Top 12 '80s Holiday Movies

This originally appeared on Culture Brats on December 21, 2011. But we thought you guys might want some holiday films to watch this weekend, so here are our suggestions!

Silent Night, Deadly Night
The holidays are right around the corner, so time to break out those Christmas DVDs! For this week's Ranked!, we decided to rate our favorite '80s holiday movies. Did your favorite mekae:

12. Silent Night, Deadly Night

11. Trading Places

10. A Very Brady Christmas

9. Better Off Dead

8. Ernest Saves Christmas

7. A Smoky Mountain Christmas

6. Lethal Weapon

5. National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation
Oh Clark, you took us across the country to Wally World in the family Truckster, to Europe to see Big Ben and Parliament, and of course, best of all, you let us into the Griswold family home to spend the holidays with you & the ever-changing roster of child actors who portrayed your children.

This holiday classic is a favorite of mine not only because it mirrors my own obsession with outrageous decorative lighting for the outside of my house, but also because its well-intentioned but bumbling father is forever destroying whatever small salvageable scraps left after the explosions.

This time he dreams of building the family a well-deserved pool with his Christmas bonus, things don't go as planned, and guess what?

Hilarity ensues!

It also showcases the return of cousin Eddie, his RV, and his ingenious method of waste disposal which without fail prompts my father to repeat, ad nauseum, the classic line "Shitter's full!"

Thanks dad, thanks Clark, and Merry Christmas. --Dufmanno

4. Die Hard
When Moonlighting was all the rage, mere words could not express my hatred for Bruce Willis. I thought he was cocky, smug, and just plain annoying. Maybe that was jut his character on Moonlighting--but, whatever the reason, I just plain didn't like the guy. That kept me from ever becoming a fan of Moonlighting.

It also nearly made me pass on going to see Die Hard with my friends. When they told me what they were going to see and asked me to come along, I initially declined. Then my friend Andy (who had already seen the movie) finally talked me into it.

I'm really glad he did.

Turns out, as everyone who is anyone knows now, Die Hard is the best action movie ever made. The mix of an everyman hero in the wrong place at the wrong time, a claustrophobic environment, and the most charismatic villain ever to grace the screen puts Die Hard on my top-ten list for movies I can watch anytime, over and over and over, without getting tired of it. It's simply brilliant. Even though it's clearly not as good, I'm also a fan of the second movie. The third and fourth? Well, not so much. Maybe sometime I'll go into why I think of those as the "alternate universe Die Hard movies." (I hate discontinuity.)

So how does this relate to Christmas you ask?

Everyone asks me that. When people want to know what my favorite Christmas movie is and I tell them it's Die Hard, they look at me like I have three heads. For some reason, most people don't seem to think it's a Christmas movie at all. (Present company excepted, of course--turns out many of the Culture Brats count this movie among their holiday favorites.) When people ask me why I consider it a Christmas movie, my answer is, "Duh! The whole movie takes place on Christmas Eve!"

Of course, this just makes most people roll their eyes and walk away. But, for me, Christmas isn't Christmas without a viewing of Die Hard. I'm not much of one for traditions, but my one and only Christmas tradition is built around this movie. Every year, after I'm finished my shopping, I sit down in front of the TV with all of my presents and wrap them while I watch Die Hard. Sometimes the movie distracts me from my task a bit, and the wrapping extends beyond the end of the movie. When that happens, I do what anyone would do: I pop in the DVD for Die Hard 2. (Also a Christmas movie--Christmas Eve, one year later.) Nothing says Christmas to me like John McClane shooting bad guys and gracing us with holiday witticisms written in blood. ("Now I have a machinegun. Ho-ho-ho." You can get that on a sweatshirt, by the way.)

So during this holiday season, don't be surprised if you hear me exclaim (as I ride out of sight), "Yippee ki-yay, motherfucker! And to all, a good night!" --Dave

3. Gremlins
Nobody's ever accused Gremlins of being a light, fluffy film. Sure it's funny. But at its core beats a lump of coal. Gremlins takes nefarious delight in contrasting the bright yuletide holiday with the scary, sometimes gory, antics of the title creatures. That's part of what makes Gremlins work. However, there is one moment that cements its reputation as both a great Christmas movie and a horror movie: a harrowing speech delivered by Phoebe Cates where she talks about a family tragedy that also happened on the 25th of December.

