Honey, I Shrunk the Kids was recently added to Netflix, reminding those giving it a watch that the story was created by Re-animator duo Stuart Gordon and Brian Yuzna and their sometime collaborator Ed Naha (who co-wrote the screenplay). Yuzna was also a producer on Honey.
As the Chicago Tribune reported in 1989 – the year of the film’s release:
The original story of “Honey, I Shrunk the Kids“ was written by Stuart Gordon, former director of Chicago`s Organic Theater. Gordon was set to direct the feature until he was sidelined by an illness, though it`s hard to imagine a camp and gore specialist like Gordon finding the blend of light satire and innocent fun that makes Johnston`s work so appealing.
Gordon had this to say about working with Disney in an interview with Digitally Obsessed back when Dagon was hitting the festival circuit:
They were kind of nervous. It was after Re-Animator had come out, and our kids were complaining that they couldn’t see these movies that we were making. We came up with the idea for Honey! I Shrunk the Kids, and took it to Disney. They liked it, and we developed it for them. We got Ed Naha, who wrote Dolls, which we had done together, to write the script. I was going to direct, and did all the planning and worked out the special effects, and two weeks before it started shooting I got sick and couldn’t do it. They got Joe Johnston to direct the film, and I was pretty pleased with the results…It’s funny. When people talk about [Honey! I Shrunk The Kids] they say, “It’s so different.” Really, it’s not that different than Re-Animator. It’s about a mad scientist and an experiment that goes wrong, and so forth…the potential for severing some heads was there, when you have a giant ant coming at you with those big mandibles. Who knows what could happen?
Gordon commented on it in a 2003 interview with Film Threat:
Originally I was going to direct it. I did all the prep work, the story boarding, the set design, got all the way up to casting and I had drop out because I got sick. So it was disappointing…I was happy with it. I think Joe Johnston, who ended up directing it, did a good job.
The film as originally conceived was to be titled Teenie Weenies, named after a comic strip about tiny people. Naha recalled in an interview with Dr.Gore’s Funhouse in 2011:
Stuart and Brian had young children back then and came up with this idea about shrunken kids. They pitched it to Disney and the studio was interested. So, they approached me about working with them and we came up with the story. When I was a kid on the East Coast, there was a comic strip in the Sunday edition of The New York Daily News called the Teenie-Weenies. It was one huge frame showing little people riding around on mice or sitting in thimbles and I just loved that. There was also a little guy or girl that you could cut out of the newspaper and paste on cardboard to play with. So, in a way, I was prepared for this sort of thing ever since I could hold a newspaper in my chubby little hands.
On if Dr. Herbert West himself Jeffrey Combs was ever considered to play Wayne Szalinski, Naha said:
I honestly don’t know whether Stuart wanted Jeffrey or not. I can tell you, in retrospect, that the Disney execs heads would have exploded over that idea, though.
He had a lot more to say about the creation of the story in that interview, and I suggest giving it a read.
Gordon would go on to direct an episode of the TV show based on the film, which aired in 1998. It was called Honey, Let’s Trick-or-Treat.
Here’s a look at the making of the movie:
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Bonus: Other horror connections this movie has are the appearances of Jared Rushton from Pet Sematary Two and Matt Frewer from The Stand, Dawn of the Dead (2004), and various other genre works. It also has Marcia Strassman, who appeared in Reeker and Kristine Sutherland from Buffy the Vampire Slayer.