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Dumb Things In The Shining Everyone Ignored

The Shining is the kind of horror film that makes you question your own sense of perception with every shot. Stanley Kubrick's adaptation of Stephen King's famous novel centers the haunted Overlook Hotel as a character of its own, with an impossibly convoluted layout and dark secrets around every corner, driving its inhabitants mad. When Jack Torrance (Jack Nicholson) takes a job as the winter caretaker of the hotel, giving him time to write his book, he brings his wife Wendy (Shelley Duvall) and son Danny (Danny Lloyd) with him to hunker down for a few months. And as a psychic Danny realizes that his cryptic messages from his "imaginary friend" Tony aren't so imaginary, his father descends into madness that threatens to destroy the family. 

The Shining is a masterclass in suspenseful, psychological horror (well, if you ask anyone besides King, that is, who's always been notoriously critical of the film). After all, Kubrick had a reputation as a ruthless perfectionist ... but with so many takes for each scene, even a stickler like him was bound to miss a few mistakes. Some details in The Shining that seem a little out of place serve to illustrate the supernatural forces at work in the Overlook, but others can't be dismissed so easily. Here are a few dumb things in The Shining that were probably just accidents instead of spooky symbolism.

The bending baseball bat in The Shining

The scene in which Jack pursues Wendy up the stairs is one of the most tense scenes in The Shining. She grips a baseball bat, clearly scared out of her wits, as he taunts her and asks if she's concerned about Danny's health. He mocks her pleas to take Danny to a doctor until she breaks down crying. The menacing edge to his tone and his threatening body language frightens her, and she starts backing up slowly, hoping to escape up the stairs before he lashes out. As he follows her up, she swings the bat, and while he tries to dodge her, she finally whacks him on the head, sending him tumbling backwards down the stairs.

It's a powerful scene, but if you look closely, you'll see just how they managed to shoot it without giving Nicholson a concussion. As Wendy's bat makes contact with Jack's head, it visibly bends. It's not made of wood, it's made of rubber. 

The missing hedge maze

In The Shining, the creepy sets are central to the plot. The Overlook itself is a labyrinth, and the hedge maze beside the hotel is definitely not a place where you would want to get lost. You would be lucky if you ever found your way out. The opening scene of the film gives the audience an aerial view of the Overlook and the grounds, from the hotel itself and the surrounding forests to the mountains in the distance. It's in an isolated spot in the middle of the Colorado wilderness, with no other towns around as far as the eye can see. Basically, it's clear from the very beginning that this is the kind of place where no can hear you scream for help.

But eagle-eyed viewers will notice that there's something missing in these establishing shots. The hedge maze is supposed to be right next to the hotel, as it's only a short walk away from the entrance. But in this initial view of the area, it's nowhere to be found. It's enormous, so realistically, it would definitely be visible from the sky.

Spot the ski lift

Before officially accepting the caretaker job, Jack goes to the Overlook for an interview. Mr. Ullman (Barry Nelson), the manager, begins telling him all about the job and his potential responsibilities. He warns him about just how far away from civilization he'll really be, explaining there's basically nothing to do outside of the hotel, and that he and his family will be alone. Ullman also tells Jack about the Overlook's dark history and the previous caretaker, Delbert Grady (Philip Stone), whose case of "cabin fever" proved to be fatal to himself and his family. Jack promises that Ullman has nothing to worry about.

Ullman also mentions in passing that although they're in Colorado, there's no skiing in the area. Clearly, this isn't a major plot point, but it's definitely a gaff. In those aerial shots at the beginning of the film, you can see a ski lift going up the side of a mountain not far from the hotel. 

When was Danny injured?

Before the events of the film take place, Jack Torrance came home drunk one night and dislocated Danny's shoulder. He then promised that he wouldn't touch alcohol ever again. Wendy tells Danny's doctor about the incident, saying that it's been five months since Danny's injury, and so far, Jack has stayed true to his word. However, Jack later makes a comment that doesn't exactly fit with Wendy's timeline. When he's sitting at the bar in the Gold Room and griping to the bartender, Lloyd (Joe Turkel), about what happened, he says that it all went down three years ago.

There are two possibilities here. Obviously, this could've been a mistake in the script. However, with Kubrick behind the camera, there's also a chance that this was totally intentional. Perhaps it was also meant to signify something changing within Jack's psyche. It could've been a way of showing that Jack was slowly losing his mind, his grip on reality, and his sense of time. Or yeah, it could've just totally been an error on the part of the screenwriter.

Was it actually below freezing?

The final, nail-biting scenes of The Shining follow Danny as he flees through the hedge maze, trying to escape his father before Jack can kill him. Winter has definitely settled in at this point, and in the midst of the snowstorm, Danny desperately attempts to lose his dad in the maze. He strategically lays down a false trail to lead Jack astray, and then hides behind a snowdrift until he's certain that Jack has lost track of him. Finally, he's able to break out of the maze and find Wendy, who's driving the now-deceased Dick Hallorann's (Scatman Crothers) Snowcat. The two drive off, leaving Jack in the labyrinth. By the next morning, Jack's body is frozen solid. 

