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15 Super Facts About Super Troopers

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Released in 2001, Super Troopers is the second feature from Broken Lizard, the comedy group made up of Jay Chandrasekhar, Kevin Heffernan, Steve Lemme, Paul Soter, and Erik Stolhanske—all of whom wrote and starred in the film (with Chandrasekhar directing). The movie focuses on five Vermont state troopers who spend most of their time messing with each other and the people they pull over, until potential budget cuts force them to engage in actual police work.

After making $23,182,223 at the box office, strong word-of-mouth and frequent cable airings led to impressive DVD sales and a quick cult comedy status. The film has become so popular that within the last few years alone, professional athletes have played the movie's “meow game” on unsuspecting interviewers, making last year’s filming of a sequel inevitable and majorly welcomed. Here are some facts behind the movie’s shenanigans.

1. HARVEY WEINSTEIN SAID HE WOULD BUY THE SCRIPT, BUT THEN HE COULDN'T TELL IF IT WAS FUNNY.

The film was developed with Miramax, after Broken Lizard impressed head honcho Harvey Weinstein with their first feature, Puddle Cruiser (1996). Paul Soter told Rolling Stone that a Miramax executive told them to approach the film “as if you'll never get to make another movie again. Lay everything out as if this is the only chance you're going to get from now on.” Despite following through, Weinstein read it and, according to Chandrasekhar, reportedly said, "Eh, I don't know. Maybe I just don't know comedy. I don't know. It's funny, but I don't know." Still, Weinstein played a key role in getting the movie sold.

"[Weinstein] comes up to me and says, 'I'm going to do you a favor. Come meet me at the bar,'" Chandrasekhar recalled. "We met up at the bar for last call and had a drink with him [at Sundance]. When people saw us hanging around with Harvey after that movie, the other studios were like, 'Oh, sh*t. We'd better f*cking get on this.' He created a market for the film basically by shadow play. He didn't even see the middle of the movie. He said, 'When you hang out with me, you'll sell your movie.' It went as well as it could possibly go." Fox Searchlight ended up purchasing the rights for a reported $3 million.

2. MORE THAN 20 DRAFTS WERE WRITTEN.

Heffernan estimated that the group wrote more than 20 drafts of the script, with more jokes added every time. "We try to do one joke every six seconds," he said.

3. ONE STUDIO WANTED BEN AFFLECK IN IT.

Broken Lizard was looking to raise $5.5 million to make the movie, with the stipulation that the group's virtual unknowns would star and that Chandrasekhar would direct. Studios declined the opportunity after the group wouldn’t budge on their requirements. “They asked us if they could put Ben Affleck in one part, and they asked if someone else could direct it,” Chandrasekhar remembered.

4. THE FILM WAS FINANCED BY ONE INVESTOR.

Ultimately, the budget ended up being $1.25 million, which was funded by a single investor. “This one guy who had just retired from Wall Street and really wanted to get into film production saw the script and saw Puddle Cruiser and asked us if he could do our movie, and so he gave us the cash," Steve Lemme explained. "He put up the million and a quarter—and got it all back, too.”

5. BRIAN COX ASKED TO BE IN THE MOVIE.

When asked how they convinced Brian Cox, who is widely known for his work with The Royal Shakespeare Company, to appear in the film, Chandrasekhar told The A.V. Club that, "He actually called us. He's always playing parts like pedophiles and Nazi generals and nasty people, and he's a big Jerry Lewis fan, and thinks he's got that bone in him. He's been looking for a comedy to do, and he kept contacting us and contacting us, and he turned out to be amazing."

6. MARISA COUGHLAN GOT THE JOB BECAUSE OF HER THE EXORCIST IMPRESSION.

Marisa Coughlan was sought out specifically for the role of Ursula in the film because of a scene in Kevin Williamson's Teaching Mrs. Tingle (1999), in which she imitated The Exorcist (1973). Chandrasekhar called it “flat out genius.”

7. MOST OF THE EXTRAS WENT TO THE SAME SCHOOL.

Like the members of Broken Lizard, a majority of the background actors attended Colgate University, too.

8. THE OPENING SCENE WAS BASED IN REALITY.

The college kid (Geoffrey Arend) who was forced to eat drugs to get rid of evidence came straight out of the lives of some friends of the Broken Lizard guys. Border guards at the U.S.-Canada border found a joint in their Winnebago. When they were all asked to step out of the vehicle, one friend ate a stash of mushrooms meant for 10 guys. He tripped for two days.

9. HEFFERNAN AND CHANDRASEKHAR WORKED THEIR PARENTS INTO THE MOVIE IN DIFFERENT WAYS.

Heffernan’s mother and father wanted to be in their son’s movie, and Heffernan agreed, but he wouldn't tell them anything about their scene. They're the couple who Farva (Heffernan's character) pulls over and calls “chickenf*ckers.” (In 25 takes.) Chandrasekhar's nod was more low-key: his character, Arcot Ramathorn, shares a first name with his father.

10. THE ACTORS BROKE THE LAW.

On Chandrasekhar’s orders, Heffernan once impersonated a police officer to stop traffic for a scene, after production assistants failed to do so. Stolhanske got caught using his rollers while driving 100 miles per hour, but pleaded he didn’t know they were running. Lemme drove around in his police car, and in uniform, and flashed his rollers at one woman who cut him off successfully.

Years later, Lemme was pulled over while driving 120 miles per hour; it turned out that the officer, nicknamed "Mac," was a huge Super Troopers fan. Instead of a speeding ticket, Lemme took selfies with the officer.

11. THE SYRUP WAS REAL.

The prop woman replaced the syrup in the bottles with iced tea, but Stolhanske claimed the iced tea didn’t give it “that glug, glug, glug thick look” when they chugged in. Chandrasekhar insisted that real syrup had to be used.

12. FARVA’S MUSTACHE WAS FAKE.

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“I had a stunt mustache,” Heffernan tweeted during an airing of Super Troopers.

13. HEFFERNAN DIDN’T WANT JIM GAFFIGAN IN THE MOVIE.

Jim Gaffigan ended up playing Larry Johnson, the man who innocently got himself involved in “the meow game." But Heffernan didn’t want Gaffigan involved because he always beat him out at auditions. Heffernan must have forgiven Gaffigan, as the comedian played a role in another Broken Lizard movie, 2009's The Slammin’ Salmon.

14. THERE WAS AN ALTERNATE ENDING.

In the alternative ending, the police officers busted some bad guys while working as meat-packers.

15. THE ORIGINAL IDEA FOR THE SEQUEL WAS TO SET IT IN THE 1970S.

In 2006, Chandrasekhar revealed an idea to make Super Troopers ‘76, a prequel featuring the fathers of the state troopers. By 2009, Chandrasekhar said the sequel now took place three months after the end of the original movie, with the troopers tasked with tackling land ownership squabbles between the United States and Canada. On October 24, 2015, filming for Super Troopers 2 began, months after raising more than $4.5 million on Indiegogo, which at the time was a record for the highest funded film in the crowdfunding website’s history.

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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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