As this was Kevin Bacon's first role, when he went to the premier, he wasn't allowed to sit with the rest of the cast because the ushers didn't believe he was in it. He had to sit in the back with everyone else.
John Belushi's performance in the cafeteria scene was entirely improvised. When he began piling food on his tray, Director John Landis urged the camera operator to "stay with him." The infamous "I'm a zit" gag was also improvised, and the reaction from the cast is completely genuine.
According to Landis, Universal Pictures President Ned Tanen objected so strongly to the Dexter Lake Club scene that he interrupted a screening of the film and ordered the scene be removed immediately, claiming it would cause race riots in the theaters. In response, Landis screened the film for Richard Pryor, who then wrote a note to Tanen which read: "Ned, Animal House is fucking funny, and white people are crazy. Richard."
Babs becomes a tour guide at Universal Studios. The credits for this and other John Landis films contain an advertisement for a tour at Universal Studios. The ad says, "Ask for Babs." As of 1989, Universal Studios no longer honors the "Ask for Babs" promotion, which was either a discount or a free entry.
The hole John Belushi makes in the wall with the guitar was the only physical damage incurred to the house during the entire production. Instead of repairing it, the fraternity placed a frame around the hole with an engraved brass tag to commemorate it.
DeWayne Jessie's performance as "Otis Day" was so successful that he legally changed his name to Otis Day and subsequently toured and recorded with 'Otis Day and the Knights.'
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.
To prepare for their roles - and despite being warned against mixing with the students - the cast of the Deltas (except John Belushi, who was in New York working on Saturday Night Live (1975)) accepted an invitation from some girls to a real frat party at the University of Oregon's SAE house. The real fraternity members treated them with hostility and a brawl ensued, started by James Widdoes when he threw a cup of beer at some drunk football players. Widdoes ended up losing a few teeth and Bruce McGill received a black eye. When Belushi returned to the set and learned of the fight, he had to be physically restrained from seeking revenge.
After firing the crew hairdresser (who wanted extra time off), John Landis took the core Delta actors to a local barbershop and asked the barber if he could do early 1960's style haircuts. The man looked at the pictures and said it would be easy. He did all the actor's haircuts, one after another.
The scene in which Bluto smashes a bottle over his head to cheer Flounder up took 18 takes because Stephen Furst kept laughing.
Sean McCartin, who played the "Lucky Boy" whose wish for a Playmate "magically" comes true, went on to become a pastor at a local church in Cottage Grove, Oregon. A newspaper headline about his story announced "'Lucky Boy' Still Thanking God."
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, the US President in 1962, and the gag was Kennedy's head was punctured in the same way the real Kennedy would be shot the next year. Director John Landis cut the idea because he felt the tone of the gag was wrong.
The President of the University of Oregon only allowed this movie to be filmed on that campus because he decided he did not know how to read screenplays. In 1967 he had received the screenplay for a movie but had denied it permission to film there. That movie was The Graduate (1967) and he liked that movie so much that he decided he didn't want to miss another opportunity, so he allowed Animal House (1978) to be filmed on the University of Oregon campus. But he insisted that the college's name not be listed in the film's credits.
Harold Ramis wrote the part of Boon for himself to play, but John 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).
John Belushi had to fly back and forth from Oregon to New York twice a week in order to shoot the film while rehearsing and taping Saturday Night Live (1975).
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 Director John Landis was unhappy with the dialogue written into the script.
During filming, John Belushi would often go to local nightclubs to check out the various bands. He was fascinated by a musician named Curtis Salgado. Salgado's sunglasses, harp playing and love of the blues inspired Belushi to form The Blues Brothers with fellow Saturday Night Live (1975) cast mate Dan Aykroyd.
Stacy Grooman, Flounder's girlfriend Sissy, was actually a student at the University of Oregon at the time the movie was filmed.
John Belushi wanted his character to go with the others on the road trip but director John Landis refused, arguing that his character was best used sparingly.
