Santa Claus Conquers the Martians
directed by Nicholas Webster
(Delta, 1964)

It's the kookiest Christmas ever when Santa Claus is kidnapped by Martians in this "you have to see it to believe it" Christmas classic. Maybe you've seen this movie hilariously skewered on Mystery Science Theater 3000, but you have to watch it on its own to truly appreciate it. Santa Claus Conquers the Martians is just so bad that I can't help but love it.

The Martian get-ups are more ridiculous than Marvin the Martian's normal attire, the sets redefine the very definition of cheap, the acting is over-the-top and generally horrible, and Santa is -- well, he's just a little bit weird, if you ask me. Every time the guy starts in with his distinctive laughing (usually for no apparent reason), I am reminded of the fact that Satan is spelled with the same letters as Santa.

Things aren't going so well on Mars. It's bad enough that the Martians are all colored a ridiculous shade of green, dress like rejected superheroes and wear ridiculous antenna-spouting helmets on their heads at all times, but now the children of Mars are all acting depressed and withdrawn; all they want to do is sit and watch Earth TV. Kimar (Leonard Hicks), the leader of Mars, seeks the advice of the planet's 800-year-old wise man and is told that he must bring Santa Claus to Mars so the children can have fun and be children for a while. Voldar (Vincent Beck) opposes the plan every step of the way, arguing that Kimar's plan will soon result in a whole planet full of lily-livered, mush-brained nincompoops.

Kimar wins out and sets off for Earth in the most pathetic spaceship of all time to catch Santa and bring him back to Mars -- along with two Earthling children. Well, Santa starts up a new workshop on Mars, hoping he'll be allowed to return home in time for Christmas, but Voldar is as tenacious as he is ridiculous-looking and is determined to kill Santa and stomp out all signs of Christmas spirit on the red planet.

Santa Claus Conquers the Martians features a young Pia Zadora as a little Martian girl, but perhaps the movie's most unforgettable feature is the swinging theme song, "Hooray for Santa Claus." If you watch the movie, you'll have this silly song in your head for days.

Dropo (Bill McCutcheon) gives a memorable performance as Mars' resident screw-up with a heart of gold, but my thoughts always remain with John Call and his disturbingly weird portrayal of Santa Claus. I can pretty much guarantee that this movie will make you laugh with its unashamed ineptness, and bad movie lovers are ineligible for their very first merit badge until they have watched Santa Claus Conquers the Martians and lived to tell about it.

by Daniel Jolley
3 December 2005

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