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Trivia / Animal House

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  • AFI's 100 Years... Series:
  • Breakthrough Hit: For John Landis.
  • California Doubling: While Faber College is supposedly in Pennsylvania (or Tennessee, if the state flag in the tribunal scene is any indication), filming actually took place at the University of Oregon. While Word of God has the setting in Pennsylvania, it isn't explicitly stated in the film, although Flounder is referred to as being from Harrisburg, and there is a Dickinson College in Pennsylvania (though it isn't named after Emily Dickinson), the general vibe seems to be of the Nowhere, USA type.
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  • Career Resurrection: For Elmer Bernstein, whose career was mostly spent scoring TV shows in the 1970's (a far cry from The Ten Commandments and The Magnificent Seven). His work on the film later made him a go-to composer for many popular comedies (such as Airplane!, Stripes and Ghostbusters (1984)) and he became John Landis's Associated Composer. In fact, Landis actually knew Bernstein when he was a kid, and had actually gone to school with his son, Peter.
  • Cast the Runner-Up: Mark Metcalf originally auditioned for the part of Otter before being cast as Niedermeyer.
  • Completely Different Title: In Finland, the film was named Delta-jengi.
  • The Danza: John Belushi as John "Bluto" Blutarsky.
  • Dawson Casting: Most of the cast. For example, Mark Metcalf (Neidermeyer) was 32. One of the other most notable examples was 19-year-old (at the time of production) actress Sarah Holcomb, who played 13-year-old statutory rape victim Clorette DePasto. Justified in the case of Bluto. ("Seven years of college down the drain!"). There was also Kevin Bacon, who was actually of college age at the time, but was still an example because he was 20 while his character was a freshman.
  • Defictionalization: DeWayne Jessie, the actor who played Otis Day, changed his name and recorded with the Knights.
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    • For a while in the 80s, if you asked for Babs at Universal Studios Hollywood, you'd get some sort of incentive; it apparently depended on whoever was running the tour that day. Sadly, Universal announced they would no longer honor it in 1989.
  • Deleted Role: Sunny Johnson is listed in the credits as "Otter's Co-Ed". She does not appear in the movie, however, as her scene was cut.
  • Deleted Scene: The original cut of the movie was a lengthy 175 minutes and more than an hour was dropped; the deleted scenes included:
    • A John Landis cameo as a cafeteria dishwasher who tries to stop Bluto from eating all the food. Landis is dragged across a table and thrown to the floor by Bluto who then says "You don't fuck with the eagles unless you know how to fly."
    • A scene where Boon and Hoover tell Pinto the tales of legendary Delta House frat brothers from years before who had names like Tarantula, Bulldozer, Giraffe, and his girlfriend, Gross Kay.
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    • Two different deleted scenes with Otter and a couple of his girlfriends (one played by Sunny Johnson—listed in the credits as "Otter's Co-Ed" although her scene was deleted—and the other played by location scout Katherine Wilson, whose deleted scene can be seen in the theatrical trailer).
    • An extended version of the scene where Bluto pours mustard on himself and starts singing "I am the Mustard Man."
    • A sequence showing expelled Deltas going through a medical screening after having to register for the draft, during which the double-jointed D-Day rotates his feet backwards (this scene was removed a few months after release due to many young men hurting themselves while trying to emulate the stunt).
  • Doing It for the Art: The whole reason why the movie was made. According to National Lampoon publisher Matty Simmons, who eventually co-produced the film with Ivan Reitman, he had suggested making a movie as a means of placating co-writer Douglas Kenney, who was also working at the magazine as editor-in-chief. At the time, Kenney had told Simmons that he was suffering heavily from burnout and having a hard time meeting deadlines and had decided to quit as a result. Simmons, however, did not want Kenney to leave as he was one of the most important contributors to the magazine's humor, and in trying to convince him to stay, accidentally blurted out, "We're going to make a movie."
  • Dyeing for Your Art: After firing the crew hairdresser (who wanted extra time off), John Landis took the core Delta actors to a local barber shop and asked the barber if he could do early 1960s-style haircuts. The man looked at the pictures and said it would be easy. He did all of the actors' haircuts, one after another.
  • Enforced Method Acting:
    • When not filming, John Landis purposely prevented the actors playing Deltas from interacting with the actors playing Omegas so that the "enemies" wouldn't end up bonding with each other (the Delta actors were even brought to the set a few weeks earlier than the Omegas to achieve this).
    • As a mark of the success of Landis' plan, Bruce McGill, who played D-Day, had the piano at the hotel accommodating the castnote  moved to his room and held late night parties with the other Delta actors; Mark Metcalf, who played Niedermeyer, had his room changed to the one above McGill's so that the noise and resulting sleep loss would keep him in a bad mood for filming.
    • When Bluto takes Charming Guy's guitar and smashes it, the scene was completely improvised from the script. The terrified reaction from the actors is genuine.
  • Executive Meddling: Various. Universal President Ned Tanen insisted the Road Trip sequence be cut because he worried it could start race riots. Landis showed the clip to Richard Pryor, who wrote to the executive "Ned, Animal House is fucking funny and white people are crazy - Richard."
  • Harpo Does Something Funny: Several of the scenes with Bluto, such as the part where he piles on food and when he smashes the guitar, were improvised by John Belushi.
  • Irony as She Is Cast: According to James Widdoes (Hoover), neither he nor his co-stars: John Belushi (Bluto), Tim Matheson (Otter), Peter Riegert (Boon), Bruce McGill (D-Day), Tom Hulce (Pinto), and Stephen Furst (Flounder), had ever actually belonged to a college fraternity.
