7 Christmas Movie Sequels You've Probably Never Heard Of

Warner Home Video
Warner Home Video

Whether it's A Christmas Story, It’s a Wonderful Life, Miracle on 34th Street, or Die Hard, everyone has his or her own go-to Christmas movies. Then there are the holiday movies that have been consigned to the Island of Misfit Christmas Movie Sequels—movies that people don’t love, because they just plain don’t know about. (Though, admittedly, film quality may also often play a part.) Here are seven examples of the latter.

1. NATIONAL LAMPOON’S CHRISTMAS VACATION 2: COUSIN EDDIE’S ISLAND ADVENTURE (2003)

Fourteen years after rolling up to Clark Griswold’s house in a run-down old RV in 1989’s National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation, Cousin Eddie (Randy Quaid) got a seasonal saga of his own with the made-for-TV Christmas Vacation 2: Cousin Eddie’s Island Adventure. This time around, Eddie and his family—including wife Catherine (Miriam Flynn, reprising her role along with Quaid) and Ed Asner as “Uncle Nick”—find themselves celebrating Christmas while trapped on a tropical island. Matty Simmons, producer of the other four Vacation movies, wrote the screenplay. He has only penned one movie since, National Lampoon’s Pucked, starring Jon Bon Jovi. (Yes, that’s real.)

2. AND 3. HOME ALONE 4: TAKING BACK THE HOUSE (2002) AND HOME ALONE: THE HOLIDAY HEIST (2012)

You know about Home Alone and Home Alone 2: Lost in New York. You might know about the Macaulay Culkin-less Home Alone 3; it did get a theatrical release, after all. But, zombie-like, the franchise kept shambling along with two TV movies, released in 2002 and 2012. (We’ll be due for another in 2022.) The first, Home Alone 4: Taking Back the House, yet again puts Kevin McCallister (Mike Weinberg) in the position of having to defend his house—actually his divorced dad’s girlfriend’s house, where he’s spending Christmas—from thieves. Those thieves are played by French Stewart and Missi Pyle, the first stepping in for Daniel Stern as the dim-witted Marv.

Though Home Alone: The Holiday Heist opted for a brand new set of characters, the set-up is the same: Christmas, thieves, a booby-trapped house, etc. etc. The thieves this time around are played by Debi Mazar, My Name is Earl's Eddie Steeples, and … Malcolm McDowell?

4. A CHRISTMAS STORY 2 (2012)

Since time immemorial, TBS has captivated viewers with their 24-hour marathon of A Christmas Story. No such love is given to its 2012 sequel, A Christmas Story 2, probably because no one realizes it’s a thing. This direct-to-video sequel takes place five years after the first movie; Ralphie, having worn down his father enough to get a Red Ryder carbine action 200-shot range model air rifle, now has his heart set on a car. The two films have no cast or crew in common; the biggest name in the sequel is Daniel Stern, who cut his Christmas chops on (some of) the aforementioned Home Alone movies. There’s actually an earlier, non-holiday based A Christmas Story sequel, titled My Summer Story (released in theaters in 1994 as It Runs in the Family), that follows Ralphie and his family's summer shenanigans. That one was written and directed by the same people who did A Christmas Story, though since it was made 11 years later, its core cast had to be replaced. Here, Ralphie and his parents are played by Kieran Culkin, Charles Grodin, and Mary Steenburgen, with Christian Culkin as Randy.

5. ELF: BUDDY’S MUSICAL CHRISTMAS (2014)

A year after NBC’s The Sound of Music Live! kicked off the current televised musical trend, the peacock network tried its hand with a new version of Jon Favreau’s modern Christmas classic Elf. OK, Elf: Buddy’s Musical Christmas isn’t really a sequel—it’s more a condensed mash-up of Elf and its musical adaptation, Elf: The Musical. Oh, and did we mention it’s in stop-motion? Jim Parsons voices the Christmas-loving Buddy, a human raised as an Elf at the North Pole, with voiceover expert (and Jedi) Mark Hamill playing his Scrooge-like father, Walter.

6. SANTA BABY 2: CHRISTMAS MAYBE (2009)

Back in 2006, ABC Family aired the made-for-TV Christmas movie Santa Baby, starring Jenny McCarthy as Mary, a woman struggling with the decision to leave her career as a high-powered businesswoman in order to go back home and help her father with his business when he becomes sick. Oh, and her father is Santa Claus. Santa Baby was so successful that it garnered a sequel, Santa Baby 2: Christmas Maybe. (Not, in fact, written by Carly Rae Jepsen.) This time around, Mary has to step in and save Christmas when her father has a midlife crisis and an agitator at the North Pole tries to get the elves to go on strike. Just what one expects in ABC Family Christmas movies: labor disputes!

7. RUDOLPH AND FROSTY’S CHRISTMAS IN JULY (1979)

There have been a handful of sequels to the classic Rankin and Bass Christmas special Frosty the Snowman, two of them by Rankin and Bass themselves. The first one, 1976’s Frosty’s Winter Wonderland, involves Frosty’s young friends building him a wife named Crystal. The second is ever-so-slightly more ambitious: One hour and 37 minutes long, compared to 25 and 24 minutes for the previous films, 1979’s Rudolph and Frosty’s Christmas in July involves a plot by the evil wizard Winterbolt to destroy the magic that makes Rudolph’s nose glow. (It was put there by the Aurora Borealis. Just go with it.)

