The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai (1984)

PG | 103 mins | Comedy, Fantasy, Science fiction | 10 August 1984

Director:

W. D. Richter

Writer:

Earl Mac Rauch

Cinematographer:

Fred Koenekamp

Production Designer:

J. Michael Riva

Production Company:

Sherwood Productions, Inc.
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HISTORY

Opening credits include the following statement: “Buckaroo Banzai, born to an American mother and a Japanese father, thus began life as he was destined to live it … going in several directions at once. A brilliant neurosurgeon, this restless young man grew quickly dissatisfied with a life devoted solely to medicine. He roamed the planet studying martial arts and particle physics, collecting around him a most eccentric group of friends, those hard-rocking scientists The Hong Kong Cavaliers. And now, with his astounding jet car ready for a bold assault on a dimension barrier, Buckaroo Banzai faces the greatest challenge of his turbulent life … while high above Earth, an alien spacecraft keeps a nervous watch on Team Banzai’s every move …
       End credits include the following statements: “Watch for the next adventure of Buckaroo Banzai: Buckaroo Banzai against the World Crime League, ” and, “Special thanks to: Goodrich Tire & Rubber Co., Monroe Shock Absorbers, Ford Motor Company.”
       A 10 Aug 1984 LAHExam article reported that writer Earl Mac Rauch first discussed the character, then called “Buckaroo Bandy,” with producer-director W. D. Richter in 1972. A Jul 1984 Starlog interview with Rauch stated that early versions of the screenplay were titled, Find the Jetcar, Said the President – A Buckaroo Banzai Thriller and Lepers From Saturn. Beginning 5 Jun 1981, DV and other trade publications referred to the film by a working title, Buckaroo Banzai. An 18 Jul 1984 Var news item announced a new title, The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai. The film was reviewed in the 8 Aug 1984 ... More Less

Opening credits include the following statement: “Buckaroo Banzai, born to an American mother and a Japanese father, thus began life as he was destined to live it … going in several directions at once. A brilliant neurosurgeon, this restless young man grew quickly dissatisfied with a life devoted solely to medicine. He roamed the planet studying martial arts and particle physics, collecting around him a most eccentric group of friends, those hard-rocking scientists The Hong Kong Cavaliers. And now, with his astounding jet car ready for a bold assault on a dimension barrier, Buckaroo Banzai faces the greatest challenge of his turbulent life … while high above Earth, an alien spacecraft keeps a nervous watch on Team Banzai’s every move …
       End credits include the following statements: “Watch for the next adventure of Buckaroo Banzai: Buckaroo Banzai against the World Crime League, ” and, “Special thanks to: Goodrich Tire & Rubber Co., Monroe Shock Absorbers, Ford Motor Company.”
       A 10 Aug 1984 LAHExam article reported that writer Earl Mac Rauch first discussed the character, then called “Buckaroo Bandy,” with producer-director W. D. Richter in 1972. A Jul 1984 Starlog interview with Rauch stated that early versions of the screenplay were titled, Find the Jetcar, Said the President – A Buckaroo Banzai Thriller and Lepers From Saturn. Beginning 5 Jun 1981, DV and other trade publications referred to the film by a working title, Buckaroo Banzai. An 18 Jul 1984 Var news item announced a new title, The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai. The film was reviewed in the 8 Aug 1984 Var as The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai: Across the 8th Dimension.
       A 10 Jun 1981 Var article named Clint Eastwood as the “likely” star, but the title role was eventually played by Peter Weller. According to a 9 Aug 1983 DV news item, the production originated at M-G-M Studios, then moved to United Artists Corp., and followed David Begelman when he became president of Sherwood Productions, Inc. Twentieth Century-Fox Film Corp. eventually released the film.
       A 15 Jul 1983 DV news brief announced Jordan Cronenweth as director of photography, but, he does not appear in onscreen credits. DV later reported that director of photography Fred J. Koenekamp would be “a valuable asset to first-time director Richter.”
       A 2 Mar 1983 DV news item reported a $17 million budget. On 9 Jun 1983, a HR brief announced principal photography would begin 11 Jul 1983 in and around Los Angeles, CA. DV stated that a former police station in Venice, CA, was used as the New Brunswick, NJ, police station. Other Los Angeles area locations included the Firestone Tire plant, the Bethlehem Steel factory, Griffith Park, and the Sepulveda Dam.
       A 31 Aug 1984 LAT brief noted that Twentieth-Century Fox was releasing Buckaroo Banzai in Cincinnati, OH, emphasizing its “hip humor” after the film opened poorly with an advertising campaign centered on science fiction. On 5 Oct 1984, a DV article reported the studio was attempting to revive the film with selective booking in “sophisticated markets,” advertising on cable television network MTV, and print advertisements that detailed “eight important facts” about the film.
       The 13 Aug 1984 Time review called the film, “the first sci-fi western action adventure rock-’n’-roll melodrama farce” and compared the hero to “Han Solo, A. J. Foyt, J. Robert Oppenheimer, [surgeon] Christiaan Barnard, Bruce Lee, and Bruce Springsteen.”
       The film marked Richter’s feature directorial debut.
       Although the end credits allude to a sequel and a 9 Aug 1984 HR interview with Weller indicated he and the producers were prepared for sequels or a television series, none have been made as of 2013. In a 17 Feb 1993 DV article, Richter said that the main reason for the lack of follow-ups was David Begelman, who “doesn’t like this movie, and he owns all the rights.” Begelman reportedly rejected an opportunity to do a series with the ABC television network, however, a 16 Dec 1998 Entertainment Weekly news brief stated that the Fox television network was developing a series with Richter called, Buckaroo Banzai: Ancient Secrets and New Mysteries. More Less

