We’ve had a wide variety of films in the Christmas countdown so far (some of which I’d never even heard of, never mind seen) but none of them are as craptastic as 1964’s Santa Claus Conquers The Martians.
I have a love of weird and ‘bad’ films so I’m biased to how good this is. Some people say it’s the worst Christmas film ever. It’s not and the people who think this have clearly never had to sit through the drivel that is The Littlest Light on The Christmas Tree.
The basic plot – at its simplest – can be described in one short sentence: Mars doesn’t have a Santa Claus so they kidnap Earth’s.
No really, that’s it. Okay, so it may be a little more complicated: there’s a comedy relief Martian; they Kidnap two children so that they don’t report them to the Earth authorities; there’s a villainous Martian who doesn’t want joy and happiness brought to Mars; and Santa wins the day by showing every one the true meaning of Christmas (peace, joy and love, not Jesus’ birthday).
If this was all done with decent acting and special effects this film would have been just crap, but with hammy acting and shoddy effects this is a true craptastic cult classic.
The film starts and ends with the sort of cheesy pop-style songs that gets into your head and wont leave you alone – Hooray For Santy Claus indeed! The color is the lurid type that can only be found in 1960’s American cheap films and TV. It feels like it was made for television and then escaped.
The Martians are green skinned and clothed, and wear helmets with antenna. Total clichéd Martian of the time. They live in a vastly superior society and yet their spaceship is made of wood and second-hand railway signal levers.
One of the best part is the polar bear attack at the North Pole. The bear is clearly a man in a cheap polar bear suit waving his arms ineffectually. But he looks far scarier than Torg, the Martians robot which is made out of cardboard. This terrifying thing is sent into Santa’s workshop to capture him and is immobilized by Santa talking to it. So the Martians capture Santa themselves and leave the robot behind. It makes me laugh every time.
Ok, so none of these people appear to be able to act themselves out of a paper bag. Ok, so the model spaceship seems to have been built from cardboard tubes and yogurt pots by small children. Ok, so the big climatic battle involves children throwing toys at a grown man whilst he whimpers and Santa laughs so much it looks like he’ll have a heart attack. But that’s what makes this film so great!
It should be a Christmas tradition in far more homes! Watch it between It’s a Wonderful Life and Scrooged.
3/5 Charlie Brown Christmas Tree’s