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- American filmmaker (1930–2021)
As wacky adventure comedies go, it’s hard to top The Goonies. Richard Donner’s 1985 film, about a group of working-class kids who seek out a legendary pirate treasure, is full of outrageous characters (Sloth!) and imaginative set pieces (One-Eyed Willy’s underground ship). And yet, one of the craziest moments in the whole movie — which celebrates its 30th birthday on June 7 — was left on the cutting room floor.
In the deleted scene above, the Goonies fend off an attack from a giant octopus. Yes, a giant octopus. Mouth (Corey Feldman) is the first to spot the rubbery cephalopod, which drags Stef (Martha Plimpton) underwater.
After a struggle, Data (Ke Huy Quan) saves the day by forcing his Walkman cassette player into the octopus’ mouth.
When the creature hears the sounds of ‘80s pop — specifically, a song called “Eight Arms to Hold You” by The Goon Squad, recorded just for this moment — the giant octopus releases Stef and swims (or dances?) away.
There are a lot of good reasons why Donner might have cut this scene, the obvious one being that the “scary” octopus looks like an oversized bath toy. Also, the attack is awkwardly placed; it was meant to happen between the kids spotting the pirate ship and boarding it, and might have killed the momentum of that whole sequence. Moreover, the deleted scene just doesn’t make a lot of sense. Why does the octopus hate pop music? Or does he really love pop music? And why does Data have the only Walkman in the world that works underwater?
Although his big scene was excised, the octopus did make it into the final film… in a sense. At the end of the movie, when the kids are describing their adventure to reporters, Data says, “The octopus was very scary!” In the theatrical version, that line plays like just another example of Data being on his own weird wavelength.
However, for audiences who were introduced to The Goonies via The Disney Channel, that line made perfect sense. According to CBR’s Movie Legends Revealed, when Disney acquired the rights to the film in the ‘90s, they edited out some scenes that they felt were inappropriate for young children. To make up for the shortened run time, they re-inserted some deleted scenes, including — you guessed it — the octopus. After its cable debut, the sea creature re-emerged as a bonus feature on the 2001 DVD release of The Goonies.
And what of first-generation Goonies fans who swear they saw the octopus in the ‘80s? They might have — just not on the big screen. Along with Andre the Giant, “Rowdy” Roddy Piper, Steven Spielberg, and The Bangles, the water-logged puppet made a cameo in Cyndi Lauper’s music video for “Goonies ‘R’ Good Enough,” the lead single from the soundtrack. The octopus pops up in Part 2 of the Richard Donner-directed video, co-starring the Goonies cast, which premiered on MTV after the film opened. Watch for him at the 1:31 mark, below.
Donner himself has never revealed his reasons for deleting the octopus scene, or even including it to begin with. When asked about the scene during Empire’s 2009 Goonies reunion, he feigned ignorance. “What octopus?” Donner said. “I guess the company that was using the water tank before us had stupidly left an octopus in there.”