The Spatula City billboard was purchased by the production and it was placed for the one shot it appears in, for ease of filming it was a billboard on a highway not frequented by many travelers. For this exact reason the billboard was not purchased after the rental period ran out, and the company did not remove the phony advertisement, it is reported that for months after the film finished shooting many travelers turned on the indicated exit and inquired about Spatula City, the ad was removed shortly afterwards when the company began receiving complaints.
The Spatula City ad contains a reference which is almost completely lost on modern audiences, where president Sy Greenblum states, "I liked the spatulas so much, I bought the company." This is a spoof of a 1970s series of commercials for Remington electric razors, in which chairman Victor Kiam said that he so liked the shaver his wife gave him that he bought the company.
The "Beverly Hillbillies" song in the movie is a spoof of "Money for Nothing" by Dire Straits, using a reworked version of the "Ballad of Jed Clampett" theme song lyrics. Mark Knopfler, leader of Dire Straits, agreed to the parody on the condition that he be allowed to play the guitar line (a rare guest guitarist on a Weird Al song). In another twist, however, lawyers insisted that the song had to be called "Beverly Hillbillies/Money For Nothing" - a title that Al has publicly stated he hates. The dream sequence for this song is a shot-for-shot send-up of the "Money for Nothing" music video, with Beverly Hillbillies motifs and Weird Al integrated.
Easter Egg: the 2002 region 1 DVD is two-sided (side 1 is standard, side 2 is wide-screen). To save space, the special features are split between the two sides. However, all of the features are listed (and selectable) in the Special Features menu on both sides. If you highlight a feature that isn't on the side you're playing, the message "On Other Side" displays. If you select it anyway, Weird Al walks on-screen and explains that the feature is on the other side of the disc. If you select it again without flipping the disc, Al walks back on-screen and tells you again that the feature is on the other side, getting progressively angrier at you for not listening to him.
During an VH-1 "Behind The Music" episode about 'Weird Al Yankovic' , Emo Philips shows an actual Screen Actors Guild residual check he earned for the film. It was for 30 cents. He stated proudly the check represented what being in the film did for his career.
Easter Egg: When the commentary track is turned on, watch during chapter 23 ("The Great Escape") when Stanley locks himself in the office. 'Weird Al' Yankovic jumps *on-screen* from the commentary to "warn" Stanley's character ("Mystery Science Theater" style) about what's about to happen.
The "Wheel of Fish" had real fish attached to it. The fish were bought at a local fish market early one morning, and starting at about 6am, the set man began attaching them to the wheel, working to ensure the wheel spun smoothly. Filming didn't begin until about 4:30pm, on a hot summer day in a building that wasn't air-conditioned, filled with hot studio lights and over 100 extras. On the DVD commentary, Al politely describes the filming conditions as "ripe".
During the first "Uncle Nutsy's Clubhouse" scene, Uncle Nutsy ('Weird Al' Yankovic) instructs Bobbo The Clown/Bob (David Bowe) to look up, down, then at "Mr. Frying-Pan," Bowe's lip was split when the pan accidentally made contact with his face. It was supposed to stop short, so Bowe's reaction is his actual discomfort at his lip being split and bleeding (which was hidden by his red clown makeup on his lips). After the scene was completed it was decided that this take was excellent, and no further takes were shot.
'Weird Al' Yankovic offered Crispin Glover the role of Philo. According to www.weirdal.com, Glover only wanted to play the role of Crazy Eddie, the car salesman who says, "I'll club a seal to make a better deal." Neither Yankovic nor Jay Levey (the director) thought that Glover was right for the role, so they passed.
The film is dedicated to Trinidad Silva (Raul), who was killed by a drunk driver midway through production. Had he survived, the film would've explored/developed the character of Raul little better, such as the fact that he was a postal worker/carrier, and would've shown a very funny scene involving the revenge of the flying poodle "Fifi", who was unmercifully thrown out of a second-story window. The scene with the attacking poodles was actually filmed using another actor doubling for Trinidad with stuffed poodles attached to his body and covering his face, but the scene was not included in the final cut.
In the scene where Uncle Harvey is in the pool, the song that Weird Al originally wanted was "Kung Fu Fighting". Due to the limited budget, they couldn't afford the rights, so Weird Al wrote the song "Let Me Be Your Hog" for the occasion.
