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THE STAR WARS HOLIDAY SPECIAL - Skull
Not Rated
Copyright 1978 20th Century Fox
Reviewed by Andrew Borntreger on 24 December 2005

The Characters:  

  • Malla - Chewbacca's wife, who spends hours worrying about him and pining for the feel of his nimble fingers picking parasites out of her fur. Romance among the furry is rarely pretty for the rest of us.
  • Lumpy - Chewbacca's chunky son.
  • Itchy - Chewbacca's mangy old father.
  • Chewbacca - The rogaine enhanced version of Mr. Incomprehensible. 15 liters of yogurt and jacuzzi not included.
  • Trader Saundan - Art Carney! He deals in trinkets and probably has a collection of hairy woman porn.
  • Various Characters - Harvey Korman! You really cannot get enough of Harvey Korman, but this came close.
  • Ackmema - Beatrice Arthur! She is a bitter cantina owner. Her bottom line would improve if she stopped giving out free drinks.
  • The Swan Woman - Diahann Carroll as some sort of interactive Furry wet dream.
  • Han Solo, Luke Skywalker, Princess Leia, C3PO, and R2D2 - Talk about a good way to add mud to everyone's career.


The Plot: 

Years ago, at a convention, I had the opportunity to interrogate a Lucasfilm spokesman (I think it was George's second in command) about this cinematic holocaust. They were allowing members of the audience to ask questions and providence placed me directly behind a young man who asked if the rest of the "Star Wars" films were going to be released on DVD. The spokesman replied, "Yes." So, when I got to the microphone, I pressed him with, "So, all of the films will be released on DVD?" "Yes, all of the movies will eventually be released." To which I delightfully responded, "Including the 'Star Wars Holiday Special?'" The man's face became very angry and he growled into the mic, "Not on your life." One of the convention toadies then escorted me away from the microphone.

Wow, talk about stepping all over your fans.

The special starts out with Han and Chewbacca running from stock footage of star destroyers. However, right after that the real trouble starts. We are introduced to Chewbacca's family, enjoying a quiet afternoon at home. Except for Lumpy, who crashes through the house with a toy x-wing fighter, until his mother yells at him. The wookies live in a large house built in the canopy of a gargantuan tree. The dwelling does not appear to be a condo either, so I have been wondering what they did with all the extra room. We only ever see three rooms: kitchen, living room, and Lumpy's room. Maybe Chewbacca has an olympic sized indoor swimming pool (though an expansive dust wallow would be just as likely).

It should also be noted that, since wookies are the main characters, you spend a lot of time listening to Chewbacca's family talking amongst themselves. Which ends up meaning, "WGGGGGHHHHHHTTTT!" (Or however you spell that.) Anyway, this is not a good way to keep anyone's attention.

The three wookies are eagerly awaiting Chewbacca's arrival for the annual Life Day. There is no explanation of the origin of Life Day or why the audience should care about Chewbacca being home with his family. The entire freaking ninety minute special is about this darn holiday. Why do I not know what it means? While I am complaining about being lost. What about the wookie household: why is hair not everywhere? Gah!

Impatient for news about the prodigal son, the wookies contact Luke on their video phone. He provides some vague assurances that the Millennium Falcon is en route before being enveloped in a cloud of smoke from a malfunctioning engine. A blonde youth awash in cancer causing compounds, just the sort of thing to get you in the holiday spirit. Malla just shrugs and goes into the kitchen to cook the meal. Which, because she uses a video tutor (played by a cross dressing, four armed, Harvey Korman), also turns into a sickening comedy bit.

Continuing on, the friendly trader Saundan stops by with a sack full of life day presents. The youngest receives a powerful transmitter that requires some assembly, while Malla is the proud owner of a hologram machine filled with Jefferson Starship videos (that sounded much cooler twenty-five years ago). Regardless, the gift that Itchy receives is disturbing. The elderly wookie receives an interactive program for his direct input entertainment array. This creates a strangely covered woman who flirts and giggles, causing Itchy to get a bit excited. Yikes! All this is worrisome twist on "The NeverEnding Story." I never considered what effect Ron Jeremy would have had on Fantasia; it is not a concept for those who are weak of heart.