  • Missing Trailer Scene: A scene featuring Otter driving a girl (played by location scout Katherine Wilson) to the Rainbow Motel on Old Mill Road is seen briefly in the original trailer but was deleted from the film.
  • Money, Dear Boy: Donald Sutherland was so convinced of the movie's lack of potential, that, when offered a percent of the gross or a flat fee of $75,000 for his three days' work, he took the upfront payment. Had he taken the gross percentage he would have been worth an additional $3-4 million.
  • Real-Life Relative: John Belushi's wife, Judy Jacklin (now Judith Belushi-Pisano), is an uncredited extra in several toga party scenes.
    • The female clerk from whom Flounder buys the marbles is actually Stephen Furst's wife.
  • Recycled: The Series: Amazingly, someone thought the film would make a good TV series; the extremely short run of Delta House predictably proved that to be wrong.
  • The Red Stapler: Originally popular during the late Fifties and early Sixties, fraternity "toga parties" became a huge fad all over again at colleges across America following the release of this film.
  • Star-Making Role: For John Belushi.
  • Stillborn Franchise: A sequel was planned that would take place during the 1969 Summer of Love and involve the Deltas reuniting for Otter's wedding. But when More American Graffiti bombed at the box-office, Universal stalled the project. The project was scrapped for good when John Belushi died in 1982.
  • Throw It In!: When Bluto is sneaking around the campus at night and slips, rolls around and casually stands back up, that was an actual slip-up by John Belushi from the very wet grass on the location. John Landis thought it was the funniest take and used it.
    • Verna Bloom said that her scene with Dean Wormer, where she is drunk and he is on the phone with the Mayor, was completely improvised because Landis was unhappy with the dialogue written into the script.
  • Too Soon: John Landis nixed a gag that would have had a sculpture of JFK on a parade float being shot in the "head" during the chaos when the Deltas attack the parade in their "Eat Me" float. (In the finished film, it is Jackie Kennedy who is disrespected, when Babs Jansen, who is portraying Jackie, has her pink suit ripped off and ends up in her underwear.) Ironically, in-universe the gag would have been a "Funny Aneurysm" Moment, since the parade takes place in the autumn of 1962 - more than a year before the assassination.
  • What Could Have Been:
    • Chevy Chase was originally asked to play the role of Eric "Otter" Stratton. He turned it down in order to star in Foul Play. John Landis insisted on casting unknown dramatic actors instead of established comedians and takes credit for subtly discouraging Chase by describing the film as an "ensemble".
    • Bill Murray and Dan Aykroyd were also pursued for the roles of Boon and D-Day, respectively, but they were busy with Saturday Night Live. In fact, the role of D-Day was based on Aykroyd.
    • Brian Doyle-Murray was the original choice for Hoover.
    • If John Belushi turned down the role of Bluto, the next choice would've been Meat Loaf.
    • As mentioned above, the first choice for the role of Dean Wormer was Jack Webb, while the first choice for the role of Mrs. Wormer was Kim Novak.
    • Belushi wanted his character to go with the others on the road trip but Landis refused, arguing that his character was best used sparingly.
    • Harold Ramis wrote the part of Boon for himself to play, but Landis felt Ramis was too old. Ramis was so disappointed that he refused to accept a smaller part Landis offered him. (Ramis was 32, Peter Riegert was 29).
    • Originally, Ramis and Douglas Kenney's idea was titled Laser Orgy Girls, a comedy about Charles Manson as a high school student as an attempt to turn the magazine's high school yearbook parody issue into a film. Matty Simmons told them that the material they wrote was way too raunchy for a high school setting and that instead it would more appropriate if it was a college setting instead. Ramis also incorporated ideas from an earlier treatment he wrote titled Freshman Year based on his experiences in college.
    • In the original script, Flounder and Sissy fall asleep during the toga party—another sign that Flounder wasn't cool. (The scene was apparently never shot, but one publicity still photo shows them snoozing on a couch.)
    • One bit that was written in the original script but never filmed included a parade bust that was destroyed at the climax of the film. The bust was of John F. Kennedy and the gag was Kennedy's head was punctured in the same way the real Kennedy would be shot the next year. Landis cut the idea because he felt the tone of the gag was wrong.
    • The original script called for Flounder to be admitted to the fraternity only if he told one of Larry Kroger's secrets. Flounder blurted out, "He's got spots on his weenie!" Later, during the naming of the pledges, when Larry asks why his Delta name is Pinto, the entire fraternity drunkenly yells, "'Cause you got a spotted dong!"
    • The original script included a scene of "competitive projectile vomiting" which Flounder was to fail at repeatedly. Later, after Flounder throws up "on" Dean Wormer, Boon congratulates Flounder on his technique.
  • Write What You Know:
    • Harold Ramis, who co-wrote the film, based some of the pranks on his college experiences at Washington University in St. Louis, specifically when Otter and Boon are hitting golf balls at the ROTC.
    • The film was inspired by co-writer Chris Miller's short stories in National Lampoon, drawn from his experiences in the Alpha Delta Phi fraternity at Dartmouth (where he graduated in 1962). "Animal House" was the fraternity's real-life campus nickname, earned after an upperclass member shot a chicken from a second-floor window as some fellow Adelphians chased it with intent to kill and eat it.
  • Write Who You Know: D-Day was based on Dan Aykroyd, due to his love of vehicles. In fact, Aykroyd was supposed to play the role, but his SNL commitment prevented it.

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