This article originally appeared on eightieskids.com
National Lampoon’s Animal House was not only a box office hit, but a culturally significant film that helped define and shape the ‘gross-out’ subgenre. The movie – which follows the trouble-making Delta fraternity at the fictional Faber College – is notable for being John Belushi’s first, but it also helped further the careers of actors including Thomas Hulce, Karen Allen and Kevin Bacon.
Here are some things you probably never knew about this hilarious film.
30. The studio feared one scene would cause race riots, until Richard Pryor reassured them
One of Animal House’s most memorable scenes has to be when the Deltas walk into a roadhouse exclusively for African-Americans. However, this moment was almost scrapped entirely due to studio concerns about how audiences would respond. Director John Landis, speaking to Cigar Aficionado in 2018, said: “[Universal Pictures President Ned Tanen] was convinced that there were going to be race riots across America because of that scene.”
Thankfully, an intervention from the esteemed comedian and actor Richard Pryor meant that the scene got the green light. Landis organised a screening for Pryor, who then wrote to Universal’s Ned Tanen to assure him that the scene was OK. The comedy legend wrote, “Ned. Animal House is f*****g funny, and white people are crazy. Richard.”
29. John Belushi improvised the cafeteria scene
Amazingly, John Belushi’s performance in the cafeteria scene – in which in Bluto takes bites out of doughnuts and burgers, inhales jelly and piles up an overflowing mountain of food on his tray – was entirely improvised on the spot. Animal House director John Landis urged the camera operator to “stay with him” as Belushi began going off-script. The famous “I’m a zit” joke – which sees Bluto spit food all over a bunch of Omegas – was also made up by Belushi on the spot.
Interestingly, Landis himself was meant to make a cameo in this scene, but this was ultimately cut. In the deleted scene, Landis appears as a cafeteria dishwasher who attempts to stop Bluto from pinching so much food. Bluto then throws Landis to the ground and says “You don’t f*** with the eagles unless you know how to fly.”