Science Fiction Archives
Back to the Future is a 1985 American science-fiction comedy film. It was directed by Robert Zemeckis, written by Zemeckis and Bob Gale, produced by Steven Spielberg, and starred Michael J. Fox, Christopher Lloyd, Lea Thompson, Crispin Glover and Thomas F. Wilson. The film tells the story of Marty McFly, a teenager who is accidentally sent back in time from 1985 to 1955. He meets his future-parents in high school and accidentally attracts his future-mother’s romantic interest. Marty must repair the damage to history by causing his parents-to-be to fall in love, and with the help of scientist Dr. Emmett “Doc” Brown, he must find a way to return to 1985.
Zemeckis and Gale wrote the script after Gale mused upon whether he would have befriended his father if they attended school together. Various film studios rejected the script until the financial success of Zemeckis’ Romancing the Stone, after which the project was set up at Universal Pictures with Spielberg as an executive producer. Eric Stoltz was originally cast as Marty McFly when Michael J. Fox was busy filming the TV series Family Ties. However, during filming, Stoltz and the filmmakers decided that he was miscast, so Fox was approached again and he managed to work out a timetable in which he could give enough time and commitment to both; the subsequent recasting meant the crew had to race through reshoots and post-production to complete the film for its July 3, 1985 release date.
When released, Back to the Future became the most successful film of the year, grossing more than $380 million worldwide and receiving critical acclaim. It won the Hugo Award for Best Dramatic Presentation and the Saturn Award for Best Science Fiction Film, as well as Academy Awards, and Golden Globe nominations among others. Ronald Reagan even quoted the film in his 1986 State of the Union Address. In 2007, the Library of Congress selected it for preservation in the National Film Registry, and in June 2008 the American Film Institute’s special AFI’s 10 Top 10 acknowledged the film as the 10th-best film in the science fiction genre. The film marked the beginning of a franchise, with sequels Back to the Future Part II and Back to the Future Part III released in 1989 and 1990, as well as an animated series, theme park ride, and several video games.
Michael J. Fox had always been the first choice for Marty, but he was unavailable due to scheduling conflicts with his work on “Family Ties” (1982). As “Family Ties” co-star Meredith Baxter was pregnant at the time, Fox was carrying a lot more of the show than usual. The show’s producer Gary David Goldberg simply couldn’t afford to let Fox go. Zemeckis and Gale then cast Eric Stoltz as Marty based on his performance in Mask (1985). After four weeks of filming Robert Zemeckis and Bob Gale felt that Stoltz wasn’t right for the part and Stoltz agreed. By this stage, Baxter was back fully on the show and Goldberg agreed to let Fox go off to make the film. Fox worked out a schedule to fulfill his commitment to both projects. Every day during production, he drove straight to the movie set after taping of the show was finished every day and averaged about five hours of sleep. The bulk of the production was filmed from 6pm to 6am, with the daylight scenes filmed on weekends. Reshooting Stoltz’s scenes added $3 million dollars to the budget.
Musician Mark Campbell did all of Michael J. Fox’s singing. He’s credited as “Marty McFly”.
Michael J. Fox was allowed by the producer of “Family Ties” (1982) to film this movie on the condition that he kept his full schedule on the TV show – meaning no write-outs or missing episodes – and filmed most of the movie at night. He was not allowed to go on Back to the Future (1985) promotional tours.
A persistent myth is that Michael J. Fox had to learn to skateboard for the film. In fact, he was a reasonably skilled skateboarder, having ridden throughout high school. However, Per Welinder acted as a skateboarding double for the complex scenes, Per Welinder also choreographed and coordinated the skateboarding action together with Robert Schmelzer.
The “Back to the Future” series (including Back to the Future (1985), Back to the Future Part II (1989), and Back to the Future Part III (1990)) ranked at #9 on IGN’s Top 25 Movie Franchises of All Time (2006).
Was the top grossing release of 1985.
The picture of Mayor Red Thomas on the election car in 1955 is set decorator Hal Gausman.
Michael J. Fox is only ten days younger than Lea Thompson who plays his mother, and is almost three years older than his on-screen dad, Crispin Glover. This is not very surprising, since most of their scenes take place in 1955. They were cast to match their younger self’s ages.
The time machine has been through several variations. In the first draft of the screenplay the time machine was a laser device that was housed in a room. At the end of the first draft the device was attached to a refrigerator and taken to an atomic bomb test. Robert Zemeckis said in an interview that the idea was scrapped because he and Steven Spielberg did not want children to start climbing into refrigerators and getting trapped inside. (See also Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull (2008).) The Nevada desert bomb test was left out in order to reduce the budget. In the third draft of the film the time machine was a DeLorean, but in order to send Marty back to the future the vehicle had to drive the DeLorean into an atomic bomb test.
The DeLorean was deliberately selected for its general appearance and gull wing doors, in order to make it plausible that people in 1955 would presume it to be an alien spacecraft.
The script never called for Marty to repeatedly bang his head on the gull-wing door of the DeLorean; this was improvised during filming as the door mechanism became faulty.
The school that served as Hill Valley High was Whittier High School in Whittier, California just outside of Los Angeles. It’s Richard Nixon’s alma mater. Also just beyond the school is where Strickland’s home is, as seen later in Back to the Future Part II (1989). The back side of the school can be seen as Marty jogs up to the porch.
