Movies

Macaulay Culkin in 1990's 'Home Alone'
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10 Fun Facts About Home Alone You Probably Didn't Know

Including an Elvis Presley conspiracy theory...

When Home Alone came out in 1990, no one was expecting it to become the massive hit it is today. Not director Chris Columbus, not studio producers, and probably not the relatively unknown child star of the vehicle, Macaulay Culkin. But here we all are, more than 30 years later, able to recite the movie just about line for line. Those of us who watched it as kids are now rewatching it as parents. But how much do we really know about Home Alone? We all know the basics, but what about those little behind-the-scenes tidbits that are always so satisfying?

We already know a few bits and pieces about the little movie about a kid who got left home alone accidentally when his family flew off to Paris. We know it became one of the highest grossing films of all time, of course. And that Macauley Culkin became a massive star at the young age of 10 years old. We know that there have been not one, not two, but a total of five movies added to the Home Alone franchise, including the most recent Home Sweet Home Alone on Disney+.

But that’s just the tip of the iceberg. Read on for more fascinating facts about Home Alone.

1

The Role Was Made For Macauley Culkin

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After director John Hughes saw Macauley Culkin bust out his acting chops alongside the legendary John Candy in Uncle Buck in 1989, he came up with the idea for Home Alone. All based on one scene when Culkin, who has been left alone by his uncle Buck for a short time, interrogates his would-be babysitter Chanice (girlfriend of Buck himself) through a mail slot, according to Mental Floss. Hughes went on to write and produce Home Alone with Chris Columbus, and that scene with Culkin talking through the mail slot was (somewhat) reproduced in Home Alone when Kevin shot the Wet Bandits (Daniel Stern and Joe Pesci), as they tried to break in through the doggy door.

That’s talent.

2

The Home Alone House Was Tough To Cast

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Who doesn’t love the house in Home Alone? It is at once an absolute fantasy (that kitchen) and also a full on nightmare (the entire basement). It is a character unto itself. A character that was very difficult to cast. Chris Columbus told Entertainment Weekly in 2015 that it took weeks to find the home in Winnetka, Illinois because writer John Hughes had a very specific vision for what he wanted.

“We needed to cast a house that would work for the stunts and also a house that was visually appealing and, if this makes sense, warm and menacing at the same time. It’s the kind of house if you were a kid it would be fun to be left home alone,” he told Entertainment Weekly. They scouted throughout the Chicagoland area before finding this home in Winnetka, and Hughes approved immediately.

3

John Candy Improvised Most Of His Scene

John Candy was a genius improviser.

John Candy’s cameo as wandering polka star Gus Polinski, who offers Kevin McAllister’s mom Kate (Catherine O’Hara) a ride home in Home Alone, was shot in just one day. He was reportedly paid just $414 for his work, and the majority of his scenes were improvised. One scene in particular, when Candy is telling O’Hara about leaving his child overnight in a funeral parlor, really had the everyone on set marveling at his talent.

“None of that stuff was in the script,” Columbus told Insider, as he looked back on the movie for its 30th anniversary. “The funeral-parlor story, that was all improvised at 4:30 in the morning. We could barely keep a straight face on set just listening to John.”

4

The McAllister Family Was Also The Culkin Family (Kind Of)

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Do you remember cousin Fuller who wets the bed if he drinks too much soda? Well that was actually Macauley Culkin’s younger brother Kieran Culkin of Succession fame. Columbus cast the younger Culkin as Macauley’s cousin, although Kieran had no idea at the time that the movie was actually about his brother’s character. “There's a part in the movie where there's a kid who gets his head counted incorrectly and he goes, 'Bye, bring me back something French!' I thought the movie was about that kid,” he told Entertainment Tonight. “And it made sense when I saw it. I remember seeing it in the theater at the premiere and I was dying laughing and I was like, 'Oh, that makes sense 'cause Mac was on set all the time.’”

Don’t worry. He knows now.

