Every year, National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation proves itself to be, as Cousin Eddie would say, the gift that keeps on giving. No matter how many times you watch it, you always find a new whip-smart line to howl over.
But even if you've watched the classic a hundred million times, there's a really good chance you don't know some of these fascinating tidbits about the film:
Christmas Vacation is based on a short story.
It all started in 1980 when filmmaker and producer John Hughes penned Christmas '59, according to Huffington Post. The story includes references to several iconic scenes in the movie, like when the Griswolds struggle to find the perfect Christmas tree, Aunt Bethany wraps up her cat (which is a dog in John's piece), and Catherine's disastrous turkey. Remember when Clark gets locked in the attic while the rest of the Griswolds go shopping? The film wheel that he pulls out, aptly titled "X-mas '59," is a tribute to John's work.
It's the only "Holiday Road"-less film in the series.
Vegas Vacation, European Vacation, the original National Lampoon's Vacation — they all include the iconic tune. As several outlets have pointed out though, Christmas Vacation is the only movie where the song isn't featured. Probably because there isn't a lot of driving happening for Clark other than in the opening scene.
The film's budget was massive.
Directors and producers had a lot of dough to play with for the comedy — about $27 million to be exact, Mental Floss reports. Of course, the film's success easily trumped the cost. In fact, Christmas Vacation is now one of the top 15 highest-grossing Christmas movies of all time, according to Forbes. The outlet says the film brought in a whooping $71.32 million when it was released in 1989. Not too shabby.
Aunt Bethany was Olive Oyl in Popeye
If you feel like you've heard Bethany's voice before (apart from when she recites "THE BLESSING"), it's most likely because the actress, Mae Questel, played Olive Oyl in the old Popeye cartoons. She was also the voice of the iconic Betty Boop.
Ellen Griswold totally lies at the end of the movie.
Right before the police raid the Griswold house after receiving reports of a kidnapping (thanks, Cousin Eddie), Ellen announces that it was their family's "first kidnapping." LIES, ELLEN. The Griswolds' first kidnapping actually took place in Vacation, when they held a Wally World employee (a.k.a. John Candy) hostage and made him go on various rides with them. Guess that slipped Ellen's mind ...
The Griswold block looks familiar for a reason.
While Clark is tearing up in the attic watching old footage of his past Christmases, the exterior of his childhood home can be seen. Mental Floss notes that it's the same home featured in Bewitched, which is located on a Warner Bros. backlot called Blondie Street, built to look like a suburban neighborhood.
An actual earthquake occurred during one scene ...
Aunt Bethany and Uncle Louis broke ground (literally) when they showed up at the Griswolds. According to Babble, the scene was filmed while a minor earthquake was going on. Some claim that you can actually see the camera shake slightly if you look closely:
There's a Christmas Vacation 2 ...
Say what now?! Because the original was such a massive success, the National Lampoon franchise awarded Randy Quaid (who plays Cousin Eddie) the starring role in Christmas Vacation 2: Cousin Eddie's Island Adventure. The 2003 comedy follows Cousin Eddie and Catherine (played by Mariam Flynn) enjoying a free vacation to a South Pacific island. A few mishaps later, Eddie, Catherine, Audrey, and a bunch of new characters wind up getting stuck. Needless to say, lots of chaotic hilarity ensues.
Christmas Vacation is the only movie in the National Lampoon Vacation franchise to get a sequel.
Audrey and Rusty worked together on The Conners.
Johnny Galecki (who played Rusty in Christmas Vacation) starred on Roseanne (and now The Conners) as David since the show first aired. But on the recently launched spinoff series, his former Griswold sibling, Juliette Lewis, plays a role opposite him. Oddly enough, Juliette starred as David's new girlfriend, Blue, who Darlene isn't too fond of.
Clark wasn't joking: The Griswolds really do have a solid family bond.
The famous squirrel was supposed to be professionally trained.
Brace yourselves: This is a heartbreaking tidbit. When speaking to Rolling Stone, the movie's director Jeremiah Chechik revealed that they had actually hired an animal trainer to rehearse the dog-squirrel chasing scene. But when the time came to actually start rolling, the animal trainer had to break some sad news to Jeremiah: the squirrel had died (presumably from old age). As Jeremiah went on to say, the show had to go on. And so, they used an untrained squirrel and it was, apparently, utter chaos.
Cousin Eddie has a very famous younger brother.
You might've already guessed it based on the last name, but, yes, Randy Quaid's brother is in fact Dennis Quaid. Like his brother, Randy has shined in plenty of big roles, including playing President Lyndon B. Johnson in LBJ: The Early Years, the ranch owner in Brokeback Mountain, and Russell Casse in Independence Day. Another fun fact: Randy appeared on Saturday Night Live from 1985-86.
The film has inspired some GENIUS merchandise online:
Like, really, really, amazing. See some of our favorites below:
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