Animal House is a 1978 American comedy film
John Landis and written by Harold Ramis, Douglas Kenney
and Chris Miller. It stars John Belushi, Tim Matheson, John Vernon,
Verna Bloom, Thomas Hulce, Stephen Furst, and Donald Sutherland. The
film is about a misfit group of fraternity members who challenge the
authority of the dean of Faber College.
The film was produced by
Matty Simmons of National Lampoon and Ivan
Reitman for Universal Pictures. It was inspired by stories written by
Miller and published in National Lampoon. The stories were based on
Ramis's experience in the
Zeta Beta Tau
Zeta Beta Tau fraternity at Washington
University in St. Louis, as well as Miller's Alpha Delta Phi
Dartmouth College in New Hampshire, and
Delta Upsilon experiences at
McMaster University in
Of the younger lead actors, only the 28-year-old Belushi was an
established star, but even he had not yet appeared in a film, having
gained fame mainly from his television appearances on Saturday Night
Live, which was starting its third season in autumn 1977. Several of
the actors who were cast as college students, including Hulce, Karen
Allen, and Kevin Bacon, were just beginning their film careers,
although Matheson had appeared as one of the vigilante cops in the
Dirty Harry film, Magnum Force, released in 1973.
Upon its initial release,
Animal House received generally mixed
reviews from critics, but Time and
Roger Ebert proclaimed it one of
the year's best. Filmed for only $2.8 million, it is one of the most
profitable movies in history, garnering an estimated gross of more
than $141 million in the form of theatrical rentals and home video,
not including merchandising.
The film, along with 1977's The Kentucky Fried Movie, also directed by
Landis, was largely responsible for defining and launching the gross
out film genre, which became one of Hollywood's staples. As of
2017[update], it was considered by many fans and critics as one of the
greatest comedy films ever made. In 2001 the United States Library of
Animal House "culturally, historically, or
aesthetically significant" and selected it for preservation in the
National Film Registry. It was No. 1 on Bravo's "100 Funniest Movies".
It was No. 36 on AFI's "100 Years... 100 Laughs" list of the 100 best
American comedies. In 2008 Empire magazine selected it as one of "The
500 Greatest Movies of All Time."
2.1 Delta Tau Chi
2.2 Omega Theta Pi
2.3 Supporting characters
3.5 Principal photography
4 Soundtrack and score
5.1 Critical reception
7 Where Are They Now?
8 Home media
9 Precursors and legacy
10 See also
13 External links
In 1962, Faber College freshmen Lawrence "Larry" Kroger and Kent
Dorfman seek to join a fraternity. Finding themselves out of place at
the prestigious Omega Theta Pi house's party, they visit the slovenly
Delta Tau Chi house next door, where Kent is a "legacy" who cannot be
rejected due to his brother having been a member. John "Bluto"
Blutarsky welcomes them (claiming they "need the dues"), and they meet
other Deltas including biker Daniel Simpson "D-Day" Day, chapter
president Robert Hoover, ladies' man Eric "Otter" Stratton, and
Otter's best friend Donald "Boon" Schoenstein, whose girlfriend Katy
is constantly pressuring him to stop drinking with the Deltas and do
something with his life. Larry and Kent are invited to pledge and
given the fraternity names "Pinto" and "Flounder" respectively, by
Bluto, Delta's sergeant-at-arms.
College Dean Vernon Wormer wants to remove the Deltas, who are already
on probation, so he invokes his emergency authority and places the
fraternity on "double-secret probation" due to various campus conduct
violations and their abysmal academic standing. He directs the
clean-cut, smug Omega president Greg Marmalard to find a way for him
to remove the Deltas from campus. Various incidents, including the
prank-related accidental death of a horse belonging to Omega member
and ROTC cadet commander Douglas Neidermeyer, and an attempt by Otter
to date Marmalard's girlfriend further increase the Dean's and the
Omegas' animosity toward the Deltas.
Bluto and D-Day steal the answers to an upcoming test from the trash,
not realizing that the Omegas have planted a fake set of answers for
them to find. The Deltas fail the exam, and their grade-point averages
fall so low that Wormer tells them he needs only one more incident to
revoke their charter. To cheer themselves up, the Deltas organize a
toga party and bring in
Otis Day and the Knights to provide live
music. Wormer's wife attends at Otter's invitation and has sex with
him. Pinto hooks up with Clorette, a girl he met at the supermarket.
