• “ National Lampoon’s Animal House” is a comedy about a misfit group of fraternity members who challenge the authority of
the dean of Faber College. Directed by John Landis and starring John Belushi, it was a surprise hit when it was released in 1978.
• The movie was set to be filmed at the University of Missouri, until the President of the school read the script, and refused permission. Instead, it was filmed on the campus of the University of Oregon in Eugene. The president of U. of O. had previously been approached about allowing a movie to be filmed on campus, and he had turned it down. That movie was “The Graduate” and he liked it so much that when he was offered another chance to have a movie made on campus, he jumped at the chance. However, he insisted that the location not be mentioned in the credits.
• The movie was filmed inside a real fraternity house on campus. In spite of all the uproar portrayed in the film, the only damage to the building was a hole in the wall when Belushi smashed it with a guitar. Instead of repairing the hole, the fraternity framed it and commemorated it with a plaque.
• John Belushi, in the role of Bluto, spent Monday through Wednesday filming in Oregon, then flew back to New York City Thursday through Saturday to rehearse and tape “Saturday Night Live.” Belushi had been appearing on Saturday Night Live for three years, but “Animal House” was his film debut.
• This was also the film debut of the Kevin Bacon (Chip Diller) and Karen Allen (Katy).
• It took only 28 days to shoot the film. The budget was so small that most of the costumes were purchased at local thrift shops, and John Belushi’s wife made the party togas.
• Donald Sutherland got the part of Professor Dave Jennings, and was offered either a flat fee for his work, or a cut of the proceeds. He was convinced that the movie had no potential so he took the flat fee. Later, of course, the movie became not only a hit but also an icon. He would have made millions if he had taken the cut of proceeds. Universal Studios only greenlit the movie because Sutherland, who was a recognizable star, signed on. Belushi was paid only $40,000 for his work on the film, but he did receive a bonus after the movie became a hit.
• More money was spent on advertising and promotion for the film than on the film itself.
• The movie was set in 1962 because the writers considered that the last innocent year of America. The scene of the homecoming parade takes place on November 21, 1963, which was the day before Kennedy was shot. The women on the float are all wearing what Jacqueline Kennedy was wearing at the time of the assassination.
• Two marching bands in the parade came from local high schools and were each paid $100.
• 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 funny and used it.
• At the end of the film, each character’s fate is mentioned. Douglas Neidermeyer was “killed in Vietnam by his own troops.” Director John Landis later went on to direct “Twilight Zone: The Movie” in 1983. In that film, several soldiers are overheard expressing regret for having killed Lieutenant Neidermeyer.
• John Landis said of the film: “Of course now it’s this cultural landmark but everyone who worked on the movie had a miserable time.”
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