Have you ever watched the 1980 horror movie, The Shining? Even though Stephen King, the creator of The Shining has pretty much disavowed it, the Stanley Kubrick film is full of brilliant acting performances and dialogue. This article explores Jack Nicholson’s best quotes from The Shining.
Whether you love or hate The Shining, there’s no denying that the film wouldn’t have worked without the unhinged performance of its lead star, Jack Nicholson. In the film, Nicholson plays the role of Jack Torrance, a writer with writer’s block, that is the off-season caretaker of a secluded Colorado hotel. He’s joined by his wife Wendy (Shelley Duvall) and son Danny (Danny Lloyd). However, instead of finding inspiration, Jack starts a slow descent into insanity. The voices in his head want a sacrifice and his wife and son are the only people nearby. Is Jack capable of murder?
Nicholson gives one of the scariest performances ever put on film. In this article, we’ll be exploring the most blood-chilling and creepy quotes from The Shining.
Knock, Knock. Who’s There?: “Here’s Johnny!”
Out of all the quotes from The Shining, “Here’s Johnny” is by far the most famous. The line was actually famous before The Shining. The quote is from The Tonight Show With Johnny Carson. Johnny’s announcer would say the line “Here’s Johnny” every episode and Johnny would walk out from behind the curtain and greet the audience.
In The Shining, Jack uses an ax to chop a hole into a locked door and then says the famous quote to his terrified family. This scene is so memorable that people have even carved it onto Halloween pumpkins.
NERD NOTE: Room 237 is the haunted hotel room from the movie version of The Shining. It was originally room 217 in Stephen King’s book, but the hotel where the movie was filmed, Timberline Lodge, asked director Stanley Kubrick to change it to a nonexistent room. The hotel was worried that guests wouldn’t want to stay there. Ironically, since the film’s release, room 217 is the most requested room at the hotel.
Who Is At The Door?: “Wendy, I’m Home!”
This Shining quote takes place moments before Jack cuts through the door with an ax. He says”Wendy, I’m home!” right before the line “Here’s Johnny.”
Jack Gets The Ax: “Little pigs, little pigs, let me come in.”
Of The Shining quotes that are the most iconic, “Here’s Johnny!” and “Wendy, I’m home!” tend to top the list. The part of that tirade that often gets overlooked, however, is when Jack Torrance envokes a classic children’s story to forecast his murderous intentions. He says this line to his wife and son Danny who have locked themselves behind a wooden door.
- “Little pigs, little pigs, let me come in. Not by the hair of your chinny-chin-chin? Well then I’ll huff and I’ll puff, and I’ll blow your house in.”
The entire sequence is iconic as Nicholson plants his head through the splintered doorway. It’s just one of many points in the story when we know he’s gone completely insane!
NERD NOTE: Danny Lloyd, the actor that played the young son in The Shining, didn’t know he was acting in a horror movie until many years later. He was only 6 and 7-years-old at the time of production and director Stanley Kubrick made sure that Danny’s scenes were filmed in a way that protected him from the true nature of the project.
Working On A Deadline: “All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.”
Another of the most famous lines from The Shining borrows from a classic saying used to haunting effect. While working on a deadline for his book, Jack becomes increasingly unhinged, and his wife Wendy starts to notice.
Curiosity ends up getting the better of her, so she sneaks into Jack’s writing space to see what he’s accomplished. The answer: Nothing but pages and pages of a single line that says…
- “All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.”
It’s not too far from that point that we see Jack’s rage start to manifest as he catches her snooping through his work.
Love Of My Life: “I’m not gonna hurt ya. I’m just going to bash your brains in!”
Another one of the lines from The Shining that will give you the chills is when Jack, pursuing Wendy through the Overlook Hotel, tries to coax her to him with false pleasantries.
- “Wendy? Darling? Light, of my life. I’m not gonna hurt ya. You didn’t let me finish my sentence. I said, I’m not gonna hurt ya. I’m just going to bash your brains in!”
The Jack Torrance quotes are so effective because of the warm, almost affectionate way that Nicholson is able to say truly awful things. The line above is one of the worst (or best, depending on your point of view).
Anything For A Drink: “God, I’d give anything for a drink. I’d give my goddamned soul for just a glass of beer.”
At a certain point in the film, Jack sits down at the abandoned bar inside the Overlook. He makes one simple plea:
- “God, I’d give anything for a drink. I’d give my goddamned soul for just a glass of beer.”
It’s with this language that Mr. Torrance summons the devil and ends up doing just that. The exchange almost costs his family their lives.
Before Things Get Completely Evil: “I dreamed that I killed you… But I didn’t just kill ya. I cut you up in little pieces.”
When Jack becomes completely evil, he’s as frightening of a specter as you could ever find. However, he doesn’t start that way, and it’s this pivotal line that teaches us what we’re about to be in store for (in graphic detail):
- “I dreamed that I, that I killed you and Danny. But I didn’t just kill ya. I cut you up in little pieces. Oh my God. I must be losing my mind.”
The admission is bone-chilling. However, it’s also incredibly heartbreaking because you see the spiritual war at play inside of this vulnerable person, who is trying so hard to hold it together.
NERD NOTE: Thanks in part to his character’s famous lines in The Shining like “Redrum! Redrum!“, child actor Danny Lloyd received instant notoriety after the film’s release. However, he didn’t find the acting experience overly enjoyable. The film shoot was only scheduled for 17-weeks and instead ran over a year, as Kubrick, the extreme perfectionist, frustratingly reshot every scene. Danny only acted in one more project after The Shining, a TV movie about G. Gordon Liddy, before completely abandoning his acting career. He’s now a science teacher in Kentucky.
Which Quotes From The Shining Are Your Favorites?
We hope you’ve enjoyed this look at Jack Nicholson’s best quotes from The Shining. Did we miss any of your favorites? Let us know in the comments section below.
For a look at more great movie quotes, check out our examination of Pulp Fiction, Jaws, and The Usual Suspects.
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