The picture Kevin finds of Buzz's girlfriend was a picture of a boy made up to look like a girl because Chris Columbus thought it would be too cruel to make fun of a girl like that. The boy that was used in the photo was the art director's son.
The movie that Kevin watches on video tape is not a real film, but footage specially created. It was called "Angels With Filthy Souls." Along with other similar era references in the movie, this is a play upon the movie Angels with Dirty Faces (1938) starring James Cagney.
Daniel Stern agreed to have the tarantula put on his face for exactly one take. He had to mime screaming because the noise would have scared the spider, and the scream was dubbed in later. Macaulay Culkin also had a hand double for close-up shots of Kevin handling the spider.
John Candy filmed his part in only one day, albeit a 23 hour day. The story about having once forgotten his son at a funeral home was entirely improvised. His part is obviously inspired by the character he played in Planes, Trains & Automobiles (1987) also written by John Hughes.
The car that ''Santa'' (the guy Kevin talks to about wanting his family back) starts before it stalls out is a 1980 Honda Civic hatchback. It really did stall on camera as the actor was driving it away.
The movie is considered a traditional Christmas movie in Poland. It has aired on national TV during prime-time Christmas season every year since 1990. In 2011 the movie aired on December 23 with an audience of over five million, making it the most popular show aired during the Christmas season in Poland.
Both Joe Pesci and Daniel Stern felt indifferent about the film's potential during shooting, so they intentionally gave over-the-top performances; neither one of them believing the film would become a massive success.
According to Chris Columbus during an interview with Alec Baldwin on Baldwin's podcast Here's the Thing, John Heard was unhappy about working on the film, feeling that the film was going to be terrible. However, upon seeing the finished film and its subsequent success, Heard apologized to Columbus when they were shooting his scenes on the film's sequel, having broken character before his first take to tell Columbus. The director says he still had footage of Heard's apology on video-tape.
There is a legend that Elvis Presley (who died in 1977) makes a cameo in this movie. Many of those who believe that Elvis is still alive maintain that the heavily bearded man standing in the background of the scene where Mrs. McCallister is shouting at the desk clerk (just before she meets John Candy) is Elvis.
When Mitch Murphy (Jeffrey Wiseman) is asking questions to the airport driver who is loading the luggage, he clearly lips the dialogue, "gee kid I don't know, hit the road" at the same time as the driver.
Although the part was written especially for Macaulay Culkin by John Hughes, several hundred other boys were auditioned by director Chris Columbus just because he wanted to confirm that Culkin was the right choice.
Chris Columbus had storyboarded a few scenes in which Kevin would have a dream where the house would come to life. One included the evil furnace in the basement, which would chase him to the stairs, and another where several toy nutcrackers would come to life along with the house. The scenes, however, would have been too expensive on such a tight budget and the ideas were dropped.
When the McCallisters are running through the Paris airport towards the arrivals section, Uncle Rob and his family can be briefly glimpsed on the other side of the glass doors holding a large, paper "Welcome" sign. Originally, there was a scene (featured on D.V.D./Blu-ray) with the McCallisters ignoring the sign, and tearing it in half by running right through it, but it was cut from the film.
According to Chris Columbus, Kevin Nordine did all the effects for the film in his parent's basement in Chicago, by drawing all the effects onto the film. He also did the effects for only a few hundred dollars at a time.
Several of Chris Columbus's family members make cameos in the film: His mother-in-law and his then-infant daughter Eleanor Columbus are both passengers on the plane. His wife Monica Devereux-Columbus is a stewardess and his father-in-law plays the police officer who gives the line "tell them to count their kids again."
During the family pizza-eating scene, when the family is cleaning up Kevin and Buzz's milk mess, Peter can be seen cleaning up the milk and throwing away red napkins. In the pile of napkins thrown in the trash can, Kevin's name can be seen on an airline ticket that's mistakenly thrown away.
Director Chris Columbus envisioned a scene in which the furnace came to life, gets up on all fours and chases Kevin to the stairs. The scene would have cost over a million dollars so it was trimmed down to the furnace simply lighting up and groaning Kevin's name.
Many of the frames that focus on Kevin in the beginning of the film are shot from above his head, making him seem small and helpless. At the end of the film, Kevin is mostly shot from below, making him seem taller and more confident.
John Williams' score for the film is a song called "Somewhere In My Memory." It's used mainly as soundtrack for both Home Alone films; however, he did a couple different recordings of the song itself. The full song done with vocals is on the Home Alone 2: Lost in New York (1992) music track with Bette Midler.
In the scene when Kevin is browsing through Buzz's private stash, a box of Junior Mints can be seen. In a 1993 episode of the popular TV sitcom, "Seinfeld" (1989-1998), entitled, 'The Junior Mint,' the "Home Alone" movies are mentioned by the main characters.
The "Oh-Kay Plumbing" van that Harry and Marv drive has a slogan that says "Your flood control experts". This is funny because they call themselves the Wet Bandits, and leave the water running after robbing houses.
To promote a stronger Christmas feel, red and green are major reoccurring colours throughout the movie, appearing quite conspicuously in almost every scene. This includes furniture, clothing, food containers and all wallpaper to name a few.
In Home Alone, a brief clip of It's a Wonderful Life is playing. In that movie, a Christmas Classic, Jimmy Stewart wishes he had never been born. In Home Alone, another Christmas Classic, McCauley Culkin does the opposite, wishing his family away.
From 1993 to 1996 and again in 1998, NBC aired 'Home Alone' during the 8/7c time slot on Thanksgiving evening as part of their holiday promotion (Jurassic Park (1993) aired in its place in 1997 and 'Home Alone' aired on N.B.C. a week before Christmas). The film would air on NBC until 1999, when it aired the Sunday after Thanksgiving weekend in 1999, when it was the last time it aired on NBC. The film also aired on Thanksgiving for 24 hours on FX in 2009.
According to a Wall Street Journal article, the owners say they were first approached by a location scout who worked with filmmaker John Hughes. First, they were asked if the movie Uncle Buck (1989) could shoot at a house they owned before they owned the one featured in Home Alone (1990). At the time, they were trying to sell it, and declined the offer because they didn't want to take it off the market for several months during the shoot. After they moved into their house, the couple was approached about a second film, National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation (1989), which they decided to turn down, this time because they were renovating.
The trivia items below may give away important plot points.
Chris Columbus wanted the booby-trap with Marv getting hit in the face with a household object sent down the laundry chute, but he couldn't think of one to use, so his brother-in-law suggested a clothes-iron.
The McAllister door-knob burn on Pesci's character at the beginning of the house raid scene is an homage to the main poster used to advertise Fritz Lang's 'M' (1931). This poster is on the I.M.D.B. page for the movie.