The Twin Pines Mall is, in fact, the Puente Hills Mall in City of Industry, California. Today, JCPenney is no longer an anchor there.
A marketer hoped to get a prominent placement for California Raisins somewhere in the film. He suggested putting a bowl of raisins on a table at the Enchantment Under the Sea Dance. He had also told the California Raisins board that this would do for raisins what E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial (1982) did for Reese’s Pieces. Bob Gale informed him that a bowl of raisins would photograph like a bowl of dirt. The only thing that appears in the film is Marty jumping over Red, sleeping on a bench that is advertising California Raisins.
Wendie Jo Sperber, who played Linda McFly, was in fact three years older than Lea Thompson who played her mother, and six years older than Crispin Glover who played her father.
The license plate on a car outside the band audition (which says “FOR MARY”) is a tribute to Mary T. Radford, personal assistant to second unit director Frank Marshall.
Another deleted scene shows Marty peeking in on a class in 1955 and seeing his mother cheating on a test.
When Doc Brown first sends Einstein “one minute” into the future, the time elapsed between when the DeLorean disappears and reappears is actually 1 minute 21 seconds, just as the reappearance occurred at 1:21am, and the flux capacitor required 1.21 jigowatts of electricity.
The DeLorean time machine is a licensed, registered vehicle in the state of California. While the vanity license plate used in the film says “OUTATIME”, the DeLorean’s actual license plate reads 3CZV657
The space alien gag first appeared in the screenplay’s third draft, with the primary difference being that it was to be done to Biff.
When Robert Zemeckis was trying to sell the idea of this film, one of the companies he approached was Disney, who turned it down because they thought that the story of a mother falling in love with her son (albeit by a twist of time travel) was too risqué for a film under their banner. In fact, Disney was the only company to think the first was risqué. All other companies said that the film was not risqué enough, compared to other teen comedies at the time (e.g. Fast Times at Ridgemont High (1982), Revenge of the Nerds (1984), etc).
Character name of Emmett comes from the word “time,” spelled backwards and pronounced as syllables (em-it). His middle name is “Lathrop,” which is “portal” backwards, with an extra “h” inserted in the middle.
A very brief scene was cut in-between the scenes of the McFly family dinner and Marty being woken up by Doc’s phone call. It involved Marty preparing to send his demo tape to a record company. Marty decides not to do it, and leaves the empty manila envelope on his desk. In a scene that remains in the film, he goes to breakfast with the manila envelope sealed, suggesting he decided to send it in.
The house used for Doc Brown’s home is the Gamble House at 3 Westmoreland Ave., Pasadena, California. It was the home of the Gamble family until 1966, when it was turned over to the University of Southern California. It is now a historical museum.
Canadian pop singer Corey Hart was asked to screen test for the part of Marty.
The DeLorean used in the trilogy was a 1981 DMC-12 model, with a 6-cylinder PRV (Peugeot/Renault/Volvo) engine. The base for the nuclear-reactor was made from the hubcap from a Dodge Polaris. In the 2002 Special-Edition DVD of the BTTF Trilogy, it is incorrectly stated that the DeLorean had a standard 4-cylinder engine.
C. Thomas Howell was considered to play the role of Marty McFly.
Apparently Ronald Reagan was amused by Doc Brown’s disbelief that an actor like him could become president, so much so that he had the projectionist stop and replay the scene. He also seemed to enjoy it so much that he even made a direct reference of the film in his 1986 State of the Union address: “As they said in the film Back to the Future (1985), ‘Where we’re going, we don’t need roads.’”
In the opening sequence, all of Doc’s clocks read 7:53 (25 minutes slow) except for one clock. It is on the floor next to the case of plutonium and it reads 8:20.
Alan Silvestri’s orchestra for the score of the film was the largest ever assembled at that time (85 musicians).
When Lorraine follows Marty back to Doc’s house, she and Doc exchange an awkward greeting. This marks the only on-screen dialogue that Christopher Lloyd and Lea Thompson ever have, though they have appeared together in five movies and one TV movie.
Billy Zane makes his first on-screen appearance in this film as “Match”, one of Biff’s cronies.
When Claudia Wells temporarily dropped out due to scheduling conflicts, Melora Hardin was briefly cast as Jennifer, but had to be replaced when it was discovered she was taller than Michael J. Fox.
When this movie was previewed for a test audience, Industrial Light and Magic had not completed the final DeLorean-in-flight shot, and the last several minutes of the movie were previewed in black and white. It didn’t matter, as the audience roared in approval of the final scene anyway.
Universal Pictures head Sid Sheinberg did not like the title “Back to the Future”, insisting that nobody would see a movie with “future” in the title. In a memo to Robert Zemeckis, he said that the title should be changed to “Spaceman From Pluto”, tying in with the Marty-as-alien jokes in the film, and also suggested further changes like replacing the “I’m Darth Vader from planet Vulcan” line with “I am a spaceman from Pluto!” Sheinberg was persuaded to change his mind by a response memo from Steven Spielberg, which thanked him for sending a wonderful “joke memo”, and that everyone got a kick out of it. Sheinberg, too proud to admit he was serious, gave in to letting the film retain its title.
John Lithgow, Dudley Moore and Jeff Goldblum were all considered for the role of Doc Brown.
The two red labels on the flux capacitor say “Disconnect Capacitor Drive Before Opening” (at the top) and “Shield Eyes From Light”.
