“You can check your anatomy all you want, and even though there may be normal variation, when it comes right down to it, this far inside the head it all looks the same. No, no, no, don’t tug on that. You never know what it might be attached to.”
Now the movie, The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the 8th Dimension was on this day August 15, 1984. The Title of this post, “Buckaroo Banzai Against the World Crime League”. Was to be the sequel that never happened. At the end of the movie there was a Easter Egg/announce of this sequel, but nothing was ever produced sadly.
So what is Buckaroo Banzai? Well… Hmm, it’s hard to pin down really and that’s why I love it so much. Buckaroo Banzai is an adventurer, brain surgeon, rock musician. He has a crime-fighting team called the Hong Kong Cavaliers and they must stop evil alien invaders from the eighth dimension who are planning to conquer Earth. Yes you read that right! This movie is pure 80’s and nothing more. This movie is easily in my top 5 comfort movies.
Oddly enough a month or so ago I found both comics that were released with the movie. Marvel Comics made a limited two issue comic book adaptation in 1984. Shockingly enough they were in both excellent condition. Now in 2006 Moonstone Books made a small series of comic books based on Buckaroo Banzai that ran till 2009. They even made a video under the same name as the movie.
I do feel that this movie is missed/misunderstood by the younger generation. Or simply people over think it and begin to trash talk the film. To quote Hunter S. Thompson, “Buy the ticket, take the ride.”. It is what I like to call a pop corn movie. Sit there, turn off the brain and your problems and have fun.. So if you have a change to watch it, I’d say check it out. Last I saw it was on Prime, or you can order it online from anywhere on the interwebs.
Here is a list of random factoids for Buckaroo Banzai:
- Some of the dialogue used in the Jet Car sequence is taken directly from Mission Control chatter heard during a shuttle launch countdown.
- Jamie Lee Curtis played Buckaroo’s mother in a flashback, but this scene was cut. The scene is available on the recent DVD release as an optional prequel to the theatrical version, and as a special feature. Jamie Lee Curtis is visible in a photo on the dashboard of the jet car in the wide-screen version.
- John Lithgow’s dialect coach, Roberto Terminelli, was actually a tailor on the 20th Century Fox lot with a heavy Italian accent. John had Roberto speak his lines from the script into a tape recorder, which he then used to practice the accent. John then got him credit in the movie as the dialect coach for his help.
- In the original script, Buckaroo was supposed to have an archenemy named Hanoi Xan, who was never seen, but referenced to by Buckaroo and the other characters. All scenes containing dialogue regarding Xan were deleted from the film’s theatrical release, but are now available on DVD. Xan was supposed to be the mysterious head of a crime syndicate called the World Crime League, and also the man who murdered Buckaroo’s parents and wife Peggy.
- When it came time to film the end titles sequence, where Buckaroo and pals are walking around a dry Los Angeles aqueduct in step to the music, the music wasn’t ready. Composer Michael Boddicker told the film crew to use the song “Uptown Girl” by Billy Joel as a placeholder, because it was the exact same tempo. Those scenes were filmed with “Uptown Girl” blaring from a boom box tied to the back of the camera truck.
- The end of the movie invites the viewer to watch for the upcoming film “Buckaroo Banzai vs. The World Crime League”. This was the real title for a sequel that Sherwood Studios planned to make, if this film had been successful. Unfortunately, it was a box-office bomb, and Sherwood Studios went bankrupt. After its release on video and cable, however, the film became a cult favorite, much in the same way as Mad Max (1979) (which crawled from obscurity to spawn two sequels). Legal wrangling, due to the bankruptcy, prevented any other studios from picking up the sequel rights, and even many years later, MGM had to fight through a pile of red tape simply to get the OK to re-release it onto home video (DVD).
- Overall concept and several names appear to be taken from the Doc Savage pulp magazines of the 1930s and 1940s: both main characters are multi-talented surgeons, adventurers, and musicians; and both have an inner circle of sidekicks with nicknames (Renny, Ham, Monk, Long Tom, and Johnny, compared to Reno, New Jersey, Perfect Tommy, and Rawhide).
- Many names and terms were taken from Thomas Pynchon’s book “The Crying of Lot 49”, most notably the company name Yoyodyne. To this day, there is a yoyodyne.com, which serves as a fan site for the film. “Yoyodyne” itself was Pynchon’s thinly veiled reference to Rocketdyne, a major defense industry contractor and manufacturer of rocket engines, founded just after World War II to reverse-engineer German V-2 rockets, thereby also making this a further veiled reference to Pynchon’s novel “Gravity’s Rainbow”.
