The '80s was an era that was a true golden age for movies and television – and no one can deny that. This was the era where television legends like Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Thundercats, and more made their debuts, after all. And, on the movie side, we got to see now-classic films like The Lost Boys, The Toxic Avenger, as well as Bill And Ted’s Most Excellent Adventure.
But, as with just about any major pop culture phenomenon, these things did start small, and they often had pretty quirky stories behind them...or just things that we forgot happened in the series. Though you might think you know these '80s cult classics and the cherished moments they boast, chances are that even the biggest superfans might not know these little-known facts.
15 The ThunderCats Pilot Was Kind Of Insane And Had Them Naked In Multiple Scenes
Like most '80s pilots, the ThunderCats pilot basically explained the premise and backstory of the show. And, this is totally normal, right? Well, not quite, once you realize how bizarre the pilot actually was. The pilot starts off with Lion-O’s protector, Jawa, destroying Planet Thundera by putting a dangerous sword into a volcano. Lion-O was 12 when he was put into suspended animation and set off into a spaceship with the rest of the ThunderCat crew.
So, first off, the mentor that Lion-O had actually had destroyed the last planet they lived on. Then, when they reach Third Earth (which is actually just our planet, by the way), they all woke up nude. Moreover, Lion-O came in for a real shock, because he aged about 20 years in the time he traveled in space. The only reason they ever wore clothes on the show was because Jawa’s ghost told them to don “protective gear” to live on Earth.
Oh, and yes, you do see the ThunderCats naked in the pilot. It goes there...
14 Mad Max’s Famous Interceptor Car Was Only Saved By Accident
After the first Mad Max movie was shot, all of the cars that were used for it were supposed to get destroyed in a scrap heap. One anonymous person had gotten the news about the Interceptor’s looming fate of doom, and actually went out of their way to save the car from getting compacted. This saved one of the most iconic cars in the Mad Max franchise, and it ended up paying off big time.
When Mad Max 2 was being planned, the movie’s creators had gotten wind of the Interceptor’s survival and went nuts. They ended up tracking down the person who had saved the Interceptor from getting destroyed, and bought the car back from him. Nowadays, it’s safe to say that Interceptor is worth quite a lot of money. Makes you wonder how much money the other cars would have been worth if people would have remembered the phrase “movie memorabilia” when deciding what to do with the leftover cars.
Oh, and to put things in perspective, Mad Max’s first movie budget and shoot time was insanely small. The entire movie only cost $350,000 to make, and took a grand total of 12 weeks to film. Impressive, no? Well yes, and what’s even more impressive is that the creators of the film also got people to work in exchange for beer, too.
13 The Original Labyrinth Script Was Completely Different
Most superfans of Labyrinth know that both Michael Jackson and Sting were also heavily considered candidates for the role of Jareth, the goblin king. That role, of course, ended up going to David Bowie. What people don’t realize is that the script had a major rewrite shortly before it was filmed – and had they gone with the original, Labyrinth would have been a totally different movie.
In the original script, Sarah calls Jareth a “miserable creep” at the end of the film and punches him in the jaw. Then, she kicks him in the shin. Jareth, in a totally unsexy and oddly Nice Guy ™ move, shrinks into a goblin and whines that “No one cares what I want.”
Needless to say, the original script would have ruined the movie...and the fandom...and the fantasies I had about dating Jareth...
12 Molly Ringwald Basically Called The Shots On The Breakfast Club
Molly Ringwald was extremely influential over John Hughes, often to the point that she acted as a muse and co-director to the movie. She had actually been originally given the role of Clare, but convinced him to cast her as Allison. (A wise choice, Molly!)
She also had called the shots on a scene with one actress who was supposed to be cast as a gym teacher by the name of Robin. Apparently, something happened behind the scenes, and Ringwald told Hughes to cut that small scene. Hughes agreed. Casting director Jackie Burch explained, “That was devastating for that actress, but she went on to direct movies. Behind the scenes, Molly had John’s ear.”
Judd Nelson, who played Bender, also had his brushes with Ringwald’s alleged wrath. Since he stayed in character, he often made mean taunts about his castmates – including Molly. He almost got fired because of it.
11 The Lost Boys Was Inspired By Goonies, And Ended Up Inspiring A Major Hit TV Show
The original idea behind this classic vampire movie was that the vampires were supposed to be boys that never aged because they were vampires – ergo, the Lost Boys. One producer even called the idea “Goonies go vampire.” But, instead of that, they ended up choosing to stick with older, sexier vampires. As history has shown us, sexy vampires are a good match with Hollywood box offices, so it was a smart call on their part.
