There are few ‘80s movies that resonate with audiences (of all ages) better than the 1985 timeless classic The Goonies, directed by Richard Donner and produced by Steven Spielberg. There is a lot to love about the movie from its heartwarming story of a group of young friends going on an unlikely adventure to save their pictureseque northwest community from being turned into a golf course to the exhiliarating adventure to find a lost treasure, and one great action set piece after another. But there has always been an element of mystery that has perplexed fans for nearly 40 years: The Goonies octopus scene.
Not familiar with the octopus scene near the end of The Goonies? Don’t worry, you’re not alone as the only mention of the soft-bodied, eight-limbed mollusk comes in the final moments of the movie when Data (Ke Huy Quan) says “The octopus was very scary” to a shocked and confused reporter. Well, that line (and the deleted scene it references) makes for quite the story. Let’s dive in…
What Happened In The Goonies’ Deleted Octopus Scene
Before we get into all the reasons the octopus scene was taken out of the final cut of The Goonies, we should first break down the scene and add a little context. The scene was meant to take place in the final act of the movie just as the Goonies escape the Fratellis and jump from One-Eyed Willy’s pirate ship. In the final version of the movie, the group swims to safety just as the grotto begins to cave in, but the deleted scene adds one more obstacle: a giant octopus.
As seen in the deleted scene, the octopus brushes up against Stef (Martha Plimpton) before grabbing her and Mouth (Corey Feldman), pulling them underwater. When their attempts to free themselves fail, Data comes up with the ingenious idea of pressing play on his Walkman and puts it in the octopus’ mouth. The octopus then swims away dancing as the Goonies escape. End scene.
The Octopus Was Cut Simply Because It Didn’t Look Good
After watching the deleted scene, it’s easy to see why Richard Donner, Steven Spielberg, and everyone else involved with the movie decided to cut it out of the theatrical cut: it didn’t look all that good. Sean Astin, when speaking with Insider at a Sharper Image pop-up shop in November 2017, was one of the members of the cast and crew who weren’t too fond of the scene or even the idea behind it, saying they took it out because it didn’t look that good. Earlier that year at BoroughCon, Astin said he “could die without seeing that sequence.”
The Octopus Was A 32-Foot Puppet That Was Difficult To Operate
If the octopus looked awkward and cumbersome in the deleted scene in The Goonies, it’s because the actual prop — essentially a 32-foot marionette doll — was just as hard to maneuver, if not worse. In a 2018 interview with Fred China (via The Daily Astorian), Rob Burman, who helped design the cosmetics of the elusive beast, described the concept as being “ridiculous enough to get it cut out” before going into details about the headache the octopus was to shoot.
During the conversation, Rob Burman explained that the octopus lacked finesse and had large cables and couplings exposed all over its exterior that didn’t look good or believable. At the end, Burman said the decision to cut the creature was probably for the best because that way no one had to explain why it looked so bad.
Richard Donner Left In Data’s Octopus Line Because It Kept People Guessing
There is no argument: The Goonies is one of the best movies of the ‘80s but it’s far from perfect. During a 2010 interview with Assignment X, Richard Donner was asked about Data’s octopus line at the end of the movie and why he kept it even though the scene it referenced was left on the cutting room floor, to which he said:
In the same interview, Richard Donner, who passed away in July 2021, admitted that while he knew that line stayed in the movie, there was a scene in which Sean Astin calls Josh Brolin “Josh” instead of Brand that he didn’t notice until years later.
Footage Of The Octopus Was Used In A Cyndi Lauper Music Video
The octopus never got its time to shine on the big screen after its scene in The Goonies was cut, but it did get to make an appearance in the music video for Cyndi Lauper’s “The Goonies ‘r’ Good Enough” which was featured on the movie’s soundtrack. This 12-minute video shows the octopus dancing in the water before attacking Lauper (at around the 8-minute mark), who then fights it off and puts one of its arms in a cauldron aboard One-Eyed Willy’s pirate ship.
The two-part music video, which was directed by Richard Donner, is probably the most ‘80s thing you will see and features not only the majority of The Goonies cast but also the Bangles, Steven Spielberg, and multiple WWF superstars including Andre the Giant, Rowdy Roddy Piper, The Iron Sheik, and Captain Lou Albano.
The Octopus Scene Was Later Added To The Disney Channel Edit Of The Goonies
The cast and crew of The Goonies got back together for a 2009 roundtable discussion with Empire in which they talked about everything from their most vivid memories of the shoot to the infamous octopus, which essentially derailed the conversation. While Richard Donner and Josh Brolin tried to act like they had no idea about an octopus and Sean Astin made a series of jokes about it, Corey Feldman explained that the scene was in fact added to the Disney Channel version of he movie at some point in the ‘90s.
This Disney Channel cut of The Goonies was mentioned again in a 2013 CBR piece about the elusive octopus in which it was reported the scene was added to make up for all the less-than-kid-friendly lines of dialogue and moments cut from the edited version of the movie.
The Octopus Wasn’t The Only Scene Or Concept Scrapped From The Goonies
The octopus battle wasn’t the only scene or concept that was cut from The Goonies. There is a deleted scene in which the group has a run-in with Troy Perkins (Steve Antin) at the Stop ’N Snack. In the scene, the bully takes the treasure map, rolls it up, and acts like he’s smoking it like a cigar (this explains why the map is partially burnt later in the movie).
The convenience store scene can easily be found online, but one aspect of the movie that has never seen the light of day is the Steven Spielberg-directed sequence featuring two gorillas — Bonzo and Bertha — who escaped from the Astoria Zoo. A 2020 Yahoo Entertainment article breaking down the primate subplot revealed that Christopher Columbus’ original script had the Goonies accidentally freeing the gorillas when they were banging on the pipes below the country club. Several scenes, which never made it past storyboards, saw the gorillas drive a golf cart before stealing Troy Perkins’ mustang and using it to show up in the original grand finale.
Who knows how The Goonies would have been received if the octopus or escaped gorillas would have been included in the final version of the beloved classic, but sometimes it’s fun to ask: What if? And while we’ll probably never see The Goonies 2, maybe there will some 2021 movies (or maybe 2022 movies) that capture the essence of the timeless adventure story.
Philip grew up in Louisiana (not New Orleans) before moving to St. Louis after graduating from Louisiana State University-Shreveport. When he's not writing about movies or television, Philip can be found being chased by his three kids, telling his dogs to stop yelling at the mailman, or yelling about professional wrestling to his wife. If the stars properly align, he will talk about For Love Of The Game being the best baseball movie of all time.
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