Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Revenge of the Nerds (1984)

Stan: Those nerds are a threat to our way of life.

Nerds Gilbert and Lewis enter their freshman year at college.  Pretty cool, right?  High school is behind them, as well as the bullying, teasing, and pranks against them.  Right?  Wrong!  Jocks, who hate nerds, are still around.  And they plan to make their presence known in a cruel sort of way... by accidentally burning down their house.  Problems don't end there, though, when Lewis develops a crush on Betty.  Betty just happens to be the girlfriend of the football quarterback.  Backed by their new friends including "Booger" and Pointdexter, they vow to take a stand.  Soon, the tables are turned.  But in whose favor?

"Revenge of the Nerds" made its broad U.S. release on July 20, 1984.  Costing an estimated $8 million to make, it grossed over $40.9 million in just the U.S. alone.  The fourth film directed by Jeff Kanew, the story came from Tim Metcalfe, Miguel Tejada-Flores, and Steve Zacharias and Jeff Buhai who wrote the screenplay.

One would think the story Tim, Miguel, Steve and Jeff brought to us were from personal accounts, whether they themselves were nerds or jocks or simply bystanders.  Incredibly enough, the story in "Revenge of the Nerds" rings true to some degree or another, even almost thirty years later.

The film starred Robert Carradine (Lewis), Anthony Edwards (Gilbert), Timothy Busfield (Pointdexter), and Curtis Armstrong (Booger).  It also co-starred Ted McGinley (Stan), Julia Montgomery (Betty), Michelle Meyrink (Judy), Larry B. Scott (Lamar), Brian Tochi (Toshiro), and Andrew Cassese (Wormser).

Here are some bits of trivia you might not have known regarding the film...

1.  When Jeff Kanew was interviewed by the producers, they asked what kind of movie he thought he could make given the material. He responded, "One I would be embarrassed to have my name on." They hired him immediately.

2.  Director Jeff Kanew can be heard sneering the word "nerds" in the opening credits theme song. 

3.  On the documentary for the Special Edition DVD, it was revealed that many of the actors (including Robert Carradine, Curtis Armstrong, and Timothy Busfield) initially did not want to do the film but gave in because the movie either paid well or it was a chance for some of them, who were struggling actors, to get into a movie. 

4.  Robert Carradine moved to the University of Arizona two weeks before shooting to get into character as Lewis Skolnick. He brought only his "nerd" clothes to wear. He couldn't bring himself to leave his hotel room for three days.

5.  Because the script didn't have much of a plot (as the interviewed actors and filmmakers have stated), many of the actors were allowed to ad-lib scenes. Timothy Busfield recalls that he ad-libbed Poindexter's painful yell when watching the video of the girls dorm.  Robert Carradine remembered that in the scene where he "serviced" Betty in the fun house, his line was originally "All jocks think about is sports. Ever since we're ten, all we nerds ever think about is sex." He didn't like the line and dropped the "Ever since we're ten" part.  Curtis Armstrong recalls that it was by pure chance that Booger and Takashi ended up bunked next to each other in the gym and they improvised the running gag of them playing cards and Armstrong's line "What the fruck is a frush?" 

6.  These things were ad-libbed: The Coach's "S**t, we forgot to practice"; Takashi's "salad" comment in the locker room scene; Gable's "Do you know karate?"; The Dean saying he has allergies; Poindexter's painful scream during the Pi-watching scene; Poindexter's date grabbing his crotch during the party; Lewis' "We love you when you're mad!"

7.  Although Booger is arguably Curtis Armstrong's most famous character, he initially didn't want the part. According to his comments on the Panty Raid DVD edition, he originally read for the part of Gilbert, but was later asked to read for Booger. He recalls telling fellow actor Bronson Pinchot that if he was offered the role of Booger, "They could just fucking forget it. I'm not picking my nose on camera for anyone." 

8.  Jami Gertz, Joan Cusack, and Sarah Jessica Parker all auditioned for the role of Judy.

9.  Larry B. Scott showed up for his audition in character as Lamar, with glitter in his hair. According to him, the casting directors "couldn't stop laughing."  He also claimed he had to over-compensate for his masculinity because people really thought he was gay.

10.  Lewis' name is a play on the name of the famous American physical chemist, Gilbert N. Lewis; who studied acids, bases and photo-phosphorescence. He is credited with coining the term "photon" and was the first to produce pure deuterium oxide, otherwise known as "heavy water".

11.  The University of Arizona agreed to let the filmmakers shoot at the campus, then revoked permission after reading the script. Eventually they changed their minds and let them shoot. Many students were used as extras. 

12.  The exterior shots of the Pi sorority house were actually the Phi Delta Theta fraternity house at the University of Arizona. Donald Gibb is a brother of Phi Delta Theta from the University of New Mexico, which helped securing permission from the chapter. 

13.  Robert Carradine says that when he read the script, Lewis' laugh was described as a "goose honk" he wasn't sure how to do it. But by chance, the first scenes shot were of his father dropping Lewis and Gilbert off at college. When actor James Cromwell (credited as "Jamie Cromwell in the film) did the laugh, Carradine mimicked it.

