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18 Fun Facts About Mallrats

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Mallrats, which was released 20 years ago today, is the story of T.S. and Brodie, two heartbroken young men who spend an eventful day at the mall trying to win back their girlfriends. The film, which was writer-director Kevin Smith’s follow-up to the indie hit Clerks, was a critical and commercial failure back in 1995. But over time, Smith devotees and casual fans alike began to see the film from a new perspective—as if they were looking at a Magic Eye display—and reconsider its individual charms, eventually turning the film into a bona fide cult classic (and one that's about to get a sequel). Here are some facts about the movie to read at the cookie stand, which is definitely not part of the food court.

1. THE STUDIO SOLD IT AS A "SMART PORKY’S."

Universal was so confident in the film’s prospects that they referred to it as a more intelligent version of the classic 1981 high school movie and had plans for a Mallrats sequel before the original film was even released. They canceled those plans after Mallrats earned just over $2.1 million in theaters.

2. UNIVERSAL WANTED ETHAN HAWKE TO STAR.

In a 1994 interview with Entertainment Weekly, Smith explained that "The studio has given us a list of stars they think should be in the movie." At the top of that list was Ethan Hawke, who Smith called "the most overworked actor in America. I’d like to give him a rest.”

3. JENNY MCCARTHY AND JENNIFER LOVE HEWITT AUDITIONED.

Jenny McCarthy claimed that Smith "didn't even wait until I was out of the office to start laughing" about her audition. Love Hewitt tried as well, but didn’t make the cut. William Atherton was offered the role of Brandi’s father, Mr. Svenning; he opted to act in Bio-Dome instead.

4. PARKER POSEY INITIALLY HAD THE ROLE OF RENE.

Joey Lauren Adams had believed for one year that she was going to get the role of Rene, Brodie's girlfriend, until her agent informed her that her best friend, Parker Posey, had gotten the part. Awkwardly, Posey was standing right next to Adams when she got the news: "Tears streaming down my face, I hugged and congratulated her, as visions of arsenic danced in my head," said Adams. Eventually, Posey had to drop out due to a scheduling conflict, and Shannen Doherty got the part instead. Adams read for—and won—the part of Gwen.

5. BEN AFFLECK WANTED TO STAR IN THE MOVIE.

He settled for playing Shannon, despite not wanting to play another bad guy like he had in Dazed and Confused. "Part of me was like, 'God, am I going to be relegated to throwing people into their lockers for the rest of my career?,'" Affleck told Backstage.

6. JASON LEE WAS BETTER KNOWN AS A SKATEBOARDER, NOT AN ACTOR.

Jason Lee had been casually dabbling in acting while skateboarding, appearing in commercials and in small films before winning the part of Brodie. He decided to quit the sport after Mallrats.

7. SETH GREEN WAS USED BY THE STUDIO AS INSURANCE IN CASE JASON MEWES COULDN’T CUT IT.

Even though Jason Mewes had played Jay in Clerks, Gramercy Pictures (a Universal subsidiary) forced him to audition against Seth Green, then kept Green available just in case they found it necessary to replace Mewes during filming. The studio also wouldn't pay for Mewes' air travel, his hotel room, or for rehearsals. After studio heads witnessed his first day of work, they left satisfied with his performance.

8. IT WAS SHOT IN A MINNESOTA MALL.

Smith wanted to shoot the film in his home state of New Jersey, but Gramercy said no. Eden Prairie Center Mall in Eden Prairie, Minnesota ended up hosting the cast and crew. The state's big tax break and the fact that the mall was only operating at half capacity made it the right financial and practical choice.

9. A NEARLY 30-MINUTE OPENING SCENE AT A GOVERNOR’S BALL WAS CUT.

In the original version of the film, T.S. accidentally shot the Governor of New Jersey at a function hosted by Mr. Svenning, which helped explain Brandi’s father’s hatred of T.S. throughout the film. Preview audiences weren’t fans of the scene, so it was taken out of the theatrical cut. The scene became available for public consumption for the first time when it was added as an extra on the 10th anniversary DVD.

10. SMITH GAVE A SHOUT-OUT TO HIS HIGH SCHOOL.

Brodie wore a Henry Hudson Regional High School shirt in the beginning of the movie. Smith and Jeff Anderson (Randal from the Clerks films) both graduated from Henry Hudson in 1988.

11. THERE ARE CONFLICTING STORIES ON SMITH’S DIRECTING TECHNIQUES.

Throughout rehearsals, Smith gave line readings to the actors, speaking their lines so that they could simply repeat them with his tone and inflection, as well as physically demonstrating how an actor should move around at times. Joey Lauren Adams found it shocking. Conversely, Smith apparently relaxed when it came time to film. Michael Rooker (Mr. Svenning) remembered Smith playing on his Game Boy instead of giving his movie his full attention.

12. WILLAM CALLING SHANNEN DOHERTY "BRENDA" WASN’T IN THE SCRIPT.

Ethan Suplee (Willam) and Doherty (Rene) completed a take of the scene before Smith walked over to Suplee and whispered to him to call her Brenda (as in Brenda Walsh, Doherty’s character from Beverly Hills, 90210). Suplee said he believed at the time she didn’t know it was coming, then later heard she might have.