When Marty pretends to be Darth Vader from the planet Vulcan, he plays a tape labeled “Van Halen” to scare George out of his sleep. It is an untitled Edward Van Halen original written for a movie called The Wild Life (1984) which featured Lea Thompson.
Voted number 7 in channel 4′s (UK) “Greatest Family Films”
The inspiration for the film largely stems from Bob Gale discovering his father’s high school yearbook and wondering whether he would have been friends with his father as a teenager. Gale also said that if he had the chance to go back in time he would really go back and see if they would have been friends.
There are only about 32 special effects shots in the entire film.
The production ultimately used three real DeLoreans.
It took three hours in make-up to turn the 23-year-old Lea Thompson into the 47-year-old Lorraine.
The “Tales From Space” comic book reappeared in at least two episodes of the television series “Oliver Beene” (2003) and in a commercial for McDonald’s Mighty Kids Meals.
Though the film Marty (1955) won the Academy Award for Best Picture in 1955, Robert Zemeckis and Bob Gale say in the DVD QandA session that they were not aware of this fact when they named their main character Marty. Both films also have a diner owner name Lou.
The lion statues in front of the Lyon Estates subdivisions were inspired by two like statues in the University City Loop in St. Louis, where writer Bob Gale grew up.
Sid Sheinberg, the head of Universal Pictures, requested many changes to be made throughout the movie. Most of these he got, such as having “Professor Brown” changed to “Doc Brown” and his chimp Shemp changed to a dog named Einstein. Marty’s mother’s name had previously been Meg and then Eileen, but Sheinberg insisted that she be named Lorraine after his wife Lorraine Gary.
Marty’s guitars used throughout the movie: – Erlewine Chiquita (“big amp” sequence) – Ibanez black Strat copy (scenes of Marty’s band performing in the 80s) – Gibson 1963 ES-345TD (Marty performing at the dance)
Doc’s phone number in 1955 is Klondike 54385. The letters “K” and “L” are both on the digit 5; thus, the number still begins with the 555- prefix, indicating a fictional number.
When the McFly family is sitting down for dinner before Marty travels back in time (early in the movie), Michael J. Fox is seen drinking a can of Pepsi. Fox was a major endorser of Pepsi in 1985, and some viewers criticized this scene as being a thinly-disguised commercial.
Christopher Lloyd based his performance as Doc Brown on a combination of physicist Albert Einstein and conductor Leopold Stokowski. Brown’s pronunciation of gigawatts as “jigowatts”, is based on the way a physicist whom Zemeckis and Gale met with for research said the word.
The main setting, 1955, is the year that Albert Einstein, the dog’s namesake, died.
When Marty is being judged at the band auditions at the beginning, the judge who stands up to say he is “just too darn loud” is Huey Lewis, whose songs, “The Power of Love” and “Back in Time” are featured on the movie’s soundtrack, and also wrote Marty’s audition song (which is a re-orchestrated version of “The Power of Love.”)
Ron Cobb was originally hired to design the DeLorean time machine but left for another project and was replaced by Andrew Probert.
Doc’s distinctive hunched-over look developed when the filmmakers realized the extreme difference in height between Christopher Lloyd and Michael J. Fox; Fox is 5′ 4½” while Lloyd is 6′ 1″. To compensate for the height difference, director Robert Zemeckis used specific blocking where the two often stood far apart at different camera depths. For close ups, Lloyd would have to hunch over to appear in frame with Fox. The same approach was used in the two sequels.
When Marty McFly leaves Doc Brown’s garage because he is late for school, co-writer Bob Gale mentioned in a commentary that the Garage was actually a flat put next to a Burger King restaurant in Burbank. As part of their agreement with Burger King, the studio wasn’t given any money from the restaurant for their cameo, but Burger King did allow the crew to film their scenes for free and allowed them to park there.
Ranked #10 on the American Film Institute’s list of the 10 greatest films in the genre “Sci-Fi” in June 2008.
When 1955 Doc Brown sees the videotape of himself explaining the need for 1.21 GW of power, he goes to an adjacent room and is seen talking to a picture frame that he refers to as “Tom”. When he returns the picture to the mantle we can see that is was Thomas A. Edison he was speaking with. To Edison’s left on the mantle are Sir Isaac Newton and Benjamin Franklin, to his right is Albert Einstein, Doc’s inspiration for time machine invention.
Executive producer Steven Spielberg initially had some reservations about hiring composer Alan Silvestri, having been unimpressed by Silvestri’s score for Romancing the Stone (1984). During a preview screening in which the film was accompanied by a temp track that only used part of Silvestri’s score, Spielberg commented to Robert Zemeckis that a particularly grand cue was ‘the sort of music the film needed’, unaware that it was indeed one of Silvestri’s cues.
The set for Hill Valley is the same one used for Gremlins (1984). Both movies were filmed in the Universal Studios backlot.
In the original script, Doc Brown and Marty sell bootleg videos in order to fund the time machine.
The man driving the jeep that Marty hangs on to at the beginning of the movie is stunt coordinator Walter Scott.
After the film’s release, body kits were made for DeLoreans to make them look like the time machine.
Leonard Nimoy was considered for the job as director before Robert Zemeckis took the job. Nimoy was unable to direct Back to the Future (1985), because he was starting work on the story for Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home (1986), another time travel movie.
