MOVIE URBAN LEGEND: Was there really a giant octopus in The Goonies?
The Goonies was a popular 1985 comedy-adventture directed by Richard Donner and written by Chris Columbus (from a story by executive producer Steven Spielberg) about a group of best friends who live in the “Goon Docks” in Oregon. With their entire neighborhood set to be bulldozed to make way for a country club, the Goonies get together for one last adventure and discover what appears to be an old Spanish treasure map. During their search for the treasure, they run afoul of a group of criminals, and hilarity and adventure ensue. SPOILERS FOR A TWENTY-EIGHT YEAR OLD MOVIE! The Goonies end up with some of the treasure, allowing their parents to save their homes from foreclosure. At the end of the film, one of the kids, Data (played by Ke Huy Quan), tells a reporter “The octopus was really scary!” There was no octopus in the film. The line seemed to be an example of how kids exaggerate. You know, while in the middle of this crazy story about crooks and pirate ships, they somehow manage to still make stuff up! However, that has led fans of The Goonies over the years to believe there was an actual scene with an octopus that was cut from the film’s theatrical run. Is that true, or is it merely another case like the phantom “deleted scene” from Raiders of the Lost Ark that we covered here a while back?
Simply put, yes, there was a deleted scene that involved a giant octopus, which occurred when the Goonies fall from the waterfall into a cavern near the pirate ship. They wade through the water to the ship when Stef (Martha Plimpton) feels something brush against her. She presumes it’s Mouth (played by Corey Feldman), who’s behind her. He denies it. When it happens again, she smacks Mouth in the, well, mouth. While she is turned to face Mouth, he sees a giant octopus emerge from the water behind her.
The octopus attacks and drags Stef underwater. Mouth and Stef fight the octopus to try to free her. Data (the resident inventor who uses all sorts of interesting gadgets throughout the film) saves them by taking a Walkman cassette tape player and sticking it into the octopus’ mouth and playing loudly the song “Eight Arms to Hold You” by the dance group The Goon Squad. The octopus either recoils from the loud noise or, in a more likely reading of the scene, begins to dance away. It is pretty cheesy. The scene was ultimately cut from the film, whether for time reasons, because the scene didn’t come out looking particularly good or because the whole concept of a giant octopus attacking the group was deemed to be a bit too over-the-top. Whatever the case, it didn’t make the final cut.
The scene didn’t appear in either the theatrical version or when the film was released on VHS. However, a funny thing happened sometime in the 1990s. The Disney Channel aired The Goonies, and because the film had more than a few references that pushed the boundaries of acceptable children’s entertainment as far as the Disney Channel went, they edited out those scenes. After the edits were made, though, they wanted to make up for the time being taken away so they added a couple of deleted scenes, including the octopus sequence (another notable deleted scene has the kids encounter Troy, a jerky local jock, at a convenience store. In the scene, the treasure map that the kids have gets burned a bit by Troy, which explains why the map is singed in later scenes in the film). So now suddenly you had a certain group of people who were talking about an octopus scene that no one else had ever seen. Many folks presumed that it was yet another phantom deleted scene, a fake memory based on Data’s line later in the film. It happens a lot. However, this time it was for real.
In 2001, the deleted scenes were included on the DVD release of The Goonies.
An interesting thing about the deleted scene is the song used. Producer Arthur Baker put together a band called The Goon Squad to further tie into the movie. The song’s name is a reference to the working title for The Beatles’ album Help!. The soundtrack producers were so sure that the song would be a hit after its use in the movie that they decided to release the song as a single off of the film’s soundtrack. Despite the deletion of the scene, the song remained on the soundtrack, and when it came out it actually hit the top of the Billboard Hot Dance Club Play charts! The Goon Squad actually released another single (“Powerdrill”) that hit the top forty of the dance charts but that was it for the group.
The legend is…
Feel free (heck, I implore you!) to write in with your suggestions for future installments! My e-mail address is email@example.com.
Be sure to check out my Entertainment Urban Legends Revealed for more urban legends about the worlds of TV, Movies and Music!