GEOGRAPHIC LOCATIONS
SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Daily Variety
5 Jun 1981.
---
Daily Variety
2 Mar 1983.
---
Daily Variety
15 Jul 1983
p. 34.
Daily Variety
9 Aug 1983
p. 3.
Daily Variety
5 Oct 1984
p. 1, 26.
Daily Variety
17 Feb 1993.
---
Entertainment Weekly
16 Dec 1998.
---
Hollywood Reporter
9 Jun 1983.
---
Hollywood Reporter
7 Aug 1984
p. 4.
Hollywood Reporter
9 Aug 1984.
---
LA Weekly
17 Aug 1984.
---
LAHExam
10 Aug 1984.
---
Los Angeles Times
10 Aug 1984
p. 11.
Los Angeles Times
26 Aug 1984
Section U, p. 21.
Los Angeles Times
31 Aug 1984.
---
New York Times
5 Oct 1984
p. 8.
New Yorker
20 Aug 1984.
---
Newsweek
20 Aug 1984.
---
Starlog
Jul 1984
pp. 66-68.
Time
13 Aug 1984.
---
Variety
10 Jun 1981
p. 4.
Variety
18 Jul 1984.
---
Variety
8 Aug 1984
p. 14.
WSJ
30 Aug 1984.
---
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION COMPANY
PRODUCTION TEXT
A Sidney Beckerman Prodution
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Unit prod mgr
1st asst dir
PRODUCERS
Assoc prod
Exec prod
WRITER
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
Cam op
1st asst cam
2d asst cam
Still photog
Key grip
ART DIRECTORS
Prod des
Art dir
Art dir
Prod illustrator
Prod illustrator
Prod illustrator
FILM EDITORS
1st asst ed
Asst ed
Asst ed
Apprentice ed
Negative cutter
SET DECORATORS
Set dec
Prop master
Asst prop master
Const coord
COSTUMES
Cost supv
Costumer
Costumer
MUSIC
Mus supv
Mus ed
Asst mus ed
Electronic mus rec supv by
at the Record Plant
SOUND
Sd des
Prod mixer
Sd boom op
Supv sd ed
Supv sd ed
Foley by
Foley by
Spec synthesized sd eff
For Bodifications
Spec synthesized sd eff
Re-rec mixer
Re-rec mixer
Re-rec mixer
Re-rec sd services
VISUAL EFFECTS
Spec visual eff supv
Spec eff
Spec eff
Visual eff coord
Electronics eff and props
Electronics des
Computer video consultant
Computer graphics consultant
Video eng consultant
Motion control photog
Motion control supv
Motion control supv
Motion control anim
Motion control tech
Motion control tech
Motion control tech
Motion control tech
Motion control asst
Motion control asst
Opt cam
Matte cam
Prod coord
Matte paintings
Matte artist
Anim visual eff by
VCE eff supv
VCE anim
VCE anim
VCE anim
VCE anim
VCE anim
Addl eff anim
VCE opt eff
VCE opt eff
VCE opt eff
VCE admin
8th dimension seq by
Eff supv
Eff management
Eff photog
Eff anim and des
Stop motion anim
SEM photog
Composite photog
Miniatures supv
Miniature const
Modelmaker
Modelmaker
Modelmaker
Modelmaker
Title des
MAKEUP
Spec makeup des by
Makeup supv
Hairstylist
PRODUCTION MISC
Exec in charge of prod
Casting
Scr supv
Physical consultant to Mr. Weller
Asst to Mr. Canton/Mr. Richter
Asst to Mr. Beckerman
DGA trainee
Prod coord
Prod accountants
Loc mgr
Unit pub
Transportation coord
Transportation capt
Jet car manufacture
Prod asst
Prod asst
Prod intern
Prod intern
John Lithgow's dialect coach
STAND INS
Stunts
Stunts
Stunts
Stunts
Stunts
Stunts
Stunts
Stunts
Stunts
Stunt coord
COLOR PERSONNEL
Col by
DETAILS
Alternate Titles:
The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai: Across the 8th Dimension
The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai: Across the 8th Dimension!
Buckaroo Banzai
Find the Jet Car, Said the President – A Buckaroo Banzai Thriller
Lepers from Saturn
Buckaroo Bandy
Release Date:
10 August 1984
Premiere Information:
Los Angeles opening: 10 August 1984
New York opening: 5 October 1984
Production Date:
began 11 July 1983 in Los Angeles, CA
Copyright Claimant:
Sherwood Productions, Inc.
Copyright Date:
19 September 1984
Copyright Number:
PA224582
Physical Properties:
Sound
Dolby Stereo in selected theatres
Color
Lenses
Lenses and Panaflex® camera by Panavision®
Duration(in mins):
103
MPAA Rating:
PG
Country:
United States
Language:
English
PCA No:
27437
Passed by NBR:
No
SYNOPSIS

