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10 Meaty Facts About Harold & Kumar Go to White Castle

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New Line

If you’ve never seen it, director Danny Leiner’s Harold & Kumar Go to White Castle is exactly what it sounds like: a road trip movie about a couple of dudes (John Cho and Kal Penn) just trying to get to White Castle. Of course, it’s not that easy and shenanigans ensue. Such shenanigans include, but are not limited to, a run-in with a ferocious cheetah, cameos by Neil Patrick Harris and Ryan Reynolds, and a bizarre rescue by a boil-faced tow truck driver named Freakshow. You can clearly see why it’s become a bit of a cult hit. Not to mention, since the original film’s debut in 2004, the franchise has spawned two sequels and amassed millions of additional fans.

1. GOLDSTEIN AND ROSENBERG WERE BASED ON SHAKESPEARE CHARACTERS.

According to The New York Times, Harold and Kumar’s best friends were partially based on Rosencrantz and Guildenstern from Hamlet, as well as writers Jon Hurwitz and Hayden Schlossberg. ''We just knew Harold and Kumar had to have Jewish friends,'' Hurwitz said, ''to complete the multiracial circle we had in school.''

2. KRISPY KREME TURNED DOWN A PART IN THE MOVIE.

As we reported earlier, the famous donut company was wary of being associated with a movie that featured drugs.

3. THE PRODUCERS HAD TO MAKE VEGGIE BURGERS FOR KAL PENN.

Because Kal Penn is vegetarian, “The producers actually went out of their way to ... make little soy burgers that looked like White Castle burgers,” Penn told Spliced Wire. “So I could just focus on the moment and not have to worry about all that. I probably ate about 30 of them.”

4. PENN HAD AN ALLERGIC REACTION WHILE FILMING ONE SCENE.

In an interview with IGN, Penn recalled an uncomfortable scene in which ground walnuts were used to create dust coming out of a ventilator shaft. The problem? The actor is deathly allergic to nuts. “They were so finely ground that I inhaled them. Now the only thing worse than eating nuts, where it gets processed, is inhaling them direct or injecting them. So why somebody decided to do that, I don't know. But I had to go outside for about two hours, I had to take a bunch of Benadryl, I was drowsy the rest of the day.” Penn said. “And luckily I caught it [early]. Within 10 seconds of being in that room I was like 'There's something in here' and I left.”

5. CHRISTOPHER MELONI WAS ALWAYS THE FIRST CHOICE TO PLAY FREAKSHOW. 

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And he still has no idea why. “[The writers] said, ‘You know we thought of you from the beginning when we were writing this role for Freakshow,’" Meloni told Movie Web. "I didn’t know how to take that, I was like ‘you did huh?’ I still don’t understand the logic, but whatever.”

6. AT FIRST, PENN DIDN’T LIKE THE WAY THE FILM’S MARKETING PLAYED ON RACE.

Ads for the film promoted the actors as “the Asian guy from American Pie” and “the Indian guy from Van Wilder.” In response to that, Penn told Spliced Wire. “At first ... I was like, Man, the movie is so not about that! Why did they have to bring it back to that? Then we realized that most people that are watching this trailer ... recognize us as the Indian guy from Van Wilder and the Asian guy from American Pie!”

“The trailer is funny because it says exactly what people are thinking," Cho added. "It also kind of dissipates—I think there is some unspoken measure of tension, like this is so unusual seeing Asian-Americans headlining a movie. So we kind of poke fun at that right off the bat.”

7. JON HURWITZ AND HAYDEN SCHLOSSBERG SIMPLY WANTED TO WRITE A MOVIE WITH CHARACTERS THAT LOOKED LIKE THEIR FRIENDS.

Penn told Spliced Wire, “The story is that the writers grew up in New Jersey, and they were really sick of seeing teen movies that were one-dimensional and that had characters which didn't look like any of their friends. They were two white guys from Jersey, but they had a pretty diverse group of friends. So they were like, You know what? Let's write a film that's both a) smart and funny, and b) cast two guys that look like our best friends.” Added Cho, “There is a real Harold Lee.”

8. NEIL PATRICK HARRIS WAS WRITTEN INTO THE MOVIE BEFORE THE WRITERS GOT HIS CONSENT.

In an interview with Cinema Blend, Neil Patrick Harris recalled the moment he heard he had a part in the film. “I got a call from a friend who was auditioning for this movie and he was so excited that we were going to be working together. And I said, ‘I have no idea what you're talking about.’ And he said, ‘Neil Patrick Harris is a character in this movie.' ... [My agents] read it, and then they called my attorney to find out what was going on, and then I winded up meeting with the [writers], kind of cautiously ... Because when you're talking about an extreme version of yourself, you want to make sure you're not painted in a super shitty light ... And I agreed to do it so long as any changes they made had to go through me contractually ... And they were fine with that and they didn't make any changes.”

9. BATTLESH*TS WAS INSPIRED BY HURWITZ’S HIGH SCHOOL FOOTBALL TEAM.

Hurwitz told Aint It Cool News about the moment he first encountered the gross game. “When I was in high school I was friends with a couple of the guys on the football team. A couple of really big funny guys. I remember in gym class ... Those two guys, for some reason, always have to take a sh*t during gym class ... They started joking around about playing Battlesh*ts,” Hurwitz said. “They would joke around about it and I would always talk to them about that and started playing it up with them and saying things like, ‘You sank my Destroyer.’”

10. JON HURWITZ’S GRANDPARENTS USED TO SEND HIM FROZEN WHITE CASTLE BURGERS.

The quest and craving for White Castle was apparently not purely made up for the film. “I lived outside of Pittsburgh for seven years," Hurtwitz told Ain't It Cool News. "When I was there and my grandparents would come to visit us, they'd fly out to Pittsburgh and they would bring frozen White Castle burgers before they were in the supermarkets. They didn't have them in the supermarkets, so they would go to the White Castle, they'd buy like, 120 burgers ... frozen ... and bring them in dry ice on an airplane to Pittsburgh. So, it always kind of just had a special kind of part in my heart.”

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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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