20 Surprising Things You Might Not Know About ‘National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation’

By: 12.05.13  •  83 Comments


It just wouldn’t be Christmas without Randy Quaid’s Cousin Eddie proclaiming, “Merry Christmas…sh*tter was full,” now would it?

Earlier this week we gave you a look at the obscure facts behind the John Hughes classic, Home Alone. And here’s a few Bad Santa facts.  We’re continuing with another holiday film written by Hughes that has become a mainstay among Christmas comedies: National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation.

The film was the third in the Vacation series and, in my opinion, the best out of the four. Like the previous two, it gave us a new Audrey and Rusty and focused on a Clark struggling mightily to create memorable moments for his family. One of the things that’s made Christmas Vacation so successful is that it touches on that image of a Normal Rockwell Christmas that so many people strive for, only to fall devastatingly short. The annoying relatives, holiday work stress, unappreciative family members — they’re all present and soaked in comedy mixture of egg nog and septic tank waste. The movie is currently available on Netflix Instant and Amazon Prime, but you’ll only find the truth about Aunt Bethany’s electrocuted cat here.

1. If the Griswold’s neighbor’s house looks familiar that’s because it’s the house Murtaugh lived in throughout the Lethal Weapon movies. Yes, the Griswolds and the Murtaughs all resided on the Warner Brothers Studios lot. Relive the suburban nostalgia with virtual tour of the neighborhood here.

Below is a still of the neighborhood in Lethal Weapon.
letha lweapon

2. The Dodge pickup truck that tailgates and provokes Clark and his family during the movie’s opening scenes was also used by Kurt Russel in Overboard.


3. This is the only National Lampoon’s Vacation movie not to feature Lindsay Buckingham’s “Holiday Road.” Presumably because there is no road trip. Instead we got the song “Christmas Vacation” performed by Mavis Staples.

4. Cousin Eddie’s characteristics were based off a childhood acquaintance of Randy Quaid’s. Quaid developed many of Eddie’s mannerisms (such as the clicking of his tongue during the meal) from someone he knew while growing up in Texas.


5. One of the film’s producers, Matty Simmons, is the man pictured on the cover of the People Magazine that Clark is reading in bed. Simmons worked on all four of the Vacation movies and would later go on to write Christmas Vacation 2: Cousin Eddie’s Island Adventure. Yes, Eddie has his own movie and yes, it involves a lab monkey. (And you can own it on DVD for $5.) Which leads us to…

vacation, marty simmons

6. Christmas Vacation is the only one of the Vacation movies to get its own sequel with Christmas Vacation 2: Cousin Eddie’s Island Adventure. (Cousin Eddie is sent on vacation in the South Pacific after being bitten by a lab monkey. The only appearance of a Griswold in the film is Audrey from the first Vacation movie in 1983.


7. A minor earthquake occurred while filming the arrival scene of Uncle Louis and Aunt Bethany. Supposedly, you can see the camera shake a little in the shot with the couple entering the Griswold home.

8. Despite its superiority, Christmas Vacation was robbed of the number one spot at the box office on opening weekend in 1989. Back To The Future 2 pretty much crushed it, grossing $27.8 million compared with the Griswold’s $11.7 million.


9. There was a trend in the 1980s and early 90s with comedies having animated credits. Unfortunately this doesn’t happen much anymore. The most recent one that comes to mind are the dick drawings in Superbad. Christmas Vacation was one of three movies in 1989 to have animated credits, along with Honey, I Shrunk The Kids and Troop Beverly Hills.

10. One of the most iconic Christmas movies ever, It’s A Wonderful Life, has several tie-ins with Christmas Vacation. First off, Frank Capra III was the assistant director on Christmas Vacation and is the grandson of Frank Capra, who directed It’s A Wonderful Life in 1946. There’s also Clark taking a chainsaw to the wobbly newel post. This was an homage to the broken newel post at the Baily house in It’s A Wonderful Life. And finally, Russ is seen watching the Jimmy Stewart classic on TV when the grandparents arrive.

wonderful life christmas vacaton

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