National Lampoon’s Animal House is a 1978 American comedy film directed by John Landis and written by Harold Ramis, Douglas Kenney and Chris Miller…..which stars John Belushi, Tim Matheson, John Vernon, Verna Bloom, Thomas Hulce, Stephen Furst, and Donald Sutherland….as the film is about a misfit group of fraternity members who challenge the authority of the dean of Faber College. The film was produced by Matty Simmons of National Lampoon fame….along with Ivan Reitman for Universal Pictures. ….which was inspired by stories written by Miller and published in National Lampoon. The stories were based on Ramis’s experience in the Zeta Beta Tau fraternity at Washington University in St. Louis….as well as Miller’s Alpha Delta Phi experiences at Dartmouth College in New Hampshire….plus producer Reitman’s Delta Upsilon experiences at McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario.
Of the younger lead actors….only the 28-year-old Belushi was an established star….but even he had not yet appeared in a film….after having gained fame mainly from his television appearances on Saturday Night Live….which was starting its 3rd season in autumn 1977. Several of the actors who were cast as college students….including Tom Hulce, Karen Allen, and Kevin Bacon….were just beginning their film careers, although Matheson had appeared as one of the vigilante cops in the second Dirty Harry film, Magnum Force, released in 1973.
Upon its initial release, Animal House received generally mixed reviews from critics….but Time and Roger Ebert proclaimed it one of the year’s best….so the film that cost only $2.8 million to make….garnered a cool $141 million at the box office….making it is one of the most profitable movies in history….and that didn’t include merchandising.
The film, along with 1977’s The Kentucky Fried Movie, also directed by Landis, was largely responsible for defining and launching the gross out film genre….which became one of Hollywood’s staples. As of 2017, Animal House Is considered by many fans and critics as one of the greatest comedy films ever made. In 2001, the United States Library of Congress deemed Animal House to be “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant” ….and selected it for preservation in the National Film Registry….plus It was # 1 on Bravo’s “100 Funniest Movies”….while being # 36 on AFI’s “100 Years… 100 Laughs” list of the 100 best American comedies. In 2008, Empire magazine selected it as one of “The 500 Greatest Movies of All Time.”
The truth of the matter is that Animal House is beyond funny…..especially for any man who was a member of a “social fraternity” at any university way back when in the 1960’s and today in 2018.