When Amy Madigan read for the film, she read for the part of the lead character's sister. Madigan told Walter Hill that the best part in the script was the lead character's sidekick. That part called for a man and the character's name was Mendez. The part was rewritten for Madigan and was renamed McCoy.
The title came from a song written and recorded by Bruce Springsteen on his album "Darkness On The Edge Of Town". Original plans were for the song to be featured on the film soudtrack but when Springsteen found out the song would be rerecorded by other vocalists, he withdrew permission for the song to be used.
The Attackers were the real-life band-mates of Laurie Sargent, who provided the singing voice for Ellen Aim. Their band was called Face to Face and they played mainly "new wave" music around the Boston area. The group split up in 1988.
An early incarnation of this screenplay was offered to Paul McCartney, whom the producers had learned was interested in playing a role in a dramatic motion picture. When McCartney passed on the film (he decided instead to star in his own screenplay, Give My Regards to Broad Street (1984)) the role of the kidnapped rock star was rewritten and Diane Lane was cast in the part, as Ellen Aim.
The tag line for the film was "Tonight is what it means to be young." When producer Joel Silver saw the poor box office numbers from the opening weekend, he quipped "Tonight is what it means to be dead."
Westerns, Graphic novels, "The Searchers", "Mad Max", "Escape from New York", "The Warriors", "Grand Theft Auto" and Bruce Springsteen's "Darkness on the Edge of Town" are considered influences behind the film.
During the last dialogue between Amy Madigan and Michael Paré, while referring to a a stolen car, she uses the expression "Finders keepers": this may be a reference to CHiPs: Finders Keepers (1981) where she had a part at the beginning of her career.