The Shining

Jack Nicholson’s Hero Axe

[social facebook_url=””]

“Heeere’s Johnny” is one of the most famous lines of dialog in movie history. It is screamed by Jack Nicholson’s character, Jack Torrance, as he peers though a smashed in door at a terrified Shelly Duval. That line was inspired by Ed McMahon’s daily introduction of Johnny Carson on the long running “The Tonight Show” and was always rumoured to have been improvised by Nicholson on set although that is now denied by the actor. Those closing scenes remain some of the most tense ever committed to celluloid and have been replicated and parodied ever since.

Stanley Kubrick’s version of The Shining was released in 1980 to some very mixed reviews. Like many of today’s classic films, its status has grown over the years and is now without doubt regarded as a horror masterpiece. At the time even the author Stephen King, rejected the screen version of his work, claiming that it bore little resemblance to his text and that it left him feeling dreadfully upset. The story follows a family of three who are residing in the vast Overlook Hotel, maintaining it through the winter season. As the plot unfolds we see all the characters descend into various levels of madness but the focus is Nicholson’s character, his slide into insanity is so powerful, he ultimately takes an axe to his wife! That axe is without doubt the most memorable prop used in the film and is perhaps one of the most memorable in horror movies extant.

A number of fire axes were created for filming. Photographs from the set show as many as a dozen differing versions lined up ready for use. The axe in The Propstore collection is a real axe and would have been required for practical use. The wood grain actually matches to the incredible scenes where Nicholson breaks down the first bedroom door! It measures approximately 90 cm long and with the exception of some light rust it is in amazing condition given its age. It was purchased from a senior crew member who became great friends with the Kubrick family as well as Nicholson and Duvall. His virtually unrivalled set access also allowed him to take a great number of remarkable behind the scenes photographs. Perhaps the most intriguing of which is reproduced here showing Jack in his final position, frozen in the snow, but with a head rest and cushions nicely out of camera line (featured right). We purchased the copyright of this incredible archive and, along with the axe they form an amazing piece of movie making history.

[collections_list link=”/genre-Horror.htm” title=”Click here for items from the Horror Genre”]