GeekBomb: The History of Poop in the Movies

Everyone poops. It’s a truism that you can’t deny, and there’s even an entire book on the subject. In fact, there’s a whole slew of books in that department, ranging from What’s Your Poo Telling You? to It Hurts When I Poop: A Story For Children Who Are Scared To Use The Potty. Which based on the title alone scares me, and I’m an adult. For some reason, from childhood to our adult years, toilet humor amuses us for some reason, and that means we’ve seen plenty of it in the movies.

In fact, Oscar nominee Slumdog Millionaire has a pretty extensive and memorable poop scene in it, and we hope that somewhere there’s a propmaster or special effects technician who is proud to say, “I made the poop in Slumdog” and that someone is buying them a beer. Since the nominations came out, I’ve been thinking about all the other memorable poop scenes in movies, for better or for worse, and thought I’d round up some of the best for a Monday morning GeekBomb to get you going. Have your daily dose of fiber and dive in after the break.

Toilets in Television

Even though everyone shares this body bodily function, censors haven’t wanted to admit it. In fact, the first toilet that was ever going to be seen on television was in the Leave it to Beaver 1957 pilot episode “Captain Jack, but the FCC ruled that they couldn’t show a toilet, mostly because people in the 1950s apparently didn’t go to the bathroom. So, a compromise was reached in which Beaver could show the toilet tank, which Wally and the Beave were using to house a baby alligator, but they couldn’t show the actual toilet. So Captain Jack was shelved for a couple of weeks, and “It’s A Small World” became the pilot episode.

The first time a toilet was heard on television was in 1971, in the pilot episode of All in the Family. CBS also ran a disclaimer before the show that was wiped offscreen to the sound of a flushing toilet, really opening the door to the bathroom wide. So, it only took 14 years to go from the first appearance of a toilet tank, to the sound of one flushing. There’s some real censorship progress.

Psycho

In the movies, as far as my research has turned up, the first time a flushing toilet was actually shown in a movie was in 1960 with Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho. Screenwriter Joseph Stefano was adamant that he wanted a flushing toilet in the movie (who knows why), so Hitchcock said he had to show it in the writing. In the script, Marion (Janet Leigh) adds up the stolen money on a piece of paper, and then flushes it down the toilet. Strangely enough, the first flushing cinematic toilet was upstaged by another bathroom feature: the shower.

Pink Flamingos

John Waters’ 1971 movie Pink Flamingos is considered a classic by some, and a travesty by others, and it famously features actress Divine eating a piece of dog poop. Yes, real dog poop. Waters reportedly wanted to make a sequel to this movie and have a scene where Divine poops and a dog eats it, but since he/she died, movie-going audiences will just have to imagine that scene in their heads. According to Water, they fed the dog steak for three days before the scene was filmed, and boy… I just can’t go on for this one. My stomach is churning too much as it is. Watch at your own risk.

Airplane!

1980′s Airplane! is still such a groundbreaking film for humor, and even today you’re hard pressed not to go through a week without hearing someone quote a line from this movie. One of my faves is when facing a looming deadline, “Looks like I picked the wrong week to quit sniffing glue!” Not quoted nearly as much, but definitely a memorable poop scene is when Ted Striker says “When Kramer hears about this, the shit’s gonna hit the fan!” And then, the shit does indeed literally hit the fan.

Caddyshack

1980 also gave us the extremely classic scene with the Baby Ruth bar in the swimming pool. Bill Murray’s Carl is in the process of scrubbing and disinfecting the entire pool after a swimmer finds a floater, only to discover it’s a candy bar. I’m not sure why the sight of a Baby Ruth bar floating through the water accompanied by the Jaws soundtrack is so funny, but this scene was one of the funniest things I can remember when I first saw this years ago. My childhood friends and I thought this was comedy gold, and it’s still hard to top today.

Weird Science

What’s the ultimate revenge on a pain-in-the-ass older brother? Having him turned into a creature made of poop is probably pretty high up on the list, and that’s what happens to Bill Paxton’s Chet in Weird Science. It’s a fine fit for this flat-topped pest, who greets his brother with lines like “What’s up turdbrain!” and “Don’t smart mouth me you wormy little shit!” Sadly, Lisa doesn’t leave him in this state, and he reverts back to Bill Pullman as normal by the end of the movie. If you’re a Chet fan, you probably won’t want to continue living without snapping up one of these t-shirts inspired by his quotes.

The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert

Long before Guy Pearce was in Memento or L.A. Confidential, he was vamping as a drag queen Felicia in this 1994 movie. He/she famously wears a reliquary of sorts, similar to the one Hellboy gives to Abe in Hellboy. Although instead of the knucklebone of the saint, this one contains something entirely different. Felicia was backstage during an ABBA show, and when band member Agnetha Fältskog exited the bathroom, he/she went in for a souvenir. This prompts Terence Stamp’s Bernadette to remark, “What are you telling me? This is an ABBA turd?” Of course, it is. Hopefully this isn’t based on a true story.

Pleasantville

In a nod to Leave It To Beaver and all the classic 1950s television shows that couldn’t show a toilet onscreen, this movie has Reese Witherspoon going into the restroom at the local diner, only to find an empty stall. That’s right, there’s no toilet at all, which just reinforces the fact that if you were in black and white and on television, you just weren’t supposed to go to the bathroom at all. When everyone in Pleasantville begins turning colors, do you think they needed to install toilets? Inquiring minds want to know.

