The 90s’ comedy-drama, “Home Alone” always calls for a good laugh each viewing session. Little wonder the holiday classic remains one of the best Christmas movies to ever grace the screens over three decades later.
“Home Alone” has been a part of every kids’ childhood since it first graced theatres in 1990. Several decades later, the holiday classic remains a fan favorite, ranking it among the best Christmas movies ever made.
A variety of factors came to play in making this Chris Columbus production an all-time holiday favorite, with Kevin McCallister’s pranks and booby traps in defense of his home topping the list. The Wet Bandits, Matt and Harry’s painful ordeals, facial reactions, and the overall “white Christmas” effect also contributed to signing the movie in everyone’s hearts.
With so many rewatches over the years, one could remember each dialogue by heart. Yet, there are many details about this holiday classic even the biggest fans must have missed, including some powerful behind-the-scenes dispositions. Continue reading to find out more.
1. REMEMBER THE BITING SCENE?
Kevin McCallister, played by Macaulay Culkin, had a field day subjecting the Wet bandits to his numerous booby traps. However, the pair managed to get hold of him eventually, and hung him up on a coat hook, threatening to bite off all his fingers. That was arguably the most heartbreaking moment for “Home Alone” viewers.
More heartbreaking is the realization that the 8-year-old did sustain that bite for real. In a 2004 interview, Culkin admitted Joe Pesci, who played Harry Lyme, accidentally bit his finger, breaking through the skin. The youngster bore the resulting scar several years after.
2. “HOME ALONE” WITHOUT OLD MAN MARLEY
When old man Marley came to the rescue and saved Kevin from losing all his fingers, it was a two-fold twist and a moment of shock. The movie first introduced the old man as a scary kid-snatching villain. Hence, he was the last person anyone would have expected to save the day just when it seemed the young lad was done for.
Notably, including the kindly old man, played by Roberts Blossom came as an afterthought as John Hughes never included the character in the actual script. He only improvised the character following Columbus’s suggestion that the movie needed more good hearts. One shudders to imagine Kevin’s fate without the angel-in-disguise.
3. BUZZ’S GRUESOME GIRLFRIEND WAS NO GIRL
Trust the internet to hunt down any lady who looked half as hideous as Kevin’s brother, Buzz’s girlfriend, and troll her for life. Appearing in a framed photo, even if only briefly wouldn’t have made much difference. And the producers knew that.
Hence, for the part where Kevin went through Buzz’s room and discovered the photo, they opted to have a boy in costume play the role. According to “Home Alone” actor Devin Ratray, the producers believed it plain cruel to put an actual girl in such a position. Luckily, the art director’s son was more than willing to play dress-up for the iconic shot.
4. HOW THE STORY CAME ABOUT
Reportedly, the idea of this iconic holiday movie popped up during the filming of “Uncle Buck,” after watching Culkin play Miles Russell seamlessly. The writer, John Hughes became inspired to draft out the idea following a family trip to Europe.
According to Hughes, while making a note of things he dared not forget, a moment of anxiety dawned upon him, leaving him imagining what would happen if he forgot his 10-year-old son. And voila! He knew exactly what his movie would be about.
Right after the trip, the writer got to work, concluding the first draft of the movie in less than ten days, with Culkin in mind.
5. THERE WAS A SMUGGLED PEPSI SOMEWHERE BEHIND THE COUCH
Trust the “Home Alone” cast to relish the privilege of starring in the best Christmas movie ever made. But the lead star, Culkin seems to see things differently. During a 2018 interview on “The Ellen DeGeneres Show,” the Kevin role player admitted watching the movie was traumatic for him as he couldn’t help remembering some personal encounters.
One such encounter was one day on set when he had to film while hiding his smuggled Pepsi behind the couch. Recalling such incidents while watching the scene in question admittedly made it impossible for him to enjoy the film like everyone else.
6. FINDING THE RIGHT HOUSE TOOK SEVERAL WEEKS
Columbus went out of his way to find the perfect house that fits the McCallister home. Eventually, he and his crew found one in Winnetka, Illinois, which was both warm and menacing. Hughes thought it perfect, just as it appeared in his imagination.
Over two decades after the filming, the Winnetka home hit the market, with an asking price of $2.4 million. Eventually, the famous “Home Alone” house sold for $1.585 million in 2015.
