The Shining: 7 things you never knew about the classic horror film according to the Grady twins

Lisa and Louise Burns were given tiny bottles of fake blood by Stanley Kubrick on their 11th birthday

Jess Denham
Monday 02 November 2015 14:05 GMT
Danny Lloyd, Lisa and Louise Burns in 1980 horror film The Shining
Danny Lloyd, Lisa and Louise Burns in 1980 horror film The Shining (Rex Features)

The Shining remains at the top of many a ‘best ever horror movies’ list, but few film fans know what life was really like on set of the 1980 classic.

Twins Lisa and Louise Burns who played the creepy Grady daughters have shared their experiences in an exclusive interview with the Daily Mail, revealing how lead actor Jack Nicholson became their father-figure, the little boy who played psychic Danny didn’t know the real storyline and director Stanley Kubrick gave them bottles of fake blood from their death scene on their birthday.

The image of the dead twins holding hands and chanting at Danny in the hotel corridor is among the most memorable, but it was the quirks of their fellow cast members that stick strongest in the Burns sisters’ minds.

The Shining follows writer and former alcoholic Jack Torrance, who agrees to work as a caretaker at an isolated Colorado hotel. Jack brings his family with him, but soon becomes possessed by evil supernatural forces that put all their lives at risk. Only five-year-old Danny learns the house’s awful past after developing psychic abilities.

Here are our favourite things we never knew about The Shining:

Jack Nicholson napped on the floor in between scenes

Nicholson was determined to stay in character on set, so hit the floor to grab some shut-eye in between takes. “They were extremely long days and I think Stanley would have had Jack work until the matchsticks fell out of his eyes, so he needed to nap between scenes,” Louise said.

Stories about Kubrick’s tormenting of Shelly Duvall were false

Lisa describes rumours that Kubrick tormented Duvall so badly her hair fell out and she lost weight as “complete rubbish and totally unfounded”.

Kubrick gave them tiny bottles of fake blood on their birthday

He called it Kensington Gore and it was the same blood the twins had to lie in when axed to death by Torrance. Something to treasure forever, surely.

The little boy who played Danny didn’t know what was going on

Danny Lloyd was only five when he was cast and Kubrick decided not to tell him the storyline. He didn’t even know he was making a horror movie, as all the gruesome scenes were hidden from him. Duvall carried a lifesize dummy for the scene where she runs and screams with Danny in her arms so the actor wouldn’t be scared. It is an 18 after all.

The casting call for the Grady daughters never asked for twins

But when Lisa and Louise turned up, Kubrick realise that twins were “just spookier” and they got the job.

Shelley Duvall stars in Stanley Kubrick's The Shining
Shelley Duvall stars in Stanley Kubrick's The Shining (Rex Features)

The snow was fake and so was that famous axe

“It was plastic and it stank and they had an awful problem getting rid of it.,” Lisa said, adding that the “Here’s Johnny!” scene also proved tricky because Nicholson couldn’t use a real axe but his fake one wouldn’t “cut through the bathroom door”.

Danny is now a college professor and the twins aren’t acting either

The sisters found it hard to get into acting school after The Shining because they were listed as professionals. Lisa is a lawyer and Louise a scientist. Both still attend horror conventions worldwide to meet fans.

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