ByKen McDonnell, writer at
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Ken McDonnell

You'd be hard pressed to find 1993's Super Mario Bros. near the top of people's favorite movie lists. Hell, it'd be hard to call it one of the better video game film adaptations, and they're terrible. In fairness though, it's great for a laugh.

But this now over-two-decades-old experience has reemerged as director Rocky Morton sat down with SciFi Now to discuss what he labelled a "harrowing" experience.

That's a goomba...?
That's a goomba...?

Morton had originally received a script for the proposed Super Mario Bros. movie and hated it (it was actually written by those responsible for The Flintstones Movie). However, the concept intrigued him and he managed to convince his co-director (and wife), Annabel Jankel, to write their own draft.

Unfortunately studios rejected their version, claiming the film was too dark. They were forced to hire a new writer — who finished the new script in a week and a half — and inform everyone who signed up to the project that the script had changed. Morton had no choice but to continue with a script he hated.

With everything in place and barely enough cash in their pockets, the crew set out to make what finally became Super Mario Bros.. But Morton paints a picture of a confused, tense and frustrated set:

{We} had five units working every day… We had this enormous set that was built with not enough money to light it… I’d ask for a crane to put the camera on, you know, because we’re making a movie, and there wasn’t any money for a crane for a movie that size! [Laughs] Stuff like that was happening all the time. It was hell.

Additionally, Dennis Hopper, pictured above as King Koopa, was allegedly a challenging actor to work with.

That was really, really hard. Really hard. I don’t think [Dennis Hopper] had a clue what was going on. There was one particular incident; we had to shoot out of sequence because of the script changes, and we had to shoot on one of the sets that wasn’t ready yet, and we had to shoot on a long lens.
I had to position Dennis in a certain way because if I shot off, I would be shooting off the set, so I had to change his position and he said, ‘Rocky, that’s a big change!’ and I said, ‘All I want you to do is instead of walking here I want you to walk there,’ and because of the whole mess he just couldn’t handle it. I said, ‘Yeah, but we’re shooting off the set if you walk that way.’ It was stuff like that. On and on. It was mind-blowing.

This sounds pretty exhausting. But it barely scratches the surface in terms of the crazy, dangerous and downright life-threatening shit that went down on this set.

8 Crazy Things That Actually Happened On the Set of Super Mario Bros.

1 - Various accounts report that directors Rocky Morton and Annabel Jankel were horrible to work with. They had directed mostly commercials and one movie before Super Mario Bros., and had little experience in handling the complex production. They behaved unprofessionally, arguing with each other and the crew. The crew even took to calling them "Rocky and Annabel, the Flying Squirrel Show."

2 - In a fit of rage, Morton reportedly poured a hot cup of coffee over an extra he decided didn't look "dirty" enough. Wow. At least Dennis Hopper wasn't throwing coffee on people!

3 - John Leguizamo, who played Luigi, was allegedly drunk on set one day and not particularly great with driving. Regardless, he chose to perform a particular driving stunt that involved Bob Hoskins hanging off the side of a van, which Leguizamo had to drive and then stop before a marking on the ground. But he drove way too fast and had to slam on the brakes, resulting in the sliding door slamming onto Hoskins' hand and breaking one of his fingers. This forced him to wear a cast for the remainder of the shoot and they actually continued filming by simply painting his cast pink. You can definitely spot it in the movie. Like, a lot.

4 - The late great Bob Hoskins didn't think kindly of his experience with filming Super Mario Bros.: "The worst thing I ever did? Super Mario Bros. It was a f---in’ nightmare. The whole experience was a nightmare. It had a husband-and-wife team directing, whose arrogance had been mistaken for talent. After so many weeks their own agent told them to get off the set! F---in’ nightmare. F---in’ idiots.” Straight to the point, as ever.

5 - Morton and Jankel were pulled off the project, and weren't allowed to be involved in the editing or second unit reshoots. Dayum.

6 - Aside from his broken finger, Hoskins endured several other injuries during the shoot: he was stabbed four times, he was electrocuted and apparently he almost drowned. What was this set?!

7 - The disco scene is actually populated with strippers that the studio hired. However, the film was aiming for a PG rating and these people were far too scantily clad to obtain that when they showed up. This resulted in even greater tension on set. Not of the sexual kind, either.

8 - The crew was apparently having issues with the lights on the meteor used in the movie. At one point an electrical malfunction saw an electrician grab onto a power source which sent waves of electricity through his body. His co-worker then kicked him away from the source sending him flying to the ground, which is apparently what you're supposed to do in this situation; grab him and the electricity will go through your body too. Thanks for the tip, Super Mario Bros....

What do you think of the Super Mario Bros. movie?


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