Co-writer Chris Miller based the National Lampoon short stories that gave rise to the film on his experiences in the Alpha Delta Phi fraternity at Dartmouth (from which he graduated in 1962).
The movie was set to be filmed at the University of Missouri until the president of the school read the script and refused permission. It was filmed at and around the University of Oregon in Eugene instead.
The President of the University of Oregon only allowed this movie to be filmed on that campus because he decided he did not know how to read screenplays. In 1967 he had received the screenplay for a movie but had denied it permission to film there. That movie was The Graduate (1967) and he liked that movie so much that he decided he didn`t want to miss another opportunity, so he allowed Animal House (1978) to be filmed on the University of Oregon campus. But he insisted that the college`s name not be listed in the film`s credits.
The movie concludes by describing each character`s fate. Niedermeyer was "killed in Vietnam by his own troops." In director John Landis` segment of Twilight Zone: The Movie (1983), some soldiers are overheard discussing "fragging Niedermeyer."
The bass player in the band Otis Day and the Knights is then-unknown bluesman Robert Cray. Cray was instrumental in getting the musicians together that appeared as the band.
Babs becomes a tour guide at Universal Studios. The credits for this and other John Landis films contain an advertisement for a tour at Universal Studios. The ad says, "Ask for Babs." As of 1989, Universal Studios no longer honors the "Ask for Babs" promotion, which was either a discount or a free entry.
Before Donald Sutherland was brought on board, John Belushi was the highest-paid actor in the cast at $40,000.
On Delta`s fraternity banner, the motto "Ars gratia artis" can be seen. This also appears in the studio logo of MGM.
# Virtually unheard of, "Toga Parties" became all the rage in colleges all over America after the release of this film.
# Donald Sutherland was so convinced of the movie`s lack of potential, that, when offered a percent of the gross or an upfront payment of $40,000, he took the upfront payment. Had he taken the gross percentage he would have been worth an additional $30-40 million.
John Belushi`s wife, Judy Jacklin (now Judith Belushi-Pisano), is an uncredited extra in several toga party scenes.
The original house on the University of Oregon campus used for exterior shots of the Delta house is no longer standing.
The interior scenes of the Delta house were filmed in a Sigma Nu fraternity. The exterior of the Delta house was a dilapidated house from the 1800`s that was torn down in the early 90`s. The sorority house`s exterior is the real exterior of the Sigma Nu house that was used for the interior scenes.
John Landis had a budget of only $2.5 million, so to cut costs the movie was shot almost entirely on the U of O campus, including the court scene and scenes in the dean`s office (the exceptions being the road trip and the parade, which were filmed near Cottage Grove, Oregon).
Chevy Chase, Bill Murray, Brian Doyle-Murray, and Dan Aykroyd all turned down roles in the film due to prior commitments.
The University of Oregon reluctantly allowed its campus to be used and gave the crew 30 days to complete filming. This meant that the cast and crew faced six-day work weeks and completed shooting with only two days to spare.
Although the film takes place in Pennsylvania, a Tennessee flag is shown in the courtroom. This is because the set decorator was unable to find a large enough Pennsylvania flag for the scene, and the blue Oregon state flag wouldn`t work because it had "State of Oregon" text on the upper part. So the set decorator used the most generic flag he could find, which turned out to be the Tennessee state flag.
Director John Landis has stated that his original choices for the roles of Boon and Otter were Bill Murray and Chevy Chase. Neither could be signed on for the movie because of scheduling conflicts.
Film debut of Kevin Bacon.
John Belushi was flying between Eugene, Oregon and New York City twice a week in order to finish the movie, and rehearse/film for "Saturday Night Live" (1975).
The role of D-Day was written for Dan Aykroyd and based on his motor loving personality.
Principal photography was completed in 28 days.
John Belushi wanted his character to go with the others on the road trip but director John Landis refused, arguing that his character was best used sparingly.
One bit that was written in the original script but never filmed included a parade bust that was destroyed at the climax of film. The bust was of John F. Kennedy, the US President in 1962, and the gag was Kennedy`s head was punctured in the same way the real Kennedy would be shot the next year. Landis cut the idea because he felt the tone of the gag was wrong.
