11 Best Christmas Movie Scenes

Tuesday, December 22, 2009 at 7:44 pm
By Shane Rivers

I’ve put together this list of the 11 best Christmas movie scenes in order to provide a little relief for the inevitable holiday crash. You know the moment I’m talking about – when all the presents have been unwrapped, all the eggnog has been consumed, and you’re just wishing everyone would go home. Well, now you can pop in a DVD or Blu-ray and lose yourself in cinematic holiday goodness ranging from a racy lamp to Santa Claus murdering Fran Drescher. When possible, I’ve also included YouTube links so you can watch the listed scenes without having to rent the whole movie. Merry Christmas, dear reader!

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Scene: Cousin Eddie Strikes…Again
Movie: National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation (1989)
Genre: Comedy
christmas-vacationWhy It’s a Classic: As members of his family rustle and chat in the background, patriarch Clark W. Griswold (Chevy Chase) looks thoughtfully out the living room window. His MILF wife, Ellen (Beverly D’Angelo), approaches and asks what he’s looking at. With a wistful smile on his face, Clark replies, “Oh, the silent majesty of a winter’s morn; the clean, cool chill of the holiday air; an asshole in his bathrobe emptying a chemical toilet into my sewer.” Immediately horrified, Ellen looks out the curtains to see her Cousin Eddie (Randy Quaid) drinking a beer, smoking a cigar, and purging the bathroom contents of his beat-up RV. Not fazed in the least, Eddie raises a beer as a salute and loudly exclaims, “The shitter was full.” Clark then goes on to mention the dangers of filling a storm sewer and the possibility of combustion. Now that’s what I call foreshadowing.

Scene: Santa and the Superman Cape
Movie: Fred Claus (2007)
Genre: Comedy
Why It’s a Classic: Sure, this scene is from the Vince Vaughn comedy, but the 6’5” ham is nowhere to be found. Instead, Paul Giamatti (Santa) and Kevin Spacey (Clyde Northcutt) show us how it’s done by taking an otherwise hokey scene and making it tug at the heartstrings. Ruthless businessman Clyde has continually meddled in the affairs of the North Pole, and Santa counters by unleashing a psychoanalysis that involves 1968, the dreaded “naughty list,” and one Superman cape. The score works to great effect, and the two actors milk the scene with great success. It’s also a kick to see Spacey don the cape of the “Man of Steel,” given his role in 2006’s Superman Returns.

Scene: The Eyes Have It
Movie: Black Christmas (1974)
Genre: Horror
Why It’s a Classic: When putting together this list of the best Christmas movie scenes, I quickly realized that holiday horror films were going to have a substantial presence. This was never more true than with Black Christmas, a movie that played a major role in the development of the slasher craze of the 1980s. The classic scene in question comes just after sorority sister Jess (the stunning Olivia Hussey) receives another obscene phone call, and the police manage to trace it…(wait for it)…to inside the sorority house! Since fellow sisters Barb and Phyllis are nowhere to be found, Jess arms herself with a fireplace poker and heads upstairs to retrieve them. It’s far too late, of course, and Jess opens a bedroom door to find their dismembered bodies. And that’s when the payoff comes, as a horrified Jess sees one of the killer’s maniacally wide eyes peering at her from behind the crack of the door. Sure, it’s just an eye, but I defy you to watch it without getting at least a little unnerved.

Scene: “It’s a Leg!”
Movie: A Christmas Story (1983)
Genre: Comedy
Why It’s a Classic: Oddly enough, this sweet holiday film about young Ralphie’s quest for a Red Ryder BB gun was directed by Bob Clark, the same man who made our skin crawl with the previously-mentioned Black Christmas (and he also did Porky’s). In this scene, Ralphie’s father (Darren McGavin) receives a “major award” as a result of correctly answering a trivia question in the newspaper. Delivered in a large crate marked “fragile,” the father gets excited, saying, “Fra-gee-lay…it must be Italian,” before having the word’s real meaning pointed out to him by his wife. Frantically searching inside the crate, he pulls out a lamp in the shape of a shapely and stocking-clad female leg. When the wife asks what it is, the father proudly proclaims, “It’s a leg!” Ralphie, meanwhile, takes every opportunity to caress the leg, much to the irritation of his mother. And thus begins the “battle of the lamp.”