On June 2, 2008 a massive fire broke out in the back-lot destroying two archive video vaults and the New York set used for Spider-Man 3 (2007), which is right across from the Hill Valley Clock tower, which was minorly scorched by the time the fire was out.
According to Marty’s supposed age of 47 (by 2015), he was born in 1968; thirteen years after his first adventure in the past.
While filming the “parking” scene with Marty and young Lorraine in the car, the production crew decided to play a practical joke at Michael J. Fox’s expense. The scene called for Fox to drink from a prop liquor bottle filled with water and do a spit take when he sees Lorraine with a cigarette. For a specific take however, the prop liquor bottle was switched for one which contained real alcohol inside. Fox, unaware of this, performed the scene and drank from the bottle, only to discover the switch after-the-fact. The full gag is featured on the “Outtakes” section of the DVD.
Christopher Lloyd always wanted to do one more movie, in which Marty and Doc Brown time-travel back to Ancient Rome.
Doc Brown refers to “jigawatts” of electricity. This is the now-obscure but once-standard pronunciation of the word “gigawatt”, one billion watts. Nowadays it is usually pronounced with a hard “g” as in “gander” and “gold”.
Ralph Macchio turned down the role of Marty McFly, thinking the movie was about “A kid, a car and plutonium pills.”
Robert Zemeckis and Bob Gale’s Oscar-nominated screenplay was actually written just after they’d made Used Cars (1980).
Another of the numerous notes sent to Robert Zemeckis and Bob Gale from Universal studio head Sid Sheinberg were to change Doc Brown’s original sidekick from a chimpanzee to a dog (Sheinberg argued that no film with a monkey in it ever made money, disregarding the recent Clint Eastwood hits Every Which Way But Loose (1978) and Any Which Way You Can (1980)).
The gas-powered struts that hold the De Lorean’s gullwing doors open would fail during the course of filming a take, so crew members had to be on stand-by with hairdryers to warm them up to stop the doors from drooping.
From the day the film wrapped to the day it was released was a mere 9 and a half weeks, an unprecedentedly short lead time for a major movie release.
Biff Tanen is named in homage to Ned Tanen, one-time head of Universal, who threw Bob Gale and Robert Zemeckis’s script for I Wanna Hold Your Hand (1978) on the floor in a heated meeting, accusing it of being anti-Semitic. Despite the fact that Bob Gale is Jewish.
Writers Bob Gale and Robert Zemeckis actually received a fan letter from John DeLorean after the film’s release, thanking them for using his car in the movie.
Despite Marty and Jennifer crediting Doc as the origin of the repeated line “If you put your mind to it, you can accomplish anything” (Jennifer claims it is something he always says), Doc never says the line once in any of the Back to the Future movies.
Christopher Cundey’s scenes as Lorraine’s Classmate was deleted from the final print.
While it was planned to use the date, November 5th in the film, which happens to be Bob Gale’s birthday as well as Mary Steenburgen’s, interestingly enough, based on accurate calenders, November 12, 1955 actually did occur on Saturday.
The “present day” date that the initial time travel occurs on is October 26, 1985. However, the film actually debuted *before* that date (the US premiere was July 5, 1985). This means that, from the film’s perspective, audiences who saw the film during its initial release in some markets (US, Australia, West Germany, and Italy) were actually seeing the “future” — which is ironic considering the film’s subject.
Lea Thompson was cast as Lorraine McFly because she had acted opposite Eric Stoltz, the original actor cast as Marty, in The Wild Life (1984).
Producer Neil Canton offered the role of Doc Brown to Christopher Lloyd after having worked together on The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the 8th Dimension (1984). Lloyd originally turned it down, but changed his mind after his wife convinced him to take the role. He improvised some of his lines.
J.J. Cohen originally considered for the role of Biff after Eric Stoltz was cast as Marty. He was replaced by Thomas F. Wilson because Cohen was considered not physically imposing enough next to the six-foot-tall Stoltz. Cohen was cast as one of Biff’s gang. According to Bob Gale, had Michael J. Fox been cast from the beginning, Cohen would have probably won the part because he was much taller than the five-foot-four Fox.
The film was almost titled “Spaceman from Pluto”.
A Texaco gas station is shown in both 1955 and 1985. Interestingly, Christopher Lloyd’s maternal grandfather was one of the founders of the Texaco oil company.
The 1985 version of Doc’s home is the garage that Marty and Doc hide the DeLorean in in 1955. In the opening scene an article shows that the mansion burned down years before, either for insurance money or due to an explosive experiment. The presence of the commercial development also implies that Doc sold the land surrounding the house for more money to fund his project. After all, he does state later that it took “many years and his entire family fortune” to build the time machine.
Alan Silvestri’s musical score first appears 18 minutes into the movie.
In the entire Back To The Future trilogy, the “present” date is October 26, 1985 (2015 is the future, 1885 and 1955 are the past). Exactly 25 years later on October 26, 2010 the entire Back To The Future trilogy was released on Blu-ray in a 25th Anniversary Edition.
The donning of a Burger King uniform by Marty’s brother, Dave, may have been a tribute to Lea Thompson’s early acting gigs as a Burger King spokesperson.
From November 5, 2010 to November 12, 2010 week-long events were planned to celebrate the 25th anniversary that was for the fans and by the fans. The web page that hosted this was weregoingback.com. Since the ending of the events, the web page will be devoted to the pictures and videos taken during the course of that week.