To celebrate the 25th anniversary of the release of this film, a parade was held down Hollywood Blvd. featuring not only cast and crew members, but recreations of parade floats used in the movie.
The Faber College football team is called the Mongols. Faber Mongols are a brand of pencil.
The full name of the Delta House changes during the movie. When the movers are taking out the contents of the frat house the name is Delta Tau Chi. Earlier in the movie it is Delta Chi Tau.
The noble brass theme heard when the Faber campus is first shown is an excerpt from Johannes Brahms` "Academic Festival Overture". This melody is based on a German student drinking song called "We have built a stately house".
In the Student Court scene, a list of Delta Tau Chi members is written on the blackboard. Writer Chris Miller`s name is one of those visible on the list. Other names include "Dick Hertz" and "Duane Wayne".
The list of names on the blackboard includes their graduation year (e.g., "Gregg Marmalard `63"). John Blutarsky`s is listed "`60, `61, `62, `63".
Chevy Chase was originally asked to play the role of Eric Stratton. The role went to Tim Matheson instead, who later starred with Chase in Fletch (1985).
The original script called for Flounder (Stephen Furst) to be admitted to the fraternity only if he told one of Larry Kroger`s (Tom Hulce) secrets. Flounder blurted out, "He`s got spots on his weenie!" Later, during the naming of the pledges, when Larry asks why his Delta name is Pinto, the entire fraternity drunkenly yells, "`Cause you got a spotted dong!"
# The front of the Deathmobile has the statue`s head of Emil Faber (the school`s founder) mounted as a hood ornament.
# In the original script, Flounder and Sissy fell asleep during the toga party; another sign that Flounder wasn`t cool.
Verna Bloom mentioned that her scene with Dean Wormer where she is drunk and he is on the phone with the mayor, was completely improvised as John Landis was not happy with the lines the scene had.
Meat Loaf was the second choice for Bluto in case John Belushi dropped out of his role.
# To get the role of Neidermeyer, Mark Metcalf lied about his ability to ride horses. After he got the role, he immediately took equestrian classes.
The toga party band`s real name is Carl Holmes and The Commanders
# John Landis sacrificed his heavy beard and much of his hair to appear in the film as a cafeteria dishwasher who catches Bluto mooching and tries, unsuccessfully, to stop him. The scene was filmed, but despite his personal sacrifices, Landis eventually also sacrificed the scene.
The original script called for a scene of competitive projectile vomiting ("booting") in the Delta House basement. Flounder was going to fail at this repeatedly. Later, after throwing up on Dean Wormer when he`s told he`s flunked out, Boon congratulates Flounder on his technique.
Stacy Grooman, Flounder`s girlfriend Sissy, was actually a student at the University of Oregon at the time the movie was filmed.
Named the #1 comedy on Bravo`s "Funniest 100 Comedies."
The movie`s line "Toga! Toga!" was voted as the #82 movie quote by the American Film Institute (out of 100).
Premiere voted this movie as one of "The 50 Greatest Comedies Of All Time" in 2006.
Niedermeyer`s line "You`re all worthless and weak, now drop and give me twenty!" was used in the Twisted Sister song "We`re Not Gonna Take It" (Mark Metcalf appears in the video). Furthermore, the music video for Twisted Sister`s “I Wanna Rock” features a high school student, clearly based on Flounder, being ridiculed by a teacher (Mark Metcalf again). At the video`s conclusion, the principal (played by Stephen Furst) sprays Metcalf in the face with seltzer water.
The characters of Stork and Hardbar were created to give Doug Kenney and Chris Miller a reason to be on set, and had come from different portions of a deleted character named Mountain. Hardbar was named after a real frat brother of Miller`s who masturbated excessively.
Karen Allen`s first movie.
More money was spent on advertising and promotion for the film than the film itself.
The Delta House actors were brought to the set five days before the Omega House actors to get into character, in an intentional effort to cause cliques to form. Barry Levinson would use this tactic years later with the principal cast of Diner (1982).
The hole John Belushi makes in the wall with the guitar is the only physical damage to the house the movie-makers made during the entire shoot. Instead of repairing it, the fraternity placed a frame around the hole with an engraved brass tag around the hole commemorating it.