Also present in Rudolph and Frosty’s Christmas in July are: A circus, run by a character voiced by Ethel Merman; an evil carney trying to take over that circus; Santa in a hot air balloon; an evil reindeer named Scratcher; “Reinsnakes”; and a scene where Frosty, Crystal, and their two kids melt to death in the hot Florida sun. Merry Christmas!

10 Sweet Facts About Napoleon Dynamite

© 2004 Twentieth Century Fox
© 2004 Twentieth Century Fox

ChapStick, llamas, and tater tots are just a few things that appear in Napoleon Dynamite, a cult film shot for a mere $400,000 that went on to gross $44.5 million. In 2002, Brigham Young University film student Jared Hess filmed a black-and-white short, Peluca, with his classmate Jon Heder. The film got accepted into the Slamdance Film Festival, which gave Hess the courage to adapt it into a feature. Hess used his real-life upbringing in Preston, Idaho—he had six brothers and his mom owned llamas—to form the basis of the movie, about a nerdy teenager named Napoleon (Heder) who encourages his friend Pedro (Efren Ramirez) to run for class president.

In 2004, the indie film screened at Sundance, and was quickly purchased by Fox Searchlight and Paramount, then released less than six months later. Today, the film remains so popular that in 2016 Pedro and Napoleon reunited for a cheesy tots Burger King commercial. To celebrated the film's 15th anniversary, here are some facts about the ever-quotable comedy.

1. Deb is based on Jerusha Hess.

Jared Hess’s wife Jerusha co-wrote the film and based Deb on her own life. “Her mom made her a dress when she was going to a middle school dance and she said, ‘I hadn’t really developed yet, so my mom overcompensated and made some very large, fluffy shoulders,’” Jared told Rolling Stone. “Some guy dancing with her patted the sleeves and actually said, ‘I like your sleeves … they’re real big.'"

Tina Majorino, who played the fictional Deb, hadn’t done a comedy before, because people thought of her as a dramatic actress. "The fact that Jared would even let me come in and read really appealed to me," she told Rolling Stone. "Even if I didn’t get the role, I just wanted to see what it was like to audition for a comedy, as I’d never done it before."

2. Napoleon's famous dance scene was the result of having extra film stock.

At the end of shooting Peluca, Hess had a minute of film stock left and knew Heder liked to dance. Heder had on moon boots—something Hess used to wear—so they traveled to the end of a dirt road. They turned on the car radio and Jamiroquai’s “Canned Heat” was playing. “I just told him to start dancing and realized: This is how we’ve got to end the film,” Hess told Rolling Stone. “You don’t anticipate those kinds of things. They’re just part of the creative process.”

Heder told HuffPost he found inspiration in Michael Jackson and dancing in front of a mirror, for the end-of-the-movie skit. But when it came time to film the dance for the feature, Heder felt "pressure" to deliver. “I was like, ‘Oh, crap!’ This isn’t just a silly little scene,” he told PDX Monthly. “This is the moment where everything comes, and he’s making the sacrifice for his friend. That’s the whole theme of the movie. Everything leads up to this. Napoleon’s been this loser. This has to be the moment where he lands a victory.” Instead of hiring a choreographer, the filmmakers told him to “just figure it out.” They filmed the scene three times with three different songs, including Jamiroquai’s “Little L” and “Canned Heat.”

3. Napoleon Dynamitefans still flock to Preston, Idaho to tour the movie's locations.

In a 2016 interview with The Salt Lake Tribune, The Preston Citizen’s circulation manager, Rhonda Gregerson, said “every summer at least 50 groups of fans walk into the office wanting to know more about the film.” She said people come from all over the world to see Preston High School, Pedro’s house, and other filming locations as a layover before heading to Yellowstone National Park. “If you talk to a lot of people in Preston, you’ll find a lot of people who have become a bit sick of it,” Gregerson said. “I still think it’s great that there’s still so much interest in the town this long after the movie.”

Besides the filming locations, the town used to host a Napoleon Dynamite festival. In 2005, the fest drew about 6000 people and featured a tater tot eating contest, a moon boot dancing contest, boondoggle keychains for sale, and a tetherball tournament. The fest was last held in 2008.

4. Idaho adopted a resolution commending the filmmakers.

'Napoleon Dynamite' filmmakers Jerusha and Jared Hess
Jerusha and Jared Hess
Frederick M. Brown, Getty Images

In 2005, the Idaho legislature wrote a resolution praising Jared and Jerusha Hess and the city of Preston. HCR029 appreciates the use of tater tots for “promoting Idaho’s most famous export.” It extols bicycling and skateboarding to promote “better air quality,” and it says Kip and LaFawnduh’s relationship “is a tribute to e-commerce and Idaho’s technology-driven industry.” The resolution goes on to say those who “vote Nay on this concurrent resolution are Freakin’ Idiots.” Napoleon would be proud.

