Written and produced by the legendary John Hughes, “Home Alone” is a Christmas comedy about a boy who is accidentally abandoned by his family and has to fend off burglars with a variety of ingenious (especially for an 8-year old) traps and other violent deterrents. When adjusted for inflation, it is the highest grossing Christmas movie of all time and spawned four sequels, three video games, two board games, a novelization, and a children’s toy.
Here are a few things you might not have known about this Christmas classic.
31. A Little Improv from the Kid
Kevin’s line, “You guys give up, or are you thirsty for more?” was improvised by Macaulay Culkin.
30. Just Smoke and Mirrors, Folks
The scary furnace in the basement was actually brought to life using only two guys with strings and flashlights. Columbus originally wanted the furnace to be CGI, but it couldn’t be done within the $18 million budget.
29. Speedy Writing
Screenwriter John Hughes wrote the entire script in just nine days after a bout of traveler’s anxiety.
The idea for “Home Alone” came to John Hughes during the filming of “Uncle Buck” in which Macaulay Culkin interrogates a potential babysitter through a mail slot. In “Home Alone,” Culkin has a similar confrontation with Daniel Stern through the doggie door. Also, when John Hughes was a kid, he was left home alone and fought off two burglars with improvised traps. But it was mostly the “Uncle Buck” thing.
27. First Choice is Usually the Right Choice
The role of Kevin was written specifically for Macaulay Culkin. But despite that, they still auditioned more than a hundred kids before awarding the role to Culkin, possibly so they could shatter as many pre-teen dreams as possible.
26. The Brothers Culkin
Macaulay’s younger brother Kieran made an appearance as Kevin’s bed-wetting cousin. Kieran has since gone on to build an impressive career for himself in movies like “The Cider House Rules,” “Igby Goes Down,” and “Scott Pilgrim vs. The World.”
25. Family Matters
Chris Columbus learned a valuable lesson while directing “Home Alone”: When you agree to work with a kid actor, you agree to work with their families as well. “We didn’t know that much about the family at the beginning; as we were shooting, we learned a little more. They stories are hair-raising. I was casting a kid who truly had a troubled family life.” Since then, Columbus went on to direct “Harry Potter."
24. Mommy Issues
In 2014, Catherine O’Hara revealed that Macaulay Culkin still calls her “mom,” which is an odd mix of being both creepy and endearing.
“Home Alone” was the highest grossing film of 1990 and earned a Guinness World Record as the highest grossing live-action comedy ever domestically. Although, if you adjust for inflation, “Beverly Hills Cop” is actually numero uno.
22. Sequel Time!
Columbus wanted to film two sequels at the same time right after the first Home Alone. This would have made sure that Culkin didn’t noticeably age too much, a process Columbus used when directing his Harry Potter installments. In the end, the studio wouldn’t let him shoot both films in parallel.
21. Got Verbed?
Due to its unprecedented success, Home Alone became a verb in the Hollywood lexicon to describe a film that suffered because they had to compete against another film’s long and successful run. Using it in a sentence, one would say, “My movie would have made more money, but it got Home Aloned. It got Home Aloned right in the face.”
20. Hello from Poland
Watching “Home Alone” has become a Christmas tradition in Poland, airing on national television since the early 1990s. In 2011, a re-run of “Home Alone” was the most watched show of the season.
19. Keepin’ it Real Estate
The home pictured in “Home Alone” was located at 671 Lincoln Avenue in Winnetka, Illinois. Most of the film was shot in the house except for the kitchen scenes, which were shot on a soundstage. In 2012, the home sold for $1.585 million. Asking price was $2.4 million. Looks like they got Home Aloned.
18. Would Have Made a Great Souvenir
Kevin’s tree house was not a part of the original property. It was built specifically for the movie and demolished once filming ended at the request of the home owners, who probably regretted it after losing nearly $800K on the sale price.
Robert DeNiro turned down the role of Harry Lime before Joe Pesci came in and made the part his own. Although, it would have been something to watch DeNiro yelling through a mail slot, “You talking to me?!”
16. Return of the King
There are some people who believe that Elvis is alive and well and makes a cameo appearance in “Home Alone” as an extra.
15. Cool Off
Because Pesci was accustomed to being on more adult-oriented films, such as “Raging Bull,” “Goodfellas,” and “Casino,” he wasn’t used to self-censoring his language on a family-friendly set. He dropped more than a few F-bombs until Columbus suggested he use the word “fridge” instead.
Daniel Stern also had a curse word slip-up, uttering the word “sh*t” as he tries to retrieve his shoe through the doggie door. For some reason, this was left in the film.
13.Home Alone Wolf
Hillary Wolf, who played Kevin’s older sister Megan, who appeared in “Home Alone” and “Home Alone 2”, was also a member of the US Summer Olympic Judo team.
12. Candy Crush
Compared to everything else in the film (iron to the face, blowtorch to the head), the glass ornaments that Marv steps on would have caused the least damage. And in the film, the “glass” ornaments were actually made of candy.
11. Rubber Feet
Daniel Stern wore rubber feet to film the scene where he steps on the ornaments. Because stepping on candy still hurts!
10. In Your Face!
The spider on Marv’s face was real. Daniel Stern agreed to have a real spider on his face but for only one take (reasonable).
9. Spidey Senses Tingling
Despite rumors to the contrary, the scream that Daniel Stern belts out during the tarantula scene was not mimed on set and dubbed in later. It was real. Also, the spider’s poison was also not extracted, as some had thought.
8. Picture Perfect
The picture that Kevin finds of Buzz’s girlfriend was actually a picture of a boy made to look like a girl because director Chris Columbus thought it’d be cruel to make fun of a girl like that. But making fun of a child cross-dresser? Apparently that was acceptable in the 90s.
7. Candy Crushes
John Candy filmed his scenes in one day. But it was a long day. Twenty-three hours to be exact. And the whole story about having once forgotten his son at a funeral home? Totally improvised.
6.Kevin McAllister, the Psychopath
Based on all the violence that the Wet Bandits endured at the hands of an eight year old, according to a doctor, they would likely have been grievously injured and requiring serious medical attention. Assuming they survived.
5. Gangster Filims
“Angels with Filthy Souls,” the Jimmy Cagney-like gangster movie that Kevin channels as his inspiration throughout the film, was made up specifically for the movie. So was the sequel, “Angels with Even Filthier Souls.”
4. Marley and Me
Old Man Marley, the scary neighbour who eventually teaches Kevin the importance of family, wasn’t in the original script. He was added at Columbus’ suggestion who felt that the film needed an additional dose of sentimentality. After all, it’s a Christmas movie.
3. His Apology was Heard
John Heard thought that the movie was going to be terrible and was unhappy about working on the film. However, after he saw the finished film and its success, he broke character on his first take in the sequel to apologize to Columbus.
2. Snow Day
When “Home Alone” wrapped, they donated some of their artificial snow (made from wax and plastic) to the Lyric Opera of Chicago. The snow has since been used in a number of their productions.
1. Fingers With Some Fava Beans and a Nice Chianti
In order to be as terrifying as possible to young Macaulay Culkin, while on set, Joe Pesci decided to avoid Culkin. He wanted to make sure the child actor didn't find him too familiar. It also helped that Pesci accidentally broke through the skin when he threatened to bite off all of Culkin’s fingers!