nicholson couldn’t step up to the plate. Could you envision a crazed Robert De Niro or the likes of Robin Williams or Harrison Ford maniacally wielding an axe? Neither can I. Luckily, Stephen King disapproved of all these actors.

However, he wasn’t exactly too keen on Nicholson either. As the author of the book that inspired the film, he had a particular vision for how the character of Jack Torrance should be played.

Kubrick And King Did Not Agree On Many Things

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4.2.7
4.2.7

Stephen King has gone on the record saying, “Jack Nicholson, though a fine actor, was all wrong for the part. His last big role had been in One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, and between that and the manic grin, the audience automatically identified him as a loony from the first scene. But the book is about Jack Torrance’s gradual descent into madness through the malign influence of the Overlook—if the guy is nuts to begin with, then the entire tragedy of his downfall is wasted.”

While King’s reasoning makes complete sense, Kubrick clearly didn’t pay mind to those details since Nicholson remained the number one choice for the role.

The Most Difficult Role She Ever Had To Play

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This behind-the-scenes photo of actress Shelley Duval looks as if it should be a screengrab of the movie itself. Clearly, Duvall knew how to use expressions because the look on her face here gives me the same anxiety felt as if I was actually watching the movie. But her distressed look here might actually stem from the pressures she felt on set, since Kubrick was allegedly very hard on her. In The Complete Kubrick, she is quoted as saying, “Stanley pushed me and prodded me further than I’ve ever been pushed before. [Wendy Torrance] is the most difficult role I’ve ever had to play.”

Nicholson Learned His Lines On The Spot

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What Does Simon Cowell Have To Do With The Shining?

Just seeing a guy kneeling before this many axes as if they were a shrine is creepy enough, wouldn’t you agree? This is probably a propmaster organizing the famed axe and its many backups for the most important scenes of The Shining.

According to The Telegraph, stone-cold-show judge Simon Cowell got his start in the entertainment industry at Elstree Studios in London, since it was close to where he grew up. Sources say that one of Cowell’s early menial jobs was working as a runner on The Shining, where he had the chance to polish Nicholson’s axe while filming the “Here’s Johnny!” scene.

The Role That Drove Her Mad

Here are actress Shelley Duvall and young Danny Lloyd looking for an escape from their crazed family patriarch. The look of fear and anguish on their faces is almost too real in this special polaroid from the film. Duvall once told critic Roger Ebert in 1980, “Going through day after day of excruciating work was almost unbearable… And in my character I had to cry 12 hours a day, all day long, the last nine months straight, five or six days a week…”

Duvall notoriously fell ill during filming because of the emotional and physical toll that playing the character had on her.

A Ghost-Like Set

This is a picture of the facade of the Overlook Hotel being constructed at the Elstree Studios backlot. It’s kind of strange to imagine that the hotel itself was built on a movie studio, even though most people know that the Overlook Hotel was inspired by an actual one in Yosemite.

Here, you can see the framework of the hotel, almost as if it is a skeleton. The fact that this is just a facade only emphasizes the spooky aspects of the film in general. Much of the characters in the film are ghosts and if you take this photo into consideration, it’s almost as if the hotel itself was a ghost as well.

A Method To The Madness

One of Kubrick’s insane filming tactics was to film scenes over and over again until they were perfect. Nicholson reportedly had to film the bathroom scene over three days, going through 60 doors in the process (but Nicholson, who was once a volunteer fireman was breaking through the doors too easily).

Kubrick explained in 1987 that he spends so much time on takes because “You cannot act without knowing dialogue. If actors have to think about the words, they cannot work on the emotion. So you end up doing thirty takes of something… So you just shoot it and shoot it and hope you can get something out in pieces.”

Other Countries Show Different Versions

Jack’s infamous line that he repeatedly typed was actually changed for showings of The Shining in different countries. There were different takes of Duvall’s character reading the typewriter pages depending on which country they were filming for. For German, they used a line that translates to “Never put off till tomorrow what may be done today.” The Spanish version translates to “No matter how early you get up, you can’t make the sun rise any sooner.” And for the Italian version, they used an idiom that translates as “The morning has gold in its mouth.”

He’s Glad He Didn’t Make It In Hollywood

This is a picture of the Steadicam operator giving Danny Lloyd a ride in the Steadicam mechanism in between takes. Considering how much fun it seems Lloyd had on set when he was younger, it’s a shame he never broke into the business. But Lloyd told New York Daily News, “A Hollywood life probably wouldn’t have been for me, anyway. I’m proud to come from the Midwest and that’s where I’m comfortable at… I lead a pretty normal life now. People don’t recognize me when I go out in public.” Lloyd is now a married father of six who teaches biology at a local community college.

Kubrick Cared A Lot About The Details

This is a photo of a prop master splashing fake blood on the set of The Shining, in the same hallway where the creepy Grady twin sisters are seen. Kubrick is known for his keen eye to detail, making sure even the most minute details are up to his standards. Remember the final scene in which Danny is being chased by Jack in the snow-covered maze? Well, that scene apparently took a lot of salt to create a winter wonderland! Nine hundred tons of salt were used to decorate the set of that scene, in addition to crushed styrofoam.

Kubrick Believed That The Ghosts Were Real

This is a picture of Jack Nicholson and fellow actor Philip Stone in between takes. Stone plays Delbert Grady, who may or may not have been a ghost, depending on how you interpret the film. Kubrick said in an interview that the book “seemed to strike an extraordinary balance between the psychological and the supernatural in such a way as to lead you to think that the supernatural would eventually be explained by the psychological: ‘Jack must be imagining these things because he’s crazy.’ This allowed you to suspend your doubt of the supernatural until you were so thoroughly into the story that you could accept it almost without noticing.”

