Dead Man on Campus

Dead Man on Campus is a 1998 black comedy film starring Tom Everett Scott and Mark-Paul Gosselaar. It centers on the urban legend that a student gets straight As if their roommate commits suicide (see pass by catastrophe). Two failing friends attempt to find a depressed roommate to push him over the edge and receive As.

Dead Man on Campus
Dead man on campus poster.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed byAlan Cohn
Screenplay byMichael Traeger
Mike White
Story byAnthony Abrams
Adam Larson Broder
Produced byGale Anne Hurd
CinematographyJohn A. Thomas
Edited byDebra Chiate
Music byMark Mothersbaugh
Distributed byParamount Pictures
Release date
  • August 21, 1998 (1998-08-21)
Running time
96 minutes
CountryUnited States
Budget$14 million
Box office$15,064,946

To boost ticket sales, the film's U.S. release was timed with the start of the new college school year in late August 1998. It was the first film by MTV Films to have an R rating. The film was shot at University of the Pacific in Stockton, California.


Josh gets into college on a scholarship, and Cooper is assigned as his roommate. Cooper does little work and instead spends all the time partying and consistently fails his courses, but his father continues to pay his tuition. The normally studious Josh is led astray by Cooper's lifestyle, and spends the first half of his first year partying instead of studying, and consequently fails all of his midterm exams. To his horror, he then finds out that a condition of his scholarship is a passing mark average each year, and that with his poor midterm score, he needs an A+++ in all of his courses or he will lose his scholarship.

Meanwhile, Cooper's father finally realizes Cooper is not trying to pass his course at all, and threatens to pull his funding if he does not get a passing mark this year, leaving him in a similar position. They find out about an obscure academic rule that states that if a student's roommate commits suicide, then the roommates get perfect marks for that year, regardless of any previous academic standing. Cooper and Josh set out to find roommates who are likely to commit suicide; their first potential roommate, Cliff O'Malley, is more likely to get himself (and any one with him) killed than commit suicide. They soon realize that he will likely get them killed or arrested and jump out of his moving car when he is being chased by the police.

Next, they try Buckley Schrank, a computer geek who thinks Bill Gates wants his brain. After they move Buckley in, they try to help push him over the edge. First, Cooper poses as a suicide hotline volunteer, and when Buckley calls, he tells him that he is Bill Gates and wants his brain. Then, Cooper buys equipment that may assist in a suicide (rope, daggers, prescription drugs) and as Josh and he are trying to plant the items around the dorm room, Buckley discovers the pair hiding from him with a noose and knife in hand. Buckley, who thinks that they are trying to kill him, and that the conspiracy to kill him and steal his brain is real, runs away.

Finally, Josh and Cooper move in with Matt Noonan, a moody rock musician. Later, Cooper catches him singing show tunes and learns he was voted Mr. Happy in high school, leading them to believe that he is only pretending to be depressed to impress girls and make a name for himself in music. Facing the loss of his scholarship, Josh stands on the edge of a bridge, about to commit suicide himself. Cooper tells Josh he is not a failure and talks him down. When Josh comes down from the bridge, he reveals to Cooper that he was faking his suicide attempt so the school would not fail him, and Cooper would look like a hero to his father. The film ends with Josh narrating that he was given an additional semester to improve his grades, in which he saved his scholarship, and that Cooper became a more serious student, but did work summers cleaning toilets for his father's business to learn how to eventually take over.


Filming locationEdit

Scenes were shot on the campus of University of the Pacific (Stockton, California), Modesto's 7th Street Bridge, and outside the campus of University of Southern California.


Dead Man on Campus received negative reviews from critics. The movie has a 15% rating on the aggregate film review site Rotten Tomatoes based on 46 reviews.[1] The New York Times said the film was "predictably dumb", but praised Mark-Paul Gosselaar's performance, saying, "Mr. Gosselaar is so good, however, that his performance as Cooper sometimes overrides the film's adolescent tone."[2] The film was made on a $14 million budget, and grossed $15,064,946 domestically, barely turning a profit at the box office.[3]


1."Golden Years"David BowieMarilyn Manson3:49
2."Cowboy Song"Damon Albarn / Graham Coxon / Alex James / Dave RowntreeBlur4:03
3."Human"Bruce Gilbert / Robert Gotobed / Graham Lewis /Donna MatthewsElastica3:28
4."We Still Need More (Than Anyone Can Give)"Gareth Coombes / Robert Coombes / Michael QuinnSupergrass3:44
5."Paint by Numbers"Matt MahaffeySelf3:07
6."Realize (The Chemical Brothers Remix)"John King / Michael SimpsonDust Brothers3:59
7."Super Bon Bon (Propellerheads Remix)"Mark Degli Antoni / Michael Doughty / Yuval Gabay /Sebastian SteinbergSoul Coughing5:36
8."Organizized"Adam 12 / Al / J. Cohen / Marcus Cummings /Dorian / Jordan / Michael Spider / Laneatha WilliamsPowerman 50003:56
9."Bound & Tied"Scott Stapp / Mark TremontiCreed5:36
10."Sleeper"Audioweb / Robin File / Sean McCannAudioweb5:13
11."Walking in the Dark"John Feldmann / Charlie PaulsonGoldfinger3:00
12."When the Curtain Calls for You"Matt Barrick / Tom Frank / Stewart Lupton / Paul Maroon / Walter MartinJonathan Fire*Eater2:35
13."Empty Ships"Ian SefchickCreeper Lagoon3:48
14."I Only Want to Be with You"Michael Hawker / Ivor RaymondeTwiggy & Twiggy3:33

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ "Dead Man on Campus". Retrieved July 24, 2018.
  2. ^
  3. ^ Dead Man on Campus (1998) - Box Office Mojo

External linksEdit