As our blog gift to you, Gambit friends, we're opening our personal vaults, filled with our favorite holiday memories and nightmares and eye-bleeding moments from the films of yesteryear, forever burned into memory. Merry whatever, y'all!
Here's Kevin Allman:
When I was growing up — before the endless showings of A Christmas Story and It's a Wonderful Life — there were only a few Christmas movies that were aired on TV every year. Miracle on 34th Street was the main one, of course, but there was also Santa Claus, which was an exceedingly strange Mexican movie (badly) dubbed into English and run as a kiddie matinee. I haven't seen the complete version in years, but I do remember Santa lived in outer space with children (no elves or Mrs. Claus) and he and the Devil battled over the Devil's attempt to make Mexican tots be naughty instead of nice. I imagine the filmmakers thought Santa Claus would be a fantasy classic — but instead it was a surrealistic horror show that would make David Lynch jealous. Did it scare the crap out of me? Yes. Did I watch it every year anyway? Yes.
Here's a clip of Satan attempting to corrupt little "Lupita" by making her dream of the Dance of the Dolls. It's The Nutcracker from hell.
More after the jump.
From Lauren LaBorde:
At the height of my childhood Pee-Wee Herman obsession, I watched a VHS recording of the Pee-Wee's Playhouse Christmas Special almost daily — even if it was nowhere near Christmas time. What I loved, and still love, about the special is the wacky roster of celebrity guest stars: Annette Funicello and Frankie Avalon make Christmas cards, Little Richard attempts to ice skate, Charo sings "Feliz Navidad," k.d. lang wears a terrible denim snowflake dress. The best part is this performance of "Little Drummer Boy" by Grace Jones, who — naturally — arrives to the Playhouse in a large box meant to be delivered to the White House. They don't make kids' shows like they used to.
And Missy Wilkinson:
My favorite Christmas tradition is assaulting my little sister with annoying Christmas traditions. These include dripping melted wax on her during candlelight Christmas services and baking cookies she finds especially nauseating. When it comes to disgusting cookies, nothing grosses her out more than candy cane cookies. She describes the taste this way: "If you ever bitten through a peice of chalk, like dough chalk, that is it. With maybe some food coloring mixed in to add an artificial taste."
My parents have been Muppets fans since the show debuted in 1976. My mom still regularly quotes Miss Piggy, who has become a sort of matriarch in the Woodward family. 1992's The Muppet Christmas Carol, the Muppets' first big production following Jim Henson's death, receives an annual Christmas screening. And it's still great. But every year I put myself through a self-flagellating Christmas hell — sitting through The Star Wars Holiday Special, to prove that yes, I am a massive nerd.
Thanks to YouTube, one may now watch the special in its entirety without having to sneak into some back alley, geek black market. Almost immediately after it aired, the producers' regret was so thick that it seeped through TV sets into a puddle of shame in living rooms across 1978's America. George Lucas once said he wishes he could destroy every copy with a sledgehammer. Here's why: Chewbacca must make it back to his family in time for "Life Day," and the first 10 minutes are only Wookies sadly yelling over sentimental clarinet, followed by a wonky Boba Fett cartoon and guest appearances by the Star Wars cast, Art Carney, Bea Arthur, Harvey Korman, and, uh, Jefferson Starship.