On a dry lakebed, Professor Hikita and Team Banzai prepare a jet car to break the dimensional barrier, while their leader, Dr. Buckaroo Banzai, performs brain surgery at a nearby hospital. Buckaroo invites an observer named Dr. Sidney “New Jersey” Zweibel to join the team. When Buckaroo arrives at the test site, he drives the jet car, equipped with an "oscillation overthruster," across the dimensional threshold. Meanwhile, at the Trenton Home for the Criminally Insane, inmate Dr. Emilio Lizardo watches Team Banzai on television and uses an electronic device to relive an experiment in 1938, when he unsuccessfully used a prototype of Professor Hikita’s overthruster. Lizardo telephones John Bigbooté at Yoyodyne Propulsion Systems, and asks him to prepare for his return. Lizardo, claiming his name is “Lord John Whorfin,” then kills the attendant and escapes the mental facility. Later, at a nightclub, Buckaroo and his band, the Hong Kong Cavaliers, made up of members of Team Banzai, play a show and meet an unhappy woman named Penny Priddy. Buckaroo attempts to cheer her with a song, but he refers to her as “Peggy” and she responds by firing a gun and leaving the club. The following day, the Cavaliers pick up Sidney in their tour bus at the New Brunswick, New Jersey, police station. Inside, Buckaroo bails out Penny, and tells her that she reminds him of someone he once knew. Later, during a press conference with the Secretary of Defense, Buckaroo explains how he broke the dimensional barrier, and hypothesizes that aliens may occupy the eighth dimension. Meanwhile, a group of aliens, called Black Lectroids, monitor Buckaroo’s activities from a spaceship above Earth. Buckaroo is summoned to a ... +


