ANIMAL HOUSE (and Our First Award!)
by Nerd in a Comfy Chair
MY BLOG WON an AWARD and It’s FANCY!
Now…to be fair…You win the award because another blogger nominates you for it. In my case it is a really kick ass blog called SHE WRITES A LITTLE by my good friend the Drama Diva.
I will let her explain the Award…take it away, Mdm Diva.
“The Liebster Award apparently sources from Germany…(which means, like many actors, I can now claim international stardom, even if the home audiences think I’m for-shit.) Qualifications are that you must have a blog, with under 200 followers, and get nominated. That is all. If you accept, it’s like a glorified chain letter of award-passings, (plus a required re-tag of your nominator and Q&A piece.) Then, you hand it onward to 11 others, with 11 new questions…and so it goes.
…Problem is: most people I read have ten times the required subscriptions, so this could get tricky.
These awards (if you’re new to ‘em) are just a neat little way to show your appreciation, and get more people to see your blog link. It’s a love-in, really. Only with super safe sex. As far as I know, no one has ended up knocked up yet, or acquired any kind of wireless syphilis. Which is good. Cuz according to Google, this baby has seen more action that a hooker at Mardi Gras.”
Yes…that’s the way she writes. You gotta read her blog sometime. But, I warn you, do not be imbibing at the time (do that before or after) because at some point it will shoot out of your nose. Knowing some of the people that read my blog…that’s gonna burn like the Dickens.
I don’t know 11 Bloggers. I only know a few, so here are the folks that I know and the folks that follow my blog as of the time I am writing this:
She Writes a Little
The last part of the nomination is that I have to answer 11 Questions and then Post 11 Questions of my own…that they, in turn, will have to answer.
I will do those at the end, because…Now I get to talk about:
ANIMAL HOUSE (1978)
I already have told you two things:
(1) I used to sneak out in the middle of the night and watch movies on HBO and CINEMAX that I probably wasn’t supposed to;
(2) My Dad dropped me off at R Rated Movies starting around the tender age of 13
ANIMAL HOUSE was not one of those movies that Dad saw the value of dropping me off at. He saw the trailers, right along with me, and said, “What the hell is that crap supposed to be?”
I told him it was funny.
He told me I was wrong.
“It’s by National Lampoon,” he said, “And that’s just two steps away from porn. Python’s funny and naughty enough for you…stick with that.”
I wasn’t about to tell him that I had read plenty of National Lampoon already…I knew where that would lead.
Here’s a description of NATIONAL LAMPOON MAGAZINE:
“National Lampoon was a ground-breaking American humor magazine. Its success led to a wide range of media productions associated with the magazine’s brand name. The magazine ran from 1970 to 1998, and started out as a spinoff from the Harvard Lampoon.
The magazine reached its height of popularity and critical acclaim during the 1970s, when it had a far-reaching effect on American humor. It spawned films, radio, live theatre, various kinds ofrecordings, and print products including books. Many members of the creative staff from the magazine subsequently went on to contribute creatively to successful media of all types.
During the magazine’s most successful years, parody of every kind was a mainstay; surrealist content was also central to its appeal. Almost all the issues included long text pieces, shorter written pieces, a section of actual news items (dubbed “True Facts”), cartoons and comic strips. Most issues also included “Foto Funnies” or fumetti, which often featured nudity. The result was an unusual mix of intelligent, cutting-edge wit, and crass, bawdy frat house jesting. In both cases, National Lampoon humor often pushed far beyond the boundaries of what was generally considered appropriate and acceptable. As co-founder Henry Beard described the experience years later: “There was this big door that said, ‘Thou shalt not.’ We touched it, and it fell off its hinges.”
Now how the heck did I get to read National Lampoon and Dad not know about it?
Well…it was yet ANOTHER place he dropped me off at and never bothered to properly investigate.
There was a shop in downtown Tacoma a long time again…who’s name I won’t mention here…that used to house a lot of old comic books that the owner kept in hoard like stacks in the front and about mid-way into the shop. This is where my father would drop me off, starting at the age of 11, to read old comic books to my heart’s content and waste many a Saturday afternoon until I started going downtown by myself to see STAR WARS every Saturday for a year. On those occasions, I saw the movie and THEN went down to the Comic Shop.
In the very back of the shop was lit by a row of windows in the far back end of the shop that were a lot taller than I was. That is where the owner had the stacks of Playboys, Penthouses, OUIs and National Lampoons.
