National Lampoon's Animal House is a 1978 American comedy film directed by John Landis. The film is about a misfit group of fraternity members who challenge the administrators of their university. The screenplay was adapted by Douglas Kenney, Chris Miller and Harold Ramis from stories written by Miller and published in National Lampoon magazine based on Miller's experiences in the Alpha Delta Phi fraternity at Dartmouth College, Ramis' experiences in the Zeta Beta Tau fraternity at Washington University in St. Louis, and producer Ivan Reitman's experiences at Delta Upsilon at McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario. Of the lead actors only John Belushi was an established star, but even he had not yet appeared in a movie, having gained his notoriety mainly from Saturday Night Live appearances. Several cast members, including Karen Allen, Tom Hulce and Kevin Bacon were just beginning their careers. Upon its initial release, Animal House received generally mixed reviews from critics, but Time and Roger Ebert proclaimed it one of the year's best. Filmed for $2.7 million, it is one of the most profitable movies of all time. Since its initial release, Animal House has garnered an estimated return of more than $141 million in the form of video and DVDs, not including merchandising. The film, along with 1977's Kentucky Fried Movie, also directed by Landis, was largely responsible for defining and launching the gross-out genre of films that became one of Hollywood's staple genres. In 2001, the United States Library of Congress deemed Animal House "culturally significant" and selected it for preservation in the National Film Registry. This film was #1 on Bravo's 100 Funniest Movies. It was #36 on AFI's 100 Years... 100 Laughs list of the 100 best American comedies. In 2008, Empire magazine selected Animal House as one of The 500 Greatest Movies of All Time.
Two freshmen, Lawrence "Larry" Kroger (Thomas Hulce) and Kent Dorfman (Stephen Furst), seek to join a fraternity at Faber College in 1962. They visit the prestigious Omega Theta Pi House's invitational party but are unwelcome. They then try next door at the Delta Tau Chi House, where Kent's brother was once a member, making Kent a "legacy." There they find John "Bluto" Blutarsky (John Belushi) urinating outside the fraternity house. The Deltas "need the dues" so they permit Larry and Kent to pledge. They receive the fraternity names "Pinto" (Larry) and "Flounder" (Kent). Vernon Wormer (John Vernon), the Dean of Faber College, wants to remove the Delta fraternity from campus due to repeated conduct violations and low academic standings. Since they are already on probation, he puts the Deltas on something he calls "double secret probation" and orders the clean-cut, smug Omega president Gregg Marmalard (James Daughton) to find a way to get rid of the Deltas permanently. Flounder is bullied by Omega member and ROTC cadet commander Doug Neidermeyer (Mark Metcalf) so Bluto and Daniel Simpson "D-Day" Day (Bruce McGill) persuade Flounder to sneak Neidermeyer's horse into Dean Wormer's office late at night. They give him a gun and tell him to shoot it. Flounder does not know that the gun is loaded with blanks. He cannot bring himself to kill the horse, so he fires into the ceiling. The noise frightens the horse so much that it dies. In the cafeteria the next day, smooth-talking Eric "Otter" Stratton (Tim Matheson) tries to convince the stuck-up Mandy Pepperidge (Mary Louise Weller) to abandon her boyfriend, the uninterested Marmalard, and date him instead. Bluto proceeds to provoke Marmalard with his impression of a popping zit by stuffing his mouth with mashed potatoes and propelling it at Marmalard, Mandy and their table mates, Chip Diller (Kevin Bacon) and Barbara "Babs" Jansen (Martha Smith). Bluto then starts a food fight that engulfs the cafeteria. Bluto and D-Day steal the answers to an upcoming psychology test. However, it turns out the Omegas planted the exam stencil and the Deltas get every answer wrong. Their grade point averages drop so low that Wormer only needs one more incident to revoke the charter that allows them to remain on campus. To cheer themselves up, the Deltas organize a toga party, during which Otis Day and the Knights perform "Shout". The dean's alcoholic, lecherous wife, Marion (Verna Bloom), attends the party at Otter's invitation and has sex with him. Pinto hooks up with Clorette (Sarah Holcomb), a girl he met at the supermarket, and makes out with her only to learn she is the mayor's 13-year-old daughter. He later brings her home in a shopping cart. Due to the party, Wormer revokes the fraternity's charter, and all belongings are confiscated. To take their minds off their troubles, Otter, Boon, Flounder, and Pinto go on a road trip. Otter picks up some girls from Emily Dickinson College by pretending to be the boyfriend of Fawn Liebowitz, a girl who recently died on campus. They stop at a roadhouse because Otis Day and the Knights are performing there, not realizing that it caters to an exclusively black clientele. The hulking patrons intimidate the guys into fleeing, damaging Flounder's car borrowed and leaving their frightened dates behind. Boon breaks up with his girlfriend Katy (Karen Allen) after discovering her sexual relationship with a professor (Donald Sutherland). Marmalard is told that his girlfriend is having an affair with Otter, so he and other Omegas lure him to a motel and beat him up. The Deltas' midterm grades are so poor that an ecstatic Wormer expels them all. He even notifies their draft boards of their eligibility. It seems time for the Deltas to give up but Bluto, then the injured Otter, rouses them with an impassioned, historically inaccurate speech ("Was it over when the Germans bombed Pearl Harbor?!") and they decide to take revenge on Wormer and the Omegas. The Deltas construct a rogue parade float from Flounder's car and wreak havoc on the annual homecoming parade. During the ensuing chaos, the futures of many of the main characters are revealed. The last shot of the film is of Bluto driving away in a white convertible with his soon-to-be wife Mandy.