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If the fabulously awful yet admirably enthusiastic director Ed Wood had
ever made a kids' holiday flick, this would have been it.
This movie is not bad, if by bad you mean boring and a waste of time. It's spectacularly appalling, the way "Plan 9" is. They obviously had a budget of about fifty bucks to make this, and it shows.
But some of us love these evidences that once upon a time in America there was such a thing as real independent cinema, and all-afternoon multi-feature holiday shows at neighborhood theaters that only had one screen, and sing-along events built into kids' movies, and fun that didn't depend on multi-billion dollar special effects.
This is one of those movies that you will laugh at and make fun of, yet long for the days when local, independent television stations aired it on a Saturday afternoon before Christmas. You'll make jokes about it, but catch yourself absentmindedly humming "Hooray for Santy Claus!" for the rest of your life. And you'll amaze your friends with -- "I know what movie Pia Zadora made her debut in, and you don't!"
I really enjoy this silly little holiday flick. A bunch of serious Martian
adults are afraid that their serious Martian children are too serious, so
they go to a serious Martian senior citizen. The old guy tells them that the
children need to be taught how to laugh, and then he explodes for no reason.
The only logical thing left to do, of course, is go to Earth and kidnap
Santa Claus, who we meet as he is being interviewed by the Rip Taylor-like
Andy Anderson. I liked how in the movie's universe, Santa is unquestionably
real and everyone knows about him. He really does deliver toys to everyone,
toys made by a dozen elves (who all look like they're suffering from
mini-seasonal depression). One toy shown is a toy rocket that runs on "real
rocket fuel", Santa proudly explains. I would ask, "Where do little kids get
rocket fuel?" The details of Santa's amazingly speedy mass distribution
methods are not brought up, but it's probably black magic-related.
The Martians nab Kris Kringle and two little Earth children, who seem to live alone in the woods with no parents or family but are clean and well fed. The Martian leader forces Santa and the children to run their soulless toy machine (Soulless Toy Machine would be a good name for a band). Despite the numerous violations of human rights, it's all in good fun and everybody is nice and happy, except for one mean Martian (with a disturbing droopy mustache and a sidekick that looks like Jamie Farr) who plots to kidnap Santa (even though he's already been kidnapped). Santa encourages the kids, even the Martian kids who have now learned to have fun, to hurl lots of heavy mid-sixties toys at the bad guy's skulls. Through this display of parental negligence and bad music the evil is thwarted, and Santa is permitted to go back to Earth, letting the mewling half-wit comic relief Martian named Droppo take over the reigns of the Martian Toy Empire. (The Martians are out-of-shape guys in tights and helmets with antenna sprouting out of them, and what looks like diarrhea smeared across their faces. Imagine a guy dressed like that mugging worse than the teacher guy in Juan Piquor Simon's "Monster Island" and that's Droppo).
How can you hate this movie? If I were a little kid in 1964 I'd be enthralled. They packed this movie with nutty stuff. Elves get shot with freeze rays. Mrs. Claus is a frantic goofball. The Martian children sleep under strange lights and eat only pills. The bad guy's hideout looks like that one King Crimson album cover. I loved the part where the villain tries to shoot Santa and the kids out of an airlock, and the part where the bad guys meddle with the toy machine and the toys come out all mixed-up. There's a guy in a goofy robot costume, and a guy in an even goofier polar bear costume. And that deliciously idiotic theme song- "You spell it S-A-N-T-A C-L-A-U-S, Hooray for Santy Claus!" Oh, it's so good!
I sincerely feel the people making this had the best intentions, and while they didn't have a huge budget they made a fun, silly kids movie. If it was the same exact movie but done in Rudolf-style stop motion animation it would be a regular holiday viewing tradition.
Oh, yeah, and Pia Zