Thursday, December 23, 2010

Terrifying Family Films - A Christmas Story

In the spirit of the holidays, I thought I’d discuss my favorite Christmas movie ever: A Christmas Story. When I started outlining this piece, I realized something. This movie, while it’s amazing and hilarious, is kind of scary. I’ve unintentionally dug up some repressed feelings and am therefore dusting off a series I call Terrifying Family Films. Here are the top five real reasons your kids will be up all night Christmas Eve.

1.) I think we can all agree that the pivotal moment when Ralphie tells Santa his wish, and is subsequently pushed down the slide, is pretty freaky. The elves are mean and Santa looks like the devil. The thing that really gave me nightmares was that slide. I don’t know why; maybe because it was bright red or because it was monstrously huge and out of place. I had night terrors as a kid and the majority of them were about plummeting to my death on a long slide like that. Usually there was no end to the slide, but every so often I fell into the Sarlac pit from Return of the Jedi.

2.) At one point in the film, Ralphie’s teacher Miss Shields and his mom are dressed as a witch and a harlequin and proceed to make fun of him. I hated this scene. If you can’t trust your mom or your teacher, who can you trust?

3.) If you can watch A Christmas Story without feeling a little anxiety when Scut Farkus comes around, you probably are Scut Farkus. If so, stay far away from me because you are absolutely grotesque. The braces, freckles, and yellow eyes - yikes! And you’re so mean. Making kids cry, shame on you. As horrible as you are, Ralphie’s final battle with you is glorious.

4.) Some of you may not recall this absolutely terrifying scene, however, I can quote every line. After Ralphie say’s “Fudge” (And by the way, did any kid understand this joke? I did not. For many years I thought Fudge was a swear word.) Anyway, his mother puts soap in his mouth and then asks where he heard the particular word. Ralphie totally narks on his buddy Schwartz. Mrs. Parker calls Schwartz’s mom. Mrs. Schwartz freaks the fudge out, and we listen as she beats him. "Ahhh what'd I do mom!? What'd I do!?"

5.) Finally, and the most horrible of all, the tongue on the frosty pole scene. The lead up to this scene is tense, but it’s not scary. The triple-dog-dare is mean, but not scary. The fact that all Flick’s friends leave him stuck to the pole and not inform anyone of his predicament is sick, but not scary. The scary part, the scariest part of the whole movie, is when they bring Flick back inside and he’s got gauze on his tongue. However, as a kid, I was convinced that the firemen had ripped off half his tongue, and the white stuff was the inside of his tongue. What a great Christmas movie mom and dad!

All kidding aside, I love this movie. A Christmas Story is one of America’s most cherished films and I watch it all day on Christmas just like the rest of you. The bunny pajamas, Randy in his huge coat, the crummy commercial for Ovaltine, and of course the leg lamp are all iconic film moments all surprisingly found in the same movie. How can one movie have so many great scenes? I think we've all seen this movie so many times we forget how truly great it is. I wish I could go back and watch it for the first time all over again.

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