CLOSE
Original image
ThinkStock

25 More Holiday Movie Facts

Original image
ThinkStock

You'll probably be spending a lot of time with family over the next couple of weeks. When conversation turns to the treatment Great Aunt Ethel is trying for that nagging cyst that's been bothering her, here are a few bits of holiday movie trivia you can throw in to steer conversation back to the safe zone. (See our first installment of holiday movie facts here.)

The Santa Clause


Photo courtesy of movies.disney.com

1. There’s a scene in The Santa Clause where Tim Allen makes a little joke about a number his ex-wife should call: 1-800-SPANK-ME. It should come as a surprise to no one that bored kids actually called this number. Parents were scandalized when they discovered they were paying for “hot, wild phone fun” at $2.50 to $4.99 a minute. Apparently one man’s 10-year-old daughter racked up more than $250 in phone bills. Disney removed the scene from post-1997 VHS copies; it has also been removed for television broadcast.

Dr. Seuss' How the Grinch Stole Christmas (2000)


Photo courtesy of Popmatters

2. Fake hair on the Grinch? Never. Every single hair on the suit Jim Carrey donned in Dr. Seuss’ How the Grinch Stole Christmas was real yak hair, individually dyed and sewn onto a lycra spandex suit. It took four months to make.

3. More than 250 pieces of knitwear were hand-knitted for the movie by three L.A.-based knitters in just four months.

Dr. Seuss' How the Grinch Stole Christmas Cartoon


Photo courtesy of Fanpop

4. Although Boris Karloff is credited as the singing voice behind “You’re a Mean One, Mr. Grinch” in the animated version of Dr. Seuss's story, that’s not the case. The memorable tune was actually sung by Thurl Ravenscroft, perhaps better known as the voice behind Tony the Tiger (and, my favorite, one of the singing busts in the Haunted Mansion at Disney parks). Ravenscroft was erroneously left off of the credits, however, and Dr. Seuss felt so bad about it that he personally called TV and entertainment columnists across the country to make sure they mentioned it, and also partnered with animator Chuck Jones to take out an ad in Variety thanking Thurl for his now-iconic work.

5. Neither movie was really faithful to Dr. Seuss' original representation of the Grinch, who was actually black and pink—not green.

Mickey’s Christmas Carol

Photo courtesy of Holiday Film Reviews

6. Mickey's Christmas Carol was the last time the voice of Donald Duck was provided by Clarence Nash, the original voice of Donald Duck.

7. The film also marked was the first time that Scrooge McDuck was voiced by Alan Young, who then went on to voice Scrooge for other Disney projects, including DuckTales. The 94-year-old Young actually still provides the voice for the billionaire duck, most recently for video games like DuckTales: Remastered and Kingdom Hearts: Birth by Sleep. You might also know Young as Wilbur from everybody's favorite talking horse sitcom, Mr. Ed.

The Nightmare Before Christmas

Photo courtesy of Fanpop

8. Tim Burton originally pitched the Nightmare Before Christmas concept to Disney in 1983, with the idea that it would be a short, low-budget, stop-motion TV special like the Rankin/Bass classics. Disney passed.

9. Jack Skellington had more than 400 heads that animators could switch out to provide a convincing spectrum of emotions.

10. Vincent Price was slated to do the voice of Santa Claus, but when recording started, his wife had recently passed away. Price’s despondency came through in his voiceover, and a local actor was used instead.

11. There was an alternate “Scooby Doo” ending that was storyboarded but never shot where it was revealed that Oogie Boogie was really Dr. Finkelstein in disguise.

12. The reference “tender lumplings everywhere” in the song “This is Halloween” is a reference to composer Danny Elfman’s years with the band Oingo Boingo. They had a song called “Tender Lumplings.”

Home Alone

Photo courtesy of The Week

13. My 8-year-old self was surely not alone in thinking that Kevin McCallister’s burglar booby traps were nothing short of genius. But were they really? Last year, Dr. Ryan St. Clair analyzed the actual physical harm that Kev’s creative weapons would have inflicted. The ones that could actually impair a dimwitted criminal: the iron to the face, the heated doorknob, the blowtorch to the scalp, and the paint can to the head. Check out his diagnoses here

14. Remember, if you will, the part in the movie where Kevin discovers a picture of his older brother’s girlfriend in his hidden stash of treasures and blurts, “Buzz, your girlfriend. Woof!” You don’t have to worry that this poor girl grew up to have all kinds of psychological problems based on the fact that millions of movie-goers laughed at her ugly mug. Director Chris Columbus was worried about this exact repercussion in the future, and dressed up a boy instead.