Speaking of sexy vampires, most fans might have noticed that Spike from Buffy The Vampire Slayer looks like he could have been a Lost Boy. This isn’t a coincidence. Joss Whedon explained it all in an interview with Entertainment Weekly: “There's a little Billy Idol, a little Kiefer Sutherland in The Lost Boys, and every guy in a black coat.”
10 Ferris Bueller’s Day Off Was Done In Lightning Quick Time, With A Lot Of Real Elements
Ferris Bueller’s Day Off is considered to be one of John Hughes’ most famous films, and has even been archived in the National Film Registry. The entire thing was pitched with a single sentence: “I want to do this movie about a kid who takes a day off from school and and that’s all I know so far.” Paramount Films producers had a great relationship with Hughes, so they gave him the green light for the movie.
Hughes wrote the script in “about 4 days,” and much of what made the movie so great was because there was a lot of genuine stuff going on in front of the camera. Many of the most famous lines were ad libbed, along with Ben Stein’s entire scene. He had hired a married couple by the name of Lyman Ward and Cindy Pickett to play Ferris’s parents, too. Oh, and it was also filmed near where Hughes went to high school. So, if the film seemed real to you, that’s why.
9 Gremlins And Goonies Take Place In The Same Universe
Most people don’t notice this little detail in Goonies, but it’s worth looking back at when you watch the movie next time around. The police officer that thought Chunk was pranking him casually mentions some “creatures that multiply when you pour water on them.” That small, subtle line was a nod to the mogwais featured in Gremlins and also basically confirmed that the two movies happened in the same universe.
It’s really not surprising, though. Spielberg had acted as an executive producer on both, and Chris Columbus helped write both films as well. Heck, there was even one actor that appeared in both movies – Corey Feldman. Police in that universe don’t seem to realize how many crazy adventures they could have been a part of, do they?
8 Paul Reubens Really Struggled To Get Tim Burton To Direct Pee Wee’s Big Adventure
Paul Reubens, the man behind the Pee Wee, had a huge number of directors he wanted to work with on the making of his movie. Unfortunately, studio brass did not like his suggestions, and wrangled up a director for him. Pee Wee just wouldn’t have it and put his foot down. He refused to agree to a director just to churn out a movie. The obvious issue was that he didn’t have much in terms of trying to find a new director himself.
After seeing a short film called Frankenweenie, he fell in love with the work of a very young, very talented Tim Burton.
Long story short, Reubens ended up enlisting the help of his friend Shelley Duvall, who had been in a Burton film, to introduce the two together. Tim Burton’s surreal way of directing meshed perfectly with Reubens, and the two of them ended up working together for this smash hit movie. Not only did this film end up being a collaboration between Pee Wee and Burton, but it also ended up being one of the first movies where Tim Burton and Danny Elfman worked together as well.
As a way of saying “thanks” to Burton, Pee Wee gave him a cameo in the movie. Can you spot a young Tim Burton in there?
7 Alex’s Character In Flashdance May Have Been Inspired By Real Exotic Dancers From Toronto
According to a very in-depth Buzzfeed article, two exotic dancers for a Toronto bar called Gimlets had described how Flashdance writer Tom Hedley came into their bar, took pictures of them, and apparently claimed he had molded the character of Alex off one of them. The duo said that he had done the shots as a way to help sell the script, and while this may sound like hearsay, it may actually not be.
The studio had actually paid both dancers $2,300 for their life stories, so there’s definite reason to think that Hedley may have actually been legitimately inspired by the crazy lives of exotic dancers. What’s really amazing about this is that one of the dancers, a woman by the name of Maureen Marder, actually did work a construction job during the day. So yes, Alex is very much a real person.
6 The Most Iconic Flashdance Song Was Actually Meant For Another '80s Film
Nothing quite made people’s eyes light up in theatres like seeing Alex dancing to the classic song “Maniac.” The song is inextricably linked to the movie in a way that very few musical numbers ever will be. Could you believe that this cherished song almost belonged to a horror movie? Yep, the song “Maniac,” almost belonged to the horror movie by the same name.
The original lyrics of the song weren’t as cute as the ones in Flashdance, though. According to Michael Sembello and Dennis Matkosky, the original lyrics involved the line “He’s a maniac, maniac that’s for sure / He will kill your cat and nail him to the door.”
