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Columbia Pictures
Columbia Pictures

15 Nostalgic Facts About 'My Girl'

Columbia Pictures
Columbia Pictures

In My Girl, a precocious 11-year-old hypochondriac named Vada Sultenfuss (Anna Chlumsky) deals with growing up in Madison, Pennsylvania in 1972 with her father, Harry (Dan Aykroyd), the manager of the family funeral parlor. Most of the movie’s attention came from the very allergic Thomas J. Sennettplayed by sudden movie star Macaulay Culkindying towards the end of the movie. Here are some facts about the film that you can recite when it gets too quiet.

1. SCREENWRITER LAURICE ELEHWANY WAS INSPIRED BY A CLASSMATE.

Needing to write a movie script to pass her AFI film school class, Elehwany remembered a girl she knew who lived in a funeral parlor, and her previous thoughts on what it must have felt like to come from to school to a bunch of dead bodies.

2. ANNA CHLUMSKY FOUND OUT SHE GOT THE PART WHILE WORKING AS A MOPPET IN A THEATER PRODUCTION OF ANNIE.

The then 10-year-old was a veteran of commercials, plays, and industrial films. She auditioned in Chicago, then with Culkin in Los Angeles before she was informed that she had landed the career-changing role.

3. CULKIN WAS PAID $1 MILLION DOLLARS.

His price skyrocketed following the huge success of Home Alone. The movie’s marketing campaign used the slogan “Mack Is Back.”

4. CULKIN WAS ORIGINALLY IN EVEN FEWER SCENES.

Two or three more scenes were added because, according to director Howard Zieff, Culkin and Chlumsky had a “terrific synergy.”

5. CULKIN PULLED PRANKS ON CHLUMSKY.

He stuck double-sided sticky tape to the toilet seat, intending to inconvenience his and Chlumsky’s tutor, but managed to trick his co-star instead. When he wasn’t involved with toilet humor or work, Culkin played poker with the crew and listened to Vanilla Ice on his Walkman.

6. CULKIN AND CHLUMSKY WERE EACH OTHER’S FIRST ON-SCREEN KISSES.

Chlumsky recently confirmed this fact. Culkin - who was also 10 during filmingsoon after claimed to find it gross, and that 15 takes were needed.

7. THE WILLOW TREE WAS FAKE.

The crew found the pond they wanted, but not one near a willow tree. They put metal extensions and fake willow leaves and branches on an oak tree instead.

8. JAMIE LEE CURTIS LOST MONEY FROM CURSING TOO MUCH.

Curtis (Shelly DeVoto) told Chlumsky and Culkin she would give them $5 for saying “sh*t,”  and $10 every time she said “f*ck” on set. She ended up handing over $200 to each of them by the end of filming.

9. CULKIN HAD POLLEN ON ALL OF HIS FINGERS SO THE BEES WOULD FOLLOW.

For the death scene, the bee wrangler shoveled bees towards him. The second he heard Zieff yell “cut,” Culkin would run to the water to wash off the pollen, before running out to the woods and wait before he was called back for another take.

10. IT WAS ORIGINALLY TITLED BORN JAUNDICED.

Imagine Entertainment held an office-wide contest with a $500 prize to see if any employee could come up with the final title. Mourning Glory, Dearly Departed, In Lieu of Flowers, and Vada! were rejected in favor of producer Brian Grazer’s suggestion of My Girl.

11. IT WAS ORIGINALLY RATED PG-13.

Upon appeal, it was downgraded to PG.

12. THE STUDIO WASN’T PLANNING ON REVEALING CULKIN’S DEATH BEFORE THE MOVIE CAME OUT.

A gossip columnist saw an early screening of the film and revealed the fate of Thomas J. Sennett to her readers. Zieff was upset and claimed she broke a pact.

13. COLUMBIA PICTURES HIRED CHILD PSYCHOLOGISTS TO TELL THE PUBLIC IT WAS OKAY TO BRING KIDS TO THE THEATER.

The studio screened My Girl for the professionals. The press kit for the movie featured six pages of testimonials from child psychologists claiming it was okay for kids to see it.