And, believe it or not, I skipped the soft core magazines and went straight for the Lampoon. That was after I had stumbled upon them, that is.
I loved the humor. I loved the articles. I loved the parody ads. I loved everything about, including the cartoons.
Dad was wrong on this one…National Lampoon = Funny. At least, for awhile.
I was also in love with a new Television show called SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE. I had been staying up on Saturday Nights since I was 10 to watch it. My parents were fast asleep and truly didn’t care what the hell I was watching out there as long as it didn’t wake them up.
Its amazing, now that I think of it, the things I discovered on TV only because it was so easy to find it. Now a days, its like working through some bizarre algorithm to get some of these Universal Remotes to work…and it is this natural barrier that keeps my young boys from doing what I did.
But, then again, my eldest (who is 11) is smart enough t:
(a) wait until I go to sleep
(b) go out to the wall of DVDs
(c) take the one of his choosing
(d) watch it in the middle of the night
(e) replace it afterward
(f) go back to sleep leaving me none the wiser.
You know…I bet he’s already doing this. I should start earmarking the best ones for him. Note to self.
So…ANIMAL HOUSE was the first movie that I knew would be coming out on Cable anyway and, rather than see it in the theatres, I waited patiently for HBO.
And…when I finally got to see it…I was deeply, and richly, rewarded.
It was one of the first movies where I started using the catch phrases around school and with my friends…and none of them knew what the hell I was talking about. This gave me the opportunity to explain it to them in great detail.
I watched it for John Belushi. One of my Kings of Comedy. The actor’s I was introduced to…I would follow forever: Tom Hulce, Tim Matheson, Kevin Bacon, Peter Riegert, Karen Allen and Donald Sutherland. But most of all…it introduced me to JOHN LANDIS! I have already told you my love for his next movie, AN AMERICAN WEREWOLF IN LONDON, but this was my first exposure to him. I feel in love with the way he set humor to film stock.
It was because of ANIMAL HOUSE that I sought out KENTUCKY FRIED MOVIE. But that’s another story…isn’t it?
But that’s enough blog for now…I’ve got to sum up…and answer some questions as the end.
So, in the spirit of ANIMAL HOUSE, I have to tell you: “I’m sorry I can’t! I’m doing the dishes…”
What Is It About?
Let’s see what Wikipedia has to say about it:
National Lampoon’s Animal House is a 1978 American comedy film directed by John Landis. The film was a direct spinoff from National Lampoon magazine. It is about a misfit group offraternity members who challenge the dean of Faber College.
The screenplay was adapted by Douglas Kenney, Chris Miller, and Harold Ramis from stories written by Miller and published in National Lampoon magazine. The stories were based on Miller’s experiences in the Alpha Delta Phi fraternity at Dartmouth College. Other influences on the film came from Ramis’s experiences in the Zeta Beta Tau fraternity at Washington University in St. Louis, and producer Ivan Reitman‘s experiences at Delta Upsilon at McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario. Of the younger lead actors, only John Belushi was an established star, but even he had not yet appeared in a film, having gained fame mainly from his Saturday Night Live television appearances. Several of the actors who were cast as college students, including Karen Allen, Tom Hulce, and Kevin Bacon, were just beginning their film careers, although Tim Matheson was coming off a large role as one of the assassin motorcyclecops in the second Dirty Harry film, Magnum Force.
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 $2.7 million, it is one of the most profitable movies of all time, garnering an estimated return of more than $141 million in the form of videos and DVDs, 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 genre of films, which became one of Hollywood’s staples. In 2001, the United States Library of Congress deemed Animal House “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant” and selected it for preservation in theNational 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.”
In 1962, college freshmen Lawrence “Larry” Kroger (Tom Hulce) and Kent Dorfman (Stephen Furst) seek to join a fraternity at Faber College. They visit the prestigious Omega Theta Pi House’s invitational party, but are not welcomed there. They then try next door at Delta Tau Chi House, where Kent’s brother was once a member, making Kent a “legacy.” There they find John “Bluto” Blutarsky (John Belushi) urinating outside the fraternity house. The Deltas “need the dues” so they permit Larry and Kent to pledge. They receive the fraternity names “Pinto” (Larry) and “Flounder” (Kent).
Vernon Wormer (John Vernon), dean of Faber College, wants to remove the Delta fraternity from campus due to repeated conduct violations and low academic standing. Since they are already on probation, he puts the Deltas on something he calls “double secret probation” and orders the clean-cut, smug Omega president Greg Marmalard (James Daughton) to find a way to get rid of the Deltas permanently.