Dogma

Kevin Smith’s Dogma features yet another monster entire out of poop, a la Weird Science, but this one is a demon made of all the poop from everyone who died at Golgotha, which is where the Romans used to crucify people. While he’s pretty vile, and voiced by Ethan Suplee, he’s easily defeated by Silent Bob and a can of air freshener. It’s not the last time you’d see a monster made from fecal matter. In fact, 2003′s Monsturd was about a monster made entire out of poop that terrorized people. I shi… er, kid you not.

Trainspotting

Another Danny Boyle film, trainspotting has not just one, but two (how appropriate) poop scenes in it. The most memorable one is undoubtedly Ewan McGregor diving face first into the filthiest toilet in Scotland in order to retrieve two opium suppositories that he’s accidentally “lost.” However, Spud’s breakfast scene where he wrestles his girlfriend’s mother over a dirty sheet comes in a very close number two. If you’re interested, the music when Ewan dives in is Brian Eno’s “Deep Blue Day” off of his excellent Apollo: Atmospheres and Soundtracks album, which is highly recommended.

Synecdoche, New York

This wonderfully eccentric Charlie Kaufman film features a couple of shots of poop, and this is probably the only time you’ll ever see Philip Seymour Hoffman prodding feces with a wooden spoon. So, if you’ve been looking for that in your movie-going experience, look no further. He’s convinced that something is wrong with his body, so he’s been checking things out closely. Even his young daughter has problems of her own, and has bright green bowel movements of her own, that the audience is also treated to. Don’t write this movie off despite this description, however. It’s very quirky and definitely worth seeing.

Zack and Miri Make A Porno

Zack and Miri features a pretty graphic scene involving porn star Katie Morgan, actor Jason Mewes, and poor cameraman Jeff Anderson. If you haven’t seen the movie, you might want to avoid the spoilers below, but those of you who did catch it remember this pretty well. Morgan drops a big hint earlier when she tells Seth Rogen that she’s really constipated, but that anal sex really loosens her up. And she sure isn’t kidding about that. At both screenings I saw of this, audiences were laughing too hard to hear Anderson’s line “Can you believe THIS shit?!” which actually is pretty hard to believe.

Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist

This movie practically channels Trainspotting when Norah’s drunk girlfriend Caroline accidentally loses her beloved piece of gum in an extremely well-used New York city subway toilet, and decided to retrieve it after contemplating it for a long time. According to director Peter Sollett, he wanted actress Ari Graynor to drag that scene out as long as possible, because the audience is hanging on the “will she or won’t she” moment. Well, she eventually does, and she picks the gum and and the chews the… well, you get it.

Slumdog Millionaire

This is the movie that inspired this GeekBomb, and you really need to catch it while it’s still in theaters. The scene in question probably contains the most amount of poop out of any of these others, and it’s fairly graphic as well. Suffice it to say, you don’t want to be shoving anything chocolate into your mouth when this moment comes onscreen. Despite all this, the actual moment involves a little boy exiting an outhouse via the hole below, landing in a huge pile of excrement, and dashing off to get the autograph of his favorite Bollywood star, Amitabh Bachchan. He’s successful, despite being covered from head to toe in poop, and triumphantly celebrates his deed afterwards.

Honorable Mentions and Addendum

While there are a huge number of movies with “poop scenes” in them, I tried to *shudder* only include ones where you could actually see the poop. Yes, it’s disgusting, I know. See what a scene from an Oscar nominated movie can do to you? Granted, the Caddyshack scene doesn’t contain real poop (none of these probably do, except Pink Flamingos), and Pleasantville literally doesn’t show a bathroom at all, but they’re in line with the spirit of this piece.

Having said that, there are tons of movies that I omitted because they didn’t fit the criteria. Films like Harold & Kumar Go To White Castle, Van Wilder, Along Came Polly, Dumb and Dumber and even The Goonies all contain memorable bathroom moments, but you (thankfully?) can’t see anything. Or course, then there’s stuff like the deleted scenes from Team America, which I just could not include after Pink Flamingos. I was having enough trouble keeping my dinner down. Likewise, I haven’t seen the film Hunger, which apparently contains plenty of poop as well. I’ll have to put it on my list.

Strangely enough, research this was harder than you’d think as well, as most film institutions seem to be mired in the same 1950s mindset. “Hello, American Film Institute? I’m researching a story about the history of poop in movies, and I was wondering…” *click*. “Hello, Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences? I’m researching an article…” *click*. Thankfully, there were some helpful spots on the internet that helped make this possible, like The Movie Poop-Scene Database. If you’re looking for a poop scene in a movie, this is your best bet. It’s a bit like Mr. Skin, but for an entirely different subject.

Personally, my favorite poop reference comes from the classic movie Murder By Death, which you need to check out if you haven’t seen it before. It’s written by Neil Simon, and contains this exchange between eccentric millionaire Lionel Twain (Truman Capote), detective Sam Diamond (Peter Falk), Tess Skeffington (Eileen Brennan) and Dora Charleston (Dame Maggie Smith):

Lionel Twain: “I’m the greatest, I’m number one!”
Sam Diamon: “To me, you look like number two, know what I mean?”
Dora Charleston: “What does he mean, Miss Skeffington?”"
Tess Skeffington: “I’ll tell you later. It’s disgusting.”

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