Tag Archives: Countdown to Christmas

#5, 4, 3, 2, & 1 – Countdown to Christmas: DIE HARD

Anyone who reads this site with any regularity should already know how I feel about the Die Hard franchise, so it shouldn’t be a surprise that it made the list. And truth is, I’d rather watch this 5 times in a row than watch any other movie on the list once. Hence, it’s representation of # 1-5. Yippee ki-yay.

I will assume every has already seen Die Hard, but as a refresh, here we go: John McClane is a cop from New York who goes to a Christmas party at his wife’s new office, the Nakatomi Plaza in LA. After arriving John takes off his shoes and all hell breaks loose. Hans Gruber and his group of “terrorists” brake in and take everyone hostage. Everyone that is except for barefoot John. From here McClane proceeds to sneak around the building, talking shit and killing members of Hans’ team…

As the movie progresses John kills more and more of Hans’ men, and we remain in awe at his ability to do it all without shoes. Eventually we learn that Hans is in fact not a terrorist, but instead just a very clever thief, and once it becomes apparent that Santa Claus in not gonna swoop in and save the day then it falls solely into the lap of John to save Christmas. And save Christmas he does. Barefoot.

With no available chimneys our hero is forced into the building’s venting system to deliver his presents (bullets) to Hans.

This allows him the opportunity to rescue his estranged wife Holly and her co-workers.

Well, at least most of her co-workers…

So in honor of the fallen, we give Die Hard 25/5.


#6 – Countdown to Christmas: SILENT NIGHT DEADLY NIGHT PART 2

Few, if any Christmas movies ever really exemplify the true spirit of the holiday. Too often we are inundated with commercial messages, and magical reindeer, and a complete and utter lack of brutal murders. Well, that’s not the case in Lee Harry‘s masterpiece Silent Night Deadly Night Part 2, which focused on what really matters at Christmas time – punishing the naughty.

In the first Silent Night Deadly Night, Billy grows up in an orphange and is a rather unhappy child, perhaps it’s cause Santa Claus (the real one I assume) shot his dad and raped and murdered his mom. Right in front of him. Yikes!  That must make sitting on Mall Santa’s lap an even more terrifying experience than normal. Anyhow, once Billy grows up, he decides that he too will dress like Santa and murder people who he deems to be ‘naughty’. It all seems justified to me…

In Silent Night Deadly Night Part 2, Billy’s younger brother Ricky decides to take up the mantle of ‘murderous Santa’.  This is particularly interesting since the murder of his parents, which is the event that inspired his brother to kill, he was far too young to remember. That means, since he credits the same event as his inspiration, the stories told to him as a kid must’ve been pretty explicit.

Ricky is so intense…

Now director Lee Harry made a pretty interesting choice here, he shot the 2nd movie using the mostly recycled footage from the first movie as Ricky has flashback after flashback to events he was not present for. Like Brody’s wife in the 4th Jaws movie. So after Ricky, who never says a word without furiously moving his eyebrows, tells us about all the stuff Billy did in the first movie, it’s time for him to flashback to some of his own kills. Amazingly, no matter how far back a story goes, Ricky never seems age. Anyhow, we hear about him killing a man with an umbrella and that’s where it all began.

Eventually Ricky stops with the flashbacks and starts getting in some fresh kills, and one in particular has become increasingly popular since the invent of YouTube…

So as you can see, the Internet really appreciates strong acting. The sheer power behind Ricky’s eyes on Garbage Day is unforgettable and for that reason, as well as the respect paid here to the first movie, I give SNDN2 a solid 5/5.

#7 – Countdown to Christmas: ERNEST SAVES CHRISTMAS

I hope all of our readers are getting in the holiday spirit – our countdown is winding right down!  For today’s installment, I pay tribute to 1988’s classic comedy, Ernest Saves Christmas. As I’m sure you all agree, the collection of Ernest movies are the top-tier of incredible film making.  His characters are unforgettable, his facial expressions are laughable, and they exhibit the ultimate in story-telling and delivery.  Know what I mean, Vern?