They make out, but do not have sex because she passes out drunk. Pinto
takes her home in a shopping cart and later discovers that she is the
Outraged by his wife's escapades and the mayor's threat of personal
violence, Wormer organizes a kangaroo court and revokes Delta's
charter. To take their minds off this action, Otter, Boon, Flounder,
and Pinto go on a road trip. Otter is successful in picking up four
young women from
Emily Dickinson College as dates for himself and his
Delta brothers. He elicits sympathy by posing as the fiancé of a
young woman at the college who died in a recent kiln explosion. They
stop at a roadhouse bar where Day's band is performing, not realizing
it has an exclusively African-American clientele. A couple of hulking
patrons intimidate the Deltas and they quickly exit, smashing up
Flounder's borrowed car and leaving their dates behind.
Marmalard and other Omegas lure Otter to a motel and beat him up,
believing that Otter is having an affair with Marmalard's girlfriend,
Mandy. The Deltas' midterm grades are so poor that an ecstatic Wormer
expels them all, having already notified their local draft boards that
they are now eligible for military service. The news shocks Flounder
so badly that he vomits on Wormer.
The Deltas are despondent, but Bluto rallies them with an impassioned,
if historically inaccurate, speech ("Was it over when the Germans
bombed Pearl Harbor? Hell no!"), and so they decide to take action
against Wormer, the Omegas, and the college. They convert Flounder's
damaged car into an armored vehicle and hide it inside a cake-shaped
breakaway float in order to sneak into the annual homecoming parade.
As they wreak havoc on the event, the futures of several of the
student main characters are revealed using freeze-frame labels. Most
of the Deltas become respectable professionals, while their
adversaries suffer less fortunate outcomes.
Delta Tau Chi
John Belushi as John "Bluto" Blutarsky
Tim Matheson as Eric "Otter" Stratton
Peter Riegert as Donald "Boon" Schoenstein
Thomas Hulce as Lawrence "Pinto" Kroger
Stephen Furst as Kent "Flounder" Dorfman
Bruce McGill as Daniel Simpson "D-Day" Day
James Widdoes as Robert Hoover
Douglas Kenney as "Stork"
Omega Theta Pi
James Daughton as Gregory "Greg" Marmalard
Mark Metcalf as Douglas C. Neidermeyer
Kevin Bacon as Chip Diller
John Vernon as Dean Vernon Wormer
Verna Bloom as Marion Wormer
Donald Sutherland as Professor Dave Jennings
Karen Allen as Katy
Sarah Holcomb as Clorette DePasto
DeWayne Jessie as Otis Day
Mary Louise Weller as Mandy Pepperidge
Martha Smith as Barbara Sue "Babs" Jansen
Cesare Danova as Mayor Carmine DePasto
Animal House was the first film produced by National Lampoon, the most
popular humor magazine on college campuses in the mid-1970s. The
periodical specialized in satirizing politics and popular culture.
Many of the magazine’s writers were recent college graduates, hence
their appeal to students all over the country.
Doug Kenney was a
Lampoon writer and the magazine’s first editor-in-chief. He
Harvard University in 1969 and had a college experience
closer to the Omegas in the film (he had been president of the
university's elite Spee Club). Kenney was responsible for the first
appearances of three characters that would appear in the film, Larry
Kroger, Mandy Pepperidge, and Vernon Wormer. They made their debut in
1973's National Lampoon’s High School Yearbook, a satire of a Middle
America 1964 high school yearbook. Kroger's and Pepperidge's
characters in the yearbook were effectively the same as their
characters in the movie, whereas Vernon Wormer was a P. E. and civics
teacher as well as an athletic coach in the yearbook.
However, Kenney felt that fellow Lampoon writer Chris Miller was the
magazine's expert on the college experience. Faced with an
impending deadline, Miller submitted a chapter from his then-abandoned
memoirs entitled "The Night of the Seven Fires" about pledging
experiences from his fraternity days in Alpha Delta (associated with
Alpha Delta Phi
Alpha Delta Phi during Miller's undergraduate years, the
fraternity subsequently disassociated itself from the national
organization and is now called Alpha Delta) at the Ivy League's
Dartmouth College, in Hanover, New Hampshire. The antics of his fellow
fraternities, coupled with experiences like that of a road trip to
UMass Amherst and its Delta Chi Fraternity, became the inspiration for
the Delta Tau Chis of
Animal House and many characters in the film
(and their nicknames) were based on Miller's fraternity brothers.
