Here’s a holiday window display I did at the ModCup coffee shop in the Jersey City Heights. It’s a tribute to Christmas movies that are a little more offbeat, dark, or rarely thought of as Christmas movies. I started with the idea of John McClane jumping from a giant explosion as though the tree itself were the Nakatami building, and the whole thing grew (no pun intended) from there. All in all, it’s 15 separate hand-drawn illustrations on a hand-built cartoon tree. The movies are: The Nightmare Before Christmas, Edward Scissorhands, Die Hard, Lethal Weapon, A Christmas Story, Gremlins, Scrooged, Home Alone, Iron Man 3, Trading Places, Jingle All The Way, Ghostbusters 2, Batman Returns, Bad Santa, and The Empire Strikes Back.
You can check it out in person at 479 Palisade Ave in Jersey City, NJ from now through New Year’s, and see more detailed photos at the end of this post.
A few behind-the-scenes tidbits:
- I based the actual tree itself on the trees in the Christmas tree forest in Rankin Bass’ “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer”.
- I wanted to include my “Modern Christmas Noir” triple-feature of “Kiss Kiss Bang Bang”, “In Bruges”, and “The Ice Harvest”, but thought they would be a little too obscure for the average person. If you haven’t seen those movies, check ’em out. They’re dark and bloody and funny and awesome.
- The “Santa’s arm peeking out of a chimney and holding an axe” image from “Silent Night, Deadly Night” was originally going to be a part of it, but was nixed by one of the owners as too violent for a neighborhood coffee shop window. Probably a smart move.
- No, “Home Alone” and “Jingle All The Way” are not obscure or dark and are in fact Christmas TV staples, but the other owner grew up in the 90’s. They were a personal request.
- I own most of these movies on DVD and blu-ray and have seen every one of them multiple times except “Jingle All The Way”.
- I’ve never seen “Jingle All The Way”.
- I will most likely never see “Jingle All The Way”.
- I sliced my thumb while putting the lights through the tree. The back of the tree is now flecked with multiple streaks of my blood. THAT’S DEDICATION.
- The concept is supposed to be that all the characters are interacting with and popping out of the tree itself, except for the penguin, Bad Santa, and the AT-ATs walking beneath the tree and Jack Skellington flying his sleigh behind it. Edward Scissorhands is standing on top of the tree carving the ice angel for it, and Ralphie from A Christmas Story is supposed to standing on the branches in his bunny pajamas like he stood at the top of the stairs wearing it in the movie. That’s the idea anyway.
- The idea to put the words “Yippee-Ki-Yay ModCuppers” on the tree only came when I realized I made the Die Hard explosion WAY too big, even after cutting it down a bit, and knew I needed to put something in that negative space.
- No, the AT-ATs from “The Empire Strikes Back” have nothing to do with Christmas outside of them walking through the snow, but I thought a Life Day reference was too obscure. And, this is a Craig Mahoney display celebrating multiple movies. It was going to have both Batman and Star Wars references. So, shut up.