The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the 8th Dimension

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The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the 8th Dimension
Adventures of buckaroo banzai.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed by W. D. Richter
Produced by W. D. Richter
Neil Canton
Written by Earl Mac Rauch
Starring Peter Weller
Ellen Barkin
John Lithgow
Jeff Goldblum
Christopher Lloyd
Music by Michael Boddicker
Cinematography Fred J. Koenekamp
Jordan Cronenweth (uncredited)
Editing by George Bowers
Richard Marks
Studio Sherwood Productions
Distributed by 20th Century Fox
Release dates
  • August 15, 1984 (1984-08-15)
Running time 102 minutes [1]
Country United States
Language English
Budget $17 million[2]
Box office $6,227,998

The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the 8th Dimension!, often shortened to Buckaroo Banzai, is a 1984 American science fiction film. It was directed and produced by W. D. Richter, and concerns the efforts of the multi-talented Dr. Buckaroo Banzai, a physicist, neurosurgeon, test pilot, and rock musician, to save the world by defeating a band of inter-dimensional aliens called Red Lectroids from Planet 10. The film is a cross between the action/adventure and sci-fi film genres and also includes elements of comedy, satire, and romance.[3]

Plot[edit]

Banzai prepares to test his Jet Car, a modified Ford F-350 pickup truck powered by a jet engine and capable of exceeding Mach 1. The car is also equipped with a secret device called an "oscillation overthruster", which Banzai and his associates hope will allow it to drive through solid matter. The test is a success: Banzai stuns onlookers by driving the Jet Car directly through a mountain. Emerging on the other side, Banzai finds that an alien organism has attached itself to the undercarriage.

Hearing of Banzai's success, physicist Dr. Emilio Lizardo breaks out of the Trenton Home for the Criminally Insane, after being held there for 50 years. A flashback shows Banzai's mentor, Dr. Hikita, was present at Lizardo's failed overthruster experiment in 1938. Crashing half through the target wall, Lizardo had been briefly trapped in the 8th dimension where his mind was taken over by Lord John Whorfin.

Whorfin is the leader of the Red Lectroids, a race of alien reptiles who wage war against Planet 10. After being defeated by the less-aggressive Black Lectroids, Whorfin and his group were banished into the 8th dimension. Lizardo's failed experiment accidentally released Whorfin and he soon brings many of the Red Lectroids to Earth in an incident that was reported in 1938 by Orson Welles in his radio broadcast The War of the Worlds, only to be forced by the aliens to retract it all as fiction.

The Red Lectroids now pose as employees of the defense contracting company named Yoyodyne Propulsion Systems. They have been working on building a large spacecraft under the guise of a United States Air Force program, the Truncheon bomber. They intend to rescue the remaining 8th dimension exiles and take over Planet 10. They were unable to produce a working overthruster like Banzai's, so Whorfin plans to steal it. Banzai's team, the Hong Kong Cavaliers, finds out about Yoyodyne and hacks into their computer. They discover that everyone there has the first name John, with various last names such as Yaya, Smallberries and Bigbooté. At first they believe it to be a joke, but then they notice all the Yoyodyne employees applied for Social Security cards on November 1, 1938 and all in the same town: Grover's Mill, New Jersey.

In the meantime, a Black Lectroid spacecraft orbiting Earth contacts Banzai, giving him an electric shock that enables him to see through Lectroids' camouflage. (Black Lectroids appear to be Rastafarian Jamaicans, while Red Lectroids appear to be Caucasians.) The ship also sends a "thermo-pod" to Earth, with a holographic message from the Black Lectroids' leader, John Emdall, explaining Lord Whorfin's motives and giving an ultimatum: stop Whorfin and his army or else the Black Lectroids will protect themselves by staging a fake nuclear attack, causing the start of World War III.

With help from the Black Lectroid messenger John Parker, Banzai and the Hong Kong Cavaliers, a collection of civilian volunteers named "The Blue Blaze Irregulars" and a young woman named Penny Priddy (a long-lost twin sister of Buckaroo's late wife), Buckaroo succeeds in his mission, destroying the Red Lectroids and saving Earth. The end credits announce an unproduced sequel Buckaroo Banzai Against the World Crime League.

