Gutenfilm Presents: A Christmas Beeracle: Santa Claus Conquers the Martians
“Thank God, this movie is only 80 minutes long.” That was my initial response upon loading up Santa Claus Conquers the Martians. As it turned out, however, the penultimate entry in this feature turned out to be 80 minutes too long, and yet 80 minutes of pure trashy goodness at the same time.
The main plot thread running through Santa Claus Conquers the Martians is that on Mars, the children Girmar and Bomar (which means Girl Martian and Boy Martian, respectively) have no idea what fun is, having no freedom of thought as a result of all of their knowledge being fed directly into their brains through machines. Momar (Mom Martian) and Kimar (King Martian) are concerned that their children spend all of their time watching Earth television, particularly the programs with Santa Claus. The Martian leaders consult an 800 year old wizard sage that tells them who Santa is, and the Martians decide to go to Earth to kidnap Santa Claus to bring Christmas to Mars. Unable to find the actual Santa after witnessing multiple “Charity Santas” (you know, the Salvation Army ones), the Martians also take a pair of children to help them. The plot of this movie is so stupid I’m actually having trouble thinking of ways to make fun of it.
One of the Martians, the evil Voldar, dislikes this idea of fun for Martian children and years for the days when Mars was a planet of war. He and his cronies consistently try to kill Santa and the children, but Santa is magic and always manages to stop him. Then everyone goes home, the end.
One of the weirdest things about the movie is the plot progression. Santa truly does not seem to care that he is getting kidnapped, laughing his way through the movie. Even a brief monologue about how everything on Mars is automated is followed by more chuckling. I’d even go so far as to estimate that 70% of Santa’s dialogue in the movie is either a jolly chuckle or a “ho ho ho”. It’s true to the character, at least. Most of the Martians seem to be nice, and after the kidnapping Santa and the kids they make sure the trio is comfortable and really care about them. So there’s really no “conquering” in the movie. I’m guessing that Santa Claus Gets Taken To Mars and Does Some Shit and Then Goes Home was too long of a title.
There is a popular rumor about Santa Claus Conquers the Martians that the entire cast was high during the production. It’s probably not true, but if one were to disregard common sense it could be possible. Most of the actors either overact, overreact, or simply have bizarre behavior that might suggest the presence of some drug. A couple of the actors literally laugh between every piece of dialogue. Segments of the script seem to be the product of drug abuse as well, what with talks of “nuclear curtains” and “Q-Rays” and other Martian technology that is obviously supposed to appear advanced and complicated.
I had trouble trying to figure out if this was supposed to be a bad movie. It’s truly horrible, but in such a way that everyone seems to be in on the joke, attempting to make a movie that is so bad it can only incite laughter. In that respect, they have succeeded; it’s so abysmal in every aspect of its production, it’s just hilarious. From the idiotic script, to the cardboard sets, to the public-domain sound effects and bargain-basement special effects, this film is the definition of “no budget”. The best part, undoubtedly, is a fight between two Martians that has a shaking camera, point-of-view camera angles, and abysmal choreography. The sequence where the Martians display the technology that allows them to freeze people was also hilarious in how utterly ridiculous it was. The film later tries to be sweet, but by that point everything is so stupid that it’s a hard pill to swallow.
Santa Claus Conquers the Martians is a weird sort of fun: it’s completely awful, yet utterly hilarious. From top to bottom, it deserves the title of one of the worst films ever made. However, it is rarely so horrible that it is unbearable. If you’re the type that gets a savage thrill from these kinds of movies, as I am, you might find something entertaining here, even though you’ll hate every second of it. It’s another of those “So bad it’s good” cult flicks, and I almost have to recommend it merely on those terms.