Ivan Reitman had just finished producing David Cronenberg's
first film, Shivers, and called the magazine's publisher Matty Simmons
about making movies under the Lampoon banner. Reitman had put
together The National Lampoon Show in
New York City
New York City featuring several
Saturday Night Live
Saturday Night Live cast members, including John Belushi. When
most of the Lampoon group moved on to SNL except for Harold Ramis,
Reitman approached him with an idea to make a film together using some
skits from the Lampoon Show.
Kenney met Lampoon writer Ramis at the suggestion of Simmons. Ramis
drew from his own fraternity experiences as a member of Zeta Beta Tau
Washington University in St. Louis
Washington University in St. Louis and was working on a
film treatment about college called "Freshman Year", but the
magazine's editors were not happy with it. Kenney and Ramis started
working on a new film treatment together, positing
Charles Manson in a
high school, calling it Laser Orgy Girls. Simmons was cool to this
idea so they changed the setting to a "northeastern college ...
Ivy League kind of school". Kenney was a fan of Miller’s
fraternity stories and suggested using them as a basis for a movie.
Kenney, Miller and Ramis began brainstorming ideas. They saw the
film's 1962 setting as "the last innocent year ... of America",
and the homecoming parade that ends the film as occurring on November
21, 1963, the day before President Kennedy's assassination. They
agreed that Belushi should star in it and Ramis wrote the part of
Bluto specifically for the comedian, having been friends with him
while at Chicago's The Second City.
The writers were new to screenwriting, so their film treatment
ran to 110-pages; the average was 15 pages. Reitman and Simmons
pitched it to various Hollywood studios. Simmons met with Ned Tanen,
an executive at Universal Studios. He was encouraged by younger
Sean Daniel and
Thom Mount who were more receptive to the
Lampoon type of humor; Mount had discovered the "Seven Fires" film
treatment as Tanen's assistant, while investigating projects left by a
fired studio executive. Tanen hated the idea. Ramis remembers, "We
went further than I think Universal expected or wanted. I think they
were shocked and appalled. Chris' fraternity had virtually been a
vomiting cult. And we had a lot of scenes that were almost orgies of
vomit ... We didn't back off anything". As the writers created
more drafts of the screenplay (nine in total), the studio gradually
became more receptive to the project, especially Mount, who championed
it. The studio green-lighted the film and set the budget at a
modest $3 million. Simmons remembers, "They just figured, 'Screw
it, it's a silly little movie, and we’ll make a couple of bucks if
we're lucky—let them do whatever they want.'"
Initially, Reitman had wanted to direct but had made only one film,
Cannibal Girls, for $5,000. The film's producers approached Richard
Bob Rafelson before considering John Landis, who got the
director job based on his work on Kentucky Fried Movie. That film's
script and continuity supervisor was the girlfriend of Sean Daniel, an
assistant to Mount. Daniel saw Landis' movie and recommended him.
Landis then met with Mount, Reitman and Simmons and got the job.
Landis remembers, "When I was given the script, it was the funniest
thing I had ever read up to that time. But it was really offensive.
There was a great deal of projectile vomiting and rape and all these
things". There was also friction between Landis and the writers
early on because Landis was a high-school dropout from Hollywood and
they were college graduates from the East Coast. 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". According to
Landis, he drew inspiration from classic Hollywood comedies featuring
the likes of Buster Keaton, Harold Lloyd, and the Marx Brothers.
The initial cast was to feature
Chevy Chase as Otter,
Bill Murray as
Brian Doyle-Murray as Hoover,
Dan Aykroyd as D-Day, and John
Belushi as Bluto, but only Belushi wanted to do it. Chase was a star
from Saturday Night Live, which had recently become a cultural
phenomenon. His name would have added credibility to the project, but
he turned the film down to do Foul Play; Landis, who wanted to cast
unknown dramatic actors such as Bacon and Allen (the first
film for both) instead of famous comedians, takes credit for subtly
discouraging Chase by describing the film as an "ensemble". Landis
has also stated that he was not interested in directing a Saturday
Night Live movie and that unknowns would be the better choice. The
character of D-Day was based on Aykroyd, who was a motorcycle
aficionado. Aykroyd was offered the part, but he was already committed
to Saturday Night Live. Belushi, who had worked on The National
Lampoon Radio Hour before Saturday Night Live, was also committed
to the show, but spent Monday through Wednesday making the film and
then flying back to New York to do the show on Thursday through
Saturday. Ramis originally wrote the role of Boon for himself, but
Landis felt that he looked too old for the part and Riegert was cast
instead. Landis did offer Ramis a smaller part, but he declined.