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.
More money was spent on advertising and promotion for the film than the film itself.
The role of D-Day was written for Dan Aykroyd and based on his motorcycle-loving personality. According to John Landis, Saturday Night Live (1975) producer Lorne Michaels threatened to fire Aykroyd if he took the role.
The scene where John Belushi is teaching everyone the "dirty lyrics" of The Kingsmen's 1963 song "Louie Louie" is based on an actual investigation conducted by the FBI from 1963 to 1965 in which the agency spent more than 2-1/2 years trying to "decode" the song because of the supposed profanity that was "hidden" in the muffled lyrics. After spending more than two years and tens of thousands of taxpayer dollars, the agency announced that it could find no "obscene" words in the song.
During interviews conducted for the 30th anniversary of this film, Karen Allen revealed some interesting trivia about her nude scene. Director John Landis wanted her to bare her bottom in the film, and she was very reluctant to do so. Donald Sutherland stepped in and offered to bare his as well. Allen said, "I thought he was so sweet to do that, so I sort of let go of my objections and said, 'Okay, if Donald Sutherland is going to bare his bottom, by golly, I'll bare mine too!'"
The actors who played the Deltas harassed the actors who played the Omegas off-screen as well to keep up the feelings of animosity between their characters. Mark Metcalf changed his hotel room to the one above Bruce McGill's where the Delta actors partied every night so his anger at their noise would help him get into character.
Reputedly one of Donald Sutherland's personal favourites of all movies he has acted in. He described working in the film the funniest experience he had on a set.
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.
Professor Jennings bites an apple while lecturing about good and evil in John Milton's "Paradise Lost." This is a deliberate gag reference to Eve's eating of the "forbidden fruit" from the Tree of Knowledge, a key event in "Paradise Lost," but the only thing lost is this gag on Jennings' students.
The female clerk from whom Flounder (Stephen Furst) buys the marbles is actually his wife.
The Delta House actors partied together every night, but Director John Landis kept John Belushi separated from them by lodging him and his wife, Judith Belushi-Pisano in a house miles from the set. Belushi was a notorious partier, and Landis wanted him to remain sober throughout the shoot. Belushi did host a few parties at the house, but stayed clean because he saw the film as a great career opportunity.
Producer Matty Simmons, founder of the National Lampoon, contributed one line to the script: Bluto's "Seven years of college down the drain!"
To celebrate the 25th anniversary of the release of this film, a parade was held down Hollywood Blvd. featuring not only cast and crew members, but recreations of parade floats used in the movie.
To get the role of Neidermeyer, Mark Metcalf lied about his ability to ride horses. After he got the role, he immediately took equestrian classes.
The bass player in the band Otis Day and the Knights is then-unknown bluesman Robert Cray. Cray was instrumental in getting the musicians together that appeared as the band.
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 (1979) bombed at the box-office, Universal stalled the project. The project was scrapped for good when John Belushi died in 1982.
The noble brass theme heard when the Faber campus is first shown is an excerpt from Johannes Brahms' "Academic Festival Overture". This melody is based on a German student drinking song called "We have built a stately house".
The University of Oregon reluctantly allowed its campus to be used and gave the crew 30 days to complete filming. This meant that the cast and crew faced six-day work weeks and completed shooting with only two days to spare.
During their bonding week before filming, the seven Deltas partied a lot in their hotel. Bruce McGill actually stole the piano from the hotel's lobby and moved it into his room so that the group would have music.
Producer Ivan Reitman's original choices for the roles of Boon and Otter were Bill Murray and Chevy Chase. But John Landis did not think Chase was right for the part and convinced Chevy to star in Foul Play (1978) instead by telling him that it was an ensemble film. The role went to Tim Matheson instead, who later starred with Chase in Fletch (1985). Chase regrets not doing the film
The final interrupting of the parade sequence was shot on the Universal back lot. This part of the lot had been used in several other films, but the section of road the parade ends up at is the same section that Robert Zemeckis used for the clock tower sequence in Back to the Future (1985). Every angle of this street is used, but never once do you see the front of the clock tower set. The only time you do see the tower is from the back end.
