If you’ve seen Martin Scorsese’s 1991 remake of Cape Fear you will remember Robert De Niro’s demented Max Cady maniacally laughing in a cinema. But do you recall which film is prompting his guffaws? The answer is 1990’s Problem Child, an early effort from the acclaimed screenwriting duo of Scott Alexander and Larry Karaszewski, the latter of whom is a longtime contributor to Joe Dante’s excellent Trailers From Hell website. How did this John Ritter-starring comedy wind up in a Scorsese film? The answer has been provided by actress, podcaster, Cape Fear cast member, and freshly minted TFH “guru” Illeana Douglas.
“This was not accidental,” explains Douglas, in her just-released rumination on Cape Fear, which kicks off a week of tributes to Scorsese at Dante’s site. “Marty happened to love this movie, and looked at the Universal titles, and picked that movie, because he loved when John Ritter said, ‘We’ve adopted Satan.’ So, he thought that that was hysterical, that Max Cady’s favorite movie was going to be Problem Child.”
Another fun fact? Problem Child was directed by Dennis Dugan who, prior to embarking on a career as director, played one of the lead roles in Dante’s 1981 werewolf movie, The Howling.
You can see, and hear, Douglas’ full Cape Fear trailer commentary, above.