Landis met with
Jack Webb to play Dean Wormer and
Kim Novak to play
his wife. Webb ultimately backed out due to concerns over his
clean-cut image, and was replaced by John Vernon.
Belushi received only $35,000 for Animal House, with a bonus after it
became a hit. Landis also met with
Meat Loaf in case Belushi did
not want to play Bluto. Landis worked with Belushi on his character,
who "hardly had any dialogue"; they decided that Bluto was a
Harpo Marx and the Cookie Monster.
Belushi was considered a supporting actor and Universal wanted another
star. Landis had been a crew member on
Kelly's Heroes and had
become friends with actor Donald Sutherland, sometimes babysitting his
son Kiefer. Landis asked Sutherland, one of the biggest stars of
the 1970s, to be in the film. For two days of work, Sutherland
declined the initial offer of $20,000 plus "points" (a percentage of
the gross or net income). Universal then offered him his day rate
of $25,000 or 2% of the film's gross. Sutherland took the
guaranteed fee, assuming that the film would not be very successful;
although this made him the highest-paid member of the cast
(Neidemeyer's horse, Junior, and
John Belushi each received
$40,000), the decision cost Sutherland what he estimates as $14
million. The star's participation, however, was crucial; Landis
later said "It was
Donald Sutherland who essentially got the film
"Pinto" was screenwriter Chris Miller's nickname at his Dartmouth
DeWayne Jessie adopted the "Otis Day" name in his
private life and continued touring with the band.
Plaque at the
Delta House site (2007)
Otis Day and the Knights sang
Shama Lama Ding Dong at the Dexter Lake
Club (2012 photo)
The filmmakers' next problem was finding a college that would let them
shoot the film on their campus. They submitted the script to a
number of colleges and universities but "nobody wanted this movie" due
to the script; according to Landis, "I couldn't find 'the look'. Every
place that had 'the look' said, 'no thank you.'" The University of
Missouri (Columbia, Missouri) was scheduled to be the college where
filming was to be held, for example, but the president (Herbert W.
Schooling) refused permission to film there after reading the
The president of the
University of Oregon
University of Oregon in Eugene, William Beaty
Boyd, had been a senior administrator at the University of
California in Berkeley in 1966 when his campus was considered for a
location of the film The Graduate. After he consulted with other
senior administrative colleagues who advised him to turn it down due
to the lack of artistic merit, the college campus scenes set at
Berkeley were shot at USC in Los Angeles. The film went on to become a
classic, and Boyd was determined not to make the same mistake twice
when the producers inquired about filming at Oregon. After consulting
with student government leaders and officers of the Pan Hellenic
Council, the Director of University Relations advised the president
that the script, although raunchy and often tasteless, was a very
funny spoof of college life. Boyd even allowed the filmmakers to use
his office as Dean Wormer's.
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
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
Phi Kappa Psi
Phi Kappa Psi and
Sigma Nu fraternity houses sat next to
Phi Sigma Kappa
Phi Sigma Kappa house, on the 700 block of East 11th
Avenue. The interior of the
Phi Kappa Psi
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, and the site (44°02′53″N 123°04′52″W /
44.048°N 123.081°W / 44.048; -123.081) 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 concluding
parade scene was filmed on Main Street in downtown Cottage Grove,
about twenty miles (30 km) south of Eugene via Interstate 5.
Filming commenced in the autumn of 1977, and Landis
brought the actors who played the Deltas up five days early in order
to bond. Staying at the
Rodeway Inn motel in adjacent Springfield,
they moved an old piano from the lobby into McGill's room, which
became known as "party central."
