Santa Claus Conquers The Martians

1964, Movie, NR, 81 mins

Review

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As Chico Marx so wisely put it, "There ain't no Sanity Clause." This is, without exaggeration, one of the single worst films ever made, which hasn't prevented it from becoming a cult classic. The unhappy children of Mars watch a TV news conference, which they monitor from Earth, of the jolly, fat man. Martian leaders decide to kidnap St. Nick (Call) and send off an expedition to Earth. The outer-space visitors are confused by the proliferation of street-corner Santas, and two disgustingly adorable children take them to their leader at the North Pole. Beck, the Martian leader, decides that the children (Stiles and Conforti) must be taken back to the red planet along with Call. On the way Beck tries to throw the trio off the ship and is punished by exile on his arrival home. He holes up in a cave and plots revenge. Call sets up a Martian workshop, which is invaded by Beck and hench-Martians Elic and Nesor, and they kidnap McCutcheon, a happy Martian dressed in a Santa suit. Beck tries to negotiate McCutcheon's release but is arrested, and a fight ensues at the workshop. Using toy weapons, Stiles, Conforti, and their Martian counterparts, Month and Zadora, blow a lot of soap bubbles. (Yes,that Pia Zadora, who began her bad-filmmaking as a child; most of her adult work ranks on par with her debut.) Beck decides it's time to send the Earthlings home. He's been touched with the Christmas spirit (and perhaps by other spirits as well). Call has introduced automation to Mars (which makes one wonder how the Martians were technologically advanced enough to build spaceships and Earth-monitoring television sets--but never mind) and makes it home just in time to deliver toys on Christmas Eve. The film ends with the psuedo-rousing song "Hooray for Santa Claus," which has titles that encourage the audience to sing along. This mush was produced by an ex-unit manager for the popular TV kiddie show of the 1950s "Howdy Doody" who apparently learned nothing of any consequence from Buffalo Bob. Poorly produced and sometimes creepy, SANTA CLAUS CONQUERS THE MARTIANS was shot for just $200,000 in a studio converted out of an old airport hangar. Using TV technicians, this nonsense actually gave employment to some of Broadway's best rejects; Call and Stiles were minor characters from the hit show "Oliver" and Conforti was also a denizen from Broadway, discovered in a minor holiday- themed musical called "Here's Love." Despite its amateurish production and worthless acting, SANTA CLAUS turned a good profit and was annually rereleased at Christmastime year after year. leave a comment

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