Cast[edit]

  • Peter Weller as Buckaroo Banzai, a modern-day renaissance man, top neurosurgeon, particle physicist, race car driver, rock star and comic book hero. In the film, he is seen as a mild-mannered hero whose latest experiments open the door to the 8th dimension and unwittingly start an interstellar battle for the world.
  • John Lithgow as Dr. Emilio Lizardo / Lord John Whorfin
  • Ellen Barkin as Penny Priddy
  • Ronald Lacey as President Widmark
  • Kent Perkins as Voice of Mission Control

The Hong Kong Cavaliers[edit]

The Hong Kong Cavaliers are the main assistants of Banzai in the film and bear some similarity to Doc Savage's Fabulous Five. They reside at the Banzai Institute, a think-tank located in Holland Township, New Jersey. In addition to being multidisciplinary scientific experts in a variety of fields, they are also Buckaroo's rock and roll band. They are all referred to by code names or nicknames and, except for New Jersey, their actual names remain secret.

  • Clancy Brown as Rawhide, arguably Buckaroo's lieutenant. Plays piano. He appears to be killed by a Red Lectroid's poisoned barb, but the 'Pinky Carruthers' fact overlay feature on the DVD states that he was put into suspended animation until they can find a cure.
  • Pepe Serna as Reno Nevada, who plays saxophone. Reno is romantically involved with another of Buckaroo's teammates, a woman named Pecos (referenced in a line of dialogue as being in Tibet, she appears in the novel, but not in the film).
  • Lewis Smith as Perfect Tommy, who plays rhythm guitar,and is generally accepted to be perfect. He designed the Jet Car's suspension system, which allows it to hug the ground even at supersonic speeds.
  • Jeff Goldblum as Dr. Sidney Zweibel/New Jersey, a neurosurgeon and a colleague of Dr. Banzai's from Columbia. He sings a little, dances and plays piano.
  • Billy Vera as Pinky Carruthers, one of Buckaroo's Blue Blaze Irregulars. Plays bass guitar.

In addition to the Hong Kong Cavaliers, Banzai is assisted by a multi-talented network of supporters and fans. The Radar Rangers are an amateur radio enthusiast group that helps Buckaroo track major threats. The Blue Blaze Irregulars are people of all ages and from all walks of life who help in various ways. The organization includes assault teams in its structure. The Rug Suckers are a team of armed civilians who operate a rug cleaning company, but are available to help Banzai when called upon.

Lectroids[edit]

Other characters[edit]

Production[edit]

Development[edit]

In 1974, W. D. Richter's wife read a review of Dirty Pictures from the Prom, the debut novel from Dartmouth College graduate and writer Earl Mac Rauch. Richter, also an alumnus from the college, read the book, loved it and wrote Mac Rauch a letter.[4] The two men began corresponding and when the writer told him about his interest in becoming a screenwriter, Richter offered him an open-ended invitation to visit him in Los Angeles where he was attending the University of Southern California[5] and working as a script analyst for Warner Brothers.[6]

Screenplay[edit]

Years passed and Richter became a successful screenwriter. Mac Rauch took Richter up on his offer and arrived in L.A. Richter proceeded to introduce the writer to producer/director Irwin Winkler who gave Mac Rauch rent money for the next six months.[5] Over several dinners, Mac Rauch told Richter and his wife about a character named Buckaroo Bandy that he was thinking of writing a screenplay about. Richter and his wife liked the idea and paid Mac Rauch $1,500 to develop and write it. According to MacRauch, his script was inspired by "all those out-and-out, press-the-accelerator-to-the-floor, non-stop kung fu movies of the early '70s".[7] Richter remembers that Mac Rauch wrote several Banzai stories and that he "would get thirty or forty pages into a script, abandon its storyline and write a new one".[4] Mac Rauch recalled, "It's so easy to start something and then - since you're really not as serious about it as you should be - end up writing half of it ... You shove the hundred pages in a drawer and try to forget about it. Over the years, I started a dozen Buckaroo scripts that ended that way".[6]

Mac Rauch's original 30-page treatment was entitled, Find the Jetcar, Said the President - A Buckaroo Banzai Thriller.[6] Early on, one of the revisions Mac Rauch made was changing Buckaroo's surname from Bandy to Banzai but he wasn't crazy about it. However, Richter convinced him to keep the name.[5] The Hong Kong Cavaliers also appeared in these early drafts, but, according to Richter, "it never really went to a completed script. Mac wrote and wrote but never wrote the end".[5] Another early draft was entitled, The Strange Case of Mr. Cigars, about a huge robot and a box of Hitler's cigars.[6] Mac Rauch shelved his work for a few years while he wrote New York, New York for Martin Scorsese and other un-produced screenplays.[6]

