July 25, 2011 / 11:34 PM / in 6 years

"Animal House", raunchy '80s comedies get Blu-ray debut

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Four classic comedies make their Blu-ray debut in the next two weeks, reminding moviegoers that raunchy comedy was alive and well long before “The Hangover” franchise, and films like “Bridesmaids.”

<p>"National Lampoon's Animal House" director John Landis (L) joins writer Chris Miller (C) and his wife Gloria Miller as she shows off an original jacket worn by the crew of the cult classic in this file photo.</p>

But “Animal House” (1978) and “The Blues Brothers” (1980) starring the late John Belushi, and high school comedies “Fast Times at Ridgemont High” (1982) and “Dazed and Confused” (1993) have more than just sentimental appeal.

Hollywood casting director Paul Ventura believes these films have become funnier and more popular 30 years on, partly because of the fortunes of many of their young, fledgling actors.

“All these movies brilliantly represented their times, but you can look back on them today and realize they hold just as many truths now as they did back then,” Ventura told Reuters. “They had comic stars who could pull off social anarchy and still be lovable.”

“Fast Times at Ridgemont High”, set to be released on August9, had three future Academy Award winners among its cast -- Nicolas Cage, Forest Whitaker, and Sean Penn in a rare comedy turn as the quintessential stoned surfer dude Jeff Spicoli.

“Animal House”, out on July 26, provided an early glimpse of Kevin Bacon, while “Dazed and Confused” (set in the mid-1970s) gave the first major screen time to three other upcoming stars: Ben Affleck, Milla Jovovich and Matthew McConaughey.

And then there was Belushi.”

Belushi’s “Animal House” screen debut earned him the cover of Newsweek magazine, and his iconic status was cemented with his dark-suited, dark sunglass-clad prisoner-turned-singer in “The Blues Brothers”.

Belushi died in 1982 at age 33 of heroin and cocaine poisoning.

“It’s ironic that John didn’t do drug-oriented humor. During the making of ‘The Blues Brothers’ John’s drug abuse was scary in the amount of his intake,” John Landis, who directed both “Animal House” and “The Blues Brothers”, told Reuters.

“John was an excellent actor who always needed strong direction. Without his drug problem he could have done anything, from heart-touching drama to the crazy, zany comedy Jackie Gleason did,” Landis said.

“As for the legacy of these movies I can only answer with a quote from the great filmmaker John Huston, who wisely said ‘Motion picture directors, prostitutes and buildings get respectable with age.'”

Editing by Jill Serjeant and Bob Tourtellotte

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