On Delta's fraternity banner, the motto "Ars gratia artis" (roughly translated as "Art for Art's Sake") can be seen. This also appears in the studio logo of MGM.
The list of names on the blackboard includes their graduation year. John Blutarsky's is listed as "'60, '61, '62, '63."
Originally, Harold Ramis and Doug Kenney's idea was titled "Laser Orgy Girls", a comedy about Charles Manson as a high school student. Producer Matty Simmons suggested that the setting be changed to college and the content to be toned down. Ramis also incorporated ideas from an earlier treatment he wrote titled "Freshman Year" based on his experiences in college.
John Landis sacrificed his heavy beard and much of his hair to appear in the film as a cafeteria dishwasher who catches Bluto mooching and tries, unsuccessfully, to stop him. The scene was filmed, but despite his personal sacrifices, Landis eventually also sacrificed the scene.
The movie was set to be filmed at the University of Missouri until the president of the school read the script and refused permission. It was filmed at and around the University of Oregon in Eugene instead.
Chris Miller based Pinto on himself as a Dartmouth sophomore, as "Pinto" had been his frat nickname, whereas he saw Boon (created initially by Harold Ramis) as an older and wiser version of himself. Dean Wormer was based (more or less) on Richard Nixon. "Flounder" was the frat nickname of a "Charles Laughton-like rich guy" from Tulsa who was nothing like the film's Flounder, aside from the drinking. Bluto was a pastiche of several fellow frats of Miller's, mostly three nicknamed "Alby", "Seal" and "Bags".
The interior scenes of the Delta house were filmed in a Sigma Nu fraternity. The exterior of the Delta house was a dilapidated house from the 1800's that was torn down in the mid 80's. The sorority house's exterior is the real exterior of the Sigma Nu house that was used for the interior scenes.
The characters of Stork and Hardbar were created to give Doug Kenney and Chris Miller a reason to be on set, and had come from different portions of a deleted character named Mountain. Hardbar was named after a real frat brother of Miller's who masturbated excessively.
According to actor James Widdoes , none of the seven principal Delta actors, (John Belushi, Tim Matheson, Peter Riegert, Tom Hulce, Stephen Furst, Bruce McGill, or Widdoes himself), had ever belonged to a college fraternity.
The bottle of whiskey that Bluto chugs was actually colored tea. This was part of keeping John Belushi away from alcohol and drugs. He was also excluded from the rest of the cast staying at Roadway Inn days prior to the shoot.
John Landis had a budget of only $2.5 million, so to cut costs, the movie was shot almost entirely on the University of Oregon campus, including the student court scene and scenes in Dean Wormer's office. The only exceptions were the road trip scene and the parade, which was filmed in the nearby town of Cottage Grove, Oregon.
The core group of Deltas (D-Day, Otter, Boon, Hoover, Flounder, and Pinto) actually traveled up to the filming site a week early, at director John Landis' request. He wanted the group to emotionally bond so that their friendship would look genuine in the film.
In the scene where Hoover and Bluto are swearing in the new freshman, the book that Hoover is holding is actually an auto repair manual. According to the Animal House backstory, the fraternity's pledge book had actually been destroyed in a fire three years earlier.
After the first day's shooting of the homecoming parade, there was a heavy rain that night. The next day, the production crew rented a field-burning tractor that shot flames across the width of the street to dry it.
Meat Loaf was the second choice for Bluto in case John Belushi dropped out of his role.
"Toga! Toga!" was voted #82 on "AFI's 100 Years... 100 Movie Quotes" all-time list.
