The 80s Child Thinks of Christmas: Movies on Betamax and VHS Tapes

Nostalgia time!  Let’s face it, I’m a product of the 80s.  I was actually born in the mid 70s, but my main frame of reference comes from the 80s.   Now that it’s Christmastime, I’ve been thinking of all of the different movies that we used to watch in our house every year.  We didn’t have fancy DVDs or even owned most of the vhs tapes that we coveted every year back then.  We taped everything off of the TV, because that’s what you did in those days!  And then we watched them over and over and over…

We started out with a betamax player when I was very young.  Does anyone remember those?  The tapes were like a vhs tape but smaller.  My Mom swore that the picture on those was much better than on the VHS.  I don’t really remember enough to be able to compare the two.  Eventually, the betamax tapes and players became impossible to find, and VHS reigned king.

You are a true 80s child if you had a betamax player.

You are a true 80s child if you had a betamax player.

If you were a child in the 80s, you probably remembered how some of the tapes you put those movies and shows that you loved got very worn after awhile. Some were worn because they were recorded on so many times.  Others were just watched to death!  Sometimes there were lines going through the images, or the tracking wouldn’t be quite right so that the picture or the sound was distorted.  Occasionally a tape got eaten by the vcr-a heartbreaking experience!

We still have many VHS tapes in our house.  We only have a handful of ones that were recorded off the TV.  The rest are ones we have collected over the years.  We recently buried our VCR, but my dad was able to come up with another one, and we are thrilled.  The picture quality may not be as great as DVDs, but for most of the ones we have that’s quite all right.  We have acquired a lot of movies from what we refer to as “The Cheap Santa”.  I’m going to withhold information about this until later this week, because I want to make you wonder what it is!!!!

I got off track a bit.  We’re talking about Christmas, Christmas movies!

In our house it was truly Christmas time when we could start watching all of our faves.  We had quite a list.  Most were taped lovingly onto one tape by my mother so we could watch them uninterrupted.  I’m not sure if I’m recalling this correctly, but my mother made a tape of these movies for my sister, and took out all of the commercials.  My sister asked her to please retape and put them back in, because that was the best part.  Yes it was!  The classics, not just the movies, but also the commercials.

I bet you’re wondering what movies we watched as kids so you can compare?  I bet some are the same ones you grew up with, others may be a bit different!

First, the king of the Christmas specials:  A Charlie Brown Christmas.

Of all the Charlie Browns in the World, you're the Charlie Browniest.

Of all the Charlie Browns in the World, you’re the Charlie Browniest.

Who hasn’t seen this holiday classic?  I remember back before we had a VCR getting very excited waiting for this special to come on!  I know that you either love this one or hate it.  I happen to love it.  I love that my kids asked for that one first when we decided it was time to start watching Christmas videos.  I realize this one is from way before the 80s, but it’s always been the family favorite!

#2:  How the Grinch Stole Christmas.

You're a mean one...

You’re a mean one…

I know that a lot of people tend to think about the live action remake.  No, I’m sorry, it’s not the same!  I thought everyone knew about the original and the classic song from it, “You’re a Mean One, Mr Grinch”.  Not so much.  When I was working at the mall when my son was little, that particular song came on the loudspeaker in our store.  The teenybopper who was working with me squealed “OMG!  That is just the WEIRDEST song I have EVER heard!”

#3:  Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer.  The stop motion movies are the bomb!

Princess Christmas loves this movie-especially when Rudolph and Clarice are little.

Princess Christmas loves this movie-especially when Rudolph and Clarice are little.

Here are some of my sister’s and my other favorites from when we were kids:

First up, Garfield Christmas:

We still refer to this movie constantly, particularly this scene. “Ooooooooo…”

Christmas Comes to Pac-Land.  They actually had this one on one of the cartoon channels last year.

Would my kids even get this one?

This was such a neat one:   Ziggy’s Gift.

One of the sweetest Christmas specials ever.

Anyone who was a fan of the Muppets and was a child of the 80s probably knows about Emmett Otter’s JugBand Christmas

There ain't no hole in the washtub!

There ain’t no hole in the washtub!

And then there is the favorite that came about when we got older.  We still watch it every year, usually at my parent’s house.  Not exactly a kids movie, but still my very favorite version of A Christmas Carol.  Here is the best Ghost of Christmas Present EVER!  (I couldn’t get the link to show up as an image, click on the link below the picture to see the clip from the movie).


Now obviously I can’t really show that movie, Scrooged, to my kids until they get much older.  I’ll be watching it yet this week after they go to bed.

Now that I’m an adult I still watch those movies every year, all but the last one with my kids. As adults, we’ve also added a few to the list, which are not on videotape.  We actually own them on DVD!  First off we have Elf, of course, because that movie just makes me smile.  A Christmas Story, which is among the most quoted movies in our household.  And The Santa Clause-it takes a lot for a movie to make me cry, but this one really touched me, just the magic of still believing in Christmas.  My husband loves National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation, I like it but not like he does!

I know that I have people that are a variety of ages that read my blog.  What movies did you grow up on?  Do you have a very favorite (or several)?  I’d love to know what movies you watched as a kid!  Are there newer ones that you like as an adult?