Flounder is bullied by Omega member and ROTC cadet commander Doug Neidermeyer (Mark Metcalf), so Bluto and Daniel Simpson “D-Day” Day (Bruce McGill) persuade Flounder to sneak Neidermeyer’s horse into Dean Wormer’s office late at night. They give him a gun and tell him to shoot it. Unbeknownst to Flounder, the gun is loaded with blanks. Unable to bring himself to kill the horse, he fires into the ceiling. The noise frightens the horse so much that it dies of a heart attack.
In the cafeteria the next day, smooth-talking Eric “Otter” Stratton (Tim Matheson) tries to convince the stuck-up Mandy Pepperidge (Mary Louise Weller) to abandon her boyfriend, the uninteresting Marmalard, and date him instead. Bluto proceeds to provoke Marmalard with his impression of a popping zit by stuffing his mouth with a scoop of mashed potatoes and propelling it at Marmalard and table mates, Chip Diller (Kevin Bacon) and Barbara “Babs” Jansen (Martha Smith). Bluto then starts a food fight that engulfs the cafeteria.
Bluto and D-Day steal the answers to an upcoming psychology test, but it turns out the Omegas planted the exam stencil and the Deltas get every answer wrong. Their grade-point averages drop so low that Wormer only needs one more incident to revoke the charter that allows them to remain on campus.
To cheer themselves up, the Deltas organize a toga party, during which Otis Day and the Knights perform “Shout“. The dean’s alcoholic, lecherous wife, Marion (Verna Bloom), attends the party at Otter’s invitation and has sex with him. Pinto hooks up with Clorette (Sarah Holcomb), a girl he met at the supermarket, and makes out with her only to learn she is the mayor’s 13-year-old daughter. He later takes her home in a shopping cart. Due to the party, Wormer organizes a kangaroo court with the Omegas and revokes Delta’s charter and all belongings are confiscated.
To take their minds off their troubles, Otter, Donald “Boon” Schoenstein (Peter Riegert), Flounder and Pinto go on a road trip. Otter picks up some girls from Emily Dickinson College by pretending to be the fiancé of Fawn Liebowitz, a girl who recently died on campus. They stop at a roadhouse because Otis Day and the Knights are performing there, not realizing that it caters to an exclusively black clientele. The hulking patrons intimidate the guys and they flee, damaging Flounder’s borrowed car and leaving their frightened dates behind.
Boon breaks up with his girlfriend Katy (Karen Allen) after discovering her sexual relationship with a professor (Donald Sutherland). Marmalard is told that his girlfriend is having an affair with Otter, so he and other Omegas lure him to a motel and beat him up. The Deltas’ midterm grades are so poor that an ecstatic Wormer expels them all. He even notifies their draft boards of their eligibility. In the process, before Bluto attempts to speak to the dean, Wormer orders Flounder to speak with the words, “Well? Out with it!”, whereupon Flounder vomits on the dean.
It seems time for the Deltas to give up, but Bluto, supported by the injured Otter, rouses them with an impassioned, historically inaccurate speech (“Was it over when the Germans bombed Pearl Harbor?!”) and they decide to take revenge on Wormer and the Omegas. The Deltas construct a rogue parade float with Flounder’s car as its base and wreak havoc on the annual homecoming parade. During the ensuing chaos, the futures of many of the main characters are revealed. The last shot of the film is of Bluto driving away in a white convertible with his soon-to-be wife, Mandy Pepperidge.
Why Did I HAVE to Own It?
JOHN LANDIS and National Lampoon!
Oh…oh…oh…I LOVE THIS MOVIE!
It is in my top 5 comedies that I go to whenever I desperately need a comedy. Its funny, a little sad, a little raunchy and way to smart for its own good sometimes.
But there is way too much for me to tell you about here…So, I think I will let Mr. Belushi sum it up in his rally the troops speech:
How Are The Extras?
- Where Are They Now? A Delta Alumni Update – This is pretty light. This could have been a real treasure trove of interviews. Instead its mostly filler.
- Did You Know That (Universal Animated Anecdotes) – This is the very definition of a “What the heck were they thinking” piece of Universal Studios propaganda. So, sad to see this.
- The Yearbook: An Animal House Reunion – Again, really, really disappointing. I wanted an in depth documentary…what I got was this.
What Format Do I Have It In?