In 1974, the humor magazine National Lampoon published a parody called 'National Lampoon's 1964 High School Yearbook.' While the Yearbook's continuity is unrelated to 'Animal House,' a senior named Larry Kroger is the owner of the reader's copy of the Yearbook, and Mr. Vernon Wormer is listed as the school's gym teacher and civics instructor. Also, the dead coed in 'Animal House' is named Fawn Liebowitz; Faun Rosenberg was another senior featured in the Yearbook.
Niedermeyer's line "You're all worthless and weak, now drop and give me twenty!" was used in the Twisted Sister song "We're Not Gonna Take It" (Mark Metcalf appears in the video). In addition, the music video for Twisted Sister's "I Wanna Rock" features a high school student, clearly based on Flounder, being ridiculed by a teacher (Mark Metcalf again). At the video's conclusion, the principal (played by Stephen Furst) sprays Metcalf in the face with seltzer water.
Jack Webb turned down the role of Dean Wormer, feeling the movie would be bad for his image.
The tune that Otter whistles throughout the movie is the main theme ("Peter's Theme") from Sergei Prokofiev's "Peter and the Wolf".
Before Donald Sutherland was brought on board, John Belushi was the highest-paid actor in the cast at $40,000.
The Faber College football team is called the Mongols. Faber Mongols are a brand of pencil.
The original script called for Flounder (Stephen Furst) to be admitted to the fraternity only if he told one of Larry Kroger's (Tom Hulce) 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!"
Neidermeyer's horse, Trooper, was portrayed by Junior, who subsequently appeared in The Black Stallion (1979) as the horse Napoleon.
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.
The full name of the Delta House changes during the movie. When the movers are taking out the contents of the frat house the name is Delta Tau Chi. Earlier in the movie it is Delta Chi Tau.
In the student court scene, a list of Delta Tau Chi members is written on the blackboard. Writer Chris Miller's name is one of those visible. Other names include "Dick Hertz" and "Duane Wayne."
There was a certain amount of friction between John Landis and the writers early on because Landis was a high-school drop-out from Hollywood and they were college graduates from the East Coast. Harold Ramis remembers, "He sort of referred immediately to Animal House as 'my movie.' We'd been living with it for two years and we hated that".
During an A&E documentary on the 30th anniversary of the movie, it was revealed that 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.
Although the film takes place in Pennsylvania, a Tennessee flag is shown in the courtroom. This is because the set decorator was unable to find a large enough Pennsylvania flag for the scene, and the blue Oregon state flag wouldn't work because it had "State of Oregon" text on the upper part. So the set decorator used the most generic flag he could find, which turned out to be the Tennessee state flag.
The original house on the University of Oregon campus used for exterior shots of the Delta house is no longer standing.
A scene that was cut was Pinto being entertained by Boon and Hoover by telling tales of legendary Delta House frat brothers from years before. The past fraternity brothers had names like Tarantula, Bulldozer, Giraffe, and his girlfriend, Gross Kay.
Donald Sutherland said this film was responsible for the worst business decision he ever made. Offered points in the movie for his work, he instead accepted a flat fee of $75,000 for three days' filming. That decision cost him over $2 million he would otherwise have earned.
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.
The women on the Kennedy "Camelot" float are all costumed in what Jackie Kennedy was wearing 11/22/63.
In addition to John Belushi as Bluto, the film was originally going to star Chevy Chase as Otter, Bill Murray as Boon, Dan Aykroyd as D-Day and Brian Doyle-Murray as Hoover. None of them were available and John Landis didn't want the film to be a Saturday Night Live (1975) film.
The scene of a stressed-out Chip Diller screaming "All is well" at the parade has become something of an internet meme, used to satirize stubborn refusal to accept the facts of a wrong-headed policy or obviously deteriorating situation.
Ivan Reitman wanted to direct this film, but Universal wanted someone with more experience. Richard Lester and Bob Rafelson were approached first before John Landis was eventually hired.
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.)