When Uncle Nutsy asks "Billy" what his last name is, the boy spits on his nose before the shot switches to a wide shot of Nutsy answering the horn of Bobbo the Clown. The boy can be seen laughing, and he rests his chin on his hand in an attempt to hide it. This scene was filmed several times and this was the best take filmed. In another scene, George leaves a long message on Teri's answering machine, wherein he begs her to take him back; she also covers her mouth, apparently in contempt, but her smile can be seen stretching from behind her hand (the answering machine phone call was actually 'Weird Al' Yankovic on-set, but off camera).
Yankovic never was really crazy about the name UHF (his preference was "The Vidiot"), feeling that it wouldn't make much sense in a world that was slowly gravitating toward cable television, and even less so overseas, where the UHF designation is not widely known. Unfortunately, he and Orion Pictures couldn't agree on a suitable name. For the U.S. market, Orion insisted on UHF, but for the overseas release, they wanted to use Yankovic's suggestion, while still tying the name to the U.S. title, so in most foreign markets the movie was called "The Vidiot from UHF". Al says in the movie's commentary that he would go on a foreign television show and would be asked, "Why did you name your movie 'The Vidiot from UHF?" to which he felt like replying, "I DIDN'T! The studio did! I hate that title!" Interestingly, in Mexico the movie was released as "Los Telelocos", which translates roughly as "The TV Crazies".
The Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences would not allow use of an exact likeness of the Academy Award statuette ("Oscar") for filming, so a *similar* statuette was created which has Oscar's hands covering his crotch.
In one scene, George and Bob discuss TV lineups. One of the shows mentioned is "Volcano Worshippers Hour." In high school, 'Weird Al' Yankovic started a "Volcano Worshippers" club just to get in the yearbook.
George Newman's ('Weird Al' Yankovic) ad for his show "Town Talk", where the show becomes more advanced with more controversial guests, was primarily a parody of Geraldo Rivera's now defunct talk show The Geraldo Rivera Show (1987). Long before Jerry Springer's show, Geraldo's guests would frequently get into fights, which at one point resulted in Geraldo breaking his nose, as referenced by the bandage George wears over his nose at the end of the commercial. Rivera also hosted the notorious two-hour live special, The Mystery of Al Capone's Vaults (1986), in which enormous hype was set up that a treasure would be discovered, but in fact almost nothing was found; this is parodied by George's "Inside Al Capone's Glove Compartment" segment.
At one point in the "Ghandi II" scene, Ghandi slams a bad guy's head repeatedly into the roof of his Ferrari. When doing this on-set, it actually left a dent in the roof of the car, which caused great concern because it wasn't immediately clear if the damage to the car was covered by studio insurance. Fortunately, it was.
In late 1988, Orion Pictures took advantage of the high anticipation for the upcoming Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade (1989) by putting out a teaser trailer that used much of UHF's "Raiders of the Lost Ark" spoof footage, but withheld revealing Weird Al's face and the title until the end. The teaser is available as a special feature on the DVD release.
Despite the fact that, since the beginning, roughly half of the material on 'Weird Al' Yankovic's albums has been original songs (using his own melody and not parodying an existing song - although often based on a known performer's style), he has not been widely known for his own creations. In fact, out of all 20 of Al's singles released up to 1989 (this movie's release year), only four were "originals" of his, with the fourth being the theme song from this movie (also titled "UHF").
Following the bankruptcy of Orion Pictures in the early 1990s, this film was one of several that were stuck in "legal limbo" for several years. This is the primary reason that this cult favorite wasn't released on DVD until 2002. The DVD was a top-ten best-seller upon release.
"Uncle Nutzy's Clubhouse" came from one of 'Weird Al' Yankovic's favorite pieces from MAD magazine. Also, according to the DVD commentary, Yankovic's character's name of George Newman is a nod to MAD Magazine mascot Alfred E Newman.
The dog biscuits 'David Bowe' eats for "Uncle Nutzy's Clubhouse" were actually cookies purchased from a bakery in Tulsa, Oklahoma where most of the movie was filmed. After filming was finished, the crew ate the rest of the cookies.
At the time the film was made, 'Weird Al' Yankovic was using his "classic" appearance, including glasses and a mustache. In 1998, Al underwent LASIK surgery, allowing him to work without glasses, and around the same time he decided to grow his hair and shave his mustache. As a result, in the additional material (menu animations, deleted scene commentaries, etc) on the 2002 DVD release of UHF, he has a strikingly different appearance than in the actual film.