In 1980, Richter talked with producers Frank Marshall and Neil Canton about filming one of his screenplays.[8] Out of this meeting, Canton and Richter formed their own production company and decided that Buckaroo Banzai would be the first film. Under their supervision, Mac Rauch wrote a 60-page treatment entitled, Lepers from Saturn.[6] They shopped Mac Rauch's treatment around to production executives who were their peers but no one wanted to take on such unusual subject matter by two first-time producers and a first-time director. Canton and Richter contacted veteran producer Sidney Beckerman at MGM/United Artists who Canton had worked with before.[8] Beckerman liked it and introduced Richter and Canton to studio chief David Begelmen. Within 24 hours they had a development deal with the studio.[6] It took Mac Rauch a year and a half to write the final screenplay and during this time, the Lepers from the treatment became Lizards and then Lectroids from Planet 10.[8] Much of the film's detailed character histories were taken from Mac Rauch's unfinished Banzai scripts.[9]

However, a Writers Guild of America strike forced the project to languish in development for more than a year. Begelmen left MGM because several of his projects had performed poorly at the box office. This put all of his future projects, Buckaroo Banzai included, in jeopardy.[6] Begelmen formed Sherwood Productions and exercised a buy-out option with MGM for the Banzai script. He took it to 20th Century Fox who agreed to make it with a $12 million budget.[10] Mac Rauch ended up writing three more drafts before they had a shooting script.[7]

Casting[edit]

To cast the role of Buckaroo Banzai, Richter wanted an actor who "could both look heroic with grease all over his face, and project the kind of intelligence you would associate with a neurosurgeon and inventor".[11] The studio wanted a recognizable movie star, but Richter and Canton wanted to cast a relatively unknown actor.[6] Richter looked in New York City because he assumed that an actor with experience on stage and small films "would be able to completely interact with props".[11] He had been impressed by Peter Weller's performance in Shoot the Moon and met with him.[8] The actor was hesitant, at first, to take the role because he was unclear on the overall tone of the movie. "Would it be campy? Would it be a cartoon? Or would it be the sort of wacky, realistic film that would catch people sideways - and not be a cartoon", Weller remembers thinking.[6] Richter told him Banzai's story and convinced Weller to do the film. The actor says that he based his character on Elia Kazan, Jacques Cousteau, Albert Einstein, Leonardo da Vinci, and Adam Ant.[8]

For the role of Dr. Emilio Lizardo, the studio wanted to cast an unknown actor, but Mac Rauch had written the role with John Lithgow in mind. Like Weller, he was not sure about the character, but Richter convinced him by "claiming what a real feast for an actor this wonderful Jekyll and Hyde character was", the actor said.[6] Lithgow told an interviewer, "I have had roles where I came very close to going over the top. In Twilight Zone I almost went over the top several times. But this role is completely over the top. It makes the role in Twilight Zone seem like a model of restraint. I do it in a wild, red fright wig and rotten false teeth with a thick Italian accent. It's wild."[12] For Lizardo's accent, Lithgow spent time with an Italian tailor at MGM and recorded his voice. He changed his walk to that of an "old crab, and because my alien metabolism is supposed to be messed up".[8] Lithgow said of his character, "playing Lizardo felt like playing the madman in The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari".[8]

Ellen Barkin, who played the romantic interest "Penny Priddy", describes the film as "if Terry Southern had written Star Wars. None of the characters are quite what they should be - just my kind of thing."[8] Richter's only choice to play John Bigbooté was Christopher Lloyd. Richter first met Jeff Goldblum on Invasion of the Body Snatchers and wanted him to play New Jersey. The actor admired his writing and was eager to work with the cast the director had assembled. Lewis Smith was asked to dye his hair blond. It took eight hours, and he saw it go from red to orange to fluorescent yellow to white.[8]

Clancy Brown said that his character is "very common sensical. He's the everyman of the film".[8] Robert Ito was so determined to get the role of Dr. Hikita, that he disguised himself as an old man, designing his own makeup job to age himself 30 years.[8]

Pre-production[edit]

