THUNDER BAY – Animal House is 35 years old! The iconic ‘slob humour’ movie debuted in 1978 and caught the movie world by storm. At the Universal Studio’s sound stage in Los Angeles, the Delta House stands strong. Set in 1962 at an American college, Dean Vernon Wormer is determined to expel the entire Delta Tau Chi Fraternity, but those troublemakers have other plans for him.
The theme of the movie is a group of misfit fraternity 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 movie has likely generated more Toga Parties than one could count. The antics of John Belushi in the movie built on his growing fame at the time as an iconic slob group loner.
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 inHamilton, 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 motorcycle cops in the second Dirty Harry film, Magnum Force.
Upon its initial release, Animal House received generally mixed reviews from critics.
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.