14.  Although many of the actors had reservations about appearing in a movie called "Revenge of the Nerds," they had a terrific time filming it. The actors described the filming as a "fraternity atmosphere," and frequently partied with the University of Arizona students, many of whom appear in the film as extras. 

15.  While standing in the gym in a queue for food Gilbert, Lewis and Booger have a conversation about Judy. This conversation is quoted in a song called "Computer Camp Love" by the Norwegian band Datarock. The quoted conversation is the following: "Her name is Judy/That's a nice name/Yeah she's a nice girl/Big deal/Did you get in her pants/She's not that kind of a girl booger/Why? Does she have a penis?" 

16.  The video game Wormser plays during Dean Ulich's roll call is Space Master X-7.

17.  To test the effectiveness of their "nerd" makeup and wardrobes, Robert Carradine and Anthony Edwards attended a college rush-week, when real fraternities were reviewing prospective pledges (wanna-be members). The fraternity leader of the first house took one look at them both and said, "No way!"

18.  Donald Gibb shaved his beard to get the part of Ogre. The casting directors thought it made him look too old to be a college student.

19.  Poindexter's glasses are so thick that Timothy Busfield couldn't see through them. In scenes where he moves, he is usually guided by a companion.

20.  Booger's bizarre interaction with a reclusive homeowner through a mail slot was improvised. The scene had originally called for Booger to smear snot on a rude housewife's front door. 

21.  As mentioned, Timothy Busfield ad-libbed Poindexter's painful yelp during the Pi-watching sequence. It was inspired by the sound of a former neighbor having sex. Many crew members had to run away to keep from breaking out in laughter and ruining the take, but the director can be heard snickering just before the camera cuts away to the next scene. 

22.  Lamar accidentally kicks Wormser in the face when he climbs the rope to the Pi house roof.

23.  According to an interview with Curtis Armstrong (Booger) on the Special Edition DVD, the sound that comes out of his mouth to win the belching contest is actually the sound of two camels mating.  However, it was actually the combination of a person's belch with that of a camel (added for resonance and longevity.) The man who donated his belch to the film was a studio craftsman by the name of Bill Livengood (uncredited).

24.  The drug Takashi ingests during the tricycle race is fictitious. So is Lamar's drill silencer.

25.  Lambda Lambda Lambda - the fraternity depicted in the film, would end up becoming the name of a fraternity in real life. It was founded at the University of Connecticut in 2006.

26.  The Alpha Beta party was filmed at a funeral home.

27.  Lamar's date at the party was a member of the crew. So was the burly homeowner he approaches when house hunting.

28..John Goodman's character is never referred to by name verbally by any character in the film. His name, Coach Harris, can only be seen on a door in the locker room and in the end credits.

29.  Curtis Armstrong, Michelle Meyrink and Timothy Busfield all play their own musical instruments. Timothy Busfield is not a violin player, and he was told his inept practicing would be overdubbed by a proper violinist. He was dismayed when his discordant screechings made it into the film.

30.  Robert Carradine says that he and Anthony Edwards largely improvised their speeches during the homecoming scene.

31.  A display in the background of Tri-Lambda's performance at the end is provided by a Tandy Color Computer using the Audio Spectrum Analyzer cartridge. One of the nerds carries a board with shoulder straps that has a CoCo attached to it.

32.  In Spain, the film was translated into "La revancha de los novatos" (Revenge of the Freshmans), because in that time there wasn't an official translation for the word "Nerd", until several years later.

33.  Having spawned two sequels, the only characters to appear in every film in the series are Lewis, Mr. Skolnick, Lamar, and Booger.

This was the second feature film for Timothy Busfield, Curtis Armstrong, and Ted McGinley.  Both Timothy Busfield and Donald Gibb had parts in the 1981 film, "Stripes."  Donald Gibb went on to act in several films and TV shows, also commercials -- you might remember him as one of the vikings in the Capital One credit card commercials.  Almost all of the actors and actresses in the film pursued their acting careers and are still acting today.  The only ones that decided on other careers were Michelle Meyrink and Andrew Cassese, both having acted in 10 or less productions.

Here are some picture still from the film...

Gilbert: I just wanted to say that I'm a nerd, and I'm here tonight to stand up for the rights of other nerds. I mean uh, all our lives we've been laughed at and made to feel inferior. And tonight, those bastards, they trashed our house. Why? Cause we're smart? Cause we look different? Well, we're not. I'm a nerd, and uh, I'm pretty proud of it.
Lewis: Hi, Gilbert. I'm a nerd too. I just found that out tonight. We have news for the beautiful people. There's a lot more of us than there are of you. I know there's alumni here tonight. When you went to Adams you might've been called a spazz, or a dork, or a geek. Any of you that have ever felt stepped on, left out, picked on, put down, whether you think you're a nerd or not, why don't you just come down here and join us. Okay? Come on.
Gilbert: Just join us cos uh, no-one's gonna really be free until nerd persecution ends.

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