11 Frosty Facts About Strange Brew

Warner Home Video
Warner Home Video

Sit back, relax, throw on your favorite tuque and a parka, and knock back a couple of your favorite beers in the Great White North. The cult comedy classic Strange Brew is turning 35 years old. In honor of Bob and Doug McKenzie’s Canadian adventures, here are some facts about Strange Brew—you hoser!

1. BOB AND DOUG MCKENZIE STARTED OUT AS A FLUKE.

Comedians Rick Moranis and Dave Thomas created the characters of the excessively Canadian brothers Bob and Doug for the third season of the influential Canadian sketch comedy show SCTV, which debuted in 1976 and moved to the CBC network in 1980. CBC’s executives stipulated that two minutes of each show needed to be dedicated to Canada-centric topics, so as a joke Moranis and Thomas used the allotted time to completely improvise a sketch where they played two bumbling, overly Canadian men talking exclusively about farcical Canadian culture. The joke caught on, and the brothers made the leap to American television in 1981 when NBC ordered new seasons of SCTV to be shown in the States, and specifically requested the McKenzie brothers be part of it.

2. STRANGE BREW WAS MADE BECAUSE OF THE SUCCESS OF THE BOB AND DOUG COMEDY ALBUM.

Moranis and Thomas released an album of sketches and songs as Bob and Doug called The Great White North in 1981 because of the success of the characters on North American television. The album went on to sell more than one million copies in North America, and was nominated for a Grammy Award for Best Comedy Album. The album’s broad success and appeal of the characters prompted Moranis and Thomas to quit SCTV in 1982 in order to write a script for a Bob and Doug movie.

The album is hinted at in Strange Brew itself, when an audience member watching the movie within the movie criticizes Bob and Doug’s stereotypical intro saying, “They did this on the album, too!”   

3. THE MOVIE WAS ALSO MADE BECAUSE OF JOHN CANDY.

John Candy was also a member of SCTV in the early 1980s with Moranis and Thomas, though he stayed with the show until its final episode in 1984. But Moranis and Thomas got the idea to leave SCTV to make a Bob and Doug movie after Candy was offered the lead role in a comedy for Universal Pictures called Going Berserk, about a chauffeur moonlighting as a musician who gets into a series of madcap adventures in the lead-up to his wedding day. The movie also starred SCTV cast members Eugene Levy and Joe Flaherty, as well as Paul Dooley, who would go on to appear as the devious Uncle Claude in Strange Brew.

4. THE PLOT TO THE MOVIE IS LOOSELY BASED ON HAMLET.

Dave Thomas studied English Literature in college, and thought it would be funny to class up Bob and Doug’s big-screen debut by modeling the pair after Rosencrantz and Guildenstern, two minor characters in Shakespeare’s Hamlet. Pam (Lynne Griffin), who takes over her recently deceased father’s brewery in the movie, is also modeled after Hamlet, who in the play returns to Denmark after the murder of his father. English lit fans will also note that Elsinore Brewery is named after Hamlet’s royal castle of the same name.  

5. THEY MAY HAVE COINED THEIR ICONIC CATCHPHRASE.

How about this, eh? You better take off, you hoser! In between swilling Molson beer, Bob and Doug repeatedly use clichéd Canadian language, and in particular that wonderful term of Canadian endearment, “hoser.” Despite a rich colloquial history that may have started out as a turn of phrase to describe the person hosing down ice to maintain a hockey rink, the first written record of the word “hoser” is allegedly from a 1981 article in the Toronto Star describing Moranis and Thomas’ characters.

6. BOB AND DOUG LOVED STAR WARS, BUT THEY MISSED SOMETHING IN PLAIN SIGHT.

At the beginning of the hockey game scene where Bob and Doug find themselves in the middle of Brewmeister Smith (Max von Sydow) and his minion controlling the minds of the asylum patients via random notes on a keyboard, the brothers make a joke referencing Star Wars.

“I am your father, Luke. Give in to the dark side of the force, you knob,” Doug says, decked out in hockey pads that resemble Stormtroopers from the galaxy far, far away. “He saw Jedi 17 times, eh,” Bob says to Elsinore Brewery employee Jean "Rosie" LeRose, who also takes part in the game.

What Bob and Doug don’t know is that Angus MacInnes, the actor who plays Rosie, played Gold Leader, one of the Rebel Alliance Y-Wing pilots who died during the attack on the Death Star in the original Star Wars.    

7. BOB AND DOUG’S DAD IS BUGS BUNNY.

Cartoon fans should recognize the voice of Bob and Doug’s TV-obsessed father, who continually yells at the pair to get him a beer. It’s the voice of actor Mel Blanc, better known as the man behind Bugs Bunny and dozens of other iconic Looney Tunes characters including Daffy Duck, Porky Pig, Tweety Bird, Sylvester the Cat, and Yosemite Sam.