- On At the Movies (1982) in 1984, just before the film’s release, Gene Siskel correctly guessed that the movie would attain cult status.
- The “oscillation overthruster” device reappeared as a “spectral analyzer” on Star Trek: The Next Generation (1987) season two, episode fifteen, “Pen Pals.”
- John Lithgow appeared as Dr. Lizardo on Saturday Night Live (1975) during the opening of a show he hosted.
- The “jet car” shown in the film (reportedly a 1982 Ford F-350 pick-up truck) included an actual Cold War-era General Electric turbo jet engine that was borrowed from Northrop University in Inglewood, California.
- In one scene, Reno refers to Orson Welles as “the guy from the old wine commercials”. This is a reference to Welles’ popular television commercials in the 1970s for the Paul Masson Winery (now known as Mountain Winery), where he used the slogan “We will sell no wine before it’s time.” In the early 1980s, Welles was fired from the advertising campaign after stating on a U.S. talk show that he never drank the company’s wine.
- The U.S. DVD release includes a caption portion titled “Pinky Caruthers’ Unknown Facts”, which actually adds to the storyline and character development of the film.
- According to Peter Weller, he had a particularly tough time filming the scene without laughing where Lord John Whorfin (Dr. Lizardo) is torturing Buckaroo with electricity, because it was the first time he had heard John Lithgow perform what Weller likes to refer to as John’s “Italian/Martian accent”.
- The original director of photography of the film was Jordan Cronenweth, who famously shot Blade Runner (1982). The filmmakers specifically wanted their film to be rich in color and texture, for which Cronenweth was specifically known. However, several weeks into filming, producer David Begelman had Cronenweth replaced with Fred J. Koenekamp against the wishes of the crew, including director W.D. Richter, in order to give the film its campy, flat, visual appearance, which the filmmakers had never originally intended. Scenes shot by Cronenweth still remain in the final cut, including the famous nightclub scene featuring the line “Wherever you go, there you are.”
- During the jetcar test, the computer screen that has the graphics shows three different words: SINED, SEELED, and DELIVERED.
- The latitude and longitude recited by the technicians during the “alignment” of the Oscillation Overthruster are the coordinates of Cape Canaveral, Florida.
- According to John Lithgow and Peter Weller, Jordan Cronenweth shot almost half of the film, but was replaced at the producer’s insistence. Lithgow stated that W.D. Richter’s model for the look was the French film Diva (1981). But the producer wanted it to look more like Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981). Lithgow felt Fred J. Koenekamp brought a more two dimensional look than what Cronenweth was doing.
- New Jersey’s response to Buckaroo (He couldn’t sing, but he could dance) is a reference to screentest results from Fred Astaire’s early auditions.
- Many of the lines given by Lord John Whorfin are misquotes of actual common phrases or quotes from famous people. For instance, “Home is where you wear your hat”, as a corruption of, “Home is where you hang your hat.” His line, “Character is who you are in the dark”, is a corruption of Dwight Moody’s quote, “Character is what you think in the dark.” Other, similar lines include: “I feel so broke up, I want to go home” (from Sloop John B), “Persecute him without a quarter!” (“Pursue him without quarter!”)
- Between his escape from the insane asylum and his ransom call, the movie’s main villain, John Worfin, is not seen for more than forty-two straight minutes, over forty percent of the film’s runtime.
- Peter Weller has stated that he drew inspiration from Elia Kazan, Adam Ant, and Jacques-Yves Cousteau and combined them to help make his persona as Buckaroo Bonzai
- The kanji lettering on Buckaroo Banzai’s headband as he drives the jet car reads “seikatsu-bi”, which appears to be Japanese, but does not make sense. The first two kanji mean living or lifestyle, but the second character, “bi” (not “bei” as has been reported elsewhere) or beautiful, does not add up to coherent Japanese. It seems to suggest the “beautiful life”, but these three kanji together do not have a particular meaning in Japanese.
- Toward the end when they are sneaking around the Lectroid sleeping (bivouac) area, where one of the Lectroids goes to sound the alarm, stenciled in bright pink letters on the wall to the left of all those electrical circuit boxes is: FIND THE CROASHUE MISSING SERKIT. WIN A FREE TRIP TO PLANIT 10!.
- Buckaroo sings “Since I Don’t Have You” in the nightclub scene. Released in December 1958 by The Skyliners, the song became their greatest hit and remains an all-time doo-wop classic.
- Most of the real band playing with Buckaroo Banzai is in fact Billy Vera and The Beaters
- Ronald Lacey was dubbed by a well-known American actor.