In Ernest Saves Christmas, Ernest must – you guessed it – save Christmas.  Santa Claus is getting on in years and must pass down his profession to Joe, who Santa has chosen to carry on the torch.  However, when Joe is reluctant to believe and his lazy-eyed agent is annoyed by his presence, Santa is thrown in jail and must save Christmas – with the help of Ernest P. Worrell, of course.

Now, if it’s one thing Ernest can do, it is impersonate bizarre characters, and this film is replete with them.  His seedy congressman character springs Santa out of jail.  His dentally-challenged back country snake farmer gets Santa into a closed movie set to speak with Joe.  And who can forget the curmudgeon old woman with the neck brace – my personal favorite.

In the end, Joe embraces the magic of Christmas and steps up to be the new Santa Claus.  Ernest saves Christmas, it snows in Florida, and Santa can get back to being the Sultan of Agrabah.  It truly is a Christmas miracle!

I submit that if you do not find the character of Ernest enjoyable, you are either lacking a sense of humor or you were born without a childhood.  These movies are freaking hilarious.  Good for the whole family to enjoy.  Plus, as adults, we can make a nice drinking game and take a shot every time Ernest says, “Know what I mean?”

Ernest embodies everything great that the 80s had to offer, right down to his styling wardrobe.  Jim Varney (may he rest in peace) is like so many other great artists – his brilliance was never fully appreciated.  I won’t say he was type-cast, at least not to his relatives, but found a niche as one character and one character only, and played the shit out of it.  I have to give him major respect for that.

2/5 Snoopies, Vern!

#9 – Countdown to Christmas: CHARLIE BROWN CHRISTMAS

There is nothing on TV that gets me in the Christmas spirit quite as much as A Charlie Brown Christmas.  Released in 1965, it is a timeless classic that endures for many fellow lovers of the holiday season. Charlie Brown we all know and love as the ho-hum, down-on-his-luck grade school boy with the yellow and black shirt.  In this particular made-for-TV special, Charlie Brown searches for the true meaning of Christmas.  In his conversations with his fellow classmates, he realizes how commercialized Christmas has become.  There are Christmas cards to give out.  There are pageants to organize.  His sister is more focused on her letter of demands to Santa.  Even Snoopy has bought into the hype, decorating his dog house like a Macy’s Christmas float.


And then, Linus has the answer.  Readers, you may have a wide range of beliefs, but there’s something incredibly sweet and innocent about the way Linus recites the Christmas story.  There’s something incredibly poetic about Charlie Brown’s love for a wimpy Christmas tree, shunned by everyone, in which he can see so much of himself.  He is able to take something everyone sees as ugly and make it beautiful.  And then the kids sing with their faces in the air and their mouths open wide.

I have always enjoyed the humor and the heartwarming stories that the Charlie Brown cartoons have told.  The Christmas special reminds us to slow down at Christmas time and remember what it’s really about – celebration, family, of giving.

As a musician, I appreciate the soundtrack almost as much as the story.  Vince Guilardi’s jazz piano carols are some of the few holiday tunes I can stomach, let alone enjoy, every year.  All of these reasons make A Charlie Brown Christmas a top contender on my list of holiday favorites.


#10 – Countdown to Christmas: WHITE CHRISTMAS

To me, there are few films more classic and heartwarming around the holiday season than Irving Berlin’s 1954 masterpiece, White Christmas.  Comedy!  Drama!  Romance!  Song and dance routines!  Men dressed up as women!  This film really has it all.

White Christmas focuses around the vocal stylings of two of the time’s greatest singers: Bing Crosby and Rosemary Clooney.  Throw in colorful characters like “Mr. Slapstick” Danny Kaye, and “I’m not really singing but check out my sick dance moves” Vera-Ellen and you have a party just waiting to happen.

