'Animal House's' flunk-outs reunite 25 years later
By ANTHONY BREZNICAN
THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
Maybe you were the beer-belching omnivore Bluto, the fun-loving yet responsible Katy, the smooth ladies' man Otter, the cackling anarchist D-Day or the geeky romantic Pinto.
And you probably remember someone like the priggish ROTC horseman Neidermeyer, or the snooty Southern belle Babs.
Worst-case scenario: You crossed paths with the blockheaded authoritarian Dean Wormer, who declares, "The time has come for someone to put his foot down. And that foot ... is me."
In honor of the film's 25th anniversary, Universal Studios Home Video today is releasing a new DVD package set -- subtitled "Double Secret Probation Edition," a reference to Dean Wormer's covert fraternity house punishment. The disc also includes a mockumentary about the characters as adults.
The studio hosted a reunion on Hollywood Boulevard for the cast and crew last week to re-create the comedy's parade climax, complete with a cake float, a live elephant, cheerleaders and a performance of "Shout" by Otis Day and the Knights.
As the castmates reminisced about the antics a quarter-century ago that led to one of Hollywood's most enduring comedies, most agreed that "Animal House" became popular because people could see parts of themselves in its array of lovers, losers, jocks, preppies and wannabes.
The most sympathetic of them all was Flounder, said the now-slim Stephen Furst -- who played the portly, shy newbie. "He was the guy who just wants to be like everybody else and just isn't quite as cool as everybody else. But it was great because the only requirement of being a Delta was wanting to belong."
The Deltas, of course, were the fictional fraternity that put the "animal" in "Animal House," a group of relentless partiers who sacrificed their dignity, grade-point averages and millions of brain cells on an altar dedicated to loose women, booze and bad taste.
When the low-budget film debuted in summer of 1978, most of the people involved in its creation expected it to vanish quickly.
"I don't think any of us had a clue," said Karen Allen, who went on to "Raiders of the Lost Ark" and "Starman" after making her breakthrough as Katy in "Animal House." "When I did the film it was me thinking, 'Well, I could get a job in a bookstore or I could do this film to support myself for the next couple of months."'
"Animal House," promoted under the banner of the National Lampoon comedy magazine, went on to earn $141.6 million at the box office and inspired countless imitators, including the short-lived TV series "Delta House," and a legion of oft-repeated catch phrases.
Twisted Sister used Neidermeyer's barked insult "You are all worthless and weak!" in its song "We're Not Gonna Take It," and the title comes from John Belushi's rallying cry as Bluto.
Scenes of that same drunken speech, which includes the remark: "Was it over when the Germans bombed Pearl Harbor? ... NO!" has become a staple on the scoreboard screen of any sports stadium where the hometown team is losing.
"Animal House" did not invent the schoolhouse comedy but it took the format to new highs by sinking to new lows.
"The movie came out and complemented the culture, which was in a very anti-authoritarian state of mind," said Peter Riegert, who played the moral-equivocator Boon. "Vietnam had just ended three years earlier and the culture was changing rapidly, rapidly, rapidly and rejecting its former skin, its more conservative skin. That's what the movie was about. It's about the rejection of uniformed foolish authority."
Among the movies that followed the snobs vs. slobs format were 1980's "Caddyshack," written by "Animal House" co-scribes Harold Ramis and Douglas Kenney, 1982's "Porky's" and its sequels, and more recently the "American Pie" movies and last year's over-the-hill frat comedy "Old School," with Will Ferrell, Luke Wilson and Vince Vaughn.
Ferrell said he and his co-stars were happy that critics equated their film with the "Animal House" tradition. "We aspired to try to be that," the former "Saturday Night Live" star said. "That was definitely a movie that we had as an all-time favorite."
Riegert said he's not sure how younger viewers, weaned on a film diet of extreme gross-out gags, will react to "Animal House" nowadays. "I imagine a lot of young kids would look at this film and say, 'What's the big deal?"' he said.
