A good 80 percent of Cracked’s content is devoted to peeling back the kaleidoscopic layers of WTF-ness contained within Back To The Future, but this article isn’t about that. Nope, this is about an even more ridiculous topic: the many confounding ways people tried to squeeze big bucks out of the Back To The Future flicks.
This ordinary tale of a time-travelling eccentric and his pet teenager has spawned such baffling shit as …
#7. The Back To The Future Cartoon Was A Fucking Crazy Parade
As we’ve mentioned before on the site, Doc Brown’s character-concluding decision to father children with a historically dead woman and blast through time in a screeching lightning train was reckless at best. And so it’s only natural that the 1991 Back To The Future TV show would follow the horrific mishaps of this family, sandwiched with live-action science demonstrations by Christopher Lloyd and an oddly mute Bill Nye.
They’re like the Penn and Teller of mad science.
But despite its audience of the young and curious, an average episode of Back To The Future: The Animated Series played out like Rick And Morty episodes Adult Swim rejected for being too bleak. Don’t believe us? The pilot for the series starts with Doc’s younger son Verne stealing the time machine and traveling to the Civil War … followed by Doc finding a photo revealing that little Verne died for the Confederate Army.
“But hey, it says here that the Alabama chapter of the KKK is named in his honor.”
Doc eventually prevents this by creating a truce between Verne’s Confederate pals and the Union, and the gang happily flies home like they didn’t just irrevocably alter the outcome of a Civil War battle. That’s basically the story of the series, as Doc, Marty, and Doc’s kids manhandle historical moments while Doc’s wife Clara waits back home with sandwiches.
In the third goddamn episode, Doc brings his kids to the very moment the dinosaurs are wiped out by a meteor, saving the group by hastily stopping the comet and changing the future into a lizard-ruled wasteland. (One of said lizards looks like Biff, implying that a Tannen once fucked a dinosaur.)
This means that Doc is forced to go back and kill the dinosaurs himself, re-altering his actions so that the meteor gets back on a collision course with Earth … but not before one of his kids befriends a scared pterodactyl. So how does Doc handle this unfortunate attachment? Obviously, the rest of the series would involve the group goofing around with their adopted dino friend. I mean, otherwise, he’d have to …
… tear his son from the sobbing grasp of a doomed animal …
… stuff him into the time machine and fly away …
This also serves as the official series finale for The Flintstones.
… and watch as the comet tears through the atmosphere and vaporizes the boy’s dinosaur pal. That’s seriously what happens in the special “watch all the dinosaurs die” episode of this nightmare series. Happy Saturday morning, assholes!
#6. A Japanese Video Game Made BTTF 2 Into Crazy-Ass Anime
Anyone who played the early Back To The Future Nintendo games knows that whoever made them clearly didn’t bother to see the movies. Either that, or Back To The Future Part III cut a scene in which Marty ingests a crazy amount of peyote and starts seeing mutant cow men everywhere.
Presumably named “Beef Tannen.”
The Japan-only Back To The Future Part II Super Famicom game, on the other hand, tried to follow the plot of movie … and somehow ended up being even weirder. You control Marty, who spends the entire time on his hoverboard — because, realistically speaking, if you owned a hoverboard, why the fuck would you ever not be flying around on it?
The game starts on a grimly prescient note, with trigger-happy 2015 cops shooting at Marty for no apparent reason.
When we reach the alternate 1985, Marty goes around fighting disoriented crackheads, mistaking their agonized gasps for taunting chicken noises. Marty then discovers his murdered father’s tombstone, and he … seems pretty copacetic with this development, all things considered.
Doc, on the other hand, turns into an angry pink Gollum.
If you’ve ever wanted to see these iconic moments reimagined as demented Sailor Moon episodes, you’re in luck. When Marty discovers the 1950s girlie mag instead of the sports almanac, the mere sight of boobs gives him a stroke.
Which is weird, because this is after meeting his mother’s gargantuan dystopian breasts. Marty’s perma-smirk in that scene is somehow even creepier than when he was standing at his dead dad’s grave.
Also, why are they in the Technodrome?
By the time Biff seemingly vampire-bites the almanac away from Marty and gets covered in a sea of 16-bit horseshit, you’ll probably never see Back To The Future the same way ever again.
“I won’t close my mouth. I deserve this.”
