The Star Wars Holiday Special (1978)
November 17, 2022 7:46 AM - Subscribe

Luke Skywalker and Han Solo battle evil Imperial forces to help Chewbacca reach his imperiled family on the Wookiee planet - in time for Life Day, their most important day of the year! A variety show, powered by cocaine, disowned by George Lucas, and enshrined in our hearts forever.

Starring Harrison Ford, Mark Hamill, Anthony Daniels, Carrie Fisher, Peter Mayhew, Bea Arthur, James Earl Jones, Art Carney, Harvey Korman, Diahann Carroll, Jefferson Starship.

Absolutely not made with any input from George Lucas or the series' screenwriters.

25% fresh on Rotten Tomatoes.

Not streaming on conventional services now, or, as long as George Lucas lives, ever, but someone did upload it to YouTube in its entirety.

dorothyisunderwood was kind enough to support MeFi with a donation. Their request was for six of the weirdest Christmas films I could find. I'll be posting them under the hashtag #illbeweirdforchristmas.

Donate $20 or more to MeFi and you can MeMail me a request for a themed day of your own. I'll fill up the sidebar on FF with six movies that fit your theme.
posted by DirtyOldTown (26 comments total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Other stuff that almost made the list:

-The Life & Adventures of Santa Claus - L. Frank Baum's weird-as-shit attempt to expand Christmas mythology gets the decline-era Rankin Bass treatment. Not currently available online.
-Black Santa's Revenge - Wild, easy to find online, stars Ken Foree (Pete from the original But only a short film.
-All American Christmas Carol - Like someone decided to redo A Christmas Carol with a female Joe Dirt character. Stars Taryn "Pennsatucky" Manning.
-Santa and the Ice Cream Bunny - What can you even say?
-Christmas Icetastrophe - More of a low-budget remake of The Day After Tomorrow than a proper xmas movie.
-SO MANY CHRISTMAS HORROR MOVIES - I'm gonna have to give those their own day.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 7:51 AM on November 17, 2022 [1 favorite]

My regular WP group watched this a few years ago and are still traumatized by it. There's no way to even describe how dreadful it is. You have to experience it to truly understand.

There's at least a rifftrax of Santa and the Ice Cream Bunny if you don't think you can handle the movie on its own and I definitely recommend caution.
posted by miss-lapin at 8:14 AM on November 17, 2022 [2 favorites]

I absolutely 100%, wholeheartedly recommend this movie.

I recommend it in the same way that, for instance, if I found a jug of milk in the back of a fridge at a party that had expired in 2018, I would insist that everyone at the party smell it.

It is terrible in a way that defies belief and demands attention, as it expands the floor of how bad things can get in an instructive way.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 8:20 AM on November 17, 2022 [8 favorites]

There's a Lego Star Wars Holiday Special out now, BTW. Not sure if you want to use that for your group.
posted by Halloween Jack at 8:34 AM on November 17, 2022 [1 favorite]

Haven't seen it! If anyone wants to add anything to the six I did for the theme, they can totally use the tag to group it in with these, though.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 9:09 AM on November 17, 2022 [1 favorite]

Bea Arthur deserved her own special. She was such a pro.

Everyone else looks like they’re in an active hostage situation.
posted by mochapickle at 9:13 AM on November 17, 2022 [6 favorites]

I saw this when it first aired, as a child of 7.

You have to understand that back then, movies like Star Wars came to the theatres, did their run, and then were gone. There were no DVDs, no streaming, no internet for news. Star Wars lived in our imaginations, rarely fed by the occasional tidbits of news or trivia that filtered down somehow - maybe someone's cousin who had read a magazine article. We were kids without access to many sources of information. So Star Wars was something you remembered and played with friends and thought about and wondered...

And then this came. I was so excited...that gave way to baffled, and then disappointed and hurt. When my wife learned that this existed, and that you could find it on YouTube, she decided it had to be part of our Christmas movie tradition. I told her she was free to do that, by herself. It's just bad.
posted by nubs at 9:14 AM on November 17, 2022 [8 favorites]

The SWHS on the blue; the oral history. As I think that I've mentioned before on the blue, I sort of rolled with it when I saw it on the original broadcast; I was less concerned with canonicity then (at least with this franchise, although I'd practically memorized the Star Trek Concordance by then).

Also, I did the thing.
posted by Halloween Jack at 10:56 AM on November 17, 2022 [2 favorites]

For YEARS I thought I dreamed this special.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 11:25 AM on November 17, 2022 [4 favorites]

I am not even thru the credits, and it's worse than I remember, which is a bold statement. Did they build the cockpit set out of a cardboard box?!