On a dry lakebed, Professor Hikita and Team Banzai prepare a jet car to break the dimensional barrier, while their leader, Dr. Buckaroo Banzai, performs brain surgery at a nearby hospital. Buckaroo invites an observer named Dr. Sidney “New Jersey” Zweibel to join the team. When Buckaroo arrives at the test site, he drives the jet car, equipped with an "oscillation overthruster," across the dimensional threshold. Meanwhile, at the Trenton Home for the Criminally Insane, inmate Dr. Emilio Lizardo watches Team Banzai on television and uses an electronic device to relive an experiment in 1938, when he unsuccessfully used a prototype of Professor Hikita’s overthruster. Lizardo telephones John Bigbooté at Yoyodyne Propulsion Systems, and asks him to prepare for his return. Lizardo, claiming his name is “Lord John Whorfin,” then kills the attendant and escapes the mental facility. Later, at a nightclub, Buckaroo and his band, the Hong Kong Cavaliers, made up of members of Team Banzai, play a show and meet an unhappy woman named Penny Priddy. Buckaroo attempts to cheer her with a song, but he refers to her as “Peggy” and she responds by firing a gun and leaving the club. The following day, the Cavaliers pick up Sidney in their tour bus at the New Brunswick, New Jersey, police station. Inside, Buckaroo bails out Penny, and tells her that she reminds him of someone he once knew. Later, during a press conference with the Secretary of Defense, Buckaroo explains how he broke the dimensional barrier, and hypothesizes that aliens may occupy the eighth dimension. Meanwhile, a group of aliens, called Black Lectroids, monitor Buckaroo’s activities from a spaceship above Earth. Buckaroo is summoned to a telephone booth under the pretense that he has a call from the President of the United States. However, he instead receives an electrical shock through the phone line. He then writes on his hand an electro-chemical formula he heard on the phone. Buckaroo returns to the press conference and spots two Red Lectroids, John O’Connor and John Gomez, in the audience masquerading as humans. Just then, a third Red Lectroid, John Bigbooté, takes Professor Hikita hostage and escapes with O’Connor and Gomez in a van. Buckaroo gives chase on a motorcycle. Nearby, two hunters encounter a large flying creature sent to Earth by the Black Lectroids. The hunters wound it, and it metamorphoses into a sphere. A man, John Gant, emerges, then collapses and reverts into a Black Lectroid. Another man, John Parker, climbs out of the sphere, unseen by the hunters, and escapes. As a highway patrolman arrives at the scene, Bigbooté, O’Connor, and Gomez claim to be scientists and say that the creature is actually a droid that belongs to them. Meanwhile, Buckaroo radios his second-in-command, Rawhide, provides his coordinates, and instructs him to investigate Yoyodyne Propulsion Systems. Buckaroo discovers the aliens’ van, frees Professor Hikita, and shows him the formula, which allows Buckaroo to see the aliens in their true form, even though they superficially appear to be human. Buckaroo explains that the Lectroids are from Planet Ten in the eighth dimension, then imprints the formula on Hikita’s forehead. Meanwhile, the members of Team Banzai take Penny to the Banzai Institute, where a friend, Mrs. Johnson, comments on her resemblance to Buckaroo’s late wife, Peggy. Elsewhere, Buckaroo is pursued by Bigbooté, O’Connor, and Gomez, but is rescued by a helicopter piloted by Casper Lindley and Scooter Lindley, members of Banzai’s civilian support network. Later, John Parker delivers a package to the institute’s gate and requests to see Buckaroo, but is turned away. Inside, Team Banzai learns that every employee of Yoyodyne is named “John” and each applied for a Social Security card on November 1, 1938 in Grover’s Mill, New Jersey. Sidney recalls the date is the day after Orson Welles’s “War of the Worlds” radio broadcast and suggests that the program’s alien invasion may not have been a hoax after all. The next day, John Bigbooté, John O’Connor, and John Gomez, observed by John Parker, bound over the wall of the institute with plans to steal Buckaroo’s overthruster. John Parker follows, but is captured by the Banzai security team. Elsewhere in the compound, John Bigbooté, John O’Connor, and