The 1990s was golden era for erotic thrillers like Wild Things.
The internet hadn’t quite arrived yet, while there were few in the way of binge-able, adult-orientated TV shows at the time or easily available to watch. Instead, anyone looking to get their kicks turned to erotic thrillers like Basic Instinct, The Last Seduction and Poison Ivy.
Nudity, copious amounts of alcohol, petty crime, sex and the occasional murder featured prominently during this unique cinematic era, with VHS and later DVD allowing fans to get their kicks in the privacy of their own home.
Wild Things was possibly the last film of this era. Though it only generated a middling $30 million at the box office, it found a second life on video and DVD and has achieved legendary status since.
Set in South Florida, the plot revolved around two teenage girls Suzie (Neve Campbell) and Kelly (Denise Richards), who accuse Matt Dillon’s high school guidance counsellor, Sam Lombardo of rape.
They eventually hire a lawyer (Bill Murray) and a detective (Kevin Bacon) to investigate Lombardo – but all is not as it seems. Boasting a ludicrous number of twists, a few threesomes and Bacon’s pork sausage, here are 11 wild things you never knew about Wild Things.
A dead body turned up on set
Campbell revealed in her autobiography that, during filming on one scene near a swamp, production had to be halted after a dead body rose to the surface.
“All of a sudden one of the crew says ‘cut’-it was one of the lighting guys-and they said there was a dead body in the water,” she said. “And so the cops came by and were like ‘You makin’ a movie?’ And we were like ‘Yeah.’ So they actually-typical Hollywood-held the body next to the dock so it wouldn’t float through the shot so we could finish the scene.”
Robert Downey Jr. was deemed too much of a liability to star
Downey Jr’s drug issues are well documented. What some may not realise, however, is they actually prevented him from starring in Wild Things. The Iron Man actor was originally cast in the role of Lombardo in what was seen as a career masterstroke – until the number crunches got involved.
“It was during his rehab, and he’d just been on Diane Sawyer’s show,” John McNaughton told Entertainment Weekly. “And to the people in Hollywood, that was a great career move. That made him hot.”
Unfortunately, the film’s insurance company refused to cover the actor, deeming him too much of a liability. Matt Dillon came in in his place.
Tara Reid nearly stole Richards’ part
The American Pie actress was very much in the running for the role of Kelly and even auditioned for the part. It was a close call too with Richards required to complete two auditions before she eventually landed the role.
“Denise came in for her first audition and was good, but not so good we had to hire her,” recalls director John McNaughton. “But when she came back for a second audition, she was a lot better. She’d obviously thought about the character, which we took as a good sign that she could do the role.” Besides, he adds, “if worse came to worst, we knew she’d be beautiful.” Nice.
The film’s memorable threesome between the three main leads may have looked natural on camera but everyone involved was extremely nervous. In fact, Campbell later revealed that she, Richards and Dillon all got slightly drunk on tequila before shooting to get over any anxieties – it certainly helped.
Campbell liked kissing Richards…
The film’s memorable pool-based kiss between the two female leads was an enjoyable one for one of the actresses involved. “It was fun,” Campbell told Rolling Stone about the experience. “We just sorta went in and did it. Actually, we mixed margaritas and brought a bottle of wine in my trailer and got drunk first.”
Later, writing in her journal, Campbell said: “Okay, I’m gonna make out with a girl for the first time in my life. It’s so interesting that a lot of times you learn things about yourself and have new experiences when shooting a scene, because they’re things you wouldn’t normally do in your life.”
…Richards didn’t like kissing Campbell
Richards, by contrast, found the whole experience very stand. But Richards found it all very weird. “At one point during Wild Things, we were shooting at night and I just sat there and thought, ‘It’s four o’clock in the morning. I’m half naked in a swimming pool. I’m making out with Neve Campbell. What am I doing here?”‘ she told Entertainment Weekly.
It wasn’t exactly helped by the fact Richards went topless in the scene after only recently having surgery on her breasts while Campbell, who was already famous for her starring role in two Scream movies, had already negotiated a non-nudity clause in her contract.
Meetings were held to discuss Richards’ breasts
Richards claims in her memoir, Real Girl Next Door, that storyboards of her breasts were actually passed between her lawyer, the film’s producers, and the director during filming to determine what she would be okay with revealing.
“At first it was decided that only one [breast] would be filmed, though they eventually filmed both,” she said.
Bacon’s full-frontal nudity was an accident
Bacon’s nudity during a shower scene late in the film was never planned – co-star Dillon was supposed to be blocking the shot in question. Director John McNaughton told The Huffington Post how it happened: “Kevin steps out of the shower and Matt throws him a towel and he catches it and it covers him and he did it in every take but one. It was a little miscue and it didn’t cover him.”
Eventually, the film’s editor, Elena Maganini, convinced McNaughton to use that take, though it was cleared with Bacon first. “We called Kevin and he said, ‘How do I look?’ We said, ‘You look good Kevin.’ He goes, ‘No problem.'”
Bacon and Dillon were supposed to get it on
The scene in which Bacon’s sausage makes an appearance was originally even racier. The original draft called for Dillon to join Bacon in the shower and kiss him. The scene was eventually cut, due to censorship concerns, much to the relief of Dillon and disappointment of Bacon.
“Man, I was relieved when they got rid of that scene,” Dillon revealed to Total Film. “Kevin seemed pretty attached to it through. One twist too many, man, one twist too many.” “I thought it was great because the whole movie is about secrets coming out, right?” Bacon also told Total Film. “As reveals go, that one was just huge [no pun intended]. Unfortunately, the financiers didn’t like the idea of men making out. They felt it went too far. They felt it wasn’t right.”
Bill Murray was pissed off to miss out on all the fun
Murray jokingly voiced his frustration that his character, , lawyer Ken Bowden, doesn’t get to engage in threesomes-or sex of any kind. “Although I’m twisted, I’m about the nicest guy in the thing,” Murray said in a behind-the-scenes segment.
“So I don’t get to have the big fun, and no sex at all. It’s like the guy who comes the next morning, to the party-‘What happened? Really? I miss everything.’ But I’m in on it. I’m the only one that gets out unscathed.”
The director wanted to make an Amanda Knox-inspired sequel
Though Wild Things has three straight-to-video sequels, a few years back, McNaughton said he wanted to film a big budget follow-up. Wild Child Things, would have focused on a child Suzie could’ve ended up having and sounded messed up, to say the least.
“Do you know the Amanda Knox case? It’s something like that,” he told Hollywood.com. “Something that’s like the child of Suzie Toller. She claimed that Matt Dillon’s [character] had raped her a long time ago and maybe there is a child and maybe Bill Murray’s character had a child and they’re exchange students and things get out of hand.”
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Loaded staff writer Jack Beresford has produced content for Lad Bible, Axonn Media and a variety of online sports and news media outlets.