After extremely positive feedback from test screenings, the struggling Orion Pictures concluded that this film was their sure-fire summer blockbuster. Unfortunately, the film was released during the summer of 1989 against huge films like Lethal Weapon 2 (1989), Batman (1989) and Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade (1989). "UHF" was subsequently crushed at the box office. Although it made $6.5 million domestic box office on a $5-million production budget, this estimate does not take into account that studios only take in generally half of its theatrical gross, the rest going to exhibitors. Following another string of box-office flops, Orion went bankrupt in the early 1990s.
'Weird Al' Yankovic never believed that this film deserved a PG-13 rating, but refused to allow cuts that would have earned the film a PG. Among the scenes the MPAA wanted cut were the "flying poodles" and part of "Conan the Librarian", which features a guy getting (bloodlessly) split in two for having an overdue book. Another scene that Al didn't cut despite rating concerns is the "Town Talk" scene wherein a shop teacher has his thumb cut off and bleeds all over George and the stage; this scene was edited for "time", however, as it was originally longer. Multiple endings were filmed, which included one where George finds the severed thumb and the shop teacher puts it in his pocket, continuing his lecture. In another the shop teacher states the thumb should be kept warm so it can be reattached, and promptly puts the thumb in his mouth, continuing his lecture. Strangely enough, when shown on television, the library scene is often cut out for content, but the bloody scene with the shop teacher is still aired, showing of the "poodle tossing" varies on the station.
Stanley was originally intended to sing "Helter Skelter" by the Beatles while being held hostage, but this was changed to the theme song from Bonanza (1959) because Michael Richards did not know the words.
In addition to the programs shown on Channel 62, the station's Friday lineup on the wall board includes these programs: - Beastiality Today - Beat the Loan Shark - Beverly Hillbillies - Buddha Knows Best - Dog Racing from Rio de Janeiro - Druids on Parade - Eye On Toxic Waste - Fun with Dirt - Leave it to Bigfoot - Mr. Ed - My Three Mutants - Name that Stain - News - Raul's Wild Kingdom - Stanley Spadowski's Clubhouse - That's Disgusting - The Flying Pope - The Lice is Right - The Young and the Dyslexic - Town Talk - Traffic Court - Secrets of the Universe - Underwater Bingo for Teens - Volcano Worshiper's Hour - Wheel of Fish - Wide World of Tractor Pulls - Wonderful World of Phlegm - You Bet Your Pink Slip Shows shown but not on the lineup include: - Bowling for Burgers - Strip Solitaire
Al originally wanted Sylvester Stallone to do a cameo as the helicopter booth worker in the Rambo sequence, and discovered that he and Stallone had a mutual friend. Stallone initially agreed to make the appearance, but ultimately had to back out due to schedule issues.
EASTER EGG: On the Special Features menu, select the "Watch for Falling Rocks" sign (using the remote, select Commentary, then go left) to see footage of Stanley Spadowski (Michael Richards) in its original form (in the film, it's part of the U-62 promo commercial). This works on both sides of the DVD (standard and widescreen).
The first (rough) cut of the film was about 2.5 hours long, trimmed down to 90 minutes for the theatrical release. Yankovic has resisted the requests of fans to release a "Director's Cut" of UHF, telling them that the hour of deleted material contained countless gags that just didn't really work for the film's pacing. "There's a REASON those things got cut," he has said on his website www.weirdal.com.
Barry Hansen: (a.k.a. Dr. Demento) is the man eating whipped cream during the Channel 62 promo. "The Dr. Demento Show" is a long-running (almost 40 years) syndicated radio show focusing exclusively on novelty and comedy records, and his playing many of 'Weird Al' Yankovic's parody songs was what launched Al's career.
The trivia items below may give away important plot points.
In the scene after Bob talks to George about George's jobs prior to working at Burger World, the two are kicked out of the place. The actual location is Billy Ray's BBQ Harden's (which was known as Harden's Hamburgers at the time of this film's release) at 6835 East 15th Street in Tulsa, Oklahoma, answering a question that's been around for years: "Where does George live?"
According to the DVD commentary, Philo's transformation scene was supposed to occur in the background. Al and the director were so impressed with the special effects for that scene, however, that they chose to make it a close-up instead.