But John Vernon, who played the stentorian cuckold Wormer, said he's sure the comedy's popularity will endure -- particularly among college graduates. "Whether they actually went through something like that or not," he said, "they wish they had."
WHERE ARE THEY NOW?
The following is a real-life and reel-life reunion with some of the gang from 1978's "Animal House." Details on the fictional characters come from the movie and extra features on the new 25th anniversary DVD "Animal House: Double Secret Probation Edition."
Actor: Stephen Furst.
Character: Kent "Flounder" Dorfman.
Where's Furst? Has dropped much of his signature weight in recent years and has appeared on the TV shows "St. Elsewhere" and "Babylon 5."
Where's Flounder? The beanie-wearing pledge is now a plaid-jacketed sensitivity trainer who says he lost weight by injecting himself with the urine of pregnant women.
Actor: Tom Hulce
Character: Larry "Pinto" Kroger
Where's Tom? Played the title character in "Amadeus" and voiced Quasimodo in Disney's animated "Hunchback of Notre Dame" and its sequel. Has lived in Seattle for the past 10 years.
Where's Pinto? The na´ve pledge became editor of National Lampoon magazine.
Actor: Mark Metcalf.
Character: Doug Neidermeyer.
Where's Mark? He played The Master vampire on "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" and now owns a restaurant in Mequon, Wis., called Libby Montana.
Where's Neidermeyer? Killed by his own troops in Vietnam.
Actor: Martha Smith.
Character: Barbara "Babs" Jansen.
Where's Martha? Went on to co-star as Francine Desmond in the TV series "Scarecrow and Mrs. King."
Where's Babs? Still working as a tour guide at Universal Studios in Hollywood.
Actor: Tim Matheson.
Character: Eric "Otter"' Stratton
Where's Tim? Regularly co-starred as the vice president on NBC's "The West Wing" and played the father of a wild college student in 2002's "National Lampoon's Van Wilder."
Where's Otter? Gynecologist to the stars in Beverly Hills.
Actor: John Belushi.
Character: John "Bluto" Blutarsky.
Where's John? Died in 1982 from a drug overdose.
Where's Bluto? The guitar-smashing window-peeper is now president of the United States of America.
Actor: Peter Riegert.
Character: Donald "Boon" Schoenstein.
Where's Peter? Went on to notable film roles in "Local Hero" (1983) and "Crossing Delancey" (1988). More recently appeared in "The Sopranos" as a state assemblyman and had a small role as a lawyer in 2000's "Traffic."
Where's Boon? A documentarian who has (repeatedly) married and divorced his college sweetheart Katy.
Actor: John Vernon.
Character: Dean Wormer.
Where's John? Mostly retired now, Vernon does voice work for cartoons and commercials.
Where's Dean Wormer? Near senile, the former college administrator can only be roused by a mention of the troublemaking Delta frathouse.
Actor: Karen Allen.
Character: Katy Fuller.
Where's Karen? The actress from "Raiders of the Lost Ark" and "Starman" had a small role in 2000's "The Perfect Storm" but has appeared mainly on stage in recent years, such as the 2001 production of "Speaking in Tongues" in New York.
Where's Katy? Married her college sweetheart "Boon" Schoenstein. Then divorced him. Then remarried him. Then divorced him. Remarried ... etc.
Actor: Kevin Bacon.
Character: Chip Miller.
Where's Kevin? The star of "Footloose," "Apollo 13" and "Tremors" next appears in the Clint Eastwood-directed "Mystic River."
Where's Chip? The "Thank-you-sir, may-I-have-another?" pledge has become a preacher after seeing Jesus in his beef and broccoli dinner at a Chinese restaurant.
Actor: Bruce McGill.
Character: Daniel Simpson "D-Day" Day.
Where's Bruce? The bulky character actor played the conservative Southern senator with a gay dog in "Legally Blonde 2: Red, White and Blonde" and has a supporting role in the upcoming "Matchstick Men."
Where's D-Day? On the run from Interpol for various unspecified offenses.