Ghosts of “Animal House” remain in Eugene decades after the release of the comedy classic

Cringeworthy and timeless, the movie has survived to become a touchstone for Eugene and the University of Oregon
The site of the fictional Delta Tau Chi, the rundown fraternity in the movie Animal House, was torn down in 1986. The site is now occupied by Northwest Christian University’s School Education.

The movie “National Lampoon’s Animal House,” which pitted trouble-making college students against the dean of the fictional Faber College was filmed in and around Eugene, Oregon during the fall of 1977 and release the following year.

Panned and lauded after its release, the film persevered in what became an iconic connection for Eugene and the University of Oregon, with touchstones sprinkled throughout the community.

A plaque marks the site of the fictional Delta House — torn down in 1986.

• The song “Shout,” performed Otis Day and the Knights in the movie, is traditionally sung between third and fourth quarter Ducks home football games at Autzen Stadium. In 2015, it was used in Nike’s “Shout” film that replicated the movie’s famous toga party scene, with actors replaced by notable University of Oregon alumni.

• The Dexter Lake Club in Dexter, Ore. on Highway 58 east of Eugene, where the band played a scene leans into its movie role with zebra skin patterned wallpaper and “Animal House” memorabilia decorating the interior.

• Cottage Grove, the setting for the climatic homecoming parade scene down Main Street, celebrated the movie with a 25th anniversary parade in 2003 — setting a world record for toga wearing party goers — and tried again in 2018 for the 40th anniversary.

• And, of course, the Erb Memorial Union’s Fishbowl, where the slapstick food fight scene was filmed has kept its icon look all these years.

To celebrate the 40th anniversary of the movie’s release reporter Dylan Darling and I set about learning more about the movie and finding as many locations from the film as we could.

I had seen photographs of fans holding screen grab prints from various movies in settings as they appears years later. I stole the idea and with a handful of 4×6 prints I set out in search of locations.

I share some of the results here above and below.

The package went on to win an award for Digital Innovation in the 2018 Northwest Excellence in Journalism contest.

A link to the story package as it appeared on The Register-Guard site here.

While working on the project I became good friends with Katherine K’iya Wilson, who was the location scout and casting director for the film, and has continued to call the area home. She alerted me that Tim Matheson, who played the role of the smooth-talking Eric “Otter” Stratton in the movie, was planning a visit to Eugene last year and helped set up a meeting.

Forty-four years after the scene was shot, I sat in a booth in the Fish Bowl Café inside the Erb Memorial Union at the University of Oregon in Eugene across from the actor who played in the famous food fight scene all those years ago — as he shared hilarious stories of his experience during filming.

You can read that story here.

Asked if he had any idea at the time that the movie would still be talked about more than 44 years after its debut, Matheson’s answer was simple. 


P.S. I could not resist adding a few photos from Toga Party 2003 when friend Sol Neelman and I descended on Cottage Grove, Ore. as the town attempted to break the world record for toga wearing party goers. Photo of me by Sol Neelman and vice versa. And finally a photo of the RG team who put the award winning package together in 2017.

Chris Pietsch is the director of photography for Gannett Newspapers in Oregon, The Register-Guard in Eugene and the Statesman Journal in Salem.

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