On November 10th, 2010, Bob Gale received a plaque from the principal of Whitter High School, aka Hill Valley High School in dedication of the film. This plaque can be seen by the students of the school near the front end of the building stating that the Back To The Future film had been shot there.
On November 12, 2010 the Hollywood Methodist Church, where the Enchantment Under The Sea dance was filmed, was opened for the fans along with J.J. Cohen, Claudia Wells, Jeffrey Weissman, Bob Gale, Courtney Gains and a few other members of the cast and crew.
The owner of the home where the tree that George Mcfly dangles from is a small time producer who does documentaries and biographies. Just recently he put together a fifteen minute documentary on the tree on Bushnell Avenue that was used in the film, which featured never before seen footage.
On November 5, 2010, a large number of fans gathered at the Puente Hills Mall to kick off a week long series of events to celebrate the 25th anniversary of Back To The Future. It was here that the city mayor declared October 26, 2010 officially Back To The Future Day for the city.
Doc’s van says, “Dr. E. Brown Enterprises 24 Hr. Scientific Services”.
According to the documentary on the Blu-ray, the two cat sculptures standing beside the clock were originally created for the film Cat People (1982).
Steven Spielberg gives a nod to ‘Stanley Kubrick’ in the first few minutes of the film. When Marty is first over at Doc’s house looking for him and doesn’t find him, he hooks up his guitar to Doc’s electrical equipment. The first dial he turns up is labeled CRM 114, which Kubrick used as a reference throughout many of his films.
After the dog travels into the future, Doc compares his watch to Einstein’s watch to show the difference. Physicist Albert Einstein described a stationary clock versus a moving one in order to illustrate Relativity (the latter clock moving more slowly).
The comic book “Tales from Space” pays homage to EC Comics, a controversial and influential line of 1950s comics. If you look carefully at the cover of the comic you can see the EC logo in the upper left. Although there was no “Tales from Space” by EC (Their science fiction titles were “Weird Science” and “Weird Fantasy”), there was a comic entitled “Tales from the Crypt.” Robert Zemeckis is a fan of the now defunct EC and served as an executive producer of “Tales from the Crypt” (1989).
After 1955 Doc Brown scoffs at the notion of Ronald Reagan becoming the President, he says “I suppose Jack Benny is the Secretary of the Treasury!” This is a reference to Benny’s stage/screen persona as a “tightwad” with money.
According to Bob Gale, on October 26th, 1985, a group of people showed up at the mall used to film the Twin Pines Mall location to see if Marty would arrive in the DeLorean. He, of course, did not.
During Doc’s demo of the time machine, just before he is about to leave for the future, he tells Marty “I’ll get to see who wins the next twenty-five World Series.” At the time the scene was written and shot, no one was thinking there would be a sequel, let alone one where the hook of Part II would be Marty wanting to get a hold of a “sports almanac” so he could bet on games.
According to ‘Michael J. Fox’ on the updated DVD/Blu-Ray interviews, the interior of the DeLorean was so tight due to the added props, that every time he had to shift gears, he would repeatedly hit his forearm on the handle that turns on the time circuits and he would also rap his knuckles hard against the time display board. If you pay attention during the car chase with the terrorists, you can hear these hits every time Marty uses the shifter.
According to Bob Gale, when the movie was shown recently on broadcast television, the lines about “Lybian terrorists” were altered for “political correctness”. This is similar to the issues Gale and Robert Zemeckis had with a terrorist scene in Used Cars (1980) (See IMDb trivia on that film).
As of 2011, the Hill Valley clock tower set has been through three different fires. The first one happened shortly after the finishing of Back To The Future Part II where all the original surrounding buildings burned to the ground by lightning. The second fire in 1994 almost destroyed the structure. In 2008, the fire that destroyed the nearby King Kong ride/set, along with two archive vaults and the New York street, slightly scorched the tower.
The name ‘D. Jones’ appears on the side of the manure truck. This is a reference to the film’s unit production manager Dennis E. Jones.
According to Bob Gale, in one of the early drafts of the script, Marty’s original last name was McDermott, but it was thought to have too many syllables. It was Robert Zemeckis who then came up with naming him McFly.
The set for Kingston Falls in Gremlins (1984) is the same one used for Back to the Future (1985). Both movies were filmed in the Universal Studios backlot.
Deborah Harmon, star of Used Cars (1980) newscaster on TV in the opening sequence.
Huey Lewis A judge in the Battle of the bands tryouts.
The Incredible 2-Headed Transplant is a 1971 science-fiction horror film directed by Anthony Lanza. It is the earlier companion to the 1972 blaxpoitation film The Thing with Two Heads. The film is in the public domain.
In 1971, American International Pictures theatrically distributed this film on a double bill with Scream and Scream Again (1970) starring Vincent Price and Christopher Lee.
The Thing with Two Heads is a 1972 film, starring Rosey Grier, Ray Milland and Don Marshall directed by Lee Frost, and written by Wes Bishop. Frost and Bishop also had parts in the movie.
In the movie, Milland plays Dr. Maxwell Kirshner, a dying, wealthy racist who demands that his head be transplanted onto a healthy body. As his health rapidly deteriorates, there remains only one alternative: graft Kirshner’s head onto the body of a black death row inmate, Jack Moss, played by Grier. Things will never be the same for Kirshner…
Arachnophobia is a 1990 American comedy horror film directed by Frank Marshall and starring Jeff Daniels and John Goodman. It is about deadly spiders infesting a small California town, with the title referring to the fear of spiders. It was the very first film released by Hollywood Pictures.
