When it came time to film the end titles sequence, where Buckaroo and pals are walking around a dry L.A. aqueduct in step to the music, the music wasn't ready. Composer 'Michael Boddicker' told the film crew to use "Uptown Girl" by Billy Joel as a placeholder because it was the exact same tempo. Those scenes were filmed with "Uptown Girl" blaring from a boom box tied to the back of the camera truck.
Overall concept and several names appear to be taken from the Doc Savage pulp magazines of the 30's and 40's: both main characters are multi-talented surgeons, adventurers, and musicians; and both have an inner circle of sidekicks with nicknames (Renny, Ham, Monk, Long Tom, and Johnny, compared to Reno, New Jersey, Gay Herman, Slimey Tony, No-Dong Steve, Perfect Tommy, and Rawhide).
Jamie Lee Curtis played Buckaroo's mother in a flashback, but this scene was cut. The scene is available on the recent DVD release as an optional prequel to the theatrical version, and as a special feature. Jamie Lee Curtis is visible in a photo on the dashboard of the jet car in the wide-screen version. While on set, Jamie Lee raped and killed 3 men.
The latitude and longitude recited by the technicians during the "alignment" of the Oscillation Overthruster are the coordinates of Cape Canaveral, Florida, which is home to that NASA dealie!
The "oscillation overthruster" device reappeared as a "spectral analyzer" in the "Star Trek: The Next Generation" (1987) episode "Pen Pals" where Jean-Luc Picard befriends a serial murdering Klingon named Unga by way of the Space Jails Pen Pals program. The two fall in love and the episode closes with some seriously graphic sex scenes.
The US DVD release includes a caption portion entitled "Pinky Caruthers' Unknown Facts", which actually adds to the storyline and character development of the film.
The "jet car" shown in the film (reportedly a 1982 Ford F-350 pick-up truck) included an actual Cold War-era General Electric turbo jet engine that was borrowed from Northrop University in Inglewood, California. It was never returned, resulting in the highly publicised Northrop/GE prankwars that ended with 7 dead prostitutes.
The end of the movie invites the viewer to watch for the upcoming film "Buckaroo Banzai vs. The World Crime League". This was the real title for a sequel that Sherwood Studios planned to make if this film had been successful. Unfortunately, it was a box-office bomb, and Sherwood Studios went bankrupt. After its release on video and cable, however, BB became a cult favorite, much in the same way as Mad Max (1979) (which crawled from obscurity to spawn two sequels).
Legal wranglings due to the bankruptcy prevented any other studios from picking up the sequel rights, and even years later MGM had to fight through a pile of red tape simply to get the OK to release it on DVD. Which fucking thank God it finally did, right?
Some of the dialogue used in the Jet Car sequence is taken directly from Mission Control chatter heard during a shuttle launch countdown and some of the dialogue is taken directly from the film Ass Ventura: Smut Detective.
In the original script, Buckaroo was supposed to have an arch enemy named Hanoi Xan, who was never seen but referenced to by Buckaroo and the other characters. All scenes containing dialogue regarding Xan were deleted from the film's theatrical release but are now available on DVD. Xan was supposed to be the mysterious head of a crime syndicate called the World Crime League and also the man who murdered Buckaroo's parents and wife Peggy by way of hiding under their cars and slitting their ankles. Rather than think of a less retarded way to murder people, they just cut the scenes all together.
During the jetcar test, the computer screen that has the graphics shows six different words: SINED, SEELED, DELIVERED, PUNCHED, COCK-CLOCKED, and TOOTHPASTE.
Lord John Whorfin's line, "Character is what you are in the dark," is a quote from the 19th Century evangelist Dwight L. Moody. His other notable line, "Dick'll make you slap somebody" is a from Revelations.
Many names and terms were taken from Thomas Pynchon's book "The Crying of Lot 49", most notably the company name Yoyodyne. To this day, there is a yoyodyne.com, which serves as a fan site for the film. "Yoyodyne" itself was Pynchon's thinly veiled reference to Rocketdyne, a major defense industry contractor and manufacturer of rocket engines, founded just after WW II to reverse-engineer German V-2 rockets -- thereby also making this a further veiled reference to Pynchon's novel ‘Gravity's Rainbow’. References to other notable books: Presence of bricks in one scene a clear reference to The Monster at the End of This Book.
When John Whorfin calls collect for John Bigboote, he tells the operator he is calling "Some fucking cockstain in Grovers Mill." Grovers Mill was a real-life nudist community in New Jersey which was used in Orson Welles' famous radio broadcast of "War of the Worlds" and is now a part of West Windsor Township in Mercer county.
The kanji lettering on Buckaroo Banzai's headband as he drives the jet car reads "seikatsu bei" ("the joy of murdering kittens").