"The worst thing that ever happened to me was on Christmas."

A few decades later, Gremlins still remains wicked fun and an unlikely holiday staple on cable. If you haven't seen in it a while, it holds up surprisingly well. And just remember, however you celebrate the holidays... don't eat after midnight.

(Quick geeky movie footnote: Did you know that Gremlins was originally rated PG? It, along with Indiana Jones And The Temple of Doom, also rated PG, led to the creation of the PG-13 rating.) --Daddy Geek Boy

2. Scrooged
A few years ago, I made an announcement to my entire family: I told everyone that I would never again watch one more damn version of Dickens' A Christmas Carol. Not on stage, not on screen. Not with George C. Scott, not with muppets. I was done. The story is boring, I said, the section about Christmas Past alone is interminably long, I know the ending, and the whole thing is too preachy. Carry on without me, I told my relatives. I'm done.

And yet Scrooged is still my favorite holiday movie of all time.

Bill Murray, as Scrooge-tastic television executive Frank Cross, is alternatively mean-eyed and manic as he's led around by the nose through his Christmases Past, Present and Future. Why do I love this version, when I've grown tired of all others? Maybe it's David Johansen's (a.k.a. Buster Poindexter) rollicking Cab Driver of Christmas Past who shows Frank his neglected childhood, and then laughs when Frank finally squeezes out a couple tears. Maybe it’s Carol Kane's luminous, ass-kicking Ghost of Christmas Present, who flits around on fairy wings and moonbeams, when she's not clocking Cross in the head with a toaster. ("Sometimes you have to slap them in the face just to get their attention!" she trills.) Maybe it's the comically tender moments when Frank goes from grinchy to awkward when he's face to face his former girlfriend Claire, played by the doe-eyed, freckled Karen Allen.

And then there's the ending, which by all accounts, I should hate: when Frank emerges from his near-death vision with Christmas Future, bursts onto the set of his own network' live telecast of Scrooge, and rhapsodizes on camera about what he's finally figured out, why one day of the year can in fact be so important: "It's Christmas Eve! It's the one night of the year when we all act a little nicer, we smile a little easier... for a couple of hours out of the whole year, we are the people that we always hoped we would be!"

And then he leads the cast in a sing-along, a cast that includes Buddy Hackett, Mary Lou Retton, and the Solid Gold Dancers.

I should be fed up with all of that.

But when Murray tears up in front of everyone, when he really gets it... I have to admit: I get it too. And that's why Scrooged is the one and only Christmas movie that I look forward to watching every year. --Didactic Pirate

1. A Christmas Story
Where does one begin when asked to write about THE movie of the Christmas season? A movie so entrenched in the collective psyche that a mere mention of some of its more memorable quotes can spawn a complete retelling by its more ardent viewers? "You'll shoot your eye out!" "TRIPLE-dog-dare ya!" "Nadafinga!" "Fa ra ra ra ra, ra ra ra ra." "Fra-gee-lay. That must be Italian." For we children of the '80s, A Christmas Story has supplanted It's A Wonderful Life, Miracle On 34th Street, and myriad versions of A Christmas Carol as definitive, must-see holiday television.

My friends and I saw it soon after it was released in 1983. I remember we couldn't stop laughing; each scene mirrored on our childhoods in some way, regardless of the 1940s setting. How many of us wanted a BB gun only to be told we'd injure ourselves in some way, shape, or form? How often had we been threatened with having our mouths washed out with soap? Certainly you blurted out the f-bomb unconsciously to your parents' horror? How many of us had received pink bunny pajamas from some delusional aunt? Oh, just me? Um... moving on.

I'm not sure anything I write here can do adequate justice to A Christmas Story. If you haven't seen it, shame on you. Shame, shame, shame. For those of you who have shared in this holiday masterpiece for nearly 30 years, I'll leave you with one thing: "Be sure to drink your Ovaltine!" --Mr. Big Dubya

We showed you ours, now show us yours. What's your favorite '80s holiday movie?

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