14. ELEHWANY WASN’T HAPPY WITH THE FINISHED PRODUCT.

When the daughter of Patricia Hermes, the author of the novelization of Elehwany’s script, asked Elehwany what she thought of the film, she said she felt important things were changed, adding, “I still get angry about it to this day.”

15. THE SULTENFUSS FUNERAL HOME BECAME A BED AND BREAKFAST.

Filmed in Bartow, Florida, My Girl made a funeral home out of a house built in 1906, originally the home of a lawyer named Thomas Lee Wilson, later sold to an antique and art collector named Freddie Guess. Guess claimed the crew was scared to shoot inside his house because there were so many antiques and paintings. In 1995 it became a B&B called the Stanford Inn. The inn closed in 2013

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Pop Culture
The Strange Hidden Link Between Silent Hill and Kindergarten Cop
Universal Pictures
Universal Pictures

by Ryan Lambie

At first glance, Kindergarten Cop and Silent Hill don't seem to have much in common—aside from both being products of the 1990s. At the beginning of the decade came Kindergarten Cop, the hit comedy directed by Ivan Reitman and starring larger-than-life action star Arnold Schwarzenegger. At the decade’s end came Silent Hill, Konami’s best-selling survival horror game that sent shivers down PlayStation owners’ spines.

As pop culture artifacts go, they’re as different as oil and water. Yet eagle-eyed players may have noticed a strange hidden link between the video game and the goofy family comedy.

In Silent Hill, you control Harry Mason, a father hunting for his daughter Cheryl in the eerily deserted town of the title. Needless to say, the things Mason uncovers are strange and very, very gruesome. Early on in the game, Harry stumbles on a school—Midwich Elementary School, to be precise—which might spark a hint of déjà vu as soon as you approach its stone steps. The building’s double doors and distinctive archway appear to have been taken directly from Kindergarten Cop’s Astoria Elementary School.

Could it be a coincidence?

Well, further clues can be found as you venture inside. As well as encountering creepy gray children and other horrors, you’ll notice that its walls are decorated with numerous posters. Some of those posters—including a particularly distinctive one with a dog on it—also decorated the halls of the school in Kindergarten Cop.

Do a bit more hunting, and you’ll eventually find a medicine cabinet clearly modeled on one glimpsed in the movie. Most creepily of all, you’ll even encounter a yellow school bus that looks remarkably similar to the one in the film (though this one has clearly seen better days).

Silent Hill's references to the movie are subtle—certainly subtle enough for them to pass the majority of players by—but far too numerous to be a coincidence. When word of the link between game and film began to emerge in 2012, some even joked that Konami’s Silent Hill was a sequel to Kindergarten Cop. So what’s really going on?

When Silent Hill was in early development back in 1996, director Keiichiro Toyama set out to make a game that was infused with influences from some of his favorite American films and TV shows. “What I am a fan of is occult stuff and UFO stories and so on; that and I had watched a lot of David Lynch films," he told Polygon in 2013. "So it was really a matter of me taking what was on my shelves and taking the more horror-oriented aspects of what I found.”

A scene from 'Silent Hill'
Divine Tokyoska, Flickr

In an interview with IGN much further back, in 2001, a member of Silent Hill’s staff also stated, “We draw our influences from all over—fiction, movies, manga, new and old.”

So while Kindergarten Cop is perhaps the most outlandish movie reference in Silent Hill, it’s by no means the only one. Cafe5to2, another prominent location in the game, is taken straight from Oliver Stone’s Natural Born Killers.

Elsewhere, you might spot a newspaper headline which references The Silence Of The Lambs (“Bill Skins Fifth”). Look carefully, and you'll also find nods to such films as The Shining, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, Psycho, and 12 Monkeys.

