Hey, you guys! Richard Donner's classic 1985 adventure film, The Goonies, is integral to pop culture and filmmaking. Whether you grew up with the film or discovered it long after its release, there's no doubt this heartwarming movie is one of the greatest of all time. However, even after nearly 40 years since its release, there's still a lot that people don't know about this timeless classic.
Modern movies use so much CG that it can be hard to tell what is a practical effect or set and what is a digital one. While filmmakers had some visual effects tricks available when making The Goonies, most scenes were either shot on location or in a sound stage with a practical set —including One-Eyed Willy's ship. That's right, they constructed and filmed on a real ship. It was over 105 feet long, and the sails alone required over 7,000 square feet of material. After shooting had wrapped, the creators offered the ship to anyone who wanted it, but nobody would take it, and it was ultimately scrapped.
The boat wasn't the only prop the filmmakers offered to the cast. Sean Astin received permission to keep the iconic treasure map they used in the film. However, several years later, his mother was cleaning the house and discovered the map. Thinking it was just an old, crinkled piece of paper, she threw it away, and the map was lost forever.
If you need a swarm of bats in a movie nowadays, you have a million options for achieving the effect digitally. However, the effects team had to get creative when making The Goonies. They needed a swarm of objects that could safely hit the actors while also looking like a never-ending stream of bats. How did they achieve it? By launching a bunch of bow ties and wads of black papier-mâché at the actors using air cannons. Toss in a couple of toy bats for closeups, and boom: instant swarm.
If you pay attention in the movie's final sequence, you'll hear one of the kids mention a scary octopus when they are relaying their adventures to the police and reporters. While most people chalk this up to the kids exaggerating or trying to make the story better, Stef and Mouth really did fight an octopus —we just didn't see it. Editors ultimately removed the scene for the final cut but didn't remove the referential line at the end.
Sorry, Marvel, Goonies did it first. So many film companies want to launch an extended universe of movies, but Goonies did it nearly 40 years ago. When recounting some of Chunk's stories, the sheriff mentions one about "little creatures that multiply when you pour water on them." This obvious reference to Gremlins ties the movies together but is far from the only connection. Both films starred Corey Feldman, listed Steven Spielberg as executive producer, and used screenplays from Chris Columbus.
When designing the map, production designer J. Michael Riva thought the prop looked just a bit too new. He used the classic trick of using coffee to make it look far more ancient than it actually was. However, he needed just one extra touch to really sell the look. Riva realized that if it were a real pirate's map, it would have blood. Since the prop department was out of red paint, he sliced his finger and dripped his actual blood along the edges of the map.
Sloth is no doubt one of the greatest film characters of all time, largely due to his unique appearance and loveable behavior. However, his appearance required a substantial amount of effort. Makeup artists had to spend over five hours a day applying the prosthetics and makeup to achieve Sloth's legendary appearance. One of the tricks they used to sell the look was manually closing the prosthetic eye via remote control, making each blink look natural but just a bit out of sync.
The actor behind Sloth, John Matuszak, was a two-time Super Bowl champion with the Oakland Raiders. To pay homage to his former team, Sloth wears a Raiders shirt early in the movie. But that's not the only reference the costume team makes using Sloth's clothes. He also wears a Superman shirt in one of the most iconic scenes in the movie. Director Richard Donner rose to fame after directing Superman: The Movie.
After several decades, The Goonies has proven itself to be one of the all-time great adventure movies. A big reason for this is that it stems from a love for even older adventure classics, especially ones starring Errol Flynn. You see Sloth watching Flynn's movies in his dungeon room, and he later mimics an iconic Errol Flynn stunt by sliding down the ship's sail near the end of the movie. The theme music for the movie is a reference to Adventures of Don Juan, another Flynn film. Even One-Eyed Willy's ship is an Errol Flynn reference!
The Goonies has a surprising amount of swearing for a family-friendly movie, largely because the kids try to act a bit more mature through their language. Because the creators knew that many broadcasters would try to censor the swearing, they strategically placed cursing in noisy scenes where background noise could drown it out. For example, when Mouth comes soaring out of the waterslide into the cave, the loud, running water could easily drown out his prolonged swearing.
In order to make sure that Sean Astin's performance was as natural as possible, the director, Richard Donner, intentionally avoided giving him the script for the One-Eyed Willy legend. Instead, Donner simply told Astin the story right before filming and had the child actor tell it back to him as best he could, resulting in a far more believable scene.
A recurring bit of trivia for The Goonies is that so much of the film used practical effects, even if it wasn't strictly necessary. This includes the massive waterslide to enter the cave to One-Eyed Willy's ship. Langford Surf Coaster Corporation built the slide to be fully functional, meaning the cast and crew had an actual water park ride as part of their set. Donner and the cast regularly snuck in after filming to have a bit of fun with the slide.
At a couple of points in the movie, Jake Fratelli sings to taunt and irritate Sloth and Chunk. The actor who played Jake, Robert Davi, is a trained opera singer. It was his idea to include this behavior, and he chose a song from Giacomo Puccini's opera, Madama Butterfly. The song is partially about admiring a beautiful woman and falling in love, making it clear that Jake was mocking Sloth's appearance.
According to international maritime law, the person who first successfully retrieves something off of a salvage vessel has rights to the ship and all its contents. While the kids ultimately lose most of the treasure, Mikey secretly stored some jewels in his marble bag. Since Mikey retrieved the jewels from One-Eyed Willy's ship, the vessel and everything on it should technically belong to him.
At the end of The Goonies, Chunk decides that his family is going to adopt Sloth and provide him with the love and attention he deserves. While the audience never gets to see how this goes, the novelization does expand on it a bit. Not only do Chunk's parents adopt Sloth, but they also throw him a Bar Mitzvah, showing that the family really does care for him.
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