Scene: Love…er…Christmas is All Around
Movie: Love Actually (2003)
Genre: Romantic Comedy
Why It’s a Classic: Desperate to have another hit, aging rocker Billy Mack (Bill Nighy) converts The Troggs’ hit “Love is All Around” to “Christmas is All Around” and promises to perform it nude on television if it hits number one. While he calls it a “festering turd of a record,” that doesn’t stop the rock ‘n roll legend from making an outrageous video to promote it, complete with seductive women in Christmas outfits, lots of moments reminiscent of Robert Palmer’s MTV classics, Billy Mack’s pelvic thrusts to the beat, and a guitar solo as flames rise from the bottom of the screen. Absolutely over the top, it’s still a great pleasure to watch Nighy ham it up surrounded by a bevy of bombshells.

Scene: Grandpa’s Crazed Christmas Tales
Movie: Silent Night, Deadly Night (1984)
Genre: Horror
Why It’s a Classic: There’s nothing more fun for the holidays than visiting your catatonic grandfather in a mental hospital. That’s what little Billy Chapman gets to do, and he’s quickly left all alone with the old coot while his parents wander off with the doctor. That’s when ‘ol gramps comes alive, informing Billy that Christmas Eve is the “scariest damn night of the year.” See, Santa Claus not only hands out presents to the good kids, but he also reigns down destruction on those who’ve been naughty. When Billy admits that he’s been slightly naughty, Grandpa leans forward and cackles, “You see Santa Claus tonight, you better run, boy. You better run for your life!” Then, just as the parents return, the helpful codger lapses back into his catatonic state. No wonder a shell-shocked Billy grows up to dress like Santa and kill “naughty” people, although watching your parents get murdered by a guy in a Santa suit probably didn’t help things, either.

Scene: Garbage Day!
Movie: Silent Night, Deadly Night Part 2 (1987)
Genre: Horror
Why It’s a Classic: This sequel follows the exploits of Billy Chapman’s little brother, Ricky (Eric Freeman), as he grows up to be a deranged young man with a surprising lack of acting skills. But that doesn’t stop him from making this list of the 11 best Christmas movie scenes, as a run-in with his girlfriend’s ex sends him over the deep end. He sticks jumper cables in the jerk’s mouth and electrocutes him until his eyes explode, then turns on his gal and chokes her to death with a car antennae. But the fun doesn’t stop there, as he disarms a Barney Fife impersonator, shoots him in the head, and then goes on a shooting rampage through suburbia while the camera continually circles around him. Laughing like a supervillain and plugging onlookers, Ricky’s finest moment comes when he encounters a guy taking out the garbage (who’s apparently too deaf to hear all the gunshots just down the street). Shouting “Garbage day!” he blasts the poor guy and then goes on to wreak additional havoc. Just watch this clip once, and you’ll see why it’s become such an Internet sensation.


Scene: My Brother, George…the Richest Man in Town
Movie: It’s a Wonderful Life (1946)
Genre: Drama
Why It’s a Classic: Considered the quintessential Christmas film, It’s a Wonderful Life is packed with one classic scene after another. But my favorite comes at the end, when a stunned George Bailey (Jimmy Stewart) is returned to his old life after being shown what the world would’ve been like had he never lived. Before you can say “happy ending,” George has abandoned all concern for things like bank foreclosures and IRS investigations. Instead, he’s like a man possessed, spreading Christmas cheer like it’s his last day on Earth (or his first, for that matter). Reunited with his loving family, the good fortune soon starts rolling in, and all the concerns that led him to contemplate suicide quickly fall by the wayside. Sure, it’s a bit clichéd after all these years on television, but if for only a few minutes during the film’s closing scene, you will believe in the true spirit of Christmas.

