That time they made a fake film for one scene of Home Alone

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Home Alone is a Christmas film in which a small child defends his home from two comically incompetent criminals using a combination toy cars an old VHS tape and a fucking gun. In regards to the tape, it contains a movie-within-a-movie filmed especially for the film so realistic that even the film’s stars didn’t know it was fake. 

Now we’re not even going to pretend that anyone reading this is unfamiliar with Home Alone because that shit is Christmas to a lot of people to the point we’re guessing a good chunk of people reading this can’t even start feeling properly Christmassy until they see Joe Pesci get his scalp melted by a blowtorch.

Perhaps the film’s most memorable scene is one in which the precocious Kevin McCallister uses a VHS tape of an old gangster movie to mug a pizza delivery guy and then later scare off a violent criminal. As you do.

Anyway, according to people who worked on the film the original plan was to use an actual gangster movie from the 1930’s but they couldn’t find one that featured everything they needed for the film. Specifically a wild-eyed old man gunning someone down whilst screaming a kickass one-liner.

They don’t make ’em like they used to.

So instead the producers decided to just up and make a movie that featured everything they needed, drafting a film-within-a-film called Angel’s With Filthy Souls. A direct homage to the classic gangster film, Angel’s with Dirty Faces starring pretty much every major actor from that era. Only their film cut straight to the part when every gets gunned down.

Although the “film” itself only amounted to about 90 seconds of footage (almost all of which is seen in the film) a great deal of care was taken to make it look as realistic as possible. With the film’s cinematographer, Julio Macat going as far as to get his hands on some period accurate black and white film from Kodak as well as a bunch of props from the era which were then lit and placed exactly as they would have been if the movie had been made in the 1930’s. For the curious, this basically involved bathing the everloving shit out of the scene in as much light as possible like it was being interrogated by Batman or something.

Moving on, even the clothing worn by the actors in the scene was accurate as was the gun used in the brief scenes climatic climax. In fact, the only thing that wasn’t real were the bullets, not that, that mattered to the actor playing Johnny, Ralph Foody, who reportedly went so ape shit they moment they handed him the fake gun loaded with blanks that they only needed to do one take. A now iconic moment that was entirely the result of Foody hurting his knee.

You see, Foody was originally supposed to be the one getting shot but after being injured he and the other actor in the scene, Michael Guido, swapped roles because the guy being shot had to go down like a sack of shit being kicked by Bruce Lee.

All in all the entire scene was filmed in just one day in a school gym near the rest of the shoot and yet it still ended up becoming one of the film’s most fondly remembered moments. So much so that many people including Macaulay Culkin thought the film was real. Something that amused the producers so much they did the exact same thing again for the sequel, inserting another scene from the purported sequel to Angels with Filthy Souls called Angels with Even Filthier Souls that largely served as an opportunity for Foody to once again gnaw on the scenery while firing a machine gun.