However, the jumpy-happy beat of the song didn’t really mesh with the horror movie it was slated to be in. So, they changed the lyrics and put it in Flashdance. It was a great move. The soundtrack was a smash hit, and sold a whopping 6 million copies.
5 The Transformers Animated Movie Was Orson Welles' Last Film
Orson Welles was, at one point, one of the biggest names in Hollywood. He was known for his role in Citizen Kane in the 1940s, as well as the role he played in hoax-via-radio, “War of the Worlds.” He may have been one of the most established people on the Transformers film bill, but that’s not saying that the other actors were no-names. Leonard Nimoy voiced Galvatron, and Judd Nelson was Hot Rod.
Despite the fact that the movie did have a lot of celebrity names, Welles was really not very happy about it. He had actually taken the role in order to finance other movies that would have been more up to par with his acting reputation. In fact, there was even a point where Welles had muttered something about how he was “just playing a toy.”
4 Adventures In Babysitting Almost Didn’t Happen
Adventures In Babysitting was a movie that most people remember as being part of Disney’s Touchstone productions – as well as it being a smash hit. Can you believe that it almost didn’t happen? Originally, producers Debra Hall and Lynda Obst had approached Paramount Pictures with the idea for the movie. The producers said that the only way they’d accept the movie was if Molly Ringwald was involved in it. Paramount even went so far as to say there’s “no commercial appeal” without her in it.
Obst and Hall didn’t believe this was the case, and left the office. They ended up going to Touchstone later on, who greenlit the film and allowed them to cast Elizabeth Shue as the lead character. Others who auditioned for the role included Valerie Bertinelli, but she was rejected because she came off as “mean and angry” during the audition.
3 Bill And Ted Went Through A Lot Of Changes During The Making Of Their Excellent Adventure
The original concept of Bill and Ted came from a trio of comedians – Bill, Ted, and Bob, who would sit down and talk about historical figures without actually knowing a darned thing about them. Movie producers picked them up, but ended up losing interest in Bob. So, they got stuck with Bill and Ted.
The script also underwent quite a few changes as well. Originally, their time machine was going to be a 1969 Chevy Van, but the producers of the film felt that people would feel it was a rip-off of Back To The Future. So, they switched it to a phone booth, despite Dr. Who having his TARDIS.
At one point, the two also were supposed to go back in time to accidentally cause a major tragedy in history, but that was dropped. Word has it that the original script also had a lot more historical figures that they would have picked up, but that some figures had to be dropped due to the size of the phone booth.
Though that would have been awesome, hearing the original ending to the script would make most of us wince. In the original script, Bill and Ted give their report in class, while historical figures tell them their views on the subject. (Boring, much?)
2 The Dark Crystal Was The Beginning Of A Very Happy Life For Illustrator Brian Froud
The Dark Crystal was Brian Froud’s breakout movie – all thanks to Jim Henson. Henson noticed the illustrator’s unique artwork and immediately hired him for the production of the film. Froud was a perfect fit for the role of co-artist and co-designer on set, and actually had gone so far as to have lobster dinners just so he could get ideas for creatures by gluing the lobster shells together. The entire movie was an amalgamation of Froud and Henson’s imaginations, and it was a smash hit.
But, it wasn’t only Hollywood clout that Froud gained from the Dark Crystal. He actually met his future wife, Wendy Midner, on set. Midner, a puppeteer and puppet designer, also later on got another major claim to fame. She was the one who sculpted and later helped commandeer Yoda’s puppet for The Empire Strikes Back.
1 Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Started Off As An Inside Joke
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles started off as a cult classic comic book during the 80s’, and then turned into a favorite children’s cartoon and movie franchise. The quartet of crime-fighting mutant turtles actually got their beginnings when Kevin Eastman and Peter Laird were wrapping up work on their Fugitoid comic in 1983.
Eastman, on a whim, drew a turtle holding a nunchuck and wearing a facemask. Then he showed it to Laird, who immediately burst out into laughter. Laird then quickly drew another turtle. Eastman later recalled, “Then, of course, I had to top his sketch, so I drew four of them standing in a dramatic pose. That was in pencil, but Pete inked it, and added 'teenage mutant' to the 'ninja turtle' part. We were just pissing our pants that night, to be honest. 'This is the dumbest thing ever.’”
Yes, TMNT creator Kevin Eastman had, at one point, called the turtles the “dumbest thing ever.” But, after a while, the duo realized that there was something interesting there. They eventually fleshed out a backstory involving four pet turtles being hit with radioactive waste from a truck accident, and a little rat called “Splinter” finding them. And, the rest is history!