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National Lampoon Christmas Vacation Randy Quaid

Cheer All Year

10 Christmas Movies That Are Great Any Time of Year

Catch National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation Saturday, June 25th starting at 8P during IFC's Halfway to Christmas.

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Photo Credit: Warner Bros./Everett Collection

There’s no escaping the holiday spirit, even when it’s hot enough to melt a snowman. With the Griswold family and National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation bringing IFC some Christmas spirit in July, we thought we’d offer up list of holiday flicks that are perfect to watch any time. What better way to cool off than with a wintry blast of warped holiday cheer?

1. The Ref

Ref
Touchstone Pictures

In this underrated dark comedy, Denis Leary’s hapless criminal accidentally saves Christmas by breaking into a home and taking the family hostage. It turns out that an armed and dangerous fugitive is the only force capable of getting the bickering couple to talk through their feelings and save their family.


2. The Ice Harvest

Ice Harvest
Focus Features

This Harold Ramis crime caper has our “heroes” helping themselves to a gift of millions of dollars in Mob money, only to find themselves spending Christmas Eve in a strip club waiting out an ice storm. Turns out it’s not just family dinners which can lead to awkward conversations.


3. Batman Returns

Tim Burton’s weirdest Batman film is also one of his most Christmas-y — which is saying a lot coming from the guy who brought us The Nightmare Before Christmas. It’s the only Batman film to feature both a Christmas tree lighting ceremony and a kiss under the mistletoe that quickly turns awkward.


4. Santa Claus Conquers the Martians

Martians
Embassy Pictures

The red suited man brings joy to the red planet in this utterly unique interplanetary invasion. A cult classic raised from cinematic obscurity by Mystery Science Theater 3000, it’s a movie that’s fun to gather together with friends and poke fun at any time of year.


5. Kiss Kiss Bang Bang

Kiss Kiss Bang Bang
Warner Bros.

Writer/director Shane Black (Lethal Weapon, Iron Man 3) has set many of his action movie scripts at Christmas, giving them a darkly satirical edge. His 2005 crime flick gives Robert Downey, Jr. and Val Kilmer some of the funniest moments of their careers, as they try to survive the holiday season in Hollyweird.


6. 3 Godfathers

A Christmas western, with the spirit of the season sprinkled through the most snow-less environment on earth: Death Valley. John Wayne is the leader of three unlikely wise men bringing a newborn child to New Jerusalem in time for Christmas.


7. Gremlins

When watched in December with a steaming mug of cocoa, Joe Dante’s horror comedy plays as a twisted take on It’s a Wonderful Life. But it’s still loads of fun when the thermometer is in the red thanks to its zany, Warner Bros. cartoon-esque energy and special effects that hold up better than other ’80s classics we grew up watching. Plus, Phoebe Cates’ iconic monologue about the worst Christmas ever is even more absurd when viewed with a nice cold lemonade and steaks on the grill.


8. Bad Santa

Terry Zwigoff’s warped, NSFW comedy has a nice message about good will towards men and all that stuff, but it’s mostly just a great, underrated comedy featuring hilarious performances from Billy Bob Thornton, Bernie Mac, John Ritter and more. The film has developed such a cult following over the years, there’s even a sequel coming. Badder Santa, perhaps?


9. National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation

Wrapped Cat Vacation
Warner Bros.

Easily a high point of the Vacation series, this John Hughes-scripted laughfest came a full year before his other holiday favorite involving severe bodily harm. But unlike Home Alone, this one features Chevy Chase encountering a seriously irate squirrel.


10. Die Hard

The fact that Die Hard is set at Christmas is just a happy accident — it’s a film we can’t stop watching no matter what time of year. What other action hero leaves a holiday message written on a dead bad guy?

We’re halfway to Christmas! Celebrate with National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation on IFC.

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SO EXCITED!!!

Reminders that the ’90s were a thing

"The Place We Live" is available for a Jessie Spano-level binge on Comedy Crib.

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GIFs via Giphy

Unless you stopped paying attention to the world at large in 1989, you are of course aware that the ’90s are having their pop cultural second coming. Nobody is more acutely aware of this than Dara Katz and Betsy Kenney, two comedians who met doing improv comedy and have just made their Comedy Crib debut with the hilarious ’90s TV throwback series, The Place We Live.

IFC: How would you describe “The Place We Live” to a fancy network executive you just met in an elevator?

Dara: It’s everything you loved–or loved to hate—from Melrose Place and 90210 but condensed to five minutes, funny (on purpose) and totally absurd.

IFC: How would you describe “The Place We Live” to a drunk friend of a friend you met in a bar?

Betsy: “Hey Todd, why don’t you have a sip of water. Also, I think you’ll love The Place We Live because everyone has issues…just like you, Todd.”

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IFC: When you were living through the ’90s, did you think it was television’s golden age or the pop culture apocalypse?


Betsy: I wasn’t sure I knew what it was, I just knew I loved it!


Dara: Same. Was just happy that my parents let me watch. But looking back, the ’90s honored The Teen. And for that, it’s the golden age of pop culture. 

IFC: Which ’90s shows did you mine for the series, and why?

Betsy: Melrose and 90210 for the most part. If you watch an episode of either of those shows you’ll see they’re a comedic gold mine. In one single episode, they cover serious crimes, drug problems, sex and working in a law firm and/or gallery, all while being young, hot and skinny.