Crosby and Kaye play Wallace and Davis, two army vets who are now a somewhat popular traveling song and dance act.  Clooney and Ellen are the Haynes sisters, same profession, but slightly less popular.  The two pairs meet and in their adventures find a failing inn in Vermont that is owned by Wallace’s and Davis’ former commanding general in the army.  Determined to save their hero’s business, the four put on a show at the inn to bring in guests and revenue.  They put on the show (with a little relationship drama, of course) and the inn is saved!  Hooray!

This film also gave birth to the very popular holiday song of the same name.


There’s just something about movies made from the 40s and 50s.  Sometimes I feel like they just don’t make them like they used to.  A good song-and-dance routine can really push me over the edge.  And men just don’t wear their pants as high as they used to.  Ah, those were the days.


#12 – Countdown to Christmas: SANTA CLAUS CONQUERS THE MARTIANS

We’ve had a wide variety of films in the Christmas countdown so far (some of which I’d never even heard of, never mind seen) but none of them are as craptastic as 1964’s Santa Claus Conquers The Martians.

Continue reading #12 – Countdown to Christmas: SANTA CLAUS CONQUERS THE MARTIANS

#18 – Countdown to Christmas: THE REF

If there is a favorite Christmas movie for me I have to go with Christmas Vacation, but right behind it (We’re talking milimeters here) is my second favorite holiday flick starring Denis Leary and Kevin Spacey: The Ref.

The story revolves around the Chasseur family. Let me get this out-of-the-way right now. It’s pronounced ‘Shass-Oor’ and as you must know, it’s an 18th century French Huguenot name. But I digress, the Chasseur family is a pretty well off family with a lovely home… from the outside. Look in and there’s quite a bit more going on. Spouses Lloyd and Caroline are in the middle of some terrible marital strife and their son Jesse is a delinquent who enjoys black mailing his commander at military school for money in his off time. So what do they need to bring their family closer during the holidays on Christmas Eve? Gus, the cat burglar played by none other than Denis Leary. Leary essentially makes the movie with his fast talking, foul-mouthed way with people. This guy is a comedic genius but it doesn’t even sound like he’s trying half the time. He’s just pissed and complains and that’s that.

So where does Gus come into play? Well, he and his part Murray are in the process of thieving from one of the richest guys in town when something goes wrong… the guy has an almost road runner like trap set up for thieves which includes spraying cat piss in their face and dropping them down a chute to the basement where waits a very hungry Doberman. With the little community essentially closed off by police in an effort to capture Gus, he does the only thing he can do and that is take Lloyd and Caroline hostage.

This may have been the biggest mistake of his life given the fact that the couple cannot agree on anything and argue constantly. Not to mention they are having relatives over for Christmas Eve dinner, including the bitchiest bitch of mothers, a simpleton brother in-law and nearly as bitchy sister in-law. So the hostage party continues with Gus in the guise of their doctor… Dr. Wong. (Played by Law and Order/Oz alum B.D. Wong at the movie’s start.)

The movie is funny as hell, but actually reflects some real life drama that people have with their in-laws in the real world we live in. I’ve seen some bitchy mother in-laws who should immediately go to hell, let me tell ya. It also makes one wonder if it would work to force people to sit down and talk things out. Just don’t get any thoughts this Christmas season of sitting your family down at gunpoint to discuss their issues. I give the movie 5 out of 5 Christmas Trees.

Perfect movie with all of the right actors, comedy and drama added in. Plus Denis Leary lays out a Santa in one punch worthy of Ryu from Street Fighter. Check it out below:

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#19 – Countdown to Christmas: HOW THE GRINCH STOLE CHRISTMAS

On December 18th, 1966, CBS debuted How the Grinch Stole Christmas on televisions everywhere. Since this was the year that my dad was born, I had to wait a few years to see it. When I did finally watch this hilarious cartoon, I loved it, and have ever since.

 Narrated by horror legend Boris Karloff, this timeless movie (based off the 1957 book) tells the story of a grumpy recluse who hates Christmas. Not only does the Grinch hate Christmas, but all the singing and happiness that goes along with it.  For this reason, he wants to get rid of it all together. So he does what any self-respecting Grinch would do, he decides to steal Christmas!