5. Napoleon was a different kind of nerd.

Sure, he was awkward, but Napoleon wasn’t as intelligent as other film nerds. “He’s not a genius,” Heder told HuffPost. “Maybe he’s getting good grades, but he’s not excelling; he’s just socially awkward. He doesn’t know how much of an outcast he is, and that’s what gives him that confidence. He’s trying to be cool sometimes, but mostly he just goes for it and does it.”

6. The title sequence featured several different sets of hands..

Eight months before the theatrical release, Fox Searchlight had Hess film a title sequence that made it clear that the film took place in 2004, not in the ’80s or ’90s. Napoleon’s student ID reveals the events occur during the 2004-2005 school year. Heder’s hands move the objects in and out of the frame, but Fox didn’t like his hangnails. “They flew out a hand model a couple weeks later, who had great hands, but was five or six shades darker than Jon Heder,” Hess told Art of the Title. “If you look, there are like three different dudes’ hands—our producer’s are in there, too.”

7. Napoleon Dynamite messed up Netflix's algorithms.

Beginning in 2006, Cinematch—Netflix’s recommendation algorithm software—held a contest called The Netflix Prize. Anyone who could make Cinematch’s predictions at least 10 percent more accurate would win $1 million. Computer scientist Len Bertoni had trouble predicting whether people would like Napoleon Dynamite. Bertoni told The New York Times the film is “polarizing,” and the Netflix ratings are either one or five stars. If he could accurately predict whether people liked the movie, Bertoni said, then he’d come much closer to winning the prize. That didn’t happen for him.

The contest finally ended in 2009 when Netflix awarded the grand prize to BellKor’s Pragmatic Chaos, who developed a 10.06 percent improvement over Cinematch’s score.

8. Napoleon accidentally got a bad perm.


© 2004 Twentieth Century Fox

Heder got his hair permed the night before shooting began—but something went wrong. Heder called Jared and said, “‘Yeah, I got the perm but it’s a little bit different than it was before,’” Hess told Rolling Stone. “He showed up the night before shooting and he looked like Shirley Temple! The curls were huge!” They didn’t have much time to fix the goof, so Hess enlisted Jerusha and her cousin to re-perm it. It worked, but Jon wasn’t allowed to wash his hair for the next three weeks. “So he had this stinky ‘do in the Idaho heat for three weeks,” Jared said. “We were shooting near dairy farms and there were tons of flies; they were all flying in and out of his hair.”

9. LaFawnduh's real-life family starred in the film.

Shondrella Avery played LaFawnduh, the African American girlfriend of Kip, Napoleon’s older brother (played by Aaron Ruell). Before filming, Hess phoned Avery and said, “‘You remember that there were no black people in Preston, Idaho, right? Do you think your family might want to be in the movie?’ And that’s how it happened,” Avery told Los Angeles Weekly. Her actual family shows up at the end when LaFawnduh and Kip get married.

10. A short-lived animated series acted as a sequel.

In 2012, Fox aired six episodes of Napoleon Dynamite the animated series before they canceled it. All of the original actors returned to supply voices to their characters. The only difference between the film and the series is Kip is not married. Heder told Rolling Stone the episodes are as close to a sequel as fans will get. “If you sit down and watch those back to back, you’ve got yourself a sequel,” he said. “Because you’ve got all the same characters and all the same actors.”

This story has been updated for 2019.

Harry Potter Fans Are Waiting 10 Hours or More to Ride Hagrid’s Roller Coaster

Universal Orlando
Universal Orlando

Muggles will do anything to be a part of the Wizarding World of Harry Potter.

Universal Orlando opened up its newest ride this week at its version of Hogsmeade, the village that surrounds Hogwarts castle. Hagrid's Magical Creatures Motorbike Adventure takes wannabe wizards and witches on a twisting, high-speed flight through the mystical Forbidden Forest.

Diehard fans began waiting overnight outside the park in anticipation of the ride, and it looks like just about everyone had the same idea. At 8:30 a.m. on opening day, the line was already eight hours long, and quickly stretched to 10 hours long by 10:30 a.m., CNN reports.

The line is worth the wait for many fans of the franchise. As Potterheads already know, Rubeus Hagrid, beloved friend of Harry Potter and the gang, has a special affinity for mysterious creatures. So who better to see the beasts of the forest with than the half-giant?

Participants on the ride can choose to sit in Hagrid’s sidecar or in the driver’s seat. The winding track includes appearances by some of our favorite wizards, like Arthur Weasley, and creatures benevolent and otherwise, such as Cornish pixies, massive spiders, and the three-headed dog, Fluffy.

Fans aren’t the only ones wanting to experience the ride. Some of the stars of the film series had a little reunion in Orlando this week to celebrate the opening, including Rupert Grint (Ron Weasley), Tom Felton (Draco Malfoy) and Evanna Lynch (Luna Lovegood).

Unlike the fans, however, they have magic (fame) to keep them from having to wait in 10-hour lines.

Happy riding, Potterheads!

[h/t CNN]

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