James Widdoes ("Hoover") remembers,
"It was like freshman orientation. There was a lot of getting to know
each other and calling each other by our character names." This tactic
encouraged the actors playing the Deltas to separate themselves from
the actors playing the Omegas, helping generate authentic animosity
between them on camera. Belushi and his wife Judy rented a house in
south Eugene in order to keep him away from alcohol and drugs;
she remained in Oregon while he commuted to
New York City
New York City for Saturday
Although the cast members were warned against mixing with the college
students, one night, some girls invited several of the cast members
to a fraternity party. They arrived assuming they had been invited and
were greeted with open hostility. As they were leaving, Widdoes
threw a cup of beer at a group of drunk football players and a fight
"like a scene from the movie" broke out. Tim Matheson, Bruce
McGill, Peter Riegert, and Widdoes narrowly escaped, with McGill
suffering a black eye and Widdoes getting several teeth knocked
Other than 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; Furst
deftly caught the many items Landis and Matheson threw at him, amazing
the director. By filming the long courtroom scene in one day
Landis won a bet with Reitman.
The film's budget was so small that during the 32 days of shooting in
Eugene, mostly in November, 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. 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.
Dexter Lake Club in 2011
Black extras had to be bused in from Portland for the segment at the
Dexter Lake Club (43°54′50″N 122°48′41″W / 43.914°N
122.8115°W / 43.914; -122.8115) due to their scarcity around
Eugene. More seriously, the segment alarmed Tanen and other studio
executives, who perceived it as racist and warned that "'black people
in America are going to rip the seats out of theaters if you leave
that scene in the movie.'" Richard Pryor's approval helped retain the
segment in the film. The studio became more enthusiastic about
the film when Reitman showed executives and sales managers of various
regions in the country a 10-minute production reel that was put
together in two days. The reaction was positive and the studio sent
20 copies out to exhibitors. The first preview screening for Animal
House was held in
Denver four months before it opened nationwide. The
crowd loved it and the filmmakers realized they had a potential hit on
The original cut of the movie was a lengthy 175 minutes and more than
an hour was dropped; the deleted scenes included:
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.
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).
Soundtrack and score
Original Motion Picture Soundtrack:
National Lampoon's Animal House
Soundtrack album by various artists
RCA Studios, New York and Sound Factory West, Hollywood
Rock and roll, R&B, film score
The soundtrack is a mix of rock and roll and rhythm and blues with the
original score created by film composer Elmer Bernstein, who had been
a Landis family friend since
John Landis was a child. Bernstein
was easily persuaded to score the film, but was not sure what to make
of it. Similar to his preferring dramatic actors for the comedy,
Landis asked Bernstein to score it as though it were serious. He
adapted the "Faber College Theme" from the Academic Festival Overture
by Brahms, and said that the film opened yet another door in his
diverse career, to scoring comedies.
The soundtrack was released as a vinyl album in 1978, and then as a CD
Soundtrack album listing
"Faber College Theme"
Johannes Brahms, adapted by Elmer Bernstein
"Twistin' the Night Away"
"Tossin' and Turnin'"
Richie Adams, Malou Rene
"Shama Lama Ding Dong"
Lloyd Williams (Otis Day and the Knights)
Paul & Paula
"Intro (The Riddle Song)"
"Money (That's What I Want)"
Berry Gordy, Jr., Janie Bradford
"(What a) Wonderful World"
Sam Cooke, Herb Alpert, Lou Adler
Ronald Isley, Rudolph Isley, O'Kelly Isley
Lloyd Williams (Otis Day and the Knights)
"Faber College Theme"
Additional music in the film
"Theme from A Summer Place", composed by Max Steiner; performed by
Percy Faith and his Orchestra
"Who's Sorry Now?", written by Ted Snyder,
Bert Kalmar and Harry Ruby;
performed by Connie Francis
The Washington Post
The Washington Post March", composed by John Philip Sousa
"Tammy", by Jay Livingston and Ray Evans
In its opening weekend,
Animal House grossed $276,538 in 12
theaters. It grossed $120.1 million in North America and went on to
achieve a domestic lifetime gross of $141.6 million.
At the time of its release,
Animal House received mixed reviews from
critics but several immediately recognized its appeal, and it
has since been recognized as one of the best films of
1978. The film holds a 91% positive rating on the review
aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes. Its consensus states "The talents
John Landis and Saturday Night Live's irrepressible John
Belushi conspired to create a rambunctious, subversive college comedy
that continues to resonate."
Roger Ebert gave the film four stars
out of four and wrote, "It's anarchic, messy, and filled with energy.
It assaults us. Part of the movie's impact comes from its sheer level
of manic energy. ... But the movie's better made (and better acted)
than we might at first realize. It takes skill to create this sort of
comic pitch, and the movie's filled with characters that are sketched
a little more absorbingly than they had to be, and acted with
perception". Ebert later placed the film on his 10 best list of
1978, the only National Lampoon film to have received this honor.