5

Joe Pesci Fully Bit The Finger Of A Child

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Joe Pesci played Harry Lime, the de facto leader of the Wet Bandits. And he apparently took his role very, very seriously. So seriously, in fact, that during one scene when he and his fellow bandit Marv, played by Daniel Stern, are threatening Kevin (let me remind you; real life child Macauley Culkin) he went ahead and bit his finger. “In the first Home Alone, they hung me up on a coat hook, and Pesci says, ‘I’m gonna bite all your fingers off, one at a time,’” Culkin recalled to Rule Forty Two. “And during one of the rehearsals, he bit me, and it broke the skin.” That’s a little too method for me.

6

IRL, Kevin’s Attacks Might Have Killed The Wet Bandits

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Most kids love to see little Kevin really give it to Harry and Marv when they try to break into his house. Burning hands on door knobs, shooting them in the groin with a BB gun, the whole shebang. But in 2018, a doctor diagnosed what would happen if this was actual real life for The Week, and the prognosis was grim. For example, when an iron landed on Marv’s head after he snuck into the basement, life would have looked very different for the burglar afterwards, “This is a serious impact, with enough force to fracture the bones surrounding the eyes. This is also known as a 'blowout fracture,' and can lead to serious disfigurement and debilitating double vision if not repaired properly,” Dr, St. Clair explained. So kids, definitely don’t try this at home.

7

“Old Man Marley”s Reunion Was Not In The Original Script

Kevin’s sweet scene with Old Man Marley almost didn’t make the cut.

Buzz McAllister scares the heck out of his siblings when he tells them about Old Man Marley, a man he insists killed his whole family with a shovel decades earlier and salts the sidewalks with their remains. Eventually we see Marley in a sweet scene with Kevin at a church and discover he’s not a murderer. Just an old man who had a fight with his family. When he was reunited with his family at the end, who didn’t cry? Well that was a payoff scene that almost never happened. “If I recall, I don’t think there was a real payoff in the script [for the final scene], where Kevin sees the old man reunited with his family at the end of the movie,” Columbus told Entertainment Weekly. “I remember adding that.”

It did add that sentimental something Columbus was looking for.

8

The Tarantula On Marv’s Face Was Real

Marv had a real tarantula on his face.

One of the most chilling screams in Home Alone, besides Kevin’s famous face-clutching scream after putting on aftershave, is when the young hero puts a tarantula (pet to big brother Buzz) smack dab in the middle of Marv’s face. The blood-curdling scream he emits feels very real. And perhaps it was, because the tarantula was not a prop. Daniel Stern agreed to allow a real tarantula to be placed on his face with one condition; they had to get the scene right in one take, according to Complex. Clearly they pulled it off, and clearly Marv’s scream is very genuine. Who could blame him?

9

John Candy’s Son Developed A “Kevin” Attitude

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After Home Alone was released in theaters, Chris Columbus told Insider that John Candy’s young son sort of fell in love with the movie. And that wasn’t necessarily a good thing. “He was going to the theaters to see it all the time. And because of that, he started to develop Kevin's attitude that he had in the beginning of the movie. Kevin is a smart*ss. So John would complain that his son was talking to him the same way Kevin was to his parents.” In fact, Columbus thought that Kevin’s sassy attitude might not pass muster if the movie was made today. “Honestly, maybe today we wouldn't be able to get away with Kevin's attitude toward his mom. He's pretty tough on her before he goes up to the attic. He's kind of a jerk to his mother.”

Indeed.

10

Everyone Thought Elvis Was In The Building

People thought Elvis Presley was an extra in ‘Home Alone.’

When Catherine O’Hara’s character Kate McAllister is at the airport in Scranton, Ohio desperately trying to get home to be with Kevin for Christmas, there’s an extra hanging around in the background. Not unusual, except the short scene caused a conspiracy theory that Elvis Presley was alive and well and working as an extra on holiday movies. Despite the fact that he died of a heart attack at his Graceland home in 1977. Check out the extra with the beard for yourself, but I suspect if Elvis had somehow faked his own death and was still alive, he wouldn’t blow his cover to stand in line behind Kate McAllister as she fought with a ticket agent at the airport.