Each and every year, the holiday season is full of festive Christmas movies that get you in the spirit and remind you what it’s all about. There’s also National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation which reminds you why family only sees one another once a year. With that, it’s time to look at 20 fun facts that you may not have known about one of the most iconic Christmas movies.
1. It’s based on a short story from John Hughes – The story was called “Christmas ’59” and written by Hughes for National Lampoon in December of 1980. There is a small tribute to the story when Clark is trapped in the attic and grabs an old home movie labeled “Christmas ’59.”
2. Director Jeremiah S. Chechik was a Vacation virgin – Yes, the director had never seen a Vacation movie before filming this one, even though two had already been made.
3. Aunt Bethany and Uncle Louis cause an earthquake – As soon as their arrival is filmed, a small earthquake hit. You can actually see the camera shake a little when Bethany walks in the door.
4. Christmas Vacation had a huge budget – Being 1989 and having hardly any special effects at all, a budget of $27 million was really big. It easily made back its budget multiple times over as it pulled in $71 million at the box office.
5. Clark’s company isn’t very creative – When Clark gives Mr. Shirley a present, every single one on the table is shaped exactly the same.
6. Audrey skips some years – Even though Rusty is seen as the older sibling in the first two Vacation movies, his sister is the older one in Christmas Vacation.
7. The movie hit straight-to-video in the England – Despite the popularity of the movie around the world, it ended up going straight-to-video in the U.K.
8. One of only two Christmas movies released in 1989 – The other was Prancer which also starred Johnny Galecki, who played Rusty.
9. “Holiday Road” is not to be found – This is the only film in the franchise that doesn’t have the iconic song.
10. There is a connection to It’s A Wonderful Life – As the Griswold-family tree is being put up, the iconic movie is on television. It was directed by Frank Capra. Oddly enough, Capra’s grandson, Frank Capra III, was assistant director on Christmas Vacation, according to IMDB.
11. Roger Ebert was not a fan – It may be a holiday classic, but Ebert gave it just two stars in his review. He honestly said that it simply that the film “somehow doesn’t work.”
12. Rusty is stuck on Hawaii – At the end of Vacation, as the family is being arrested at Walley World, Clark asks his family what they said when he asked where they wanted to go for Hawaii.
Near the end of Christmas Vacation, Rusty says, “I told you we should have gone to Hawaii.”
13. The fried cat scene was almost cut – As 943 The Point reported, studio executives wanted the scene taken out as they thought it would offend people. Test audiences ended up loving it and considered it their favorite scene, so producer Matty Simmons was able to leave it in.
14. Cousin Eddie is real – Randy Quaid modeled his character of Cousin Eddie after a guy he knew from Texas when he was growing up. The tongue-click of Cousin Eddie was something that the guy did all the time, according to Quaid.
15. Aunt Bethany was Betty Boop – Christmas Vacation was the final movie of actress Mae Questel who started her career in 1931 as the voice of Betty Boop. She passed away in 1998 at the age of 89.
16. Christmas Vacation 2 has just one Griswold – Dana Barron, who played Audrey in the original Vacation, took on the same role in the Christmas sequel. Eric Idle makes an awesome appearance as the “English Victim” as he did in European Vacation.
17. The title song was written by a husband and wife – Barry Mann and Cynthia Weil wrote the song which was performed by Mavis Staples. One of Mann’s big hits was “Sometimes When We Touch.”
18. Ellen lies to the police – After the cops hit the house with Mrs. Shirley, she says that the capture of Clark’s boss is “our family’s first kidnapping.” In the first Vacation, they actually took Walley World security guard Lasky (John Candy) captive.
19. It’s never actually Christmas – Even though it is a Christmas movie, the holiday itself is never actually reached. The furthest along the movie gets is Christmas Eve for the final scene.
20. The cast of Christmas Vacation is phenomenal – Just look at those that are in it and you’ll understand: Juliette Lewis, Doris Roberts, Chevy Chase, Julia Louis Dreyfus, Johnny Galecki, Randy Quaid, Beverly D’Angelo, John Randolph, Sam McMurray, William Hickey, Diane Ladd, and the list goes on.
Christmas Vacation is now over 25-years-old, and it has been a true holiday tradition for so many, year after year. These fun facts are only going to make you want to watch it even more often and realize just how messed up, and loving, real families actually are.
[Image via Warner Bros.]