In his review for Time, Frank Rich wrote, "At its best it perfectly
expresses the fears and loathings of kids who came of age in the late
'60s; at its worst
Animal House revels in abject silliness. The
hilarious highs easily compensate for the puerile lows". Gary
Arnold wrote in his review for The Washington Post, "Belushi also
controls a wicked array of conspiratorial expressions with the
audience. ... He can seem irresistibly funny in repose or invest minor
slapstick opportunities with a streak of genius". David Ansen
wrote in Newsweek, "But if
Animal House lacks the inspired
tastelessness of the Lampoon's High School Yearbook Parody, this is
still low humor of a high order". Robert Martin wrote in The Globe
and Mail, "It is so gross and tasteless you feel you should be
disgusted but it's hard to be offended by something that is so
sidesplittingly funny". Time magazine proclaimed
Animal House one
of the year's best.
When the film was released, Landis, Widdoes and 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
University of Wisconsin–Madison
University of Wisconsin–Madison tried for a crowd of 10,000
people and a place in the Guinness Book of World Records. Thanks
to the film, toga parties became one of the favorite college campus
happenings during 1978 and 1979.
In 2000, the
American Film Institute
American Film Institute placed the film on its 100
Years...100 Laughs list, where it was ranked #36. Then in 2005,
AFI ranked John "Bluto" Blutarsky's quote "Toga! Toga!" at #82 on its
list of 100 Years...100 Movie Quotes.* with the quotes "Over? Did
you say "over?" Nothing is over until we decide it is! Was it over
when the Germans bombed Pearl Harbor? Hell, no!" and "Fat, drunk, and
stupid is no way to go through life, son." being nominated.
Main article: Delta House
The film inspired a short-lived half-hour ABC television sitcom, Delta
House, in which Vernon reprised his role as the long-suffering,
malevolent Dean Wormer. The series also included Furst as Flounder,
McGill as D-Day, and Widdoes as Hoover. The pilot episode was
written by the film's screenwriters, Kenney, Miller, and Ramis.
Michelle Pfeiffer made her acting debut in the series (playing a new
character, "Bombshell"), and Peter Fox was cast as Otter. Belushi's
character from the film, John "Bluto" Blutarsky, is in the Army, but
his brother, Blotto, played by Josh Mostel, transfers to Faber to
carry on Bluto's tradition.
Jim Belushi was asked to play the role
of Blotto, but declined.
Animal House inspired Co-Ed Fever, another sitcom but without the
involvement of the film's producers or cast. Set in a dorm of the
formerly all-female Baxter College, the pilot of Co-Ed Fever was aired
CBS on February 4, 1979, but the network canceled the series before
airing any more episodes.
NBC also had its Animal House-inspired
sitcom, Brothers and Sisters, in which three members of Crandall
College's Pi Nu fraternity interact with members of the Gamma Iota
sorority. Like ABC's Delta House, Brothers and Sisters lasted only
The film's writers planned a film sequel set in 1967 (the so-called
"Summer of Love"), in which the Deltas have a reunion for Pinto's
marriage in Haight-Ashbury, San Francisco. The only Delta to have
become a hippie is Flounder, who is now called Pisces. Later, Chris
Miller and John Weidman, another Lampoon writer, created a treatment
for this screenplay, but Universal rejected it because the sequel to
American Graffiti, which contained some hippie-1967 sequences, had not
done well. When
John Belushi died, the idea was indefinitely
A second attempt at a sequel was made in 1982 with producer Matty
Simmons co-authoring a script which saw some of the Deltas returning
to Faber College five years after the events of the film. The project
got no further than a first draft script dated May 6, 1982.
Where Are They Now?
The 2003 "Double Secret Probation Edition" DVD included a short film,
Where Are They Now?: A Delta Alumni Update, a mockumentary purporting
that the original film had been a documentary and Landis was catching
up with some of the cast (played by their original actors). It was
never shown theatrically.
It shows the main
Animal House characters 30 years on, following
Landis to cities all over America in search of the former Deltas,
Omegas, and Dean Wormer, and describes the various locales and
professions the characters have settled into:
Donald Schoenstein – Film editor, New York City. Currently in his
third marriage to Katy. He has a son named Otis.