Spawned a short-lived ABC television series, Delta House (1979); also Brothers and Sisters (1979) on NBC and Co-ed Fever (1979) on CBS, which was canceled after only one episode.
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.
John Belushi's wife, Judy Jacklin (now Judith Belushi-Pisano), is an uncredited extra in several toga party scenes.
The Playboy centerfolds featured behind Otter's bar are Christa Speck, Miss September of 1961, and Barbara Ann Lawford, Miss February of 1961.
The "head" mounted on the hood of the Deathmobile is from the statue of Emil Faber, the school's founder.
Jack Webb and Kim Novak were the original choices to play the roles of Dean and Mrs. Wormer
During the parade, one float is credited to the fraternity/sorority Zeta Tau Beta (ZTB). Co-writer Harold Ramis is an alum of the Alpha Xi chapter of Zeta Beta Tau (ZBT) at Washington University.
The original version of the movie was 175 minutes long. Amongst the scenes which were deleted were some more scenes with Bluto, including scene where a dishwasher (played by John Landis) tries to stop Bluto from eating all the food and gets pulled across the table and thrown on the floor while Bluto says "You don't fuck with the eagles unless you know how to fly" and extended version of the scene where Bluto pours mustard on himself and starts singing "I am the Mustard Man."
The clip where Otis Day and the Knights perform "Shout" has, for several years been shown on the Autzen Stadium jumbotron immediately after the third quarter at every U of O home football game, with thousands of fans singing along.
The Delta House actors were brought to the set five days before the Omega House actors to get into character, in an intentional effort to cause cliques to form. Barry Levinson would use this tactic years later with the principal cast of Diner (1982).
Premiere voted this movie as one of "The 50 Greatest Comedies Of All Time" in 2006.
Among the marching bands performing in the parade scene is the Sheldon High School band (white and green uniforms) and the Churchill High School band (dark blue, red trim) of Eugene, OR. They each got $100 for their efforts.
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 (along with John Landis) due to time constraints.
The original theatrical release of Animal House actually contained the scenes of Flounder's secret and the line "Cause you've got a spotted dong". The scene disappeared from later versions.
Chevy Chase was originally asked to play the role of Eric "Otter" Stratton. He turned it down in order to star in Foul Play (1978). John Landis preferred to cast unknown actors instead of comedians and takes credit for subtly discouraging Chase by describing the film as an "ensemble". The role went to Tim Matheson instead, who later starred with Chase in Fletch (1985). Chase regrets not doing the film.
The license plate on Flounder's car begins with the initials "FNG", a derogatory military term for newcomers during the Vietnam War.
The scene where Mandy and Greg are in his MG appears to be filmed at the top of Skinner Butte in Eugene, OR.
The office where Dorfman fires the pistol and the horse dies is an exact copy of the office of Oregon's Chancellor of Higher Education in Johnson Hall's second floor.
P.J. O'Rourke blames this movie for the decline and fall of the National Lampoon magazine. After the immense success of the movie at the box office, the various Hollywood studios and producers began to offer jobs to the best Lampoon writers. When they realized they could make much, much more money writing movie scripts than writing for the Lampoon they left for Hollywood. O'Rourke noted that many of the projects these writers worked on never amounted to much, which hurt the writer's careers as much as the magazine.
The Erb Memorial Student Union, where the food fight scene was filmed has been remodeled twice and bears no resemblance at all to its appearance in the film.
At the parade riot, on the front of the Deathmobile is the head of the Emile Faber statue from the beginning of the film.
Chris Miller based much of the story on his experience as a frat at Dartmouth College. Dartmouth's sister school is Mount Holyoke College, of which Emily Dickinson is its most famous alumnus - thus the name "Emily Dickinson College" where Otter and his friends find their dates, though Bennington College was what Miller had in mind.
