George Lucas' Industrial Light and Magic constructed the puppet of the chest-burster for the film. The main effects unit for the film was Apogee, Inc. This was the company headed by John Dykstra that split off from ILM in 1978 when Lucasfilm moved to Marin County. Thus, Spaceballs marked the first time since Star Wars: Episode IV - A New Hope that the two units shared work on a single project.
The scene in which Dark Helmet (Rick Moranis) is playing with his dolls was not in the script. Mel Brooks came up with the idea on the set one day, and told it to Moranis, who then improvised the entire scene, including the dialogue.
The Barf costume was operated by three people. John Candy operated Barf's tail using a hidden control in his paw, while two assistants each controlled an ear. Candy's costume was powered by a 30-pound battery that he wore on his back.
Of all the many jokes in this film, Mel Brooks says that the two he is most proud of are the running gag about merchandising ("Spaceballs: the Breakfast Cereal", "Spaceballs: The Tee-Shirt", etc.) and Col. Sandurz's renting Spaceballs before it was finished.
Spaceballs merchandise shown in the movie include: bed sheet, flame thrower, lunch box, cornflakes, towels, Yogurt figure, toilet paper, shaving cream, place mat, action figures. As part of the fair-use agreement between Mel Brooks and George Lucas, no legitimate Spaceballs merchandise ever existed in the real world. The lunch box and coloring book are simply The Transformers products with a Spaceballs logo stuck on them.
In the scene where Dark Helmet is dressed in safari clothes searching for Lone Starr and the others with binoculars, he is on top of a floating vehicle. In reality, the vehicle isn't floating or suspended on wires of any kind, but on top of a platform that was surrounded by mirrors that reflected the sand around it to give it the appearance of floating.
In the DVD commentary, Mel Brooks talks about how difficult it was playing the Yogurt character. The gold-colored makeup gave him a terrible rash on his face and neck (necessitating the shooting of all of Yogurt's scenes out of sequence), also his knees were hurting constantly since he had to walk around on his knees even though he was wearing kneepads. Brooks also goes on to say that in spite of the difficulties, he enjoyed playing as Yogurt tremendously and that it was all worth it.
Every time Dark Helmet has his face covered, his voice is lower and more basal, similar to James Earl Jones when he played Darth Vader. In the DVD commentary, Mel Brooks says that the idea of Dark Helmet's voice changing whenever his face was covered was actually Rick Moranis's idea.
A full face mask resembling a wrinkled bulldog was originally constructed for the character of Barf, but Mel Brooks quipped that 'if they were going to hide John Candy behind a mask, he might as well hire someone else for half the price'. A nose and upper lip piece was tried next, which Candy approved but again Brooks did not. They finally settled on animatronic ears connected to a hairpiece, a small nose application and a patch over one eye just like the dog from the 'Our Gang' shorts.
Six complete Dot Matrix suits were built for Lorene Yarnell Jansson to wear and all of them were used up due to breakage on set. For the interior scenes, the feet were outfitted with roller skates, but for the desert exteriors she was given flat-bottomed shoes. Dot's face was somewhat inspired by Joan Rivers who had already been contracted to provide the voice.
In the DVD Commentary, Mel Brooks talks about the various Jewish-related jokes (i.e. "Druish Princess", etc.) and how he felt ashamed for putting those jokes in the movie in the first place, but also felt proud for leaving them in the movie.
The castle on Druidia is King Ludwig II's Neuschwanstein Castle in Bavaria. It has been modified by matte painting with additional ramps. Neuschwanstein Castle has been featured in many motion pictures, and is the original inspiration for the castle at Disneyland.
When initiating the metamorphosis of Spaceball-1 into the giant maid, Dark Helmet leans towards Col. Sandurz and asks "Ready, Kafka?" This is a reference to the novella "Die Verwandlung" by Austrian-Hungarian author Franz Kafka, a story about a man who finds himself slowly turning into an insect. The most common English translations of said piece are titled "Metamorphosis".
After King Roland gives the combination to the air shield of planet Druidia, and the light goes out and on again, the doctor is seen making out with the nurse. Dark Helmet then tells him to go the golf course and "work on his putts". This is a pun, as "putz" in Hebrew/Yiddish is slang for penis.
In many movies, Mel Brooks alludes to a sequel that ultimately never happens. In "Spaceballs", Yogurt mentions he hopes he and Lone Starr will see each other in "Spaceballs 2: The Search for More Money".