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Purple People Eater is a 1988 American science-fiction comedy film based on Sheb Wooley's 1958 novelty song of the same name,[1] written and directed by Linda Shayne, and stars Neil Patrick Harris, Ned Beatty, Shelley Winters, Dustin Diamond, Peggy Lipton, and Thora Birch in her film debut. Chubby Checker and Little Richard made musical guest appearances. The film was released on December 16, 1988.[1]

Purple People Eater
Poster of the movie Purple People Eater.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed byLinda Shayne
Produced byBrad Krevoy
Steven Stabler
Written byLinda Shayne
StarringNeil Patrick Harris
Ned Beatty
Shelley Winters
Thora Birch
Dustin Diamond
Peggy Lipton
Music byDennis Dreith
CinematographyPeter Deming
Edited byCari Coughlin
Distributed byMotion Picture Corporation of America
Release date
  • December 16, 1988 (1988-12-16)
Running time
90 minutes
CountryUnited States



When young Billy Johnson (Neil Patrick Harris) plays the novelty song, a one-eyed, one-horned flying purple alien from outer space appears. The creature helps Billy prevent an elderly couple (Ned Beatty and Shelley Winters) from being evicted by their greedy landlord, all while playing in a rock n' roll band.


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  1. ^ a b Thomas, Kevin (December 16, 1988). "MOVIE REVIEW: Amateurism Rife in 'Purple People Eater'". The Los Angeles Times.

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