No special effects were used to make the Chevy Malibu glow while parked at the repossession lot. Instead, the car was completely coated with 3M reflective paint, at an approximate price of $600 per bucket.
All of the products used in the movie are generic. When Otto takes food out of the refrigerator it is a blue and white can labeled 'Food - Meat Flavored'. Other generic products include 'Dry Gin', 'Beer' and "Drink'.
While scouting for locations, the crew encountered Muhammad Ali, who was training at a local gym. He was propositioned to do the scene at the movie's finale; it would have played like so: Ali would have exited the helicopter along with the three Holy Men. Ultimately, after the glowing Chevy Malibu refused to allow the Priest, Bishop, and Rabbi to come any closer, the greatest boxer who ever lived would attempt to approach the car; but he too would fail to make contact. Ali politely declined to do the scene.
When filming began, they only had one 1964 Chevy Malibu. It was stolen a couple of days into filming, forcing the film crew to scramble to find a replacement. Shortly after finding a replacement, the original was recovered by the police undamaged. This was fortunate timing because about a day later Fox Harris severely damaged one of the Malibus by accidentally plowing it into a gasoline pump! In the carwash scene, one of the gas pumps is clearly severely dented up and damaged. This is the pump Fox plowed into in a previous take.
Miller talks about the cosmic unconsciousness: "You'll be thinking about a plate of shrimp, and all of a sudden someone will say plate, or shrimp, or plate of shrimp." Later, the two Latinos who've stolen the "Asimov" car park outside a diner which features a huge sign in one of its windows reading: PLATE O' SHRIMP $2.95.
Zander Schloss, who plays Kevin the Nerd, ended up joining the punk band "The Circle Jerks" after production ended. They play on the soundtrack and appear in the movie as the lounge act that Otto "can't believe [he] used to like."
Agent Rogersz is supposed to have a cybernetic, metallic arm. Due to the low budget of the film, the producers were unable to come up with a convincing prop arm. Her arm in the film appears to be nothing more than a glove made out of metallic-threaded cloth. The cheap effect confused numerous viewers as to why other characters in the film were so fascinated by her "glove".
According to 'Alex Cox''s autobiography, Zander Schloss was initially hired as a production assistant. He had asked to play the role of Kevin, Otto's nerdy friend. But the role first went to 'Chris Penn', who had asked Alex Cox several times for a role in the film, and initially asking to be cast as Lite. Cox already had a particular actor in mind for Lite and, after one day of filming with Penn in the role of Kevin, Cox felt his style was too comedic for the tone of movie. The part eventually went to Schloss.
The movie was made by "edge city productions" - edge city is a recurring theme in 'Wolfe, Tom''s "Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test". The destination placard on the bus that Otto takes back to his folks' house reads "Edge City".
The maps shown in the opening credits are presented in geographic sequence. The car is apparently driving from Los Alamos, New Mexico (site of an actual U.S. Government weapons research lab), traveling west through the towns of Santa Fe, Albuquerque, Grants, Gallup, Ramah, and through the Zuni Indian Reservation into Arizona, through St. Johns (down US Highway 666), Winslow, Flagstaff, Williams, Ash Fork, Kingman, and then into California, where the car is shown as being outside of the town of Needles, about 240 miles northeast of Los Angeles.
Edge City, the name of this film's production company and the destination on the front of the bus Otto takes to his parents' house, is also the U.S. title of director Alex Cox's first film, Sleep Is for Sissies (1980). Edge City is also the term used by sociologists who specialize in urban studies where a concentration of shopping, entertainment, and business outside traditional urban areas are consolidated into geographic locations, usually former suburbs, ethnic enclaves, or semi-rural communities - the Greater Los Angeles area has over 14 municipalities.
Lance Henriksen was a front runner for the part of the lobotomized driver of the Chevy Malibu. Dennis Hopper was considered for the role of Bud, but his erratic behavior at the time ultimately made him unsuitable for the part.
An alternate ending was planned but never filmed: Otto was to join a group of South American revolutionaries. A small element of this ending can be viewed in the scene in which Marlene is at the Rodriguez brothers home, where an arsenal of weapons is stashed.
Otto's co-worker (Kevin) at the supermarket sings the jingle for 7-Up just before Mr. Humphries fires them. Later at Mr. Humphries' house, Kevin can be seen in the background, adjusting a TV set that's playing a 7-Up commercial.
In addition to his appearance on a TV screen in the "Art Remnants" segment, Executive Producer Michael Nesmith has a non-speaking cameo as the Rabbi who approaches the glowing Malibu with Reverend Larry.