Trivia / Better Off Dead

  • Actor Allusion: When Beth (Amanda Wyss) shows up at the dance, there is someone behind her wearing Freddy Krueger's sweater. Wyss played Krueger's first victim in A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984).
  • Dawson Casting: Charles. Explicitly justified:
    Charles: I've been going to this high school for seven and a half years, now. I'm no dummy!
  • Old Shame: John Cusack apparently saw the film while working on another Savage Steve Holland movie, One Crazy Summer, and wasn't pleased. He was reportedly furious with Holland, although other cast and crew members showed him the movie was getting favorable reviews. He appears to have mellowed on the subject somewhat in recent years.
  • Prop Recycling: Twiki from Buck Rogers in the 25th Century appears in the background of the Christmas scene.
  • Write What You Know:
    • According to Savage Steve Holland, the film is mostly autobiographical. Holland really was suicidal when his high school girlfriend left him for captain of the ski team. Also, he really did have a paperboy named Johnny Gasparini who would harass him for two dollars. According to Holland, when the film came out, the ex-girlfriend contacted him to apologize.
    • The claymation hamburger scene was inspired by Holland's first job working at Useful Notes/{{Mc Donald's}].
    There was this rumor that a rat fell into a vat at a chicken place and somebody got served fried rat. That was what I had in the original script. The producer said, "That's really just disgusting and not even funny". So I saw this guy Jimmy Picker had made this really funny claymation short film about mayor Ed Koch called Sundae in New York. I was like, "If I could do something like that and still incorporate it into a hamburger scenario". And then I had the Van Halen song. I put that together, and it was just so, so out there and stupid that everybody was really worried about it. But it was the highest testing thing when we went to the test audience. They thought that was the greatest thing in the whole movie.