It is claimed that the late post-punk vocalist Ian Curtis (of Joy Division) watched this film just before his suicide. It can be seen before Curtis' suicide scenes in the movies 24 Hour Party People (2002) and Control (2007). The musician Elliott Smith (1969-2003) described himself as a fan of Bruno S. and Stroszek (1977), too. Just like Ian Curtis, he committed suicide later.
Director Werner Herzog was originally going to film the story of Woyzeck (1979) with his star Bruno S.. However, a few days before production, he decided that story required Klaus Kinski in the starring role. He told Bruno, who responded that he had already taken vacation and a leave of absence from his job in a steel mill. As a result, Herzog wrote this film in 3 1/2 days, deliberately choosing a similar sounding title.
Werner Herzog invited editor Beate Mainka-Jellinghaus to the set to oversee continuity. Known to highly dislike Herzog's movies (with the exception of Auch Zwerge haben klein angefangen (1970)), she was so disgusted by the scenes that she started to signal the camera operator to stop shooting. Infuriated by this, Herzog threatened to hit her with a shovel.
Stroszek is also the name of the leading character in Herzog's Lebenszeichen (1968). Herzog got the name Stroszek from one of his former classmates who once helped him cheat on a test and used his name as a tribute to him.
Herzog shot parts of this film in nearby Plainfield, Wisconsin. He heard that Plainfield was the home of Ed Gein (the infamous cannibal/murderer who was the inspiration for the book and movie "Psycho") and decided he just had to shoot the film there.
When Bruno and Eva are driving to Railroad Flats, Herzog and the cameraman strapped themselves by their belts to the hood of the car while going down the freeway. They were stopped by police and avoided getting a ticket by telling the officer that they were just some "Kraut film students" and the officer let them go. The same officer stopped them again later that day for the same offense.
The scenes of Stroszek's apartment were shot in Bruno S.'s apartment. The piano, which Bruno really does call his "black friend", was bought with his salary from The Enigma of Kaspar Hauser (1974), and the concern over its future is real.
Bruno S., Wilhelm von Homburg and Burkhard Driest were all convicted criminals. Von Homburg, when convicted 9 years after the film, was guilty of almost exactly the same crimes his character is seen committing in the film.
Reportedly, this is the last movie musician Ian Curtis of the English band Joy Division watched before committing suicide. On the inner groove of side 1 of their posthumous live album "Still", appear the words "the chicken won't stop". Sides 2 & 3 have chicken footprints and side 4, the words, "the chicken stops here".