So Mr. Grinch goes around to all of the houses in the town of Whoville at night dressed as Santa Claus, and with his dog dressed like a reindeer, and he steals everything from Christmas trees to cans of ‘Who Hash’.

The next morning, as the Grinch awakes to witness the aftermath of his evening of cruelty, he instead hears every Who in Whoville singing. Despite the disappearance of their Christmas dinners and tress and presents and lights, the Whos were still singing.

This is when he realized that even though they didn’t have Christmas gifts or Christmas dinner, the Whos were still filled with love and the Christmas spirit. His heart which was once two sizes too small grew three times larger and he was filled up with the spirit of the holiday, at which point he then returns all of the Christmas gifts, and is even invited to carve the roast beast at dinner. He is a changed man. Er…Grinch.

How the Grinch Stole Christmas is, and always will be, one of the greatest Christmas movies to watch. It is a classic, and deserves a 5/5.


Hip Hip Hooray! It is that time of year again! Time for egg nog, thousands of tangled strings of lights, and paying homage to the Christmas movies that we love so much.

National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation released in 1989. There are several plot points in this movie all of which are based around one main goal for the Griswold family: have a great Christmas.

First things first: The Griswolds need a Christmas tree! In one scene, Clark (Chevy Chase), Ellen (Beverly D’Angelo), Audrey (Juliette Lewis) and Rusty (Johnny Galecki) went to chop down a Christmas tree for their home. The entire journey was absolutely hilarious. Everyone was freezing to death, and Clark had delusions about how glorious this tree would be… so it was too big for the house. Clark also forgot the saw, so when the tree is shown on top of the car, it is shown with roots attached.In sticking with the theme of extravagant Christmas decorations, Clark and Rusty put over 25,000 lights on the house. They struggled to get them on throughout the episode.

Another great scene is when family members began arriving to the Griswold house. First, I must mention Cousin Eddie (Randy Quaid) who had one of the best lines in the movie: “Merry Christmas! Shitter was full.” Then, there is elderly Aunt Bethany (Mae Questel), who wrapped a cat as a gift. Fun fact: Mae Questel did the cartoon voices for Betty Boop and Olive Oyl. Christmas Vacation was her last on camera role before her death. I love all of the crazy family members because it reminds me of my bizarre family. We are all insane, but we love each other.

The dinner was disgusting, and difficult to watch. The turkey was…. dry? It was basically non-existent. I cannot even describe how vomit-inducing the rest of the random side-dishes looked. Suffice it to say, it was bad.

Every year, Clark gets a Christmas bonus from his work. He is expecting a large bonus this year, and has already decided to use it to put a pool in their backyard. However, when his letter is delivered, Clark, he finds out that instead of a Christmas bonus, he has been given a one year subscription to the jelly of the month club. This sets Clark off into the best tangent I have ever seen in any movie to this day:

Eddie kidnaps Clark’s boss. His wife and the police show up at Clark’s house, and when his boss explains that he didn’t give the employees their Christmas bonus, she is clearly upset with him. His boss then gives him a much larger than expected bonus, sending Clark into a cartoon-like fainting spell.

The movie ends with a very touching moment outside the Griswold home when all of the lights are on and the family is close together.

This movie is one of my favorite Christmas movies of all time for several reasons::

*This movie has some of the most frequently quoted memorable lines of any film.

*I got to see Julia Louis-Dreyfus attacked by a squirrel. In my mind, it was real.

*Cousin Eddie. I know that I don’t need to explain but I will. I have never seen such a hilarious portrayal of a happy-go-lucky white-trash man than Cousin Eddie. He never disappoints.

*The Griswold kids are always different! I love that Audrey and Rusty are played by two different people in every movie.

*Aunt Bethany was asked to say the blessing at dinner, and instead said the Pledge of Allegiance. Every time I see this movie, even though I know it is coming, I laugh hysterically.

For these reasons and many more, National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation gets 5/5 Charlie Brown Christmas Trees. An absolute must see Christmas flick.

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