13. DOHERTY’S FANS ALMOST CAUSED A RIOT.

Doherty let her bodyguard take the night off and went on a shopping excursion to a different Minnesota mall with Joey Lauren Adams and the movie’s costume designer. A group of fans flocked to Urban Outfitters, forcing an employee to lock the store’s front doors. Some fans kept chasing Doherty and her two companions in the parking lot before they managed to escape in their car.

14. WALTER FLANAGAN REALLY DID HAVE A DOG.

Walter Flanagan played Fan Boy. He purchased a tiny puppy during filming, named it Brodie, and let it run around the closed mall and its empty parking lot, where she ran around so fast that she “looked like a little hockey puck.” That is where Jay’s comment that someone was running “faster than Walt Flanagan’s dog” came from. "It was such an inside joke, I guess Kevin just decided to keep it," Flanagan said.

15. A SCENE MEANT FOR MALLRATS WAS DEEMED "TOO RACY" BY THE STUDIO.

“The Jaws scene,” where the characters compare scars, was originally in the Mallrats script. Smith shot it for Chasing Amy instead.

16. ETHAN SUPLEE DIDN’T SEE THE SAILBOAT.

Suplee never saw a sailboat, or a schooner, in the Magic Eye picture he spent the bulk of the movie staring at. Apparently, there never was one in the picture to begin with.

17. KEVIN SMITH APOLOGIZED FOR THE FILM.

He jokingly apologized for making Mallrats at the Independent Spirit Awards. On his office’s answering machine after the movie's poor showing in theaters, Lee recalled that Smith greeted callers by saying, “Hey, this is Kevin. We can't get to the phone right now. We're too busy licking our wounds.”

18. A SEQUEL IS GOING TO BE FILMED NEXT YEAR.

Mallbrats will be shot at the Exton Square Mall in Exton, Pennsylvania. All of the original cast is slated to return.

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The Mystery Science Theater 3000 Turkey Day Marathon Is Back
Shout! Factory
Shout! Factory

For many fans, Mystery Science Theater 3000 is as beloved a Thanksgiving tradition as mashed potatoes and gravy (except funnier). It seems appropriate, given that the show celebrates the turkeys of the movie world. And that it made its debut on Thanksgiving Day in 1988 (on KTMA, a local station in Minneapolis). In 1991, to celebrate its third anniversary, Comedy Central hosted a Thanksgiving Day marathon of the series—and in the more than 25 years since, that tradition has continued.

Beginning at 12 p.m. ET on Thursday, Shout! Factory will host yet another Mystery Science Theater 3000 Turkey Day marathon, hosted by series creator Joel Hodgson and stars Jonah Ray and Felicia Day. Taking place online at ShoutFactoryTV.com, or via the Shout! Factory TV app on Apple TV, Roku, Amazon Fire and select smart TVs, the trio will share six classic MST3K episodes that have never been screened as part of a Shout! Factory Turkey Day Marathon. Here’s hoping your favorite episode makes it (cough, Hobgoblins, cough.)

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11 Bite-Sized Facts About Cannibal! The Musical
Troma Entertainment
Troma Entertainment

Back in their film school days, the creators of South Park made a twisted tribute to Rogers and Hammerstein. Cannibal! The Musical is (very) loosely based on the life of Alfred "Alferd" Packer, an American prospector who resorted to eating his travel companions in the harsh winter of 1874. Below, you’ll find a buffet of bite-sized facts about this weirdly upbeat black comedy. Bon appétit!

1. IT ALL STARTED WITH A GAG TRAILER.

In 1992, Trey Parker was studying film at the University of Colorado, Boulder, where pretty much everyone knows all about the legend of Alfred "Alferd" Packer. Indeed, when a new restaurant opened up on campus in 1968, the student body chose to name it after this famous man-eater. The restaurant’s slogan? “Have a friend for lunch.” As a joke, Parker rounded up some of his fellow film majors and spent three days shooting a phony trailer for a nonexistent movie called Alferd Packer: The Musical. Included in the ensemble was Matt Stone, with whom Parker would go on to create South Park.

Once the Alferd Packer promo was finished, those who worked on it weren’t sure if they could turn this concept into a feature-length picture. Fortunately, the trailer was a huge hit. “People thought it was really funny,” Parker told The Denver Post, “so we went around … and said, ‘So do you want to invest?’” Thanks (for the most part) to donations from a few CU grads with wealthy parents, Parker and his co-stars amassed a $100,000 budget.

2. LIANE THE HORSE WAS NAMED AFTER TREY PARKER’S EX-FIANCÉE.

At age 21, Parker was all set to marry his high school sweetheart. “We had plane tickets, the dress was bought, the church was paid for,” Parker shared on the DVD commentary. Then, about a month before the wedding, he caught his bride-to-be with another man. Devastated, Parker broke off the engagement and came up with an unusual way to get even. “I really wrote this movie for her,” he said.

