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National Lampoon’s Animal House

Culture | October 2, 2017

National Lampoon’s Animal House was an epic comedy movie released in 1978 by Universal Pictures. The movie was a spinoff of the antics written about in the iconic National Lampoon magazine. It was actually one of many films to share the name, National Lampoon, in its title. The movie was based on stories written by Chris Miller, Harold Ramis and Ivan Reitman after drawing on their own real-life experiences in college.  

The movie was set in 1962 at the fictitious Faber College. Freshmen Larry Kroger and Kent Dorfman set out to make the most of their college experience by looking for a fraternity to join. When they came to the realization that they didn’t quite fit in with the traditional Greek life student body, they wound up seeking out a lesser thought of fraternity and became pledges, almost by default, because one of them had a brother who was a former member. They were given the new names of Pinto and Flounder and commenced running amuck.  

Animal House portrayed a group of misfit college students living in the less than desirable, Delta Tau Chi house. Not only was the house full of questionable characters, but it was the biggest eyesore on the block. The fraternity and its capers were well known by, and always on the radar of, College Dean Vernon Wormer. He declared the Delta house to be on probation and employed members of a more prestigious fraternity, Omega Theta Pi, to help him in his personal mission to collect the dirt he needed on the Delta house to shut it down once and for all. Dean Wormer’s wife was even in on the bad behavior, running around with the misfits in an attempt to get in on the fun.

Suspecting that they were being targeted, and in an attempt to avoid being shut down, the Delta brothers decided to steal test answers in order to pass their exams. What they didn’t know, was that they were being set up to steal the wrong answers and flunked the exams anyway. After this, and a series of pranks and misadventures including the infamous food fight and toga party, Dean Wormer finally had what he needed to expel the fraternity brothers and put the misfits out of business. To add insult to injury, Dean Wormer then notifies the local draft board that the brothers were now eligible to serve in the armed forces.

While they were seemingly down on their luck, the Delta brothers’ creative wheels keep turning. Bluto, a Delta brother, rallied the troops with a rambling and senseless pep talk and came up with a plan to strike back. They fashioned a car into a cake shaped float to enter in the annual homecoming parade to sabotage the event. After careful planning, and when the time was right, the float broke away from the parade and all hell broke loose!

At the conclusion of the movie, the misfits’ futures were revealed. Surprisingly, most of the Deltas grew into successful professionals and all around good citizens. Unfortunately, the previously well thought of students didn’t fare as well. The Delta brothers had gotten the last laugh!

Delta Tau Chi Fraternity Cast

  • John Belushi as John "Bluto" Blutarsky
  • Tim Matheson as Eric "Otter" Stratton
  • Peter Riegert as Donald "Boon" Schoenstein
  • Thomas Hulce as Lawrence "Pinto" Kroger
  • Stephen Furst as Kent "Flounder" Dorfman
  • Bruce McGill as Daniel Simpson "D-Day" Day
  • James Widdoes as Robert Hoover
  • Douglas Kenney as "Stork"

Omega Theta Pi Cast

  • James Daughton as Gregory "Greg" Marmalard
  • Mark Metcalf as Douglas C. Neidermeyer
  • Kevin Bacon as Chip Diller

Supporting Cast

  • John Vernon as Dean Vernon Wormer
  • Verna Bloom as Marion Wormer
  • Donald Sutherland as Professor Dave Jennings
  • Karen Allen as Katy
  • Sarah Holcomb as Clorette DePasto
  • DeWayne Jessie as Otis Day
  • Mary Louise Weller as Mandy Pepperidge
  • Martha Smith as Barbara Sue "Babs" Jansen
  • Cesare Danova as Mayor Carmine DePasto

Animal House was a film produced on a surprisingly small budget and although it received mixed reviews, it turned out to be very profitable. Over the years, the film was well celebrated and enjoyed great success, including being selected for preservation in the National Film Registry.  

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Rebeka Knott

Writer

Rebeka grew up in the 1960’s & 1970’s and has always subscribed to the theory that a positive attitude will take you far! She is a wife and mother of 3 with a fun-loving spirit, believing that family and relationships are invaluable.