Though Dean Wormer's power-grab through a "little known codicil" was meant to evoke Richard Nixon (Molly Peterson, NPR, "Morning Edition", 7/29/2002), it is not altogether clear Wormer himself was based on any real person. Co-writer Chris Miller once noted "Nixon was Dean Wormer", but only as an emphatic contrast to his real-life dean at Dartmouth (Thaddeus Seymour) not being like Wormer at all. Regarding any other parallels with Nixon, it is worth noting that almost all the illegal activity depicted in the film is perpetrated by the Deltas.
One scene had the Deltas going through medical screening for the draft after being expelled from Faber. During his exam, D-Day turns his feet around backwards because his ankles are double-jointed. This scene had to be removed a few months *after* release due to many young men injuring themselves while trying to copy the gag.
John Landis worked with John Belushi on his character, who "hardly had any dialogue"; they decided that Bluto was a cross between Harpo Marx and the Cookie Monster. Despite Belushi's presence, he was considered a supporting actor and Universal wanted another star
The Animal House book was illustrated with pics from the various scenes. There were a number of inconsistencies between it and the film. some of the scenes have been discussed above: Pinto's spotted dong and his name and the Mustard Man scene. But there are others not mentioned: Greg is played by two different actors, there are scenes of studying for mid-terms with Stork using a slide rule like a drawn pistol, D-Day reciting poetry to a skull, etc. and Bluto being a VP at GM not a Senator.
The band Gwar named their first live album, 2000's "You're All Worthless And Weak," for Doug Neidermeyer's line.
John Landis drew inspiration from classic Hollywood comedies featuring the likes of Buster Keaton, Harold Lloyd, and The Marx Brothers.
John Belushi received only $35,000 for the film, with a bonus after it became a hit.
The actual house depicted as the Delta House was originally a residence in Eugene, the Dr. A.W. Patterson House. Around 1959, it was acquired by the Psi Deuteron chapter of Phi Sigma Kappa fraternity and was their chapter house until 1967, when the chapter was closed due to low membership. The house was sold and slid into disrepair, with the spacious porch removed and the lawn graveled over. At the time of the shooting, the Phi Kappa Psi and Sigma Nu fraternity houses sat next to the old Phi Sigma Kappa house. The interior of the Phi Kappa Psi house and the Sigma Nu house were used for many of the interior scenes, but the individual rooms were filmed on a soundstage. The Patterson house was demolished in 1986. The site is now occupied by Northwest Christian University's school of Education and Counseling. A large boulder placed to the west of the parking entrance displays a bronze plaque commemorating the Delta House location. The parade scene takes place in downtown Cottage Grove, Oregon on Main Street.
Other than John Belushi's opening yell, the food fight was filmed in one shot, with the actors encouraged to fight for real. Flounder's groceries handling in the supermarket was another single shot; Stephen Furst deftly caught the many items John Landis and Tim Matheson threw at him, amazing the director. By filming the long courtroom scene in one day Landis won a bet with Ivan Reitman.
The film's budget was so small that during the 32 days of shooting in Eugene, John Landis had no trailer or office and could not watch dailies for three weeks. His wife Deborah Nadoolman purchased most of the costumes at local thrift stores, and she and Judy Belushi made the party togas.
John Landis and Bruce McGill staged a scene for reporters visiting the set where the director pretended to be angry at the actor for being difficult on the set. Landis grabbed a breakaway pitcher and smashed it over McGill's head. He fell to the ground and pretended to be unconscious. The reporters were completely fooled, and when Landis asked McGill to get up, he refused to move.
Black extras had to be bused in from Portland for the segment at the Dexter Lake Club due to their scarcity around Eugene.
When the film was released, John Landis, James Widdoes and Karen Allen went on a national promotional tour. Universal Pictures spent about $4.5 million promoting the film at selected college campuses and helped students organize their own toga parties. One such party at the University of Maryland attracted some 2,000 people, while students at the University of Wisconsin-Madison tried for a crowd of 10,000 people and a place in the Guinness Book of World Records.
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