A major character in Cannibal is Liane, Packer’s beloved horse, who leaves him for another rider. The two-timing equine was named after Parker’s former fiancée. Some artistic license was taken here, as there’s no proof that the real Packer ever owned a horse named Liane—or that he ever wistfully sang about being on top of her.

3. AN AVANT-GARDE LEGEND WAS CAST IN A MINOR ROLE.

World-renowned for his experimental filmmaking, the late Stan Brakhage taught off and on at the University of Colorado, where he met Parker and Stone. The two convinced him to appear in Cannibal! as George Noon’s father, who gets about two minutes’ worth of screen time.

4. PARKER’S DAD WAS IN IT, TOO.

Just like Stan Marsh’s dad in South Park, Trey Parker’s father, Randy, is a geologist. In Cannibal! The Musical, he portrays the Breckenridge judge who sentences Packer (played by Trey) to death.

5. “SHPADOINKLE” WAS MEANT AS A FILLER WORD.

In addition to penning the Cannibal! script, Parker also wrote the film’s musical numbers. The first of these is “Shpadoinkle Day,” an offbeat tribute to “Oh, What a Beautiful Morning” from Rodgers & Hammerstein’s Oklahoma! Parker knew that the first verse had to include a positive, three-syllable word, but couldn’t think of any that fit. So he used the made-up term “Shpadoinkle” to plug the gap until he could come up with an alternative. However, the creative team liked “shpadoinkle” so much that it stayed put and became one of Cannibal’s running jokes.

6. THEY SHOT IN THE COURTROOM IN WHICH PACKER WAS ACTUALLY TRIED.

On April 6, 1883, Packer was put on trial at the Hinsdale County Courthouse in Lake City, Colorado. Over the next few days, he admitted to dining on two of his dead travel companions—one of whom he supposedly killed in self-defense (the other died of natural causes). Packer was found guilty of murder, but avoided the hangman’s noose by fighting for a second trial, which took place 30 miles away in Gunnison. This time, he was charged with five counts of voluntary manslaughter and sentenced to 40 years in prison. However, while Packer languished behind bars, public opinion slowly turned in the cannibal’s favor. Under near-constant pressure from The Denver Post, Governor Charles S. Thomas pardoned Packer in 1901.

More than 90 years later, Parker filmed the trial scenes of Cannibal! The Musical at the still-standing Hinsdale County Courthouse. About halfway through the movie, the judge delivers a big speech in which he sentences Packer to death. His on-screen monologue was copied word-for-word from the court transcript of that 1883 Lake City trial.

7. AS THE MINERS SING “THAT’S ALL I’M ASKING FOR,” YOU CAN SEE PARKER MOUTH THE WORD “CUT.”

It goes by fast, but you can see Parker call "cut" to end the shot at the 3:06 mark in the clip above.

8. PARKER USED A PSEUDONYM FOR THE OPENING CREDITS.

Parker billed himself as "Juan Schwartz" in the cast of Cannibal because, according to the movie's website, "Trey doesn't like seeing one person's name plastered all over a movie's credits." Since he is properly credited as writer and director, he likely felt the additional acting credit was a bit too much. Incidentally, Packer called himself “John Shwartze” while evading the law before his arrest.

9. A FEW SONGS WERE DELETED.

The original cut of Cannibal! The Musical ran for two and a half hours, but thanks to some major-league editing, the runtime was reduced to a breezy 93 minutes. “There were fights about that from the get-go, but I give credit to Trey for being the toughest critic,” producer Jason McHugh told MovieMaker Magazine. “He had the maturity to know that a musical comedy about cannibals can’t be two and a half hours long.”

In the streamlining process, two musical numbers got the axe. The first was a quick little dirge called “Don’t Be Stupid,” wherein some nameless miners tell Packer’s group to postpone their journey until springtime. The other was “I’m Shatterproof,” a rap/funk song that Packer, hardened by his recent ordeals, delivers during a bar fight. Also deleted was a reprise of “When I Was On Top of You.”

10. COMEDY CENTRAL WOULDN’T BROADCAST IT.

Cannibal! was distributed by Troma Entertainment, an independent production company best known for creating The Toxic Avenger series. When South Park began to emerge as a major player on cable TV, Troma’s co-founder, Lloyd Kaufman, assumed that Comedy Central would jump at the chance to air some of Parker and Stone’s earlier work. Instead, the channel flatly refused to air Cannibal.

Kaufman was sent a rejection letter from Comedy Central, which read: “Thank you for submitting and re-submitting Cannibal! The Musical, but it is simply not up to our standards for broadcasting.” Troma forwarded a copy of this dispatch to Parker. Today, it’s prominently displayed in his office—at Comedy Central!

11. IT HAS BEEN TURNED INTO A STAGE MUSICAL ON MANY OCCASIONS.

Can’t get tickets to The Book of Mormon? Perhaps you can catch a live reenactment of Cannibal! The Musical instead. Since 1998, the movie has been seen more than 60 stage adaptations. There’s no “official” version of the theatrical show. As such, acting troupes that might be interested in performing Cannibal! have to write their own scripts based on the original movie. 

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