(I am going to try not to just fast forward to the animated Boba Fett segments, which I remember as awesome. Please let them not be worse than I remember too.)
posted by Gelatin at 1:06 PM on November 17, 2022

Yeah, I too was a very little kid when this first aired; I have dreamlike memories of being hounded by a morose werewolf at Christmas, which I realize in retrospect must have been nightmares I had about Chewbacca and his family.
posted by kittens for breakfast at 1:08 PM on November 17, 2022 [4 favorites]

Vague memories of watching it as a kid. It was the first new Star Wars content since the original move and we were so excited for it but even at eight years old I knew it was bad.

I tired watching it ironically a few years ago but I still couldn't get through it.

1970s TV was mostly fueled by cocaine.

At least we got Boba Fett out of it, which was a good thing until they somehow managed to make a really boring show about him.

Happy Life Day, everyone!
posted by bondcliff at 1:38 PM on November 17, 2022 [1 favorite]

I saw it as a kid, then again with my own kid in my late 30s.

I hated it, but I loved it. I finally knew the origin of images that had haunted me for decades. Harvey Korman pouring a beer into the top of his head, a torn apart bantha doll, weird wookiees, animated Boba Fett.
posted by Seamus at 1:59 PM on November 17, 2022 [1 favorite]

There's at least a rifftrax of Santa and the Ice Cream Bunny

posted by GCU Sweet and Full of Grace at 2:43 PM on November 17, 2022

1970s TV was mostly fueled by cocaine.

Fueled by cocaine at the production end, and lack of options on the comsumer end.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 2:47 PM on November 17, 2022 [2 favorites]

If you must subject yourself to this, I recommend RiffTrax, although I think they struggled with how deadly boring it is. Happy Life Day--15% off--today only!
posted by polecat at 4:35 PM on November 17, 2022 [1 favorite]

I wanted to watch it to make fun of it, but you can't even do that. It's THAT dull. No wonder Carrie got wasted.
posted by jenfullmoon at 6:27 PM on November 17, 2022 [1 favorite]

It is tremendously dull. Way too long. Thank goodness the my copy still has the commercials, which I find far more entertaining than the show overall.

Thing about this show is how absolutely ordinary it was. Variety shows were very common and typically forgettable. This was exactly what anyone could expect to see in prime time on network tv in those days. And everyone watched because, what else you gonna do? That it was so much in the variety show mold, and how quickly it was forgotten is proof how completely cookie cutter it was. I don't think you could blame cocaine for this.

I do like to play it in the background during xmas holiday get togethers. Keeps people from zoning out in front of the tv.
posted by 2N2222 at 10:21 PM on November 17, 2022 [4 favorites]

Happy Life Day (one day late), one and all.
posted by The Pluto Gangsta at 7:19 AM on November 18, 2022 [2 favorites]

We watch the Rifftrax of the Star Wars Holiday Special on December 25th as part of MST Club's Christmas Marathon every year. Absolutely should be seen with other people.
posted by JHarris at 3:42 PM on November 19, 2022 [3 favorites]

Related - The Two Ronnies: Space Wars
posted by The Underpants Monster at 9:27 PM on November 19, 2022

Man, we tracked this down and watched this years ago, and it was just… there was no joy, no entertainment value to be derived from its badness. It is not “so bad it’s good,” It’s “so bad it’s awful.”

It is the sort of thing I would recommend only to those who have personally wronged me.
posted by DoctorFedora at 3:47 AM on November 20, 2022 [1 favorite]

You really have to be in the right frame of mind for it. For some people, that frame of mind involves mood-altering substances.

The Rifftrax for the SWHS is one of the best things they've done.
posted by JHarris at 4:07 PM on November 20, 2022

yeah the Rifftrax is good enough that it elevates the Star Wars Holiday Special to "barely withstandable"
posted by DoctorFedora at 4:23 PM on November 23, 2022 [1 favorite]

I was 11 the year this aired, a HUGE sci-fi and Star Wars fan already, and yet I somehow missed watching it. It aired on a Friday night, so maybe mom had dragged us to schul? Anyway, I have heard for decades how bad it was... and tonight, I'm watching it for the first time with my 12 year old son.

It is SO MUCH WORSE than I could have predicted. I thought, "oh, this'll be variety show bad, maybe", and I was off by at least two orders of magnitude. No discernible dialog for several minutes at a time. Scary puppet Wookiee faces. A bunch of weird asides that have nothing to do with the story (the gymnastic display, Diahann Carroll's oddly adult VR bit) and have no attraction at all for the primary target audience... this is just painful.

And my 12-year-old keeps looking at me, like, "do we need to finish watching this?" - yes. Yes, we do.
posted by hanov3r at 3:34 PM on November 25, 2022 [3 favorites]

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