You know, once I had a great idea for a midway game. It was like whack-a-mole, but with cute little white seals that popped up and were beat down with a club. People said it was stupid. This applies to the present topic in some manner, but I am having a difficult time detailing exactly how.

While we continue to wait for Chewbacca, some Imperial troops arrive and start tossing the house. The bad guys know how many wookies live there, their relative ages, and their genders. Somehow, they do not know that one of them is Chewbacca. Okay, so identifying a specific pile of fur might be problematic. How do you identify a wookie? You can't fingerprint the damn things. Maybe sawing notches out of their ears? What, the species lacks pronounced ears? How troubling!

More than once, the idiot Imperials are distracted by Saundan's antics and some of the things he brought to the wookies (insert Jefferson Starship here). What they are really doing is wasting a lot of time. My time! I swear, watching this is like being pecked by a duck and doing nothing about it! Given enough time, the duck might ultimately peck you to death, but mostly it is just annoying as Hell. All I have to do is shoo the waterfowl away, but instead I just sit here and endure. There is no reason for me to do this at all. It is not making me a better person. It is not making me stronger. The Imperials should have plenty of other wookie households to investigate, but they just keep milling around this one. Are wookies an endangered species or something?

The bad guys do finally leave, though one stormtrooper stays behind to keep watch for the missing wookie male. He takes an unfortunate plunge off the balcony when Chewbacca and Han Solo arrive. Then a lot of "welcome home" stuff goes on, including Chewbacca and Malla hugging. Actually, I guess that is better than sticking their nose in each other's butt (though it looked like Lumpy got friendly with Han's leg for a moment). The film finally ends after the wookies all dress up in red robes and Princess Leia makes an appearance to sing the "Life Day" song. Still no idea what the heck the holiday means, but at least the darn thing is over. If you ever want to watch a bad variety show, with a bitter "Star Wars" flavor, here is your poison.

This entire special was brought to you by "The People You Could Probably Do Without!"

Things I Learned From This Movie: 

  • Darwin sometimes gives kids a freebie.
  • It is difficult to look evil and brooding while shopping at the dollar store.
  • Long ago, in a galaxy far away, they had LSD.
  • Princess Leia leases office space in the Tardis.
  • Hiding your rebel communications terminal in the living room is a good way to increase grandfather's blood pressure.
  • Military radio communications should always be encrypted.
  • There are fates worse than death.
  • Cross Julie Andrews with the "Star Wars" theme and suddenly Gene Roddenberry looks like a lyrical genius.

Stuff To Watch For: 

  • 10 mins - "I should have drowned you with the rest of your litter!"
  • 11 mins - It would be a bad thing if the Imperial Traffic Control Network knew the location of your mate's ship.
  • 16 mins - Arrrrggghhhhh! Why am I watching this?
  • 19 mins - Instead of using a towel, Lumpy usually rubs the plates against his chest.
  • 26 mins - "It's a puppy. You can eat it in your room."
  • 38 mins - My biggest worry, at present, is the location of Han's right hand.
  • 50 mins - Here begins the only reason to watch this tragedy.
  • 60 mins - All done, back to crap.
  • 61 mins - RANDOM ACT OF VIOLENCE AGAINST A STUFFED BANTHA!
  • 66 mins - This is just like looking in a mirror.
  • 76 mins - What sort of weird Piers Anthony homage was that?

 Audio clips in wav formatSOUNDSStarving actors speak out 

FileDialog
Green Music Note swhs1.wav Wookie talk. This sort of stuff is inflicted on us a frightening number of times.
Green Music Note swhs2.wav Luke: "I wouldn't worry about Chewbacca. I know him and he hasn't missed a Life Day yet, right? Well, there you go! He's not going to miss this one either!"
Green Music Note swhs3.wav Han: "I'm going to have to run back and operate the aft gun manually. Stay on things here! Why do I always think that taking you home for Life Day is going to be easy?"
Chewbacca: "Warrggghhhhhh!"
Green Music Note swhs4.wav Imperial Officer: "Investigate the upper area. Check for any rebel material. Anything to connect this household with the Alliance."
Green Music NoteTheme Song Listen to a clip from the soundtrack.