Moranis and Thomas, who co-directed Strange Brew, inserted Blanc’s voice as the dad during post-production on the movie. The voice actor, who was then 75 years old, earned $10,000 for an hour’s worth of work on Strange Brew.

8. MAX VON SYDOW AGREED TO PLAY BREWMEISTER SMITH BECAUSE HIS SON WAS A FAN OF BOB AND DOUG MCKENZIE.

The role of Brewmeister Smith was actually written with von Sydow in mind. But Moranis and Thomas thought actually enlisting the normally solemn actor, who was perhaps best known for appearing in Ingmar Bergman films like The Seventh Seal, to be in their Canada-centric farce would be impossible. It turns out that Freddie Fields, then-president of MGM—the studio that made Strange Brew—had just produced a movie called Escape to Victory, which starred von Sydow. So he sent the esteemed actor the Strange Brew script. Instead of hashing it out with Fields, von Sydow ran it by his son, who was a huge SCTV fan and encouraged his father to take the role.   

9. A BEER BOTTLE-SHAPED PAPERBACK BOOK WAS RELEASED TO PROMOTE THE FILM.

While not a direct novelization, a book shaped like Bob and Doug’s ubiquitous beer bottles was published as a promotional tie-in for the movie. The book touted its “ingredients” as “A mellow blend of choice cartoon tidbits and the finest photo-snippets aged in goatskin bags.” It also featured a fake library card insert with the signatures of famous Canadians who had allegedly checked the book out, including hockey player Bobby Hull and author Margaret Atwood.

The book is currently out of print, but you can find copies on Amazon for as much as $500. That's a lot of beer money.

10. A SEQUEL TO STRANGE BREW, TITLED HOME BREW, WAS SCHEDULED TO BE RELEASED IN 1999.

Strange Brew was a modest hit when it was released in 1983, pulling in just over $8.5 million at the box office against a $4 million budget, and allowed Moranis and Thomas to have continued careers in comedy throughout the 1980s. Moranis eventually took a hiatus from acting in the late 1990s, but emerged when Bob and Doug returned in a Molson beer ad campaign around the same time.

The success of the campaign prompted Moranis and Thomas to write a script with SCTV writer Paul Flaherty in 1999, and the sequel received funding from comic book writer and entrepreneur Todd McFarlane before being fast-tracked to pre-production. Moranis agreed to come out of semi-retirement to reprise his role, but the funding for the movie fell through, causing Home Brew to stall completely.  

11. EVEN THOUGH THE SEQUEL WASN’T MADE, BOB AND DOUG LIVED ON IN CARTOON FORM.

The McKenzies eventually returned in animated cartoon form in a series developed by Fox in 2008. Initially titled The Animated Adventures of Bob & Doug McKenzie, the show, eventually retitled Bob & Doug, ran for a 10-episode first season and a five-episode second season on Canada’s Global Television Network. Moranis and Thomas created and executive produced the show, but only Thomas returned to voice Doug, while Canadian actor Dave Coulier provided the voice of Bob.   

The Very Real Events That Inspired Game of Thrones's Red Wedding

Peter Graham's After the Massacre of Glencoe
Peter Graham's After the Massacre of Glencoe
Peter Graham, Google Cultural Institute, Public Domain, Wikimedia Commons

Ask any Game of Thrones fan to cite a few of the show's most shocking moments, and the so-called "Red Wedding" from season 3's "The Rains of Castamere" episode will likely be at the top of their list. The events that unfolded during the episode shocked fans because of their brutality, but what might be even more surprising to know is that the episode was based on very real events.

Author George R.R. Martin has said that the inspiration for the matrimonial bloodbath is based on two dark events in Scottish history: the Black Dinner of 1440 and 1692's Massacre of Glencoe. “No matter how much I make up, there’s stuff in history that’s just as bad, or worse,” Martin told Entertainment Weekly in 2013. And he’s absolutely right. See for yourself.

The Massacre of Glencoe

The West Highland Way in 2005, view from the summit of the Devil's Staircase looking south over the east end of Glen Coe, towards Buachaille Etive Mòr with Creise and Meall a' Bhuiridh beyond
Colin Souza, Edited by Dave Souza, CC BY-SA 2.5, Wikimedia Commons

In 1691, all Scottish clans were called upon to renounce the deposed King of Scotland, James VII, and swear allegiance to King William of Orange (of William and Mary fame). The chief of each clan had until January 1, 1692, to provide a signed document swearing an oath to William. The Highland Clan MacDonald had two things working against them here. First of all, the Secretary of State, John Dalrymple, was a Lowlander who loathed Clan MacDonald. Secondly, Clan MacDonald had already sworn an oath to James VII and had to wait on him to send word that they were free to break that oath.