Production designer Michael Riva had worked with Richter before and spent two years working on the look for Banzai before pre-production.[8] He and Richter studied all kinds of art and literature for the film's look, including medical journals, African magazines, and Russian history. The inspiration for the look of the Lectroid masks came from Riva sporting a lobster on his nose. Richter based the Lectroids' alien form on a Canadian anthropologist's extrapolation of what dinosaurs might have evolved into if they had survived, but modified the concept because it would have required prosthetics that would have immobilized the actors.[13] Their makeup consisted of 12 separate pieces of latex appliances per alien. Each actor's makeup was unique, with casts taken of their faces.[13] Their outfits were influenced by contemporary Russian lifestyles and they went with greens, blues and yellows because, according to Riva, they are "sick and anemic."[8] Richter wanted the Black Lectroids to have a "warrior-like demeanor, but in an elegant, not fierce fashion".[13] Their costumes came from African tribal markings. For the Red Lectroids, Riva consulted Russian history to give them a "baggy-suited, Moscow bureaucrat sort of image".[13] For Buckaroo's look, the costume designer had him wear a Gianni Versace sports jacket and a Perry Ellis suit and tie. He also wears a recut Giorgio Armani fabric suit.[8]

Principal photography[edit]

By the time of filming, Richter had a 300-page book called The Essential Buckaroo[5] that consisted of notes and had every incomplete script Mac Rauch wrote over the years.[6] Principal photography began during the second week of September 1983 on locations in and around South Gate, an industrial suburb of L.A.[6] Buckaroo's neurosurgery scene with New Jersey was shot at the Lakeview Medical Center in the San Fernando Valley.[8] The jet car sequences were shot in October on a dry lake north of the San Bernardino Mountains. The vehicle was designed and built by Riva, art director Stephen Dane and Thrust Racing owners Jerry Segal and George Haddebeck. Segal started with a Ford F-350 truck, reinforced the frame assembly, added the front end from a Grand National stock car, borrowed air scoops from a DC-3, and a one-man cockpit modeled after a Messerschmitt fighter plane.[8] Under the hood, Segal modified the Ford engine with an oversized carburetor and nitrous oxide injectors. The Oscillation Overthruster was created by Riva and visual effects supervisor Michael Fink out of a gyroscope to which a metal frame, wires, circuits, and tiny strobe lights were added.[8] The design was the basis for the Flux Capacitor in the 1985 film Back to the Future. The prop itself would ultimately be reused a number of times on various Star Trek episodes.

Cinematographer Jordan Cronenweth was initially hired as the film's director of photography but, halfway through production, producers replaced him with Fred J. Koenekamp.[14]

The Banzai Institute exteriors were shot in Rustic Canyon, Los Angeles, with the interiors filmed in an Art Deco house designed in 1931 by MGM art director Cedric Gibbons for his wife, Dolores del Río.[8] Deserted rooms at Brentwood's V.A. hospital were used for Dr. Lizardo's room at the Trenton Home for the Criminally Insane. Lizardo's 1938 laboratory was filmed at a deserted industrial site, Alpha Tubing. The set decorators rented a collection of 1930s electrical props originally used in the original Boris Karloff Frankenstein films.[8] The interiors of Yoyodyne Propulsion Systems were shot in the abandoned Firestone tire factory. The production rented warhead nosecones from Modern Props and had televisions going all the time on the set. Wilmington's Department of Water and Power provided the location for Dr. Lizardo's shock tower and served as the Yoyodyne exterior.[8] Weller remembers that during the scene where his character is tortured by Dr. Lizardo, "I never laughed so hard in my life! They had to stop takes over and over on that segment because I was laughing at the banter between [Christopher] Lloyd and [John] Lithgow."[15] The Armco Steel Plant in Torrance housed the Lectroid launch hangar. Finally, 12 weeks of filming were done on the backlot and soundstages at MGM.[8]

Richter and Riva did not want metal spaceships and opted for a more organic look like a deep sea oyster shell.[8] Gregory Jein, Inc. and Stetson Visual Concepts built the spaceship models and worked off sketches by production illustrator Tom Cranham and used seashells as guides.[8] Richter purposely gave the film an unpolished look because the "real world appears ramshackle—because people constantly repair whatever's around them".[16]

Soundtrack[edit]