The first film released under Disney’s Hollywood Pictures label, which was also created so the studio could release more adult-oriented fare.
Canaima is the name of the avenging spirit of the Guyana Indians. It’s also the name the area in Venezuela where the beginning of the movie was filmed and home to the world’s tallest waterfall, Angel Falls.
The movie was filmed in Cambria, California. All the school scenes were filmed at Coast Union High School.
“Family Ties” (1982) is playing on the TV when spiders start crawling over the screen.
The small spiders used in the film were Avondale spiders (Delena Cancerides), a harmless species from New Zealand that were provided by Landcare Research in Auckland. Despite their fierce appearance, this spider is docile member of the crab-spider family and are, in fact, harmless to humans. They were not allowed back in New Zealand for quarantine reasons. The giant “spider” used in the film was a species of a bird-eating tarantula, which attains an 8″ legspan or more. Those types of tarantula are not easy to handle and can give a nasty bite. The spiders in the film were managed and handled by famed entomologist Steven R. Kutcher.
The sound of a spider being crushed by John Goodman was made by the foley artists crushing a couple of potato chips.
The Fly is a 1958 American science-fiction horror film, directed by Kurt Neumann. The screenplay was written by James Clavell (his first), from the short story “The Fly” by George Langelaan. It was followed by two sequels, Return of the Fly and Curse of the Fly.
It was remade under the same title in 1986, and was slated to be remade again in 2006. The latter remake has been delayed.
Michael Rennie was offered the title role but declined it because his head would be covered thru most of the picture.
“The Fly” was originally a story by George Langelaan that appeared in the June 1957 issue of Playboy magazine.
The lab set cost only $28,000 and included some surplus Army equipment.
This was such a success at the box office that it became one of Fox’s biggest hits of 1958.
James Clavell’s first script was faithful to George Langelaan’s original story, but Fox executives demanded a happier ending.
Patricia Owens has a real fear of insects. Director Kurt Neumann used this by not allowing her to see the makeup until the “unmasking’ scene.
That is actually David Hedison, not a stuntman, inside the Fly makeup. Filming lasted mid March-mid April 1958.
This became the biggest box office hit for director Kurt Neumann, but he never knew it. He died a month after the premiere, and only a week before it went into general release.
Uncredited producer Robert L. Lippert was able to make additional money from the success of this film. His own company, Regal Films, produced Space Master X-7 (1958) which 20th Century Fox used as the cofeature for this film.
In the scene where the fly with Andre Delambre’s head and arm is caught in the spider’s web, a small animatronic figure with a moving head and arm was used in the spiderweb as a reference for actors Vincent Price and Herbert Marshall. Vincent Price later remembered that filming the scene required multiple takes, because each time he and Herbert Marshall looked at the animatronic figure, with its human head and insect body, they would burst out laughing.
Part of the laboratory set was Emerac, the computer from Fox’s production Desk Set (1957).
It Conquered the World is a 1956 science fiction film about an alien from Venus trying to take over the world with the help of a disillusioned human scientist. It was directed by Roger Corman, written by Lou Rusoff (with uncredited contributions by Charles B. Griffith), and starred Peter Graves, Lee van Cleef, Beverly Garland, and Sally Fraser.
Although usually referred to as a being a “cucumber” or another vegetable by fans, “Beluah” is actually supposed to be a fungus.
Paul Blaisdell, who designed, built and portrayed the alien in the movie, affectionately dubbed his creation “Beluah”. It is easily the most popular monster of Blaisdell’s oeuvre among his fans as well.
Originally, “Beluah” was built as a squat, flat-topped creature, but when it turned out not to be imposing enough – and to actually be shorter than leading lady Beverly Garland – a tapering conical top was added to it.
Paul Blaisdell’s friend Bob Burns restored the costume when it came into his possession long after Blaisdell’s death. The photographs of it in his book “It Came From Bob’s Basement” reveal it to be beet-red in color.
Shot in five days.
Composer and musician Frank Zappa made a tribute to “It Conquered the World” in his album, “Roxy & Elsewhere” (1973). In the introduction of the song “Cheepnis”, Zappa tells the audience that he loves monster movies. “And the cheaper they are, the better they are”. Frank Zappa describes “It Conquered the World” as a perfect example of monster movie with its alien with an “inverted ice-cream cone head with fangs”. Frank describes one special scene when the “monster came out the cavern” and he could see the technicians pushing the creature over the rail. “This is cheepnis”, Mr Zappa concludes before playing the song.
Peggie Castle was originally cast as Joan Nelson, but had to pull out of the project shortly before filming began. She was replaced by Sally Fraser, who did it as a favor for director Roger Corman, a friend, even though she was five months pregnant at the time.
In 1956, American International released this film on a double bill with The She-Creature (1956).
The little bat-like creatures that the monster uses to control people would later be re-used in Corman’s next film The Undead (1957).
Among the numerous names the crew gave the monster were the Tee-Pee Terror, The Cucumber Critter, and the Carrot Monster.
The Swarm is a 1978 American disaster film about a killer bee invasion of Texas. It was adapted from a novel of the same name by Arthur Herzog.