By the way, Woofmaker allows you to substitute any picture you want for Buzz’s girlfriend, then allows you to share it with your friends. Though they may not be your friends for very long if you’re using an unflattering photo of them. Not that I would do that.

Holiday Inn

Photo courtesy of In the Pastlane

15. “White Christmas” was written especially for this movie—not, funnily enough, for White Christmas, which came 12 years later.

16. Although the song has become one of the most popular holiday songs ever, Bing himself was unimpressed with his performance. “A jackdaw with a cleft palate could have sung it successfully,” he once said.

17. Named by founder Kemmons Wilson, the name of the Holiday Inn hotel chain was, in fact, inspired by this movie.

18. Though it’s often cut when aired on TV, Holiday Inn includes a song and dance number with Bing Crosby in blackface

White Christmas

Photo courtesy of Fanpop

19. You know the part in National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation where Clark references Bing Crosby tap dancing with Danny Kaye? This is the movie he’s talking about...

20. ...But it should have actually been Bing Crosby tap dancing with Fred Astaire. Astaire was slated to star with Der Bingle but dropped out after he read the script.

Babes in Toyland

21. The toy soldiers from 1961's Babes in Toyland also have a cameo in Mary Poppins, which was released three years later. Hint: They’re near the end.

Santa Claus: The Movie

Photo courtesy of MoviePosterShop.com

22. Producer Ilya Salkind thought Dudley Moore would make a great elf after remembering a scene in Arthur where Liza Minelli asks Moore’s character if he’s Santa’s Little Helper.

23. It’s been deemed one of the worst Christmas movies of all time by Alonso Duralde, author of Have Yourself a Movie Little Christmas.

Jingle All the Way

Photo courtesy of Screened

24. In 1998, a Detroit high school teacher named Brian Webster claimed that Jingle All the Way was a little too similar to a screenplay he had written called Could This Be Christmas? Though the court initially agreed with Mr. Webster, awarding $19 million, an appeal later overturned the decision.

25. Randy Kornfield wrote the screenplay for the movie after seeing his in-laws go to extreme lengths to obtain a Power Rangers toy for his son.

Original image
iStock
arrow
language
5 Quick Facts About the Hashtag
Original image
iStock

The use of the hashtag as a Twitter tool to denote a specific topic in order for the masses to follow along turns 10 years old today, having first been suggested (in a Tweet, naturally) by Silicon Valley regular and early adopter Chris Messina back in 2007. Here’s a little history on its evolution from the humble numerical sign to the social media giant it is today.

1. IT COMES FROM THE LATIN TERM FOR “POUND WEIGHT.”

There’s no definitive origin story for the hash (or pound) symbol, but one belief is that when 14th-century Latin began to abbreviate the term for pound weight—libra pondo—to “lb,” a horizontal slash was added to denote the letters were connected. (The bar was called a tittle.) As people began to write more quickly, the letters and the tittle became amalgamated, eventually morphing into the symbol we see today.

2. IT SHOULD ACTUALLY BE CALLED AN OCTOTHORPETAG.

The symbol portion of the hashtag eventually made its way to dial-button telephones, the result of AT&T looking forward to phones interacting with computers. In order to complete a square keypad with 10 digits (including 0), they added the numerical sign and an asterisk. AT&T employee Don MacPherson thought they sign needed a more official name, so he chose Octothorpe—“octo” because it has eight points, and “thorpe” because he was a fan of football hero Jim Thorpe.

3. TWITTER WASN’T BIG ON THE IDEA AT FIRST.

When web marketer Messina had the notion to add hashtags to keep track of conversations, he stopped by Twitter’s offices to make an informal pitch. He came at a bad time: co-founder Biz Stone was trying to get the software back online after a crash and dismissed the idea with a “Sure, we’ll get right on that” burn. Undeterred, Messina started using them and the habit caught on.

4. IT’S IN THE OXFORD DICTIONARY.

By 2014, respect for the hashtag had grown to the point where the venerable Oxford English Dictionary gave the word its stamp of approval. Their entry: "hashtag n. (on social media web sites and applications) a word or phrase preceded by a hash and used to identify messages relating to a specific topic; (also) the hash symbol itself, when used in this way."