 Click for a larger imageIMAGESScenes from the movie 

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 Watch a sceneVIDEOMPEG video files 

Video Clipswhs1.mpg - 3.1m
Malla talking to Saundan about Chewbacca being late for Life Day. He is talking in code, because an Imperial trooper is standing behind him. Boy, what a great play on "Han Solo" that was.

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Comments:Write CommentPages: 1 [2] 3 4 ... 7
The Star Wars Holiday Special
Reply #9. Posted on November 25, 2006, 04:10:12 PM by George Litman
I'm really torn about "The Star Wars Holdiay Special".  

Deep down, I know it was  areally bad tie-in/cash-in on "Star Wars" and everything was done badly right down the line (aside from the cartoon segment).  But then again, this IS a part of the SW canon (albeit unacknowledged) and should be watched by anyone who considers themselves a SW fan.  

I've seen it myself and even remember being one of the drooling SW geeks awaiting its premiere back in '78.  I guess, in a perverse way, I like it.  But dang, if only it had turned out better.

Great review, as usual.

-George

P.S. - it was completely unfair that you got thrown out of there for asking such an inevitable question.  But hey, if you hadn't, someone else would have.
The Star Wars Holiday Special
Reply #10. Posted on November 25, 2006, 04:10:12 PM by JMR3000
I saw this when it was broadcast on TV way back when.  I was 13 then, and even though my powers of discerning quality production were not well developed, I remember my stunned reaction to this foul heap.  "How could they make something so awful?" I thought with mountains of disappointment.

Other painful recollections that come flooding back:  Being confused and disturbed by Luke's makeup (I wasn't even sure it was him), the presence of Bea Arthur (MAUDE?????)
The Star Wars Holiday Special
Reply #11. Posted on November 25, 2006, 04:09:49 PM by JMR3000
(Sorry, I hit a wrong button and it submitted prematurely.)

As I was painfully recollecting:  The godawful skit with Harvey Korman (HARVEY KORMAN????), the disappointing appearance of Art Carney (how the great have fallen!), and the very disturbing vision of Princess Leia singing.  Oh, plus the effeminate look of Chewbacca's son, and the mangy old grandfather, who I seem to recall was treated rather shabbily by the rest of the hairy gang.  Thankfully I have NO recollection of the wookie porn <shudder>.
The Star Wars Holiday Special
Reply #12. Posted on November 25, 2006, 04:09:49 PM by Efrem
Yes, this thing was bad.  I remember that the cast of Star Wars also did a ditty on the Donny and Marie Show.  There was singing in that one too, although I don't that it was as bad as this monstrosity.  Boo Yah!!
The Star Wars Holiday Special
Reply #13. Posted on November 25, 2006, 04:09:49 PM by Paul Westbrook
Here it is in glorious infamy. The piece of STAR WARS history that made George Lucas put a paper bag over his head in utter shame (even though I dont think he had anything to do with this mess i dont know). Anyhow this crap has Carrie Fisher as Princess Leia, and she's does something that is supposed to be singing, but sounds like the eqivalent of a group of alley cats on a fence. Plus Mark Hamill as Luke in what appears to be .... eye makeup? Someone for the love of God, get me a lightsaber. Amusing this is not! Watch at your own risk.
The Star Wars Holiday Special
Reply #14. Posted on December 25, 2005, 04:57:40 PM by Money
4 words Star Wars Rip off
The Star Wars Holiday Special
Reply #15. Posted on November 25, 2006, 04:09:49 PM by David Fullam
Life is good. BadMovies.org tackles the Star Wars Holiday Special. And to anyone who is wondering about the Mark Hamill makeup, Hamill was involved in a bad crash (I don't remember if it was motorcycle or car) that did some serious damage to his face. The makeup was to cover the still fresh scars.

And phooey on that LucasFilm guy who had you tossed!
The Star Wars Holiday Special
Reply #16. Posted on November 25, 2006, 04:09:49 PM by Party Pat
When I finnally found this video I was so excited to finnally see the mythic Star Wars Christmas speciel. Now I would give anything to have that day wiped from my memory. I still have nightmares of Bea Arthur singing and Chewbacca's family doing anything. If you are a fan of Star Wars I suggest not watching it because you will never see the characters in the same way again. If you are a fan of not being in horrendous amounts of mental and physical pain, I suggest also not seeing it becuase it does suck that much. If your not a fan of either watch away.
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