And speaking of which …
#5. A Hot Wheels Biff Car … Complete With Manure
There aren’t a ton of Back To The Future toys, but the ones that do exist are mostly DeLorean-based. There’s a DeLorean Lego set, a remote-control DeLorean, and even a Power-Wheels-esque DeLorean for ’80s kids whose parents wanted them to explore their confused Oedipal feelings outside the house.
Sadly, this kid was easily taken out by Libyan terrorists.
So it’s only natural that the DeLorean be adopted by stalwart toy car company Hot Wheels. Recently, the company decided to expand their Back To The Future line to include not only Doc’s DeLorean …
Oh, sorry. Doc’s “Time Machine of Indeterminate Brand.”
And Marty’s sweet 4×4 …
“Complete with two coats of wax and Fat Biff’s tears!”
And even Biff Tannen’s Ford Super Deluxe Converti– oh, shit.
You can get a non-poopy version for an extra $300.
Yes, they produced a beautiful classic automobile overflowing with rancid manure, as seen in that scene and that other scene and that variation of the scene. It looks like an amusing Internet Photoshop job, but it’s a real toy which you could go buy right now … or, you know, make at home yourself with a toy car and some laxatives.
Couldn’t Hot Wheels have mass-produced Doc’s hover-train? Or one of those kickass police cars from 2015? Nope. Instead, we get the shit-encrusted rapemobile. Think of all the ways kids could play with this. “Oh no, Biff’s car got covered in manure … again …” Assuming your kid even knows what Back To The Future is, how are they supposed to integrate Biff’s car with their other Hot Wheels products?
“Yes! The race is delayed due to track turds!”
#4. ZZ Top Turns All The Characters Into Ogling Creeps
Along with “The Power of Love,” Huey Lewis and the News wrote “Back In Time,” the surprisingly engaged recounting of the events of Back To The Future from Marty’s perspective. Sadly, we were less lucky with ZZ Top’s “Doubleback,” a jabbering spray of temporally-themed rhymes in no way related to the third film.
The one band you’d think you could trust to hitch their beer-drinking, hell-raising wagon to Wake-Up Juice, but noooooo.
Now, “Doubleback” is a fucking abomination, an artistic charley horse clearly farted out 12 minutes from the studio call time. But then there’s the music video, which superimposes the band into random clips from the movie in such a disjointed, cookie cutter way that it comes alive like a serial killer’s scrapbook.
GOOF: ZZ Top were only teenagers in 1885, so they shouldn’t have beards yet.
It’s everyone’s third-favorite time travel movie, perpetually interrupted with the looming presence of three guys who look like the personification of bathroom assault. By the end, they’re literally sticking their faces over the action so that we don’t forget to be bummed out by their existence.
We’re all for them supplanting Marty’s mom in this scene to make it less creepy, though.
But the weird stuff begins when this monochromatic onslaught changes the movie’s finale to include a pimped-out ride randomly rolling into Marty’s standoff with Mad Dog Tannen …
… and releasing three jean-short bombshells of various ’90s fabric patterns and foxy accessories, to which the movie’s characters react with stock disbelief appropriated from the original scene.
OK, we have to admit that these guys clean up nicely when they shave.
That’s right — Doc reacting to Marty’s fakeout death is the same expression as his boner face. Or maybe he’s wondering how a Cadillac Sedanette went back in time without a bunch of nonsense sticking out of its hood. Either way: boner.
#3. Pizza Hut’s Back To The Future Ads Are Rather Sad In Retrospect
Having the ability to engorge on a puck of meat and cheese has been every child’s dream since Marty’s mom hydrated a Pizza Hut pizza in Back To The Future II.
The most fantastic concept here is a 2015 pizza without a gimmicky crust.
So delicious. At least, if you ignore the fact that eating a waterlogged dough slice sounds like a fucking nightmare, and that the Pizza Hut of this future solely makes the equivalent of microwave meals. In fairness, the brand’s own advertising campaign had a slightly different take on their role in the future:
Their kinder, gentler take on Robocop was probably their lamest (and most inaccurate) prediction of all.
According to one 1989 commercial, the Pizza Huts of 2015 are built like techno mosques. It makes sense in the context of the ad, which begins with two unknown ruffians taking the DeLorean out for a spin, presumably after swiping the keys from Doc Brown’s ransacked corpse.