7. THAT TARANTULA WAS REAL
Not many would permit having a poisonous tarantula thrown on their face, but the Marv role player, Daniel Stern agreed to pull off the stunt. Although skeptical at first, even insisting they remove the sting, he eventually came to terms with it.
However, so as not to frighten the arachnid into stinging him, he mimed the frightened scream. The actual sound was included later on.
8. ROBERT DE NIRO NEARLY PLAYED HARRY
There’s never been a funnier looking pair of criminals than the Wet bandits. Therefore, it eludes the imagination to picture actor Robert De Niro assuming the role of Harry Lyme. But that was almost the case.
Thankfully, the movie star turned down the role, forcing the producers to pass it on to TV host, Joe Lovitz, who also turned it down. Looks like the universe knew beforehand that there was no better fit than Joe Pesci.
9. HERE’S WHY COUSIN FULLER’S LOOKS RUNG A BELL
Remember Kevin’s bedwetting cousin Fuller whom he dreaded sharing a bed with? Well, that was Macaulay Culkin’s younger brother, Kieran Culkin, hence the odd familiarity.
Kieran went on to star as the fan-favorite character, Roman Roy on “Succession.”
10. JOHN CANDY’S CREATIVE INPUTS DESERVE SOME CREDITS
Actor and comedian, John Candy played only a few scenes in the movie, but those scenes contributed to the wealth of comedy. According to Columbus, the comedic actor spent only a day on-set. Yet, he was able to improvise most of his scenes and dialogues, which passes for some of the most memorable moments in the movie.
11. CULKIN’S ICONIC SCREAMING FACE CAME BY ACCIDENT
In the last three decades, the picture of Kevin screaming in front of a mirror with his hands plastered to his cheeks after putting on aftershave came by accident. According to Columbus, the original directive was for the young lad to remove his hands from his face once he felt the burning sensation, before screaming.
However, the intensity of the burn caught the shaving newbie by surprise, so much so his first instinct was to remain glued to the spot, hands-on-cheek. Funny how the accidental reaction eventually became the universal symbol of “Home Alone.”
12. “ANGELS WITH PRETTY SOULS” IS NOT A REAL MOVIE
One of the secrets to Kevin’s successful tenure while staying home alone was his continuous use of excerpts from the movie, “Angels With Pretty Souls,” to ward off prying folks. Finding out it was never a real movie, to begin with, gave many quite the surprise.
In fact, the movie creators made the black and white short film specifically for the Christmas movie. That explains why years of YouTube and Google searching for the supposedly 18+ film seemed futile. Likewise, the short film Kevin used in the movie’s sequel, “Home Alone 2: Lost In New York.”
13. THE SNOW EFFECT WAS REAL
With an $18 million budget, there was little the crew could achieve in terms of movie effects. One of them being including fake snow in the budget.
Hence, when the Chicago folks woke up to a snowstorm on the second day of filming, they dropped everything else to shoot the final reunion scene, where Kevin finally reunited with his family on Christmas morning.
To further intensify the snowing effects, the crew improvised with potato flakes, so it appeared the snow was blowing around. Although it left a starchy mess after the actual snow melted away, it was all worth it.
14. IT IS SEEN WORLDWIDE IN DIFFERENT NAMES
Grossing millions of dollars in the box office and remaining a top hit for three decades made “Home alone,” into a global trend. The movie was sold in various countries in different names, but the reception has been impressive notwithstanding.
In Italy, for instance, the movie goes by the title, “Mom, I Lost The Plane,” while Argentinians know it as “Oh, The Poor Angel.” Little wonder it has become one of the best Christmas movies of all time.
15. THE CANDY EFFECT
Not even the real-life significance of Marv and Harry’s pain could keep viewers from laughing at their plight. In fact, their tragic encounters made for some of the funniest moments in the movie.
Remarkably, one of Kevin’s booby traps involved a series of nail-like ornaments scattered all over the floor. Unluckily for Marv, he had to go through them barefoot to proceed further after breaking into the McCallister home. Imagine the horror.
Gladly, the Marv role player did not endure that much pain in real life, as the pointy ornaments scattered all over the floor were actually candy! Now that’s some improvisation!