The film's music coordinator and sound designer Bones Howe worked with musician Michael Boddicker, who wrote and performed the score, on the theme music and sound effects.[8] Howe selected the source music for the club scene and put together a special arrangement of "Since I Don't Have You" that Buckaroo sings to Penny Priddy. Weller, an accomplished musician, played the guitar and pocket trumpet, did his own vocals, and learned to mime piano playing. Howe and the filmmakers decided not to go with a rock music score and opted for an electronic one instead. He wanted to "integrate music and sound effects so that everything would merge on the soundtrack with no distinction between music and sound".[8] Boddicker was Howe's first choice for composer. They had worked together on the soundtrack for Get Crazy. Boddicker had just won a Grammy for his song, "Imagination", on the Flashdance soundtrack. In addition to composing the score, he also produced alien sound effects while Alan Howarth was hired to create the sounds of the 8th Dimension.[8]

Reaction[edit]

Fox hired Terry Erdmann (Blue Blaze code name "Silver Fox") and a team of publicists including Blake Mitchell and Jim Ferguson to promote the film at Star Trek conventions with a few film clips and free Banzai headbands, which have since become highly-sought-after collector's items by fans of the film.[6] The studio made no attempts to sell the film to a mainstream audience with traditional promotion, although there was some magazine advertising (primarily in Marvel Comics) and related licensing which served as viral advertising in limited venues. Studio publicist Rosemary LaSalmandra said, "Nobody knew what to do with Buckaroo Banzai. There was no simple way to tell anyone what it was about—I'm not sure anybody knew".[6] Lithgow said, "I've tried to explain the story line to people and it takes about an hour. I mean it; it's that complicated. But it's terrific. Every time I tell people about it, I get so excited that I end it by saying, Buckaroo Banzai, remember where you heard it first!"[12]

Buckaroo Banzai was originally scheduled to be released on June 8, 1984 but was pushed back to August 15. It opened on 236 screens and faced stiff competition against the likes of Star Trek III: The Search for Spock (also featuring Banzai co-star Christopher Lloyd), Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom and Ghostbusters. It made USD $620,279 on its opening weekend before finally grossing $6.2 million in North America.[17]

Critical reception[edit]

The film was given mixed to positive reviews and based on reviews from 34 critics has a 71% "fresh" rating on Rotten Tomatoes. Bill Cosford of The Miami Herald praised it as "an unusual film": "Its comedy springs from that odd combination of self-effacement and self-absorption that characterized some of the Saturday Night Live characters and continues to provide Bill Murray with work. And though Buckaroo Banzai is basically a comic strip, it's also relentlessly hip, hipper even than it is goofy." Cosford added, "There are inside jokes and 'quotations' from movies, television and pop music, and there's lots of weird activity on the edges of the film, so much that I suspect Banzai might even be rewarding the second time around. First or second, the film defies easy explanation. But it's anarchic comedy for the 1980s, closest in spirit to the Marx Brothers as they might have been if they grown up on themselves, and had had the benefit of post-Star Wars special effects. It's also adventure in the Buck Rogers mold, the aliens employing a wide array of weaponry, including Arachnids From Space, the good guys fighting back from a mobile command post aboard the Cavaliers' doubledecker tour bus. The pace of both jokes and action is that of Airplane!, and to say much more is only to spoil the fun."[18]

Dave Kehr, in the Chicago Reader, wrote, "Richter seems to have invented an elaborate mythology for his hero ... but he never bothers to explicate it; the film gives you the mildly annoying sensation of being left out of a not very good private joke".[19] In his review for the New York Times, Vincent Canby wrote that Buckaroo Banzai "may well turn out to be a pilot film for other theatrical features, though this one would be hard to top for pure, nutty fun".[20] Richard Corliss, in his review for Time, wrote, "its creators, Earl Mac Rauch and W.D. Richter, propel their film with such pace and farfetched style that anyone without Ph.D.s in astrophysics and pop culture is likely to get lost in the ganglion of story strands. One wonders if the movie is too ambitious, facetious and hip for its own box-office good".[21] Film critic Pauline Kael wrote, "I didn't find it hard to accept the uninflected, deadpan tone, and to enjoy Buckaroo Banzai for its inventiveness and the gags that bounce off other adventure movies, other comedies. The picture's sense of fun carried me along".[22]

