Chris Columbus was fired from National Lampoons Christmas Vacation and went on to to direct Home Alone, a bona fide Christmas classic. He’s now directing the Christmas Chronicles 2 for Netflix. The Christmas theme runs deep with him as he also has the screenplay credit on Gremlins.
So why Christmas, and why a monster movie set at Christmas? In a recent interview with Yahoo he went into it:
“When people should be celebrating with their families, these ridiculously evil monsters are terrorizing the town and killing everyone. That is fascinating.
The reason why I’m fascinated by Christmas is it’s the time of year when people are at their most emotional, and happiest, yet there’s a whole other side of the population that’s incredibly depressed, potentially out of work, particularly this year.
So you take that and you set it against the backdrop of, back in the day something like Gremlins, and that’s an interesting stew to me.”
While the mother’s kitchen sequence with an array of kitchen equipment helping her fight back is a favorite of many, there is one moment that everyone with a very dark and twisted sense of humor can’t forget. Kate (Phoebe Cates) tells how her father died in a chimney based Santa stunt that went horribly wrong. The worst Christmas story ever?
Columbus said his inspiration was a cartoon by National Lampoon’s Gahan Wilson that ran in Playboy magazine. It depicts a woman with a pair of chimney cleaners who look at the skeleton of Santa Claus on her carpet with the caption:
“Well, we found out what’s been clogging your chimney since last December, Miss Emmy.”
Apparently the notoriously interfering executives at Warner Bros. were not happy with this scene and wanted it taken out.
“The studio almost made us cut that initially, but it was [director] Joe Dante and my favorite scene in the movie.”
He goes on to say that Producer Steven Spielberg also had their backs.
“I didn’t have much say at the time, I was just a screenwriter [and] it was only my second movie. But Joe and Steven talked some sense into them.”
Gremlins will be on many Outposters Christmas watch-lists this year. Anyone for Jaws: The Revenge? Clearly also a Christmas movie.