Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Hazardous Holidays

Nothing says Christmas like a tale of disaster.

Okay, it's true.... I have sappy, bring-tears-to-your-eyes tales from my childhood...complete with warm cocoa and footie pajamas reading stories featuring Santa and Rudolf. We had the tree and presents and friends and family and everything one might expect from a beautiful, indulgent, fortunate Christmas. And when my son was young, I recreated those scenes: I tied the bow on the dog, hoisted the angel atop the tree, and brought in a mound of presents. And of course we loved all the great holiday shows: Peanuts and the Grinch (tops in my book) and It's a Wonderful Life, and the fabulous campy antics of that wacky quartet in A White Christmas.

But one of my fondest memories of my youth is when I escaped from the family festivities one Christmas afternoon with a bunch of other adolescent malcontents and went to see that unbeatable double feature of damnation: Earthquake and the Towering Inferno. Now that's a holiday.
Maybe it's partly in reaction to all the joy (genuine and forced) around me, but I like to celebrate the season with a smattering of mayhem and End of Days and imminent cataclysm. And clearly I'm not the only one: I am never alone in the theater on Christmas Day.
Here are a few other catastrophic favorites: The Poseidon Adventure (the original, of course), Airport (hole in the cockpit...Classic!), The Andromeda Strain (blood turns into powder! Gnarly!), and who could forget Soylent Green? (It's PEOPLE!!!)

I realize I'm giving away my age. Yes, I was raised during that golden era of disaster movies: the 70s. More recently there have been some pale imitations: The Day After Tomorrow, Independence Day, Volcano, Deep Impact. They don't have the same oomph, exactly, as those early calamitous movies...but the smell of popcorn and Red Vines never changes.

(Looking for a movie the whole family can enjoy? Fargo is always a crowd favorite, even though you have to re-create the theater at home. And it's not really a disaster movie per se, but the leg-in-the-wood-chipper scene makes it say "holiday" in my book.)

This year? Wanna see stuff get destroyed? I recommend "2012". They seriously blow s**t up, and then send the rest (Los Angeles first) to the bottom of the ocean. Awesome.
And if you're looking for me on December 25, I'll be at my local theater, the venerable Grand Lake (complete with a Mighty Wurlitzer), at the matinee for The Road, a post-apocalyptic world where hottie Viggo Mortensen still reigns supreme.

That's my kind of holiday movie.


Adrienne Bell said...

About five years ago we started a tradition of watching the 1942 Son of Frankenstein after Thanksgiving dinner at my parent's house. Weirdest movie ever. Not a disaster flick, but there is a volcano in it...seriously.

Juliet Blackwell said...

I love it! That's going right on my holiday list!

Sophie Littlefield said...

oh, I still remember the bad-girl thrill the first time I went to the movies on a holiday (though I think it was thanksgiving)....there is something really delicious about sneaking away from all that feel-good. You're my kinda movie date, J!

L.G.C. Smith said...

Viggo has a new movie? Ooh. Good to know for that holiday moment when I will want to go apocalyptic on some unsuspecting soul or item of decor. It always comes. What better way to channel the urge to destroy the gingerbread house?

Mario Acevedo said...

To me, nothing says The Holidays like a Dirty Harry-The Wild Bunch marathon.

Anonymous said...

Jules, Only you can write a blog about Thanksgiving and have it be all about movies. You forgot to mention that it was a way for all of us to escape the Open House tedium at the Heskett's. But you are right, nothing says Turkey day like a good ol' disaster movie. Have a great Thanksgiving.

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