Danny Bowes, writing a retrospective in 2011 for Tor.com, said that the film "is paradoxically decades ahead of its time and yet completely of its time; it's profoundly a movie by, for, and of geeks and nerds at a time before geek/nerd culture was mainstreamed, and a movie whose pre-CG special effects and pre-Computer Age production design were an essential part of its good-natured enthusiasm. What at the time was a hip, modern take on classic SF is now, almost thirty years later, almost indistinguishable from the SF cinema that inspired it in terms of the appeal to modern viewers: the charmingly old-fashioned special effects, and the comparatively innocent earnestness of its tone."[23]

Home media[edit]

Buckaroo Banzai was released on DVD on January 4, 2002. Entertainment Weekly gave the release a "B+" rating and wrote, "Fans will drool over the extras, including some illuminating deleted scenes (of particular note is an alternate opening detailing Buckaroo's tragic childhood, featuring Jamie Lee Curtis as Banzai's mother) and director Richter's commentary, which reveals some colorful behind-the-scenes battles with studio execs".[24] IGN gave the DVD their highest rating and was "thrilled by the special edition treatment that this landmark cult film has received at the hands of MGM. The video is great, the sound is great, there are tons of extras ... Bottom line, if you're a Buckaroo fan, this is the home video version you have been waiting for".[25]

Legacy[edit]

Buckaroo Banzai has since attracted a loyal cult following and has been quite popular on home video.[26] Richter said, "It has had the most dramatic reactions of anything I've worked on. Some loathe it and others are willing to die for it".[26] The director feels that the film failed commercially because the narrative was too complex. He would like to have had more coverage for certain scenes. He could have edited the film better and there were too many master shots and two-shots that left little for the editor to work with.[26]

Wired Magazine, in 2009, celebrated "the 25th anniversary of the release of a film near and dear to many geeks who came of age in the '80s. The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the 8th Dimension was a great, adventurous, geeky movie, with enough silly science fiction and great characters to fill any three lousy summer blockbusters these days... And it gave us so many great, geeky lines to quote."[27] Cosford of The Miami Herald said in his review, "I suspect that Buckaroo's odd musings, particularly the one about being there no matter where you go, are about to enter the popular argot on the scale of "Where's the beef?"[18]—and his prediction has been proved right.[27][28][29][30][31][32] (There is a page at CafePress for Buckaroo Banzai Quotes Gifts, for example.) Entertainment Weekly ranked Buckaroo Banzai as #43 in their Top 50 Cult Movies.[33] The film was also ranked #21 on the magazine's "The Cult 25: The Essential Left-Field Movie Hits Since '83" list.[34] The Guardian has also cited Buckaroo Banzai as one of their "1,000 films to see before you die".[35]

The current incarnation of the comic strip Dick Tracy has seen two subtle references to the film in the storyline. In a strip dated October 22, 2013, there is a reference to a business named "Emilio Lizardo Crematorium".[36] In a strip dated November 7, 2013, Dick Tracy's granddaughter Honeymoon tells him she will be attending a Hong Kong Cavaliers concert with the hope of getting Perfect Tommy's autograph.[37]

Filmmaker Wes Anderson pays homage to the ending of Buckaroo Bonzai in the final sequence of his 2004 film The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou. In both scenes, members of the cast join one-by-one in a continuous walking shot. The Buckaroo Banzai version was shot in the concrete LA River bed.

Other versions[edit]

A substantially longer print was shown in test screening in Texas and in Washington State before general release, but the "restored" DVD print is still missing much of the test print material.

The DVD restores a deleted opening scene consisting of a "home movie" from Banzai's childhood, narrated by Clancy Brown, who plays the character Rawhide. The scene depicts an early test of a precursor to the Jet Car, built by Buckaroo's parents and Dr. Hikita. The test ends in disaster, as the Jet Car has been sabotaged by the evil Hanoi Xan, leader of the World Crime League. The "home movie" ends, and dissolves to the present-day opening scene of the film depicting Buckaroo's test run of the latter-day Jet Car. Jamie Lee Curtis plays Buckaroo Banzai's mother, Sandra Banzai.

The novelization by Mac Rauch is told through fake documents written and compiled by Reno Nevada and further expands on the backstory of the film, including the murder of Peggy Banzai (her twin sister Penny plays a role in the movie) by the minions of Asian crime lord Hanoi Xan, the deaths of Buckaroo's parents in an early Jet Car accident and at least two other fictitious novels.

