From The Grindhouse Cinema Database
- Miguel Pinero, the author of the play upon which this film is based (and the actor who plays Go-Go), wrote the play as part of an inmate writers' workshop while incarcerated at Sing Sing Prison for armed robbery. He missed the premiere of the film because he had been arrested for armed robbery. All of the money he received for the film ($40,000) he gave away to homeless friends and former prison-mates. He reportedly lived on the street even after the film's acclaimed release, using a pay phone as an office.
- Tito Goya, who plays Cupcakes, was arrested for a murder committed in 1978 (eight months after the film was released). He died of a liver ailment while free on bond pending trial in 1985.
- According to the director, on the commentary track of the DVD, the film was shot in the Mens' House of Detention, also known as the Tombs. They were given an entire floor of their own in which to work, but the prison was operational around them. They could hear men screaming and see prisoners being taken away and brought back in chains. The director said he stayed there many nights and, on weekends, locked in so no one could get him.
- Bruce Davison's monologue was done in a single take.
- Film debut of Luis Guzmán.
- This movie was started by another director who was fired five days into the production and subsequently replaced by Robert M. Young. None of the footage shot by the original director was used in the final finished film.
- Shawn Elliott replaced another actor who was originally cast as Paco.
- The original Broadway production of "Short Eyes" by Miguel Pinero opened at the Vivian Beaumont Theater in New York on May 23, 1974, ran for 80 performances and was nominated for the 1975 Tony Award for the Best Play. Joseph Carberry and Bob Maroff recreated their stage roles in the filmed production.