Clearly, the temperature outside that night must've been well below freezing. However, the next time you watch this scene, you'll see that something isn't quite right. As you follow Jack and Danny through the maze, you can tell that they're filming in warmer conditions as their breath isn't visible. 

Wendy's knife skills

Eventually, Wendy comes to realize that Jack is way past the point of no return. This becomes painfully obvious when she finds the "novel" that he's supposedly been working on for the entirety of their stay. It's just a stack of pages with the sentence "all work and no play makes Jack a dull boy" typed out over and over again, thousands of times. In that moment, she's filled with pure terror. She knows that her husband is fundamentally broken, and she can't bring him back from the edge. 

As she roams the hotel, she carries a large knife with her. When Jack's ax smashes through the door of the bathroom where she's hiding, Wendy gets a chance to use her blade, slashing his hand and buying her some time. However, in different scenes, Wendy switches between holding the knife with her left and right hand. So is she ambidextrous? Well, these are likely continuity errors. Kubrick was exceptionally tough on Shelley Duvall, making her reshoot certain scenes countless times. And in the midst of all those takes, it's pretty likely that Duvall made a few mistakes, but hey, who can blame her?

The hovering helicopter in The Shining

How did the crew get those beautiful opening shots of the Overlook from above? After all, The Shining was shot well before any random YouTuber could film a travel vlog with their own personal drone. Getting quality aerial footage was a bit trickier back in the 1970s. To film that scene, the crew used a helicopter

However, there was one small problem with this method. The footage had to be shot on a clear day, meaning the helicopter would cast a very obvious shadow on the ground below. In fact, you can even spot the shadow of a helicopter following the Torrance's car as they drive to the Overlook. 

As the Overlook and its grounds appear on-screen, you can also notice the lighting changing at the top of the image. This is probably thanks to the helicopter rotor, as the camera caught the spinning motion while filming. Thankfully, this is quite subtle, and it doesn't detract from the beauty of the shot.

The crew's reflections throughout The Shining

The Overlook is the kind of place where you can't quite trust anything that you see. Is that strange movement or shadow in the corner of the screen a trick of the light? A ghost haunting the hallways? A figment of Jack's imagination? Well, sometimes those odd visuals aren't hinting at anything paranormal. Every once in a while, you can see the crew members reflected on shiny surfaces. 

Squint just a bit when Wendy and Danny run into the maze for the first time, and you'll see a cameraman in the reflection of the sign marking the entrance. When Jack walks into Ullman's office for his interview, you can catch another reflection in the window behind him. As Danny rides his tricycle through the hallways of the Overlook, the crew members filming him cast shadows on his back. And even when Danny is running through the hedge maze, there's occasionally a visible shadow from the camera.

Jack Daniels for Jack

When Jack visits the Gold Room and meets Lloyd the bartender, we're not sure if Lloyd is a ghost or a projection of Jack's twisted mind. Regardless, Jack strikes up a conversation with him. He jokes about how the bar is having a slow night, and then asks Lloyd for bourbon on the rocks. He continues talking, claiming that he'd never hurt Danny ... before admitting that he did. He continues ranting about how Wendy won't let him forget it, and eventually, his wife comes running into the Gold Room, crying about a mysterious woman who tried to strangle Danny. Once Wendy enters the scene, Lloyd suddenly disappears, along with all of the liquor and decor behind the bar. 

It's a genuinely unsettling scene, but either someone in the props department got a little mixed up, or Lloyd is just a clueless bartender. As it turns out, Jack never gets the bourbon that he asked for. Instead, Lloyd pours his drink from a bottle of Jack Daniels, which is whiskey. 

What's up with the mountain of luggage?

As the Torrances drive to the Overlook, we see that they're traveling in a small, yellow Volkswagen Beetle. The shots from inside of the car reveal that it's fairly cramped space. However, when Jack walks into the lobby of the Overlook, he gestures to the family's huge pile of luggage sitting by the door. 

There's no way a stack of suitcases that high would fit into the trunk of that car. Sure, it's believable that they would overpack. After all, they're staying for the winter, so they'll need to bundle up, and there won't be anywhere for them to go shopping. But if they were really making that journey in a VW Beetle, they would've had to make some sacrifices and pack light. Your eyes might deceive you at the Overlook, but this one just doesn't make sense even in that context, unless they were actually traveling in some sort of clown car.

The Shining's disappearing door panel

If there's one scene that everyone who's watched The Shining remembers with total clarity, it's the moment that Jack swings his ax through the door of the bathroom where Wendy is hiding and yells, "Here's Johnny!" It's easily the most memorable line from the entire film. Wendy screams, fearing for her life, knowing that she could be moments away from meeting the same fate as Delbert Grady's family. She manages to cut Jack's hand with her knife, drawing blood and startling him. Surprised, he cries out in pain. Suddenly, he hears a snowmobile outside and pauses, backing away from the door. 

But here's where things get messy. When Jack puts his face through the door, we can clearly see that he's only managed to break through one panel. But when he hears the snowmobile and stands up straight to listen, you can see that a second panel is missing. Whoops! Regardless, Wendy is able to get away, saving herself and Danny while Jack perishes in the maze.