Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Santa Claus Conquers the Martians

I would have finished this review earlier but Voldar was keeping me hostage in a cave.

By: Gus Victoria

Title: Santa Claus Conquers the Martians
Year: 1964
Director: Nicholas Webster
Writer: Glenville Mareth (based on a story by Paul L. Jacobson)
Cast: John Call, Leonard Hicks, Vincent Beck, Bill McCutcheon…
Something is wrong with the Martian children. They don’t eat, aren’t sleeping well and seem to be obsessed with TV programs from Earth. Kimar, the leader of the Martian people, notices this change in his own children; Bomar and Girmar. Gathering a council he proceeds to seek advice from the wise sage Chochem. This has long been coming he says. The Martian children have no childhood. They are fed a “constant stream of information” from the moment they are born. They don’t know what it is to play and be children.
Kimar decides the best way to help the children of Mars is to kidnap Santa Claus from Earth and put him to work on Mars making toys for all the Martian boys and girls. So in short order they arrive on earth only to find many Santas!! They then come across two children, Billy and Betty, who explain to the confused Martians that all those Santas were simply his helpers and the real Santa is found at the North Pole. Kidnapping Billy and Betty they then make their way to Santa’s workshop where they capture Santa and take him, along with the Earth children, back to Mars.
On Mars Kimar has provided Santa with a high-tech fully automated workshop. He seems to be a real hit with the girls and boys of Mars and Kimar’s plan is working perfectly except for two things. The earthlings miss home and another Martian named Voldar has been against the plan the whole time and actively seeks to sabotage the workshop and send Santa back to Earth. Voldar is foiled by Santa and the chidren, but Santa is still sent home with the earth children after Kimar’s bumbling yet friendly servant Dropo becomes Mars’ own version of Santa Claus.

The real mystery behind this gem of a film is why I hadn’t seen it earlier. This really should be a Christmas classic! The premise is weak, the script even weaker and the production quality matches both in feebleness. However the acting, though far from great, is not as terrible as other WTF films. Santa Claus, Kimar, Voldmar, and Dropo all deliver decent if not stellar performances. The charm of this film I think is its apparent innocence and lack of pretense. It is a low-budget Christmas film about aliens from Mars and it does not pretend to be anything else.
 Missed jokes and poor comedic timing just make this movie funnier. This movie reminded me of a later sci-fi film, Planet of the Vampires, of course not as good and without the Christmas theme.
Perhaps two of the best bits about this movie were the props and the unforgettable theme song. The Martian “stun guns” are nothing more than painted Wham-O Air Blasters and I get a nice laugh every time I see them used against Santa’s elf helpers. The theme song of course is the epitome of bad 60’s pop cheese. And boy is it catchy.
This movie is highly recommended. Perhaps it does not benefit from the quality of other Christmastime films but it is no less enjoyable if taken for what it is. A bad sci-fi Christmas movie! That genre unfortunately is not as large as it should be!

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