ByBrian Finamore, writer at
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Brian Finamore

Sources: Mental Floss & Wikipedia

The now classic comedy National Lampoon's Animal House has aged nicely, first hitting theaters 37 years ago on July 28, 1978. The film helped define and launch the so called gross out genre, set the staple for college movies, and gave us the great John Belushi in fine form.

Many films have tried since, but have failed to recapture or add anything new to what was created with Animal House. Among the imitations were the Porky's films, Revenge of the Nerds, American Pie series, and Old School among other films.

John Landis was really the perfect choice of director for Animal House. Up to that point, he had only done the cult film The Kentucky Fried Movie, but it was Landis's harnessing of the script and cast that really turned this risky film (at the time) into something special.

Go ahead, put your Toga on, and take in some fun facts about the legendary comedy.

1. The Movie Was Originally About Charles Manson

Charles Manson
Charles Manson

The first draft of the screenplay by Harold Ramis and Douglas Kenney was entitled Laser Orgy Girls, and was about the cult leader and murderer in high school. The script was immediately rejected.

2. The Final Script Was The Result of a Three-Month Brainstorming Session About College Life.

During a cram writing session, the writers all contributed stories about their Greek life hijinks: Chris Miller of his time in Alpha Delta Phi at Dartmouth, Ramis in Zeta Beta Tau at Washington University in St. Louis, Kenney in the Spee Club at Harvard, and producer Ivan Reitman in Delta Upsilon at McMaster University.

3. The Filmmakers Had Other Actors In Mind For The Main Roles.

Chevy Chase on SNL (1975)
Chevy Chase on SNL (1975)

They originally wanted Dan Aykroyd to play D-Day, Brian Doyle-Murray to play Hoover, Bill Murray to play Boon, and Chevy Chase to play Otter.

4. Chris Miller's Real Fraternity Pledge Name Found Its Way Into The Film.

Pinto in Animal House
Pinto in Animal House

His pledge name, like Thomas Hulce’s character in the movie, was “Pinto.”

5. Douglas Kenney Has a Background Role as a Frat Boy.

Douglas Kenney aka Stork in Animal House
Douglas Kenney aka Stork in Animal House

He plays Stork, the Delta brother everyone thinks is “brain damaged.”

6. You Can Thank Donald Sutherland For the Movie's Creation.

Universal Studios only greenlit the movie because Sutherland, who was a recognizable star, signed on to appear as Professor Jennings.

7. It Made John Belushi a Star.

Belushi had appeared on SNL for three years, but Animal House was his big screen debut. During the film’s production, he shot the movie Monday through Wednesday and flew back to New York to do SNL Thursday through Saturday.

8. Animal House Was Kevin Bacon's First Movie.

Bacon plays Omega pledge Chip Diller. He's not in the film for long, but he does have two memorable scenes/lines -- "Thank you sir, may I have another!" and "All is well!!!!"

9. “Faber College” is Actually The University Of Oregon.

It was the only school that would let the production shoot on campus.

10. The Oregon Dean Acquiesced to Filming Because of a Previous Missed Opportunity.

Years earlier, he had rejected the offer to have the production of The Graduate shoot on campus. Not wanting to let another go at Hollywood pass him by, he approved the production without reading Animal House’s script. He gave them such carte blanche that his own office was used to film Dean Wormer’s office in the movie.

11. The Studio Didn't Like Director John Landis's Choice For a Composer.

Elmer Bernstein (left) & John Landis (right) 70's
Elmer Bernstein (left) & John Landis (right) 70's

Landis tapped composer Elmer Bernstein to do the score because Landis was childhood friends with Bernstein’s son. At that point his career, Bernstein was known for scoring epics like The Ten Commandments and serious dramas like To Kill a Mockingbird, so the studio was skeptical he’d be a good fit for a gross-out comedy. They were won over after Landis had Bernstein score the comedy as if it were one of his serious dramas, thus playing up the absurdity of what happens onscreen.

12. Like Any Good Frat, Delta Tau Chi Has a Latin Motto.

Delta’s motto is “Ars Gratia Artis,” Latin for “Art for art’s sake.”

13. Belushi Didn't Actually Chug a Fifth of Jack Daniels.

Contrary to rumors, it was iced tea—and not real whiskey—in the bottle that Belushi chugs after Delta is expelled from campus.

14. Otis Day Changed His Name To His Character's In Real Life.

Actor DeWayne Jessie played Otis Day, the leader of the band at the Dexter Lake Club, and legally changed his name to Otis Day after gaining popularity following the release of the movie. He stills tours with the band Otis Day and the Knights to this day.

15. Animal House Spawned a Short-Lived TV Spin Off In 1979.

Delta House, which aired on ABC, was cancelled after three months. Ramis, Miller, and Kenney wrote the pilot episode, while the actors who play Dean Wormer, Flounder, D-Day, and Hoover all reprised their roles. The show also featured the television debut of Michelle Pfeiffer, who played “The Bombshell.


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