Unfortunately, it was December 28 before a messenger arrived with this all-important letter from the former king. That gave Maclain, the chief of the MacDonald clan, just three days to get the newly-signed oath to the Secretary of State.

Maclain was detained for days when he went through Inveraray, the town of the rival Clan Campbell, but still managed to deliver the oath, albeit several days late. The Secretary of State’s legal team wasn't interested in late documents. They rejected the MacDonalds's sworn allegiance to William, and set plans in place to cut the clan down, “root and branch.”

In late January or early February, 120 men under the command of Captain Robert Campbell arrived at the MacDonalds's in Glencoe, claiming to need shelter because a nearby fort was full. The MacDonalds offered their hospitality, as was custom, and the soldiers stayed there for nearly two weeks before Captain Drummond arrived with instructions to “put all to the sword under seventy.”

After playing cards with their victims and wishing them goodnight, the soldiers waited until the MacDonalds were asleep ... then murdered as many men as they could manage. In all, 38 people—some still in their beds—were killed. At least 40 women and children escaped, but fleeing into a blizzard blowing outside as their houses burned down meant that they all died of exposure.

The massacre was considered especially awful because it was “Slaughter Under Trust.” To this day, the door at Clachaig Inn in Glen Coe has a sign on the door that says "No hawkers or Campbells."

The Black Dinner

In November of 1440, the newly-appointed 6th Earl of Douglas, who was just 16, and his little brother David, were invited to join the 10-year-old King of Scotland, James II, for dinner at Edinburgh Castle. But it wasn’t the young King who had invited the Douglas brothers. The invitation had been issued by Sir William Crichton, Chancellor of Scotland, who feared that the Black Douglas (there was another clan called the Red Douglas) were growing too powerful.

As legend has it, the children were all getting along marvelously, enjoying food, entertainment and talking until the end of the dinner, when the head of a black bull was dropped on the table, symbolizing the death of the Black Douglas. The two young Douglases were dragged outside, given a mock trial, found guilty of high treason, and beheaded. It’s said that the Earl pleaded for his brother to be killed first so that the younger boy wouldn’t have to witness his older brother’s beheading.

Sir Walter Scott wrote this of the horrific event:

"Edinburgh Castle, toune and towre,
God grant thou sink for sin!
And that e'en for the black dinner
Earl Douglas gat therein."

This article has been updated for 2019.

15 Game of Thrones Products Every Fan Needs

Kit Harington and Emilia Clarke in Game of Thrones
Kit Harington and Emilia Clarke in Game of Thrones
Helen Sloan, HBO

Though Game of Thrones might be coming to its official end, that doesn’t mean that your fandom can’t—or won’t—carry on. Whether you’re a years-long defender of House Stark or have been rooting for House Targaryen since the beginning, there’s a candle, collectible pin, coffee mug, card game, and pretty much anything else you can imagine with your name (and preferred sigil) on it.

1. A Song of Ice and Fire Book Series; $46

Bantam's 'A Song of Ice and Fire' book series

Bantam, Amazon

If you’ve never read George R.R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire, the book series upon which the series is based, plenty more Westerosi drama awaits. And just because you’ve seen every episode of the series 10 times doesn’t mean you know which way the books will turn. (The TV show diverged from their narrative a long time ago—and dozens of the characters who have been killed off on your television screen are still alive and well in the books.) Plus, as Martin has yet to complete the series, you may just catch up in time for the newest book.

Buy it: Amazon

2. Map Marker Wine Stopper Set; $50

Nobody solves a problem like Tyrion Lannister … and his thought process usually includes copious amounts of wine (Dornish if you’ve got it). Something tells us you’re going need some vino yourself to get through the giant, hour-long hole left in your Sunday nights once Game of Thrones officially ends. Make sure you don’t let a drop of it go to waste by keeping one of these six wine stoppers—each one carved to represent the sigil of the most noble houses in the Seven Kingdoms—handy.

Buy it: HBO Shop or BoxLunch

3. Winterfell Coffee Mug; $25

If coffee is more your speed—we get it: the night is dark and full of terrors—this simple-yet-elegant Winterfell mug is an easy way to communicate to your co-workers why you’re typically a little bleary-eyed on Monday mornings.

Buy it: HBO Shop

4. Hodor Door Stop; $12

A 3D-printed Hodor door stop, inspired by 'Game of Thrones'

3D Cauldron, Amazon

An important part of being a Game of Thrones fan is accepting that showrunners D.B. Weiss and David Benioff have no problem killing off your favorite characters, often in brutal ways. One of the series’ most memorable deaths was that of Hodor, Bran Stark’s personal mode of transport, who we loved despite the fact that the only word he ever uttered for six seasons was “Hodor”—and who we loved even more when, in the final moments of his life, we learned why that was the case. Pay tribute to the gentle giant, and his backstory, with this 3D-printed door stop.