Babs Jansen – Tour guide,
Universal Studios Hollywood. She mentions
to Landis that she is organizing an upcoming Faber reunion, and seems
to be successful at her job.
Marion Wormer – Seemingly unemployed in Chicago. She tells Landis of
how her husband Vernon accepted the blame for the parade debacle, and
was subsequently fired, leading to their divorce. She becomes
progressively more tipsy throughout the interview, eventually falling
off her chair.
Kent Dorfman – Executive director, Encounter Groups of Cleveland,
Inc., Cleveland, Ohio. He recalls trying to diet during the 1970s with
a special program requiring him to shoot up the urine of pregnant
Robert Hoover – Assistant district attorney, Baltimore, Maryland.
Hoover tells the tale of how he quit being a public defender after he
realized many of his clients were insane. He also boasts of how his
legal advice was sought during the O.J. Simpson murder case.
Chip Diller – Landis receives a letter from Diller, who is currently
serving as a missionary in Africa. He recalls how he was prevented
from going to Vietnam as his father was a prime donor to several
right-wing political campaigns. When he learned of Doug Neidermeyer's
fragging in Vietnam, he fell into alcoholism and despair. When he
began seeing Jesus in his food, he became a born-again Christian and
fell into his current profession as minister and missionary.
Dean Vernon Wormer – Wormer is seen at a nursing home in Florida,
under the watchful eye of a male nurse. He appears to be senile, not
recognizing Landis at first (calling him "Larry"), and not remembering
his tenure as Dean of Faber. When Landis mentions the Deltas, Wormer
erupts into a violent, profanity-laced tirade against the boys who
cost him his job. He lashes out against the nurse and then physically
attacks Landis, knocking out the camera in the process.
Eric Stratton – Gynecologist, Beverly Hills, California. Otter is
depicted as still being the affable, suave gentleman he was in his
college days. He remarks that gynecology has been very enjoyable for
him and that he has straightened up a bit since leaving Faber. An
attractive, blonde patient in her underwear then tells Otter she's
ready for her examination. Otter politely cuts the interview off and
goes into the exam room.
Daniel Simpson Day – Landis remarks in a voiceover that D-Day has
been the hardest to track down for the documentary, saying that rumors
have flown around, with his whereabouts ranging from a Buddhist
Nepal to the Yukon Territory. Landis eventually
approaches a house in Modesto, California, where a man opens the door
by a crack and claims, in a Hispanic accent, "I don't know no D-Day
person! I don't know him!" He slams the door in Landis' face and then
bursts out of the garage in a car. He pulls out onto the street to the
strains of the William Tell Overture, gives a manic laugh exactly like
D-Day's, and speeds off.
John Blutarsky – In a final voice-over a shot of the White House,
Landis remarks that the viewers all know what happened to Bluto and
Mandy Pepperidge: they became the
President of the United States
President of the United States and
First Lady of the United States.
Animal House became one of the most profitable films in history.
Since its initial release, the film has garnered an estimated $141
million in domestic total gross, not including merchandising.
Animal House was released on videodisc in 1979. It was released on
VHS in 1980, 1983, 1988, and 1990. In 1992, it was released in a 2
pack VHS Set that included The Blues Brothers. It was first released
on DVD in February 1998 in a "bare bones" full screen presentation. A
20th anniversary widescreen Collector's Edition DVD and a coinciding
THX special edition VHS and a widescreen Signature Collection
Laserdisc was released later that year, with a 45-minute documentary
entitled "The Yearbook – An
Animal House Reunion" by producer JM
Kenny with production notes, theatrical trailer, and new interviews
with director Landis, writers
Harold Ramis and Chris Miller, composer
Elmer Bernstein, and stars Tim Matheson, Karen Allen, Stephen Furst,
John Vernon, Verna Bloom, Bruce McGill, James Widdoes, Peter Riegert,
Mark Metcalf and Kevin Bacon. In 2000, the collector's edition DVD
was packaged along with The Blues Brothers and 1941 in a John Belushi
3 pack box set. The "Double Secret Probation Edition" DVD released in
2003 features cast members reprising their respective roles in a
"Where Are They Now?" mockumentary, which posited the original film as
a documentary. One major change shown in this mockumentary from the
epilogue of the original film is that Bluto went on from his career in
the U.S. Senate to become the President of the United States, with a
voiceover on a shot of the north portico of the White House, since by
then Belushi had died. This DVD also includes "Did You Know That?