Similarly, the town’s streets are all named after respected sci-fi and horror novelists, with Robert Bloch, Dean Koontz, Ray Bradbury, and Richard Matheson among the most obvious. Oh, and Midwich, the name of the school? That’s taken from the classic 1957 novel The Midwich Cuckoos by John Wyndham, twice adapted for the screen as The Village Of The Damned in 1960 and 1995.

Arnold Schwarzenegger in 'Kindergarten Cop'
Universal Pictures

The reference to Kindergarten Cop could, therefore, have been a sly joke on the part of Silent Hill’s creators—because what could be stranger than modeling something in a horror game on a family-friendly comedy? But there could be an even more innocent explanation: that Kindergarten Cop spends so long inside an ordinary American school simply gave Toyama and his team plenty of material to reference when building their game.

Whatever the reasons, the Kindergarten Cop reference ranks highly among the most strange and unexpected film connections in the history of the video game medium. Incidentally, the original movie's exteriors used a real school, John Jacob Astor Elementary in Astoria, Oregon. According to a 1991 article in People Magazine, the school's 400 fourth grade students were paid $35 per day to appear in Kindergarten Cop as extras.

It’s worth pointing out that the school is far less scary a place than the video game location it unwittingly inspired, and to the best of our knowledge, doesn't have an undercover cop named John Kimble serving as a teacher there, either.

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entertainment
The 10 Best Sci-Fi Movies on Netflix Right Now
Disney/Marvel
Disney/Marvel

If you’re in the mood for some speculative fiction and your pile of Arthur C. Clarke books has been exhausted, you could do worse than to tune in to Netflix. The streaming service is constantly acquiring new films in the sci-fi and fantasy genres that should satisfy most fans of alternative futures. Here are five of the best sci-fi movies on Netflix right now.

1. CUBE (1997)

This low-budget independent film may have helped inspire the current "escape room" attraction fad. Six strangers wake up in a strange room that leads only to other rooms—all of them equipped with increasingly sadistic ways of murdering occupants.

2. METROPOLIS (1927)

Inspiring everything from Star Wars to Lady Gaga, Fritz Lang’s silent epic about a revolt among the oppressed people who help power an upper-class city remains just as visually impressive today as it did nearly 100 years ago.

3. TROLL HUNTER (2010)

A Norwegian fairy tale with bite, Troll Hunter follows college-aged filmmakers who convince a bear trapper to take them along on his exploits. But the trapper fails to disclose one crucial detail: He hunts towering, aggressive trolls.

4. NEXT (2007)

Nic Cage stars a a magician who can see a few minutes into the future. He's looking to profit with the skill: the FBI and others are looking to exploit it.

5. THE HOST (2006)

A slow-burn monster movie from South Korea, The Host has plenty of tense scenes coupled with a message about environmental action: The river-dwelling beast who stalks a waterfront town is the product of chemical dumping.  

6. GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY VOLUME 2 (2017)

Marvel's tale of a misfit band of space jockeys was a surprise hit in 2014. The sequel offers more Groot, more Rocket Raccoon, and the addition of Kurt Russell as a human manifestation of an entire sentient planet.

7. STARDUST (2007)

Director Matthew Vaughn's adaptation of the Neil Gaiman novel features Michelle Pfeiffer and Robert De Niro as supporting players in the tale of a man (a pre-Daredevil Charlie Cox) in search of a fallen star to gift to his love.

8. KING KONG (2005)

Director Peter Jackson (The Lord of the Rings) set his considerable sights on a remake of the 1933 classic, with the title gorilla pestered and exploited by opportunistic humans.

9. DONNIE DARKO (2001)

What will a teenage mope do when a giant rabbit tells him the world is about to end? The answer comes in this critical and cult hit, which drew attention for its moody cinematography and an arresting performance by a then-unknown Jake Gyllenhaal.  

10. ROGUE ONE: A STAR WARS STORY (2016)

Soon we'll have a movie for every single major or minor incident ever depicted in the Star Wars universe. For now, we'll have to settle for this one-off that explains how the Rebel Alliance got their hands on the plans for the Death Star.

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