The 1989 continuation of Griswold family antics became a holiday classic quoted and beloved by many. Chevy Chase and Beverly D’Angelo returned as Clark and Ellen Griswold while their everchanging children Audrey and Rusty were portrayed by Juliet Lewis and Johnny Galecki.
In his attempts to create the perfect Christmas, Clark encounters uncooperative decorations, unexpected family visits, and other ridiculous hurdles to his impossible vision. We all know that, so I’ve gathered some facts about National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation that may surprise you at least as much as waking up with your head sewn to the carpet.
1. The movie itself is based on a 1980 short story penned by John Hughes in National Lampoon. Called “Christmas 1959”, a brief homage is paid to the source material when Clark finds a home movie labeled with that title.
2. This was director Jeremiah Chechik’s first film and introduction to the National Lampoon film series. He previously worked on odd television commercials that caught the attention of famed auteur Stanley Kubrick. Kubrick mentioned Chechik in an interview and the scripts — including one for this movie — started arriving on the inexperienced film director’s desk.
3. The cat electrocution scene was in danger of being left on the editing room floor until test audiences told the studio it was their favorite part of the whole movie.
4. Randy Quaid based Cousin Eddie on a guy he knew as a child in Texas. If he were to reprise or recreate the role today, I’m sure Quaid would have a lot of his own bonkers mannerisms to add to the portrayal.
5. The trained squirrel hired to bring the ruckus died one day before filming its scene. It was replaced with an amateur squirrel with no training.
6. Houses featured in the movie are located on Warner Bros.’s back lot and also served as the home of Samantha Stevens (Elizabeth Montgomery) in Bewitched, tv show The Middle, and Roger Murtaugh (Danny Glover) in Lethal Weapon.
7. This movie has a crappy sequel called Christmas Vacation 2: Cousin Eddie’s Island Adventure. It was released on NBC in 2003 and revolved around Quaid’s Cousin Eddie and family vacationing in the South Pacific. One bite from a laboratory money and a ship wreck later and PASS.
8. Aunt Bethany was portrayed by Mae Questel in her final film role. Questel voiced Olive Oyl and Betty Boop from 1931 on.
9. You can purchase Christmas Vacation collectibles (and those from other movies) on the flick’s official online store.
10. This movie doesn’t feature the iconic “Holiday Road” by Lindsay Buckingham. Instead, the song “Christmas Vacation” by Mavis Staples plays over the animated credits. Animated credits for live-action features was rare then, with only two other movies released in 1989 using them: Honey, I Shrunk the Kids and Troop Beverly Hills.