Universal Animated Anecdotes", a subtitle trivia track, the making of
documentary from the Collector's Edition,
MXPX "Shout" music video, a
theatrical trailer, production notes, and cast and filmmakers
biographies. In August 2006, the film was released on an HD
DVD/DVD combo disc, which featured the film in a
format on one side, and a standard-definition format on the opposite
side. Along with the film Unleashed,
Animal House was one of
Universal's first two HD/DVD combo releases, but was later
discontinued in 2008 after Universal decided to switch to the Blu-ray
Disc format following the conclusion of the high definition optical
disc format war.
It is currently available on Blu-ray.
Precursors and legacy
Animal House was a great box office success despite its limited
production costs and started an industry trend, inspiring other
comedies such as Porky's, the Police Academy films, the American Pie
Up the Academy
Up the Academy (made by their rival magazine company: MAD), and
Old School among others. Belushi became the most successful
male comedy star in the world until his 1982 death; Bacon also became
a star, and he, Matheson, and Allen are among those who have had
lengthy acting careers. Reitman, Landis, and Ramis became successful
filmmakers; Landis' use of dramatic actors and soundtrack to make the
comedy believable became the traditional approach for film
On the left-wing and counterculture side, the film included references
to topical political matters like Kent State shootings, President
Harry S. Truman's decision to drop atomic bombs on Hiroshima and
Nagasaki, Richard Nixon, the Vietnam war, and the civil rights
movement. Precursors of this counterculture subversive humor in
film were two non-"college movies", M*A*S*H, a 1970 satirical dark
comedy, and The Kentucky Fried Movie, a 1977 formless comedy
consisting of a series of sketches (which was also directed by
Universal Pictures Stage Productions announced it was
developing a stage musical version of the movie.
Barenaked Ladies were
originally announced to write the score, but they were replaced by
composer David Yazbek.
Casey Nicholaw will direct; author
Michael Mitnick is also reportedly involved.
In 2001, the United States
Library of Congress
Library of Congress deemed the film
culturally significant and selected it for preservation in the
National Film Registry.
Animal House is first on Bravo's 100
Funniest Movies. In 2000, the
American Film Institute
American Film Institute ranked the
film No. 36 on 100 Years... 100 Laughs, a list of the 100 best
American comedies. In 2006, Miller wrote a more comprehensive
memoir of his experiences in Dartmouth's AD house in a book entitled,
The Real Animal House: The Awesomely Depraved Saga of the Fraternity
That Inspired the Movie, in which Miller recounts hijinks that were
considered too risqué for the movie. In 2008, Empire magazine
Animal House as one of The 500 Greatest Movies of All
Time. The film was also selected by
The New York Times
The New York Times as one of
The 1000 Best Movies Ever Made.
Film in the United States portal
Rick Meyerowitz, the illustrator who drew the
Animal House poster.
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Wikimedia Commons has media related to Animal House.
Wikiquote has quotations related to: Animal House
Patterson, Joanna (November 9, 2006). "Miller '63 Reveals the Real
History of 'Animal House'". The Dartmouth. Dartmouth College. Archived
from the original on January 7, 2008.
Animal House on IMDb
Animal House at AllMovie
Animal House at Box Office Mojo
Animal House at Rotten Tomatoes
Animal House at Metacritic
Links to related articles
Films directed by John Landis
The Kentucky Fried Movie
The Kentucky Fried Movie (1977)
Animal House (1978)
The Blues Brothers (1980)
An American Werewolf in London
An American Werewolf in London (1981)
Coming Soon (1982)
Trading Places (1983)
Twilight Zone: The Movie (1983)
Into the Night (1985)
Spies Like Us
Spies Like Us (1985)
¡Three Amigos! (1986)
Amazon Women on the Moon
Amazon Women on the Moon (1987)
Coming to America
Coming to America (1988)
Innocent Blood (1992)
Beverly Hills Cop III
Beverly Hills Cop III (1994)
The Stupids (1996)
Blues Brothers 2000
Blues Brothers 2000 (1998)
Susan's Plan (1998)
Mr. Warmth: The Don Rickles Project (2007)
Burke & Hare (2010)
National Lampoon magazine (1970–1998)
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The Best of National Lampoon No. 1
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Would You Buy a Used War from This Man?
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The National Lampoon Encyclopedia of Humor
Letters from the Editors of National Lampoon
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