To save you 15 minutes on IMDb: It’s Mikey from Parker Lewis Can’t Lose.
The ne’er-do-wells zoom to 2015, where, to the sad grumbles of their stomachs, they find the streets barren of any pizza eateries, as Domino’s has long been converted into a hardware chain. Luckily, there’s still one place in business, and it’s the all-hail Pizza Hut temple.
The Noid was executed after a show trial in ’94.
It’s unclear why a restaurant that makes cookie-sized products needs multiple neon spires, but it probably has to do with the announcer’s assertion that, even in the future, Pizza Hut is the “only one place to get a great pizza.” The fact that Pizza Hut was envisioning an all-exclusive Demolition Man scenario with their brand is made that much more heartbreaking by the company’s actual 2015 situation:
Also depressing: the current state of journalism, since no one realized this graphic should be a pie chart.
Turns out that all the movie projector pizza boxes and eye-tracking tablet menus in the world can’t get us to that Utopian Italian palace where dressing like it’s the ’80s is still hip and (according to another tie-in ad) absolutely everyone wears futuristic solar shades.
The nuclear fallout has melted all of our eyes by now.
#2. Doc Brown Teamed Up With Doogie Howser For Earth Day
Back in 1990, people were really committed to saving the environment … as long as the extent of that commitment was appearing in some kind of extravagant TV special instead of cutting back on fossil fuels. Regardless, this newly-discovered sense of eco-awareness led to one of the craziest moments in pop culture: The Earth Day Special.
The special starred a slew of wacky creatures, like the Muppets and Danny DeVito and E.T., who looks to have been living in a filthy alley since the events of his film.
He’ll touch you with his “magic finger” for $5 and some Reese’s Pieces.
Since this was the year that Back To The Future Part III came out, Doc Brown naturally joined the cross-promotional fray. Who better to promote environmental activism than a guy who hoards large quantities of plutonium in a garage in a residential neighborhood?
The loose plot of the special is about the personification of Mother Earth dying. Doc Brown shows up in his DeLorean and offers his assistance to the doctor in charge of healing Mrs. Earth — who, because this was 1990, is Doogie Fucking Howser.
“Not even Edward James Olmos’ mustache could revive her.”
Doc whips out his suitcase TV and shows them footage of how screwed over the Earth is, which is kind of a dick move, considering how she’s right over there. It doesn’t help that the clips are seemingly stock footage pretentiously edited together by first-year film students.
“What are those ladies doing with that cup …?”
“Whoops, wrong year.”
As always, Doc ends up finding the solution: science! Not any specific science but, like, the act of reading and shit. Look, it was 6 a.m. and someone wanted to finish that goddamn children’s TV show script already.
#1. The Back To The Future Novelization Gets Dark
Movie novelizations are generally terrible, but the one for Back To The Future takes it to a whole new level. It’s the Back To The Future of bad literary cash-ins.
“What do you mean it’s not about a kid with a camera who farts fireworks?” — the author, probably
The book opens with a vivid description of a dead family getting bent out of shape by the detonation of a nuclear bomb, which turns out to be a scene from a film Marty is watching. This never comes up again in the book — because the author is too busy thinking up even crazier, tangentially BTTF-related shit. For instance, we get a scene featuring the Libyan terrorists casually hanging out in a shitty motel, which answers the question you always had: Yes, one of them is a psychotic former fashion model.
You can only be told to look “sexy like tiger” so many times before something inside snaps.
And she doesn’t mind offing Doc Brown because he … “looks Jewish.”
Doc goes commando in his jumpsuits in this version.
Even when it’s a scene we recognize from the movie, the author’s prose manages to make everything seem a tiny bit seedier:
Not that “Let’s hire your attempted rapist as our live-in manservant” is any less creepy.
The novel also features the most disturbing context for the phrase “giggled naughtily” in all of fiction:
A parent’s naughty giggling is typically reason #1 Protective Services gives when taking away their child.
The whole book is so bizarre and creepy that it wouldn’t be surprising to learn that it was imported from the shitty alternate 1985. And we’re only scratching the surface here. A whole other book could be written just pointing out all the fucked up moments, page by page. Did we say “could”? We meant “someone on the Internet did exactly that.”