The 102-minute version released on DVD in January 2002 has a subtitle track with director's commentary-style information and a fake documents feature. The packaging and literature with the DVD maintain a mythos that Buckaroo Banzai is a real person, that the Banzai Institute exists and that the movie is in fact a docu-drama of the real adventures of Buckaroo Banzai. The producers make claims such as having had brief tours of the Banzai Institute, having met and interviewed several members of the Hong Kong Cavaliers and that the script required approval from the Institute.

Proposed sequels[edit]

Buckaroo Banzai Against the World Crime League[edit]

The credits mention a sequel, Buckaroo Banzai Against the World Crime League, which was never produced: the film would have focused on the League and its leader, Hanoi Xan. MGM now owns the rights to the Banzai franchise (after being passed on from now-defunct Sherwood Productions and its successors), so any sequel or remake is at their discretion.

TV series[edit]

In late 1998, the Fox Network tried to develop a Buckaroo Banzai TV series, entitled Buckaroo Banzai: Ancient Secrets and New Mysteries, but nothing ever came of it.[38] The special edition DVD contains a short computer animated sequence; done by Foundation Imaging, that was made as a test reel for the series. Among other things, the clip depicts a Space Shuttle trying to land with broken landing gear. Dr. Banzai maneuvers his Jet Car under the Shuttle and uses it to take the place of the broken gear.

Other media[edit]

Buckaroo Banzai books[edit]

The novelization of the first film was reprinted to coincide with the release of the movie on DVD. In the foreword, Mac Rauch mentions that the Buckaroo Banzai series would be continued in a series of novels. The first of these graphic novels, Buckaroo Banzai: Return of the Screw, was published on September 15, 2007.

Marvel Comics[edit]

Marvel Comics published a comic book adaptation of the film by writer Bill Mantlo and artists Mark Texeira and Armando Gil in Marvel Super Special #33.[39] The adaptation was also released as a two-issue limited series.[40]

Moonstone Books[edit]

In 2006, Moonstone Books began publishing comic books depicting earlier and further adventures of Buckaroo Banzai and the Hong Kong Cavaliers.

The first story, Return of the Screw, was written by Buckaroo Banzai's creator, Earl Mac Rauch. The black-and-white preview edition of the comic was released in February 2006, featuring a behind-the-scenes article by Dan Berger regarding the transformation of the rejected Buckaroo Banzai television pilot script Supersize those Fries into the present comic book miniseries. The three issues of this comic have been collected into a trade paperback.[41]

In December 2007, Moonstone released a new Banzai comic story A Christmas Corrall in the Moonstone Holiday Super Spectacular compilation, also written by Earl Mac Rauch and drawn by Ken Wolak.[41]

A two-issue prequel to the movie was released in early 2008 called Of Hunan Bondage. It was written by Earl Mac Rauch with art by Superman Returns storyboard artist Chewie.[41]

In early 2009, Moonstone released Big Size, a special oversize one-shot comic, written by Earl Mac Rauch with art by Paul Hanley.[41]

Adamant Entertainment[edit]

In 2011, Adamant Entertainment announced a licensing deal to publish a tabletop role-playing game under the title "The Buckaroo Banzai Adventure Game". The initial press release (http://www.adamantentertainment.com/2011/07/18/buckaroo-banzai-is-back/) stated that the game will be published in Spring 2012 (though delays have pushed that back, and there is no current release date) and will be presented as a training manual for Blue Blaze Irregulars, "in order to prepare BBI recruits for the sorts of situations in which they may find themselves while aiding Buckaroo. The training manual will feature guidelines for taking on the roles of either your own Blue Blaze Irregular Strike Team, or the roles of Dr. Buckaroo Banzai and the Hong Kong Cavaliers themselves."

The game's cover art is by Dave Dorman and the game is being designed by Gareth-Michael Skarka. As of November 22, 2012, Adamant is awaiting approval from the licensor before releasing the product.

Video game[edit]

The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai is an interactive fiction video game based on the franchise. It was written in 1984 by Scott Adams and published by Adventure International.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "THE ADVENTURES OF BUCKAROO BANZAI ACROSS THE 8TH DIMENSION (PG)". British Board of Film Classification. 1984-11-15. Retrieved 2012-03-30. 
  2. ^ Aubrey Solomon, Twentieth Century Fox: A Corporate and Financial History, Scarecrow Press, 1989 p260
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Bibliography
  • Burns, James. "An Interview with the Director of Buckaroo Banzai W.D. Richter". Marvel Super Special #33: Buckaroo Banzai. New York: Marvel Comics, 1984.

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