He Was The Only Actor Who Could Handle Kubrick’s Style

While Kubrick was known for his intense filming style, Nicholson says that he didn’t seem to mind. He told Empire, “I mean… everybody pisses and moans a little bit, no matter what, but I liked the way he worked. You just get used to the rhythm: you’re waiting for hours, while he’s getting everything lit, then when you start working, you work. And that’s fun for an actor… I don’t know if I could do 100 takes trying to bring something absolutely new to it every time — I like to think I could — but when you dod that many trying to get his thing right, somehow, you know, it’s a little bit easier.”

One Scene Was Inspired By Nicholson’s Real-Life Divorce

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Nicholson also recalled how Kubrick drew on the actors for inspiration for a scene, telling Empire that the scene in which Jack berates Wendy for interrupting his concentration was inspired by the day Nicholson “destroyed his marriage to Sandra Knight.” Nicholson recalled, “I told Stanley about what had happened and he incorporated it into the pic. I was doing two jobs: one was writing a movie and the other was acting in a movie and, boy, when you’re in that situation… I’m sitting in there thinking and the lovely Sandra came in… and I freaked out, like you saw in the movie.”

Kubrick Knew What He Was Doing

Kubrick was pretty steadfast in his directorial choices, as Nicholson will tell you. When he asked Nicholson to do the film, Nicholson said “I wanted the sexuality of the character in there as well, because I’m thinking, ‘I’ll scare the pants right off everybody with this!’ …[Kubrick] said he wouldn’t want it. And I wanted, I think, Jessica Lange [to play Torrance’s wife, Wendy], because she seemed like the character in the book to me. And this was great — this was why our discussions were always very short, because he knows. He knows his stuff! He said, ‘Well, no, I want Shelley Duvall’,” he recalled to Empire.

Did The Shining Really Drive Her Insane?

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Nicholson can also attest to the way filming The Shining drove Shelley Duvall to madness. Nicholson told Empire, “I called it the toughest job that any actor that I’ve seen had, because 40 per cent of that picture, she’s hysterical. And when the shooting schedule is that long: imagine months and months and months, as an actor, of coming to work having to come up with hysteria.” While she has mostly stayed out of public view since 2002, Duvall has appeared pretty much unrecognizable in 2016 on Dr. Phil where many believed she was suffering from mental illness.

Unknowingly Making a Horror Film

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One shocking Shining fact which explains this photograph is that Danny Lloyd (who plays the character of Danny) didn’t know that he was acting in a horror film. As illustrated in this picture, Lloyd seems to be happy, even with a smile on his face while Kubrick and a cameraman look much more somber, as they know what is actually going on.

It certainly is a little bit sinister when looking at this picture, knowing what happens in the film when this young actor is so innocent and ignorant of what he is a part of.

Never Breaking Character

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This picture nicely depicts just how intense it must have been to even be on set during the filming of the show. As shown in this picture, the two actors look less than welcoming, which surely takes a lot of skill and dedication to the role.

Being on set must have been not a very enjoyable or fun experience considering the scenes that were being filmed, as well as the concept of the entire film. I’m sure it would be hard for Nicholson to play a maniac if the crew was busy joking around and having fun.

The Set

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As if the movie wasn’t scary enough itself, the set adds a whole new level of fear. The film was shot utilizing the building’s big empty spaces to give it scale compared to a human. In this picture, we can see just how large the rooms they are filming in are, and that they aren’t modified in any way during post-production.

If I was working on the film, I know that I wouldn’t want to be left alone in one of those big rooms. From this picture, we can see just how big it really is, even with three people in the middle of the picture.

Looking for Danger

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This is a photo of director Stanley Kubrick looking through his director’s viewfinder on the exterior set of the Overlook Hotel. If you didn’t know this, you would think that this is a shot from another horror film.

The black and white, as well as the way Kubrick is looking through his viewfinder, gives this image a sense of doom even though it is just a behind-the-scenes photo from the filming of The Shining. Yet, this could have been added into the film since it is creepy enough that nobody would have even questioned it.

“What Are You Looking At?”

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You have to give props to Jack Nicholson for being so incredibly convincing. As seen in this image, it’s hard to tell if he’s actually acting, or if that’s what he really looks like between scenes.

Either way, it certainly is a chilling sight, since something clearly looks “off” about him, making you wonder what he’s going to do next. This is yet another photograph that shows that the filming of The Shining was just as scary as the actual film.

Nothing Out of the Ordinary Here

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This is a photograph of Stanley Kubrick on set with his son Manuel and his daughter Vivian. Since it’s the set of The Shining there is nothing strange about a little boy walking around wielding an axe at all.

Aside from the axe-carrying boy, this image looks like it could also be a still from another movie. All three of them look concerned, the lighting provides an ominous effect, and the axe is the cherry on top. But no, it’s just typical things on the set of The Shining.

Murder Scene

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This is a picture of Dick Hallorann’s death scene in the Lobby set. Stanley Kubrick is composing the shot when the axe enters Hallorann’s chest with a special effects artist on the right of the image, prepared with a bag of fake blood.

The set itself is extremely convincing with the blood already smeared all over the floor. It’s particularly disturbing because everyone is just standing and watching, preparing to do their job once the murder scene is underway.