5. THERE ARE SOME HASHTAG ALL-TIMERS.

Hashtags can highlight interest in everything from political movements to breaking news stories, but the frequency of their use is often tied into popular culture. The most popular TV-related tag has been #TheWalkingDead; #StarWars sees a lot of action; and #NFL dominates sports-related Tweets.  

Original image
Image Entertainment
arrow
entertainment
12 Sharp Facts About Hellraiser
Original image
Image Entertainment

In 1987, the New World Pictures released Hellraiser, a horror film about a family who opens a puzzle box and invites hell in their lives in the form of pleasure-pain creatures known as Cenobites, who are lead by Pinhead (played by Doug Bradley). Unlike many other horror films at the time, Hellraiser wasn’t a slasher film, and Pinhead wasn’t a boogeyman.

British novelist, playwright, and screenwriter Clive Barker wanted to direct a feature film, so he adapted his 1986 horror novella, The Hellbound Heart, into Hellraiser. Despite the graphic nature of the film, it’s really a love story between Julia Cotton and her demented—and skinless—lover Frank  ... whose relationship just so happens to revolve around sadistic torture.

Hellraiser was produced for around a $1 million and grossed $14 million, making it lucrative enough to spawn nine sequels, including this year’s Hellraiser: Judgment. (Bradley hasn’t starred in a Hellraiser film since 2011’s Hellraiser: Revelations, and Barker didn’t direct or write any of the sequels, most of which were direct-to-DVD releases.) As we near the 30th anniversary of its release, let's take a look back at this horror classic.

1. THE ORIGINS OF PINHEAD CAME FROM A 1973 PLAY.

Before Doug Bradley uttered the catchphrase “We’ll tear your soul apart,” Clive Barker directed him in a 1973 play called Hunters in the Snow, in which Bradley played the Dutchman, a torturer who would become the basis for Pinhead.

“The character I played in Hunters, the Dutchman, I can see echoes of later... Pinhead in Hellraiser," Bradley said. "This strange, strange character whose head was kind of empty but who conveyed all kinds of things.”

Barker’s mid-1980s short story “The Forbidden”—which was adapted into Candyman—from his "Books of Blood" series, featured the first incarnation of Pinhead’s nails. “One image I remember very strongly from 'The Forbidden' was that Clive had built what he called his nail-board, which was basically a block of wood which he’d squared off and then he’d banged six-inch nails in at the intersections of the squares,” Bradley said. “Of course, when I saw the first illustrations for [Pinhead], it rang a bell with me that here was Clive putting the ideas that he’d been playing around with the nail-board in 'The Forbidden,' now 10, 15 years later. He’d now put the image all over a human being’s face.”

2. CLIVE BARKER CAST “REAL ACTORS.”

Unlike many other horror movies of the time, which were more concerned with gore than great acting, Barker insisted that they look for real talent in the casting. “I’m not just taking the 12 most beautiful youths in California and murdering them,” Barker told The Washington Post in 1987. “I’ve got real actors, real performers—and then I’m murdering them.” The “real” refers to British theater actors like Bradley, Clare Higgins, and Andrew Robinson.

3. PINHEAD WASN’T SUPPOSED TO BE ON THE POSTER.

New World Pictures

Bradley said the filmmakers wanted skinned Frank to be on the poster, but the studio said no to the grotesque imagery, so Pinhead was used on the poster instead. “Maybe that came from Clive, because what we get in that image of Pinhead with the box is the heart of the Hellraiser mythology,” Bradley said. “If you put The Engineer or the skinned man on the poster, it’s an amazing image but it’s just an image, and it could come from any movie.” Bradley thought using Pinhead’s face made more sense. “The big success of Pinhead is because the image is so original, so startling. It is just an incredible image to look at, and that made a big difference in terms of the public's perception of the movie.”

4. NO ONE KNEW THAT DOUG BRADLEY WAS PINHEAD.

Bradley’s Pinhead mug was everywhere—on the cover of magazines and on the movie’s poster—but no one mentioned his name. “It was great to be so heavily featured, but there was no way to prove to anyone that it was actually me,” Bradley said. “Those who were following Hellraiser at the time were wondering where the guy with the pins was! Well I can tell you where I was—I was sitting at home in England, watching it all happen from the sidelines.”

5. THE CENOBITES' DESIGN WAS INSPIRED BY S&M CLUBS.

In the box set’s liner notes, Barker wrote that the Cenobites's “design was influenced amongst other things by punk, by Catholicism, and by the visits I would take to S&M clubs in New York and Amsterdam.” Costume designer Jane Wildgoose created the costumes, based on Barker’s instruction of “repulsive glamour.”

