Better Off Dead

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Videos & Photos

  • Official Trailer

Movie Info & Cast


Most animation aficionados of the 1990s know Savage Steve Holland as the cocreator (with Bill Kopp) of the all-stops-out TV cartoon series Eek! The Cat. But Holland had been exercising his own peculiar brand of deviltry on live characters long before Eek! came into being. In Holland's Better Off Dead, John Cusack plays a lovestruck teenager, hopelessly enamored with Amanda Wyss. When she dumps him in favor of a more popular high-schooler, the boy's entire day quickly goes to Hell. In the words of Hamlet, all occasions do inform against Cusack: he is bullied, tormented and torn apart by everyone from the paperboy (who seemingly turns up everywhere) to the disembodied voice of a radio deejay. Cusack attempts suicide, but his efforts are just as unsuccessful-and amusing-as Bud Cort's in Harold and Maude. Meanwhile, French exchange student Diane Franklin, held a virtual prisoner by her host family, develops a long-distance crush on Cusack.~ Hal Erickson, All Movie Guide


  • John Cusack
  • David Ogden Stiers
  • Kim Darby
  • Demian Slade
  • Scooter Stevens
  • Diane Franklin
  • Laura Waterbury
  • Dan Schneider
  • Yuji Okumoto
  • Brian Imada

Did You Know?


  • [44:25]When Beth (Amanda Wyss) shows up at the high school dance, the person standing behind her is wearing Freddy Krueger's sweater. Wyss played Krueger's first victim in A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984). A similar scene from Eek! The Cat (executive produced by Savage Steve Holland) during Season Five featured Eek wearing the exact same sweater when his nemesis Sharky has been experiencing nightmares.
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  • In the scene in the lunchroom, when Lane decides to ask out the cheerleader, his drawing of Beth shows the cheerleader's name as Chris Cremmins, but in the credits she is listed as Chris Cummins.
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    • Monique Junot: I figured if we had nothing to say to each other he would get bored; go away. But instead he uses it as an excuse to put his testicles all over me.
    • Lane Myer: Excuse me?
    • Monique Junot: You know, like octopus? Testicles?
    • Lane Myer: Ohhhh. Tentacles. N-T. Tentacles; big Difference.
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Better Off Dead has the body of a tired teen comedy but the soul of an inspired student film; it's the first movie in a long time to interrupt itself periodically with flights of animated fancy. At one point, romantic foreshadowing is accomplished by a clay-mation sequence featuring cheeseburgers in love. At another, a lovesick teen draws a cartoon picture of his faithless girlfriend, and the drawing tells him to get lost. [17 Oct 1985, p.B6]

Metacritic review by Bill Cosford
Bill Cosford
Miami Herald

Better Off Dead, a seemingly teenage comedy that wasn't good enough to be released during the prime summer play dates, is utterly devoid of appeal. [15 Oct 1985, p.C2]

Metacritic review by Gene Siskel
Gene Siskel
Chicago Tribune