Buy it: Amazon

5. Tarot Card Deck; $25

A 'Game of Thrones' tarot card deck, from Chronicle Books

Chronicle Books, Amazon

Channel your inner Maggy the Frog and see what the future holds for you and your loved ones (your enemies, too, if the mood strikes you) with Chronicle Books’s gorgeously packaged tarot card deck. The tarot tradition and Game of Thrones mythology blend seamlessly together in this box of goodies, which includes an instruction book and illustrated cards featuring your favorite characters and most beloved scenes from the show.

Buy it: Amazon or Chronicle Books

6. Fire and Blood Candle; $12

Mad Queen or not, show that you still stand behind the Mother of Dragons by filling your home with this House Targaryen-inspired votive candle. Best of all: Just wait to see the look on the faces of your guests when they ask “Mmmm … what’s that smell?” If you’d prefer not to answer with “fire and blood—doesn’t it smell delicious?,” there are other scents available: one called "Moon of My Life My Sun and Stars," another called "Be a Dragon," and one inspired by the Iron Throne itself (which must smell like victory).

Buy it: HBO Shop

7. Clue: Game of Thrones; $50

Margaery Tyrell with the battle axe in Cersei’s bedchambers. Rewrite the rules—and brutal deaths—of Game of Thrones with this special edition of the classic board game, which tasks you with figuring out who murdered whom, using what weapon, and where the incident took place. A double-sided playing board lets you choose whether you want to set the game in The Red Keep or Meereen.

Buy it: HBO Shop or BoxLunch

8. Game of Thrones Monopoly; $24

'Game of Thrones Monopoly' game board

Hasbro, Amazon

Who wants to be the Lord or Lady of Winterfell when you can become the preeminent real estate mogul of all the Seven Kingdoms? This special-edition Monopoly board puts a distinctly Westerosian twist on the classic game, with silver tokens to represent the sigils of each of the main houses and a card holder that plays the series’ haunting score whenever you press it.

Buy it: Amazon or Best Buy

9. House Stark Hoodie; $60

If you really wanted to dress like a Stark, you’d have a master blacksmith on hand to help customize your armor—or at least turn your IKEA rug into a luxurious cape. If you’re far less crafty, there’s always this full-zip hoodie featuring an embroidered direwolf on the front and an outlined illustration of the same on the back. The minimalist design is a way to show your fandom in a way that, to the untrained eye, might just look like you’re a fan of wolves. But the rest of us will know better. And approve.

Buy it: ThinkGeek

10. Deluxe Iron Throne Funko Pop! Set; $130

Funko's Iron Throne Pop! set of five

Funko, HBO Shop

Though it seems unlikely that a few of these characters will ever sit on the Iron Throne (either because they’re dead or have gone mad), a fan can always hope. And buying them as part of this five-piece set is an easy way to collect them all. If you don’t see your favorite character here, Amazon has got plenty more squat-headed figures to choose from, including Arya, Brienne of Tarth, Rhaegal (poor Rhaegal), and Ghost (poor Ghost). If you ever happen upon a headless Ned Stark Pop!, grab it; this hard-to-find figure can sell for more than $2000 on eBay.

Buy it: HBO Shop

11. Iron Throne Bookend; $60

After devoting more than eight years of your life to seeing Game of Thrones all the way through, maybe it’s you who deserves the Iron Throne. You can’t sit on this 7.5-inch replica, the base of which features sigils from all the noble houses, but you can show off your fancy George R.R. Martin book collection … or all that dragon fan fiction you’ve been working on.

Buy it: Best Buy or the HBO Shop

12. Game of Thrones Music Box; $13

'Game of Thrones' music box

Shenzhen Youtang Trade Co., Amazon

Channel your inner Arya by psyching yourself up with the iconic Game of Thrones theme song whenever you feel the need to hear it with this hand-cranked music box.

Buy it: Amazon

13. Iron Throne Tankard; $70

Show your guests who's boss at your next dinner party—or raucous feast—as you take your place at the head of the table and guzzle your mead (or giant's milk—we don't judge) from this Iron Throne-themed tankard, completed with sword handle.

Buy it: HBO Shop

14. Game of Thrones Socks; $8

It gets cold in the North. Keep your tootsies warm with this six-pack of stylish ankle-cut socks.

Buy it: Target

15. Living Language Dothraki; $16

A copy of the Living Language Dothraki language course

Living Language, Amazon

By now, you've surely learned at least a handful of common Dothraki words and phrases. But if you wan to become fluent in the (fictional) language, this language course is one way to do it. Now: Finne zhavvorsa anni?

Buy it: Amazon

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