In time-flies news, the comedy “Don’t Tell Mom the Babysitter’s Dead” turns 30 this week! Initially released on June 7, 1991, the film (which is currently streaming on HBO Max) didn’t exactly garner big box office numbers or rave reviews upon its debut but thanks to regular airings on HBO as well as VHS rentals (remember those?) became a cult favorite and remains insanely popular today. Not only is there a remake in the works with Treehouse Pictures, but the lines “The dishes are done, man!” and “I’m right on top of that, Rose!” endure as oft-quoted fixtures of the pop culture lexicon.
As the title suggests, the movie centers around the five Crandell siblings whose crotchety babysitter, Mrs. Sturak (Eda Reiss Merin), unexpectedly passes away the very night their mom leaves for a summer-long trip to Australia. When it is discovered that the money she had been entrusted with to support the five kids for several months had accidentally been dropped off at the mortuary with her body, eldest sister Sue Ellen (Christina Applegate), aka “Swell,” finds herself in need of funds fast. Faking a resume, the 17-year-old lands a cush gig as the executive administrative assistant to the senior vice president of operations at General Apparel West (aka GAW, the “bowels of the fashion industry”) for a yearly salary of $37,500 – plus a plethora of petty cash. Instead of floundering in her new role, Swell flourishes, as do her brothers and sisters who pick up the slack at home, much to the shock of Mrs. Crandell (Concetta Tomei) when she finally returns. The story is fun, heartwarming and fantastical – and has certainly cemented its place in cinematic history.
Directed by Stephen Herek (of “Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure” and “The Mighty Ducks” fame), “Don’t Tell Mom the Babysitter’s Dead” was lensed in Los Angeles throughout the summer of 1990.
A few of the locations utilized include Mission Hills’ Groman Eden Mortuary, where the Crandell children drop off the trunk containing Mrs. Sturak’s body, along with a note that reads “Nice old lady inside. Died of natural causes.” Clown Dog, the restaurant where Swell first gets a job at the beginning of the film was The All American Burger formerly located at 7660 W. Sunset Blvd. in Hollywood, which has since been torn down and replaced with a Chipotle. The strip mall where Mrs. Sturak’s Buick is stolen from the kids is Canyon Plaza in Sun Valley. And the restaurant where Sue Ellen orders a Martini & Rossi at lunch is the former Opera on Ocean in Santa Monica, which today is a Del Frisco’s Grille.