“The other notes that I made about what he wanted was that they should be ‘magnificent super-butchers,’” Wildgoose said.

As for Pinhead, Barker said he “had seen a book containing photographs of African fetishes: sculptures of human heads crudely carved from wood and then pierced with dozens, sometimes hundreds, of nails and spikes. They were images of rage, the text instructed.”

6. IT'S REALLY A LOVE STORY.

Image Entertainment

Julia is forced to bring men back to her house and murder them for Frank so that he can replenish his flesh. Barker looked at Hellraiser as more of a love story, with Julia committing these heinous acts in the name of love, not just to be brutal for no reason.

“She’s not committing murder in the way that Jason in the Friday the 13th films commits murder—just for the sake of blood-letting —she’s doing it for love,” Barker told Samhain. “So there is a sympathetic quality about her, enhanced hugely in my estimation by the fact that Clare Higgins does it so well.”

7. BARKER’S GRANDFATHER INSPIRED THE PUZZLE BOX.

When a person twists the box, known as the Lament Configuration, it summons the Cenobites from the gates of hell into the individual's world. “I wanted to have access to hell in the book and in the first movie, explored by something rather different than drawing a circle on the floor with magical symbols around it,” Barker told WIRED. “That seemed rather stale and rather old.”

Barker explained his grandfather was a cook on ship and brought back a puzzle box from the Far East. “So when I went back to the problem of how to open the doors of hell, the idea of [using] a puzzle box seemed interesting to me. You know, the image of a cube is everywhere in world culture, whether it’s the Rubik’s Cube or the idea of the [Tesseract] in The Avengers movies. There’s a lot of places where the image of a cube as a thing of power is pertinent. I don’t know why that is, I don’t have any mythic explanation for it, but it seems to work for people.”

8. ROGER EBERT WASN'T A FAN OF THE FILM.

Roger Ebert gave Hellraiser just a half star when he reviewed it in 1987. “Who goes to see movies like this? This is a movie without wit, style, or reason,” he wrote, adding that, “I have seen the future of implausible plotting, and his name is Clive Barker.”

9. SOMEONE HAD THE JOB OF MAGGOT AND COCKROACH WRANGLER.

In England, there was a law in which cockroaches of both sexes weren’t allowed on set, because they could have mated and caused an infestation. So Barker had to hire someone to oversee the situation. “The wrangler, this is the honest truth, had to sex the roaches,” Barker told an audience at a Hellraiser screening. “They were all male. And we had a fridge. They move very fast, so the only way to slow them down was to chill them. We chilled the maggots and the roaches. We'd open it up and it was all reassuring. It was fun.”

10. BARKER PREFERS "HELL PRIEST" TO "PINHEAD."

In The Hellbound Heart, the Cenobite with pins sticking out of his head is called The Hell Priest. One of the special effects guys who worked on the movie gave the character his nickname. “I thought it was a rather undignified thing to call the monster, but once it stuck, it stuck,” Barker told Grantland.

In 2015, Barker published a sequel to The Hellbound Heart, The Scarlet Gospels, which features Pinhead getting annoyed when people call him that—as well as Pinhead’s demise. “He will not be coming back, by the way," Barker said. "That I promise you."

11. A HELLRAISER VS. HALLOWEEN MOVIE ALMOST HAPPENED.

In an interview with Game Radar, Bradley said the success of Freddy vs. Jason led Hellraiser distributor Dimension Films to flirt with a Hellraiser vs. Halloween film. “I was actually getting excited by the prospect of this because Clive said he would write it and John Carpenter said he would direct it,” Bradley said. “I actually spoke to Clive about it a couple of times and he was interested in finding the places where the Halloween and Hellraiser worlds intermeshed.” But Moustapha Akkad, who owned the rights to Halloween, extinguished the idea.

12. THE BRITISH BOARD OF FILM CLASSIFICATION HAD TO CHECK THAT NO RATS WERE HARMED IN THE MAKING OF THE MOVIE.

While the MPAA requested that a spanking scene be cut for its American release, England's BBFC agreed to release the movie as it was, if they were assured that the rats used in the film weren’t hurt. “I had to bring three remote-control rats into the censor’s office and make them wriggle about on the floor,” producer Christopher Figg told The Telegraph. “They wanted to be sure we hadn’t been cruel to them.”

SECTIONS

arrow
LIVE SMARTER
More from mental floss studios