As the music world mourns the loss of legendary rock guitarist Eddie Van Halen, who died this week of throat cancer at 65, a claymation cheeseburger is trending in his honor.
Fans on the internet have dug up one of the Van Halen’s most confusing music videos, for the song “Everybody Wants Some!!” — an animated dream sequence that appeared in the 1985 flick “Better Off Dead,” starring John Cusack. The dark comedy follows down-and-out teenager Lane Meyer who hopes to manipulate his ex-girlfriend into taking him back by trying to take his own life over and over.
The scene depicts Cusack’s character, a lowly sandwich slinger at the fictional diner Pig Burger, reimagined as a mad food scientist who miraculously animates — à la Frankenstein’s monster — a singing, guitar-playing hamburger who is apparently very hot for a lady burger.
As the scene was originally written, “Better Off Dead” writer-director Savage Steve Holland had borrowed an urban myth from his own experience as a fast-food service worker during his teenage years, according to a 2011 interview with the filmmaker in Entertainment Weekly.
“There was this rumor that a rat fell into a vat at a chicken place, and somebody got served fried rat,” he recalled. “That was what I had in the original script.”
When producers decided the rat bit was a bit too macabre — in a movie featuring repeated attempts at suicide, no less — Holland found inspiration, of all places, in a political spoof.
“I saw this guy Jimmy Picker had made this really funny claymation short film about mayor Ed Koch called ‘Sundae in New York.’ I was like, ‘If I could do something like that and still incorporate it into a hamburger scenario,’ ” said Holland.
The spectacle of burgers dancing to the tune of “Everybody Wants Some!!,” a song which didn’t even appear on the soundtrack, has become, not surprisingly, the film’s most memorable.
“It was just so, so out there and stupid, that everybody was really worried about it,” Holland said of the movie studio’s response to the first screening.
“But it was the highest testing thing when we went to the test audience. They thought that was the greatest thing in the whole movie,” he said.