40 thoughts on “The 80s Child Thinks of Christmas: Movies on Betamax and VHS Tapes

  1. This is too funny, wow can’t believe you just posted this … we just had a big conversation with my hubby earlier this evening about these movies and your list is so RIGHT! we are both kids from the 80’s too and my favourites were “A Charlie Brown Christmas” and “Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer”, I watch all these movies every year, believe it or not my mom still has a VHS player and these movies recorded from the TV (my 1 year old saw Peter Pan on VHS last week at my parents place). but oh! these movie, they bring so many nice memories, I remember being sick in bed with a small cold just before school will end for the Holidays with my parents and brothers around me watching these movies in my parents bedroom. (from your list, these are the 2 , I have never seen or heard of: “Emmett Otter’s JugBand Christmas” and “Ziggy’s Gift.” 😉

    • The Emmett Otter one is a really sweet movie-it’s Muppets so of course good. My mom scored one recently on Amazon for the kids. Ziggy’s Gift is a more obscure one, but it’s another cute one that’s great for little kids. I think I saw it on Amazon too. One I started to put in there was B.C.s Christmas, but I couldn’t even find an image for it! We used to watch it every year too. I should see if I can find that tape and see what else is on it! I have a copy somewhere!

  2. Wow, you have made me feel old!! I had a Beta Player. I watched every single movie on your list. All of them.

    I am happy to see you have added Elf, Christmas Vacation and A Christmas Story- all very worthy of a viewing once a year!

    Thank you for sharing this, it was very nostalgic.

  3. Ah! What flashbacks of awesome movies you brought up! I was just thinking over the weekend that I really need to re-buy some of my childhood favorites on DVD since our VCR has bit the dust. I forgot about Garfield Christmas and A Christmas Carol with Bill Murray. Thanks for the fun trip down memory lane!

  4. This post reminded me of several Christmas movies to share with my kids. My current favorite Christmas movie (not for the kids obviously) is Love, Actually. Elf is awesome, too.

    • That’s a Christmas movie? I guess I need to see it. Of course, if it’s warm and human, I’ll have to watch it in another dimension. Evil Genius doesn’t always want to watch those (because nobody explodes or catches on fire), and if I try to watch a movie sans kids at night, bad things happen… 😉

  5. I was born in the early 80’s, but I still love a lot of the classics. Like Rudolph..that’s always been my favorite. And I love getting pass those down to my kids. I can’t wait to sit around with the hubs and kids and watch Christmas movies!

  6. What a great collection. I forgot about the Rudolph movie! It was the BEST! I loved when it glowed it made that beaming noise. I think of that noise when I do something good and I totally forgot where I got that from! What a wonderful post! Have a great week!

  7. Yay!!!! Great post! All of our Christmas movies were taped off of the TV and that’s how we watched them for years! My favorites are the Garfield and PacMan christmas specials as well as the Rudolph, Frosty and Santa Claus is Coming to Town ones! My husband is a Christmas Story and National Lampoon’s fan – he strives to be Griswold. LOL

    • Only the cool kids taped everything off the TV. I used to tape songs off the TV too with my my tape recorder, AND I used to use my stereo to tape my favorite songs off the radio!

      My husband has already said he’s doing Griswold type Christmas lights next year. LOOK OUT! 😀

    • Before we got our first player I remember my parents renting one. One of the first movies I remember watching was a pirated copy of The Empire Strikes Back. I don’t think the movie police will come get us now, will they?

      There were a lot that I didn’t mention, because we watched a LOT of Christmas movies, and some are so obscure that I couldn’t even find pictures, interestingly enough!

      I’m glad you loved the post. Now go to Booby Looby and get yourself some Christmas body decorations!

  8. I love love love home alone 1 and 2. I watched the Charlie browns as a kid too. I have never seen Elf but it’s on the dvr for a movie night

  9. i loved it when Rudolph had to cover his nose for the coach and he sounded like he was sick. i don’t know about the otter jugband. i feel left out. 😦 but i will check it out. this is a great list – you could easily do a post a day on all the great media you’ve collected. 🙂

  10. Never had a Beta but definitely the VHS and God how I hated that grinding sound it made when it was chewing up a tape! If you tried to pull it out it just spewed ribbon everywhere! Home Alone #1 was always one of my FAVORITES but i gotta say that Rudolph still rocks. When I was little that Abominable Snowman scared the crap out of me–I used to cover my eyes or run out of the room whenever he was on. Thanks for sharing this post and taking me back in time…..

  11. My parents had the BetaMax & it was better. I’ll bet it is in the attic or the basement still.

    I tried explaining to my son about waiting all year to see Charlie Brown specials & he just can’t comprehend it.

    Your #1, #2, & #3 are awesome!

    I loved “Year Without a Santa Claus” with Heat Miser & Snow Miser too.

    • Oh yeah, another one I’d forgotten! And the one with the mice, Twas the Night Before Christmas, I remember watching that one every year. 😀

      Kids these days don’t get that at one time we had to WAIT to see things. The Instant Gratification Generation, they are!

      Thanks for stopping by to read and comment! 😀

  12. Love, love , love all of this! I am also drafting a post on this subject. So many of the older holiday movies and specials are classics and we always watch them. We own Christmas Vacation and I can always watch it.

    You did leave Bad Santa off the list – one of my favs!

  13. Great collection of Christmas classics! We can’t find our DVD of Elf, and my children have never seen it – I am so bummed! I think I could watch Xmas Vacation over and over.

    And we did have a betamax! And man, was it hard to find a good video among the 13 betamax tapes in the video rental store!!

  14. We just got Rudolph for my son after my hubs heard mr complain about missing the Abominable Snowman, and Yukon!!! Love this!!!

Whatcha Thinkin?

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s