Friday, December 19, 2008

Santa Claus Conquers the Martians (1964)

Here is a movie so unbelievably wonderfully bad that I have had to re-watch large portions of it two times in under a month to share it with my dad and my boyfriend.  All lovers of bad science fiction MUST see this movie.  I've just learned that this was in fact used in an episode of Mystery Science Theater! Perfect.

Oh, where to begin?
The children of Mars have no real childhood.  From the time they are born, information is piped into their little heads, so that they are really like mini-adults, seemingly with no emotion (although that could have been due to the quality of acting).  When we first meet the Martians, we learn that the children, in need of childhood as they are, have become addicted to Earth tv, especially to broadcasts about Santa Claus.  Concerned Martian leader, Kimar, calls together the Martian council and goes off to talk to the wise and creaky elder Chochem.  Once Chochem explains the detrimental effect of not having a true childhood, the council decides that the thing to do is... go to Earth and kidnap Santa Claus!
I should take this moment to mention that the photo above is indeed of Martian children.  Green face paint and antenna on your helmet designate you a martian in this movie.

When the Martians land on Earth they meet and capture young Betty and Billy Foster, who tell them that Santa lives at the North Pole.  The children try to escape to warn Santa, and much drama ensues, involving terrible acting by the Foster children, silly antics of the Martian Dropo (their resident idiot?), a narrow escape from a man wearing a really bad polar bear costume (meant to be a polar bear), and a final capture by the cardboard robot pictured below.

Santa is captured and brought to Mars, along with Betty and Billy, where he immediately inspires the Martian children and begins to manufacture toys in a factory made for him by the Martians.  Santa chuckles a lot.  Dropo continues to be silly.
Conflict boils over, however, when the evil Voldar, who has been grumpy about the plan to bring Santa to Mars all along (grumpy to the point of having made an attempt on the lives of poor Santa, Betty, and Billy!) sabotages the toy factory and tries to kidnap Santa.  See how angry he is below?

I will go ahead and ruin the ending for you.  All works out well, the Earthlings get to go home, and Dropo becomes the Martian Santa Claus.
One star for my favorite scene involving Santa Claus's brilliant escape from an airlock on-board the martian ship.  It is worth seeing the movie just for this scene.  I am sure that I will someday see this movie again in its entirety, and there are so many people in my life who may soon need to be subjected to at least a few scenes.  So convenient that it is an "instant" movie on Netflix!

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