RARE: ‘The Shining’, original 1980 film poster

Stanley Kubrick’s 1980 film is widely regarded as one of the best psychological thrillers of the twentieth century. We revisit the chilling scenes made famous by this rare advertisement poster commissioned for the film’s 1980 UK debut.

The Shining (1980) Vintage Kubrick, rare poster

Based on Stephen King’s 1977 horror novel of the same name, ‘The Shining’ follows the fate of an ex-alcoholic and suffering writer ‘Jack Torrance’ (Jack Nicholson). Haunted by persistent writer’s block, he drives to the Colorado Rockies with his young family to be an off-season caretaker in a deserted resort hotel. 

Timberline Lodge, which served as the exterior of the ‘Overlook Hotel’ in The Shining (1980)

When Jack, his wife Wendy (Shelley Duvall) and their son Danny (Danny Lloyd) arrive at ‘Overlook Hotel’, it is clear that everything is not as it seems. The manager, Stuart Ullman (Barry Nelson), warns Jack that the remoteness of the hotel caused the previous caretaker, Charles Grady (Philip Stone), to go mad and brutally murder his wife and two daughters. 

Unperturbed, Jack delights in the prospect of peace and quiet and the family is soon left to their own devices when the hotel shuts down for the winter season. 

Through mysterious psychic vibrations, Danny begins to see visions – what the film refers to as ‘shining’. At first, he sees The Grady sisters, twin daughters murdered by their father, who innocently ask him to play with them

The costumes worn by the Grady sisters, Stanley Kubrick: The Exhibit. Public Domain

But eventually, the visions become more gruesome, with their mutilated bodies strewn across the floor, and gallons of blood gushing through hallways.

Amazingly, Kubrick was able to film his spine-tingling scenes without the six-year-old actor realising he was even in a horror film.

Jumper worn by six-year-old Danny Lloyd in The Shining, displayed at Stanley Kubrick: The Exhibit. Public Domain

As Danny’s visions increase in frequency, it becomes clear that Jack’s own mental health is also deteriorating rapidly.

When Wendy discovers he has typed hundreds of pages of the sentence: ‘All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy’, it is obvious that her husband is destined to follow in the footsteps of his murderous predecessor. 

‘All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy’, from the Stanley Kubrick: The Exhibit. Public Domain

From that moment on, evermore eerie events occur. Few can forget the chilling scene in which Jack wanders into the now-infamous room 237.

As a beautiful young woman peels back a shower curtain and begins to kiss him, Jack catches a glimpse of himself in the mirror only to recoil in horror when he realises she is actually a decaying old corpse. Her maniacal cackling has haunted audiences ever since.

Such a disturbing performance is undoubtedly eclipsed by the events that unfold in the final bathroom scene. As Jack charges an axe through the door, Wendy screams in abject terror.

Wendy (Shelley Duvall) screams in terror as Jack charges an axe through the bathroom door

To get Nicholson into an agitated mood for such scenes, Kubrick offered him only food he hated – cheese sandwiches – for two weeks straight.

Since Nicholson had previously volunteered as a fire marshall, he tore through the original bathroom door much too easily, and the props department were forced to reinforce it during filming.

Kubrick, who was a notorious stickler for cinematographic accuracy, often demanded multiple retakes to get the best out of his actors.

It must have worked as the now famous line Jack uttered after slashing through the door, ‘Heeere’s Johnny!’ has gone down in history as one of the most unsettling in film history (image below). 

Jack (Jack Nicholson) uttering the chilling line, ‘Heeere’s Johnny!’

Interestingly, the line was actually improvised by Jack Nicholson. Kubrick, who was not familiar with the phrase his actor borrowed from the famous American Tonight Show hosted by Johnny Carson in 1962, nearly considered cutting it from the final edit. 

This rare poster which immortalises the iconic scene was used in display cases outside of cinemas at the time of the film’s UK release in 1980.

As the original paper contains a lot of acid – which can discolour and damage the quality of a print over – we have chosen to frame it archivally, a process which is fully reversible.

By chemically cleaning the piece and laying it onto acid-free linen using wheat starch glue, it has been expertly preserved for posterity.

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