The director was Irwin Allen, and the cast included Michael Caine, Katharine Ross, Richard Widmark, Richard Chamberlain, Olivia de Havilland, Ben Johnson, Lee Grant, Patty Duke, Slim Pickens, Bradford Dillman, Fred MacMurray (in his final movie appearance), and Henry Fonda. Despite negative reviews and being a box office failure, the film was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Costume Design and retained a cult following for Jerry Goldsmith’s score to the film, its all-star cast, as well as being part of the horror film genre.
Managing the bees was a huge challenge on this film. The production went through several bee keepers before finding one who solved the problem by hiring people to clip the stingers off of the bees. This was accomplished in a refrigerated trailer, as bees are incapacitated by freezing temperatures. This operation, which went on all summer, made the bees safer for use around the cast and crew, although a few stingers were missed. But, as it turned out, some lingering venom got into the air on the sound stages and produced some allergic reactions. In addition, everyone had little yellow dots on their clothing – bee poop, probably.
The was the last film for Fred MacMurray.
Irwin Allen was so disheartened by the amount of money he lost on The Swarm (1978) that he forbade any of his employees to ever mention it again. He even cut short an interview when a question was asked about it.
Michael Caine stated in an interview that during filming he thought the little yellow spots left by the bees on his clothing was honey so he began to eat it, unaware he was eating bee poop.
When Felix is bringing flowers to Maureen, he passes by a movie theatre which is playing The Towering Inferno (1974), which was also produced by Irwin Allen.
This film is listed among The 100 Worst Movies Ever Made in Golden Raspberry Award founder John Wilson’s book THE OFFICIAL RAZZIE® MOVIE GUIDE.
Note character actor José Ferrer appeared in this film as the director of a nuclear power plant as a favor to Producer/Director Irwin Allen. Ferrer did his scenes all in one morning by just walking across the Warner Bros. lot from the soundstage where he was filming The Return of Captain Nemo (1978) (TV), a CBS mini-series that he was also making for Allen. The theatrical release is known as The Amazing Captain Nemo (1978).
Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea is an American science fiction film, produced and directed by Irwin Allen, released by 20th Century Fox in 1961. The story was written by Irwin Allen and Charles Bennett. Walter Pidgeon starred as Admiral Harriman Nelson, with Robert Sterling as Captain Lee Crane. The supporting cast included Joan Fontaine, Barbara Eden, Michael Ansara, and Peter Lorre. The theme song was sung by Frankie Avalon, who also appeared in the film.
Some of the sub’s equipment and sound effects were recycled from The Fly (1958).
The model and interior sets of the submarine cost producer Irwin Allen $400,000, so he was naturally quite keen to get some further use out of them. Since the film was a hit, he was able to convince ABC-TV to turn it into a series, which became the longest-running one he ever had.
Director’s Trademark: The voice-over for the newscasts that crew members watch, detailing the burning forests, etc., is done by director Irwin Allen.
On a Congressional tour of the submarine “Seaview”, Admiral Nelson mentions that there are things on the sub that even Jules Verne had not imagined. The next person they meet is Commodore Lucius Emery played by Peter Lorre who was Professor Pierre Arronax’s assistant Conseil on the Walt Disney version of the Jules Verne classic 20000 Leagues Under the Sea (1954) about a 19th century submarine.
Escape from New York is a 1981 science fiction action film directed and scored by John Carpenter. He also co-wrote the screenplay with Nick Castle. The film is set in the near future in a crime-ridden United States that has converted Manhattan Island in New York City into a maximum security prison. Ex-soldier and legendary fugitive “Snake” Plissken (Kurt Russell) is given 24 hours to find the President of the United States, who has been captured by inmates after Air Force One crashed on the island.
Carpenter originally wrote the film in the mid-1970s as a reaction to the Watergate scandal, but no studio wanted to make it because Carpenter proved unable to articulate just how this film could relate to the Watergate scandal. After the success of Halloween, he had enough influence to get the film made and shot most of it in St. Louis, Missouri, where significant portions of the city were used in place of New York City.
The film’s total budget was estimated to be USD $6 million. It was a commercial hit, grossing over $50 million worldwide. It has since developed its own cult following, particularly around the anti-hero Plissken. A sequel, Escape from L.A., was released in 1996.
The studio wanted Tommy Lee Jones for the role of Snake Plissken. The studio didn’t think Kurt Russell was right for the role because of his prior work.
The wire-frame computer graphics on the display screens in the glider were not actually computer-generated, as computers capable of 3D wire-frame imaging were too expensive when the film was made. To generate the “wire-frame” images, special effects designers built a model of the city, painted it black, attached bright white tape to the model buildings in an orderly grid, and moved a camera through the model city.
A scene in the beginning of the film where Snake and an accomplice rob a high-security bank, leading to his arrest and sentence to New York, was in the original script but was cut before release.
The name “Snake Plissken” was changed to “Hyena” for the Italian release, and “Cobra” in Korea.
Director Trademark: [John Carpenter] [names] minor characters Cronenberg, Romero, Taylor named after fellow sci-fi/horror directors David Cronenberg, George A. Romero and Don Taylor.
The night street scenes were filmed in East St. Louis, Illinois, which had entire neighborhoods burned out in 1976 during a massive urban fire. Across the Mississippi River from the more prosperous St. Louis, Missouri, East St. Louis was filled with old buildings that look seedy and run-down.
The only scene actually filmed in New York was the opening dolly shot, which follows a character past the Statue of Liberty.