John Gomez, break into the jet car, as the Lindleys return Buckaroo to the institute. The team plays a three-dimensional hologram message contained in the package delivered by John Parker. John Emdall, the Black Lectroids’ leader, explains that her people defeated the Red Lectroids and banished their leader, Lord John Whorfin, and his followers to the eighth dimension. Whorfin now inhabits the body of Dr. Lizardo and wants Buckaroo’s overthruster to enable the Red Lectroids to return to Planet Ten and wrest control from the Black Lectroids. John Emdall warns that if Whorfin is not stopped, the Black Lectroids will be forced to launch a nuclear attack on the Soviet Union, triggering retaliation against the U.S. As Buckaroo prepares to battle the Red Lectroids, he encounters Penny, who found a picture of him with Peggy. Buckaroo explains that he believes Penny, who was adopted, is the long-lost, identical twin sister of his late wife. Meanwhile, John Bigbooté kills Professor Hikita’s lab assistant, but the professor escapes with the overthruster. A chase ensues, in which Bigbooté wounds Rawhide, and Professor Hikita passes the overthruster to Penny. However, the Red Lectroids kidnap Penny and escape in the Lindleys’ helicopter. Meanwhile, in a hospital, the Secretary of Defense pleads with the President, who has a back injury, that the jet car and the overthruster belong under his control. Before the President can process the request, Buckaroo and John Parker join them via videoconference and apprises them of the dangerous situation. Later, Buckaroo receives a telephone call from Lizardo, who is unaware that his hostage Penny has the overthruster. Lizardo insists that Buckaroo go to Yoyodyne to help him with his overthruster in exchange for the release of Penny. Back in the hospital, as the president and his advisors debate what to do, a giant electrical pulse from space scrambles all communications and forces U.S. and Soviet militaries to go on alert. Buckaroo readies two strike force teams as he approaches Yoyodyne in the jet car. He plans to go in alone to rescue Penny and the overthruster, and then instructs his teams to wait thirty minutes before finishing off Lizardo. Meanwhile, John O’Connor takes Penny to the basement. As Buckaroo arrives at Yoyodyne, he is seized and attached to the “shock tower.” Lizardo orders him to solve the equations necessary to produce a working overthruster. When Buckaroo refuses, he is shocked with increasingly higher voltage. Team Banzai and the Secretary of Defense infiltrate Yoyodyne. A shootout ensues, the facility’s transformer blows, and an alarm is triggered. In the chaos, Buckaroo escapes and reunites with Sidney. The Secretary locates John Bigbooté and demands to see the bomber that Yoyodyne has contracted to build, but the alien responds by rendering him unconsciousness. Meanwhile, John O’Connor tortures Penny. The Secretary comes to and Team Banzai finds Penny. John Parker warns that there is not much time, and Sidney offers to look after Penny so Buckaroo can fight Lizardo and his minions. As Lizardo and the Black Lectroids prepare to escape in a spaceship, Buckaroo and John Parker sneak aboard the ship’s thermal pod. The Secretary of Defense attempts to steal Buckaroo’s overthruster from the jet car, but is foiled by Scooter Lindley at gunpoint. Lizardo orders John Bigbooté to install his untested overthruster, but Bigbooté argues and Lizardo kills him. The spaceship blasts off, the overthruster fails, and the vessel does not cross into the eighth dimension. Lizardo jettisons the thermal pod containing Buckaroo and John Parker. As the pod falls from the sky, Buckaroo figures out how to fly the vehicle. He pursues Lizardo and destroys the ship. Buckaroo parachutes to safety as John Parker flies off in the pod. On the ground, Scooter returns the overthruster to Buckaroo. Buckaroo assures the President that all is well, but Sidney regrets he was unable to save Penny. However, when Buckaroo kisses her goodbye, the shock from his ionization revives her and they embrace. Later, Buckaroo and his team walk across a large, concrete dam. +

Legend
Viewed by AFI
Partially Viewed
Offscreen Credit
Name Occurs Before Title
AFI Life Achievement Award

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