Scene: It Ain’t Fuckin’ Frosty!
Movie: Jack Frost (1996)
Genre: Horror/Comedy
Why It’s a Classic: First off, this isn’t that lame version of Jack Frost with Michael Keaton. Instead, we get a serial killer named Jack Frost who’s on his way to the death house. After the truck carrying him collides with a vehicle carrying genetic material (what are the odds?), the madman is turned into a giant snowman bent on revenge. His target? The peaceful town of Snowmonton. Yes, you read that last sentence correctly. After ambushing one young man with his giant snowy mitts, Jack replies to his victim’s question of “Who’s out there?” with the snappy “Well, it ain’t fuckin’ Frosty!” After fending off an ice pick counterattack, Jack shoots an icicle through the teen’s head and kills him. Upstairs, his girlfriend (Shannon Elizabeth in her first role) has just finished drying her hair, but when she sees a bathtub filled with hot water, she immediately peels off her clothes, climbs in, and gets her hair wet again (not that I’m complaining). Jack, of course, has other plans, and he melts down into a liquid state before reforming in the tub. And that’s when things get really weird. Moving his carrot nose down to his crotch (or what passes for a crotch on a snowman), he proceeds to rape the young woman and then kill her by banging her head into the wall. Let’s pause for a moment and soak in that last part. Are you really going to get that in a Michael Keaton movie?


Scene: Santa with Muscles
Movie: Santa’s Slay (2005)
Genre: Horror
Why It’s a Classic: This surreal opening scene features Christmas turkey and Fran Drescher’s cleavage, all in the same glorious shot. We join the Mason family, a group of bickering asses portrayed by a surprising collection of celebs. Who can deny the awesomeness of James Caan calling Chris Kattan a “half a fag” and threatening to stick a fork in his eye? Because of their overall naughtiness, Santa Claus (former wrestler Bill Goldberg) decides to show up and teach them the error of their ways. What you may not know is that Santa is the only son of Satan, and the whole “jolly old elf” thing only came about after losing a curling match to an angel (God, this stuff just writes itself). But his thousand years of delivering presents is up, and now it’s time for some good old-fashioned holiday mayhem. As he busts through the Mason family chimney, he looks as Virginia Mason (Drescher) and says, “Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus.” He then proceeds to kill them in the following ways:
The Family Dog – Kicked into a ceiling fan and then rebounded into the stone fireplace.
Taylor Mason (Annie Sorell) – Gets growled at by Santa, faints, falls backwards and impales her throat on a piece of wood.
Jason Mason (Chris Kattan) – Gets a lethal kick to the chest.
Virginia Mason (Fran Drescher) – Has her hair set on fire before being drowned in a bowl of eggnog.
Gwen Mason (Rebecca Gayheart) – Struck in the head with a table leg and killed with a single blow.
Beth Mason (Alicia Loren) – Santa grabs the star from the top of the Christmas tree and throws it into her back like a yuletide ninja.
Darren Mason (James Caan) – Santa pins his hands to the table with knives. Then, after everyone else has been dispatched, he shoves a massive turkey leg down Darren’s throat and slams him face-first into the table. And here I thought that Sonny Corleone’s death was touching.

Scene: An Eight Percent Chance
Movie: Kiss Kiss Bang Bang (2005)
Genre: Crime/Dark Comedy
Why It’s a Classic: After turning the tables on a hitman, Perry (Val Kilmer) and Harry Lockhart (Robert Downey Jr.) decide to get some answers. Perry warns the would-be assassin, “This isn’t good cop, bad cop. This is fag and New Yorker. You’re in a lot of trouble.” The hitman proves uncooperative, even labeling Perry’s request to “picture a bullet inside your head” as “ambiguous.” Harry finally has enough, deciding to handle things like they do in the movies. He removes the bullets from his gun, puts one back in, spins it, and then asks for answers. When he doesn’t get them immediately, he pulls the trigger to up the ante. But the henchmen gets shot in the head, leading to this classic Christmas movie exchange.

Perry: “You put a live round in that gun!?”
Harry: “Well, yeah, there was like an eight percent chance.”
Perry: “Eight?!”
Harry: “Yeah!”
Perry: “Who taught you math?!”

And that concludes my list of the 11 best Christmas movie scenes. Here’s hoping you have time to watch one or more of the great films listed above. But more importantly, here’s hoping you have yourself a very merry Christmas.