Dara: And almost any series we were watching in the ’90s, Full House, Saved By the Bell, My So Called Life has very similar themes, archetypes and really stupid-intense drama. We took from a lot of places. 

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IFC: How would you describe each of the show’s characters in terms of their ’90s TV stereotype?

Dara: Autumn (Sunita Mani) is the femme fatale. Robin (Dara Katz) is the book worm (because she wears glasses). Candace (Betsy Kenney) is Corey’s twin and gives great advice and has really great hair. Corey (Casey Jost) is the boy next door/popular guy. Candace and Corey’s parents decided to live in a car so the gang can live in their house. 
Lee (Jonathan Braylock) is the jock.

IFC: Why do you think the world is ready for this series?

Dara: Because everyone’s feeling major ’90s nostalgia right now, and this is that, on steroids while also being a totally new, silly thing.

Delight in the whole season of The Place We Live right now on IFC’s Comedy Crib. It’ll take you back in all the right ways.

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New Nasty

Whips, Chains and Hand Sanitizer

Turn On The Full Season Of Neurotica At IFC's Comedy Crib

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Jenny Jaffe has a lot going on: She’s writing for Disney’s upcoming Big Hero 6: The Series, developing comedy projects with pals at Devastator Press, and she’s straddling the line between S&M and OCD as the creator and star of the sexyish new series Neurotica, which has just made its debut on IFC’s Comedy Crib. Jenny gave us some extremely intimate insight into what makes Neurotica (safely) sizzle…

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IFC: How would you describe Neurotica to a fancy network executive you met in an elevator?

Jenny: Neurotica is about a plucky Dominatrix with OCD trying to save her small-town dungeon.

IFC: How would you describe Neurotica to a drunk friend of a friend you met in a bar?

Jenny: Neurotica is about a plucky Dominatrix with OCD trying to save her small-town dungeon. You’re great. We should get coffee sometime. I’m not just saying that. I know other people just say that sometimes but I really feel like we’re going to be friends, you know? Here, what’s your number, I’ll call you so you can have my number!

IFC: What’s your comedy origin story?

Jenny: Since I was a kid I’ve dealt with severe OCD and anxiety. Comedy has always been one of the ways I’ve dealt with that. I honestly just want to help make people feel happy for a few minutes at a time.

IFC: What was the genesis of Neurotica?

Jenny: I’m pretty sure it was a title-first situation. I was coming up with ideas to pitch to a production company a million years ago (this isn’t hyperbole; I am VERY old) and just wrote down “Neurotica”; then it just sort of appeared fully formed. “Neurotica? Oh it’s an over-the-top romantic comedy about a Dominatrix with OCD, of course.” And that just happened to hit the buttons of everything I’m fascinated by.

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IFC: How would you describe Ivy?

Jenny: Ivy is everything I love in a comedy character – she’s tenacious, she’s confident, she’s sweet, she’s a big wonderful weirdo.

IFC: How would Ivy’s clientele describe her?

Jenny:  Open-minded, caring, excellent aim.

IFC: Why don’t more small towns have local dungeons?

Jenny: How do you know they don’t?

IFC: What are the pros and cons of joining a chain mega dungeon?

Jenny: You can use any of their locations but you’ll always forget you have a membership and in a year you’ll be like “jeez why won’t they let me just cancel?”

IFC: Mouths are gross! Why is that?

Jenny: If you had never seen a mouth before and I was like “it’s a wet flesh cave with sharp parts that lives in your face”, it would sound like Cronenberg-ian body horror. All body parts are horrifying. I’m kind of rooting for the singularity, I’d feel way better if I was just a consciousness in a cloud.

See the whole season of Neurotica right now on IFC’s Comedy Crib.

The-Craft

The ’90s Are Back

The '90s live again during IFC's weekend marathon.

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Photo Credit: Everett Digital, Columbia Pictures

We know what you’re thinking: “Why on Earth would anyone want to reanimate the decade that gave us Haddaway, Los Del Rio, and Smash Mouth, not to mention Crystal Pepsi?”

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Thoughts like those are normal. After all, we tend to remember lasting psychological trauma more vividly than fleeting joy. But if you dig deep, you’ll rediscover that the ’90s gave us so much to fondly revisit. Consider the four pillars of true ’90s culture.

Boy Bands

We all pretended to hate them, but watch us come alive at a karaoke bar when “I Want It That Way” comes on. Arguably more influential than Brit Pop and Grunge put together, because hello – Justin Timberlake. He’s a legitimate cultural gem.

Man-Child Movies

Adam Sandler is just behind The Simpsons in terms of his influence on humor. Somehow his man-child schtick didn’t get old until the aughts, and his success in that arena ushered in a wave of other man-child movies from fellow ’90s comedians. RIP Chris Farley (and WTF Rob Schneider).

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Teen Angst

In horror, dramas, comedies, and everything in between: Troubled teens! Getting into trouble! Who couldn’t relate to their First World problems, plaid flannels, and lose grasp of the internet?

Mainstream Nihilism

From the Coen Bros to Fincher to Tarantino, filmmakers on the verge of explosive popularity seemed interested in one thing: mind f*cking their audiences by putting characters in situations (and plot lines) beyond anyone’s control.

Feeling better about that walk down memory lane? Good. Enjoy the revival.

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And revisit some important ’90s classics all this weekend during IFC’s ’90s Marathon. Check out the full schedule here.