DVD…and, looking at the Blu-Ray to see if I should upgrade it now.
Nope…looks like a direct transfer over from my DVD version. And, you know, I actually think that the graininess of the film stock makes this movie even more endearing to me. I’m gonna hang on to this one.
And Now the Answer to the Award Questions:
* Your perfect 3-course meal? Drinks included. (In detail, please. I’m hungry.)
1 – Some small portion of some good Irish Stew and a Guinness
2 – A Pizza with my favorite toppings (Canadian Bacon, Pepperoni, Black Olives, Sausage and Salami) and a Diet Coke
3 – A cold piece of Apple Pie also with a Diet Coke
Some Tequila Shots afterward…just for fun.
(Feel Free to replace STEAK in #2, but it has to be had at this amazing Steak Place that I went to in New York…and it HAS to be IN New York when eaten)
* Favorite place to Live. Favorite place to visit. Favorite place to play. Why?
TO LIVE: I am very happy to be living in the place I am living in, but if I had to choose elsewhere it would be London first (for the theatre, the people, the history…the everything) and then New York (for the theatre, the energy and the friends I have there)
TO VISIT: I love to visit Seattle, Ashland, Ocean Shores, Vancouver, Victoria and Portland…they just feel like my natural surroundings.
TO PLAY: Disneyland, Disneyworld and Las Vegas. For all the same reasons. I can play hard, laugh loud and forget my cares. And they are even better with friends…wanna go?
* What is a special memory of yours?
The Theatrical Production that I did, as a replacement actor, which introduced me to decade plus friends (Including the one that passed along these questions)
* You can live for one year in any era of time. When would it be and why?
For some reason, I am drawn to the time of Holmes, Watson, Dickens, Conan Doyle, Sweeny Todd, Oliver et al. And all of it in London. It feels like home. I feel as if I am displaced from that era. That’s where I long to be, I guess.
Either then or Agatha Christie’s London.
London is looking more and more like my place to retire, doesn’t it?
* What is one of your yearly repeat-read books? Why?
It takes me FOREVER to read a book with my life the way it is now. So I don’t get to revisit the ones that I love (The Dead Zone, The Shining, The Werewolf of Ponkert, etc).
But I can revisit graphic novels…and I always come home to Bloom County, Liberty Meadows and Scott Pilgrim.
* If you could have the career of any famous person, (living or dead) who would it be?
Charlie Chaplin. Because of his creative journey that took him through the history of theatre, film and relationships with the people and places of the time.
* The last time you drank champagne was when, and why?
To toast my dear friend on a major life accomplishment and a job done so well it was nigh on perfect.
* Name five people on your celebrity “freebee” list.
* You are stranded on a desert island, with only five things. What are they?
1 – A Diary. I have to write…if anything to go back and track how I slowly went insane.
2 – A crate of Pencils. So I can write. Something most folks forget about when thinking of the Diary
3 – Cooking Utensils. To cook with.
4 – Warm Clothing. If it gets too warm…who needs the clothing.
5 – My best friend. No sense in being alone and misery loves company (and is wiser in planning escape)
* If you could erase the worst day of your life from your mind (the consequences of it, not changing in any way), would you?
No. And the period from August 2010 – August of 2012 was ripe with them. But if I took them away, I wouldn’t have learned, lived and gained the insight and wisdom of my friends and family who made it possible to endure them.
* Name three pet peeves.
1 – People who cause chaos as a form of entertainment through gossip, willful intent and public subterfuge.
2 – People who truly don’t care about the needs of others and put themselves first (from little things like on airplanes, to people in line at a grocery store, how they treat waiters and retailer staff…to much grander things in scope)
3 – Selfish Directors and Actors. All I need to do is work with them once to get a feeling that they are…and twice just make sure I never have to again.
And…since I only have 5 followers…I can’t pass my question on to others. So, this award stays with me for a little while.
So I will leave you with the same questions that are shared by James Lipton on INSIDE THE ACTOR’S STUDIO from a concept was originated by Frenchtelevision personality Bernard Pivot on his show Apostrophes, after the Proust Questionnaire. The ten questions Lipton asks are:
- What is your favorite word?
- What is your least favorite word?
- What turns you on?
- What turns you off?
- What sound or noise do you love?
- What sound or noise do you hate?
- What is your favorite curse word?
- What profession other than your own would you like to attempt?
- What profession would you not like to do?
- If heaven exists, what would you like to hear God say when you arrive at the pearly gates?