The shot where the helicopter flies over Central Park was actually filmed in San Fernando, California. The buildings in the background were matte-paintings by future director James Cameron.
The fight scene in the boxing ring was filmed in the abandoned grand hall of St. Louis Union Station several years before the building’s renovation. While the hall was extremely dilapidated, viewers can make out the stained glass window representing New York, St. Louis, and San Francisco in the background. This window is still above the front entry into the grand hall from Market Street.
The original negative was considered lost, but later found by the current owner of the film: MGM. It was subsequently used to create new elements for the special edition DVD.
Donald Pleasence came up with a backstory to explain how he became President with his British accent, but John Carpenter didn’t use it.
Ox Baker struck Kurt Russell very heavily with some of his blows during the boxing ring fight scene. Russell had finally had enough and and asked Baker to take it easy, tapping him in the groin to let him know he was serious. Baker then calmed down.
Bill Bartell was the pilot in the glider sequence at the start of the movie. He sold the glider to the production company, and then flew it. The glider used had the designation N2927B and was a Romanian-made IS28-B2.
The skeletal weapons being carried by the police in the beginning of the movie are M16A1 rifles with the ventilated hand-guards and gas tubes removed. In reality, though the rifles can fire without the handguards, they are unable to fire with the gas tube removed. Cocking manually, the M16 can fire single shots even with the gas tube removed, but not in semi-automatic, full automatic or three-shot burst modes.
Joe Unger is listed in the end credits as playing the character of Taylor, although his scenes (the bank robbery/escape prologue) were deleted; however, his name remains in the ending credits.
Kurt Russell’s then-wife Season Hubley had just given birth to their son Boston Russell prior to doing this film. ‘The Girl in the Chock Full O’Nuts’ was her first role after Boston’s birth.
Isaac Hayes’s ’77 Cadillac Fleetwood sedan with the fender-mounted chandeliers is the first art car in a feature film.
“Everyone’s Coming To New York” is the song being sung at the stage show where Snake first meets Cabbie. The lyrics are as follows: Shoot a cop/With a gun/The Big Apple is plenty of fun/Stab a priest/With a fork/And you’ll spend your vacation in New York/Rob a bank/Take a truck/You can get here by stealing a buck/This is bliss/It’s a lark/Honey, everyone’s coming to New York!/No more Yankees/Strike the word from your ears/Play the roulette/There’s no more opera at the Met/This is hell/This is fate/But now this is your home and it’s great/So rejoice/Pop a cork/Honey, everyone’s coming to New York!
The final credit is a reference to a strip club and the dancers across the river from St Louis.
The studio also wanted Charles Bronson for the role of Snake Plissken but John Carpenter refused on the grounds that he was too old.
The original German one-sheet poster prominently misspells Snake’s last name as “Plessken”.
The entire crew was plagued by persistent mosquitoes during a very hot and sticky St Louis summer.
The President’s downed plane was an old Convair 580 bought from an airplane graveyard in Tucson, Arizona. The plane was carved up into 3 separate pieces and trucked into the film’s St Louis locations in the dead of night as they didn’t have the requisite paperwork.
The production design department would get their props by taking several dump trucks to the local garbage landfill sites and filling them up with junk like broken refrigerators and car shells.
The manhole covers in the film were all made out of wood. Real ones would have been far too heavy for the actors.
Snake Plissken’s eyepatch was suggested by Kurt Russell.
Donald Pleasence drew on his own wartime experiences as a prisoner of war for his performance as the imprisoned President.
Avco Embassy approached John Carpenter after the success of Halloween (1978) and The Fog (1980) to make a film based on a novel that they had acquired titled “The Philadelphia Experiment”. When Carpenter got stuck on that project, he proposed instead his idea for “Escape from New York”. Avco liked the idea and green-lit the project almost immediately.
The model of the city set was repainted and reused for Blade Runner (1982).
Director of photography Dean Cundey used a special lens – new at the time – to extract the maximum amount of light from night time shoots.
The film’s budget of $7 million was the largest that John Carpenter had worked with up to that point.
John Carpenter and his crew convinced St. Louis authorities to shut off the electricity for ten blocks at night.
John Carpenter purchased the Old Chain of Rocks Bridge in St Louis for $1 from the government and then returned it to them for the same amount after filming was completed.
Co-writer Nick Castle came up with the idea for the Cabbie character and also the film’s ending.
John Carpenter originally wrote the film in the mid-’70s as a reaction to the Watergate scandal, but no studio wanted to make it because it was deemed to be too dark and too violent. That all changed after the success of Halloween (1978).
Maggie’s character was written with Adrienne Barbeau in mind.
Kurt Russell has stated that this is his favorite of all his films, and Snake Plissken is his favorite of his characters.
The opening narration is not, as some reported, provided by an uncredited Jamie Lee Curtis. The computer voice in the opening and in the first prison scene is producer Debra Hill.
The idea of being put a wig on at one point of the film was improvised by Donald Pleasence on the set.
Nick Nolte and Jeff Bridges were both approached to play “”Snake” Plissken”, but were uninterested. Kris Kristofferson was considered as a possible candidate for the lead also, but was not approached due to the failure of Heaven’s Gate (1980).
This was the first film to be shot on Liberty Island beneath the Statue of Liberty.
Infamous for bad movie retitling, the German dub of the movie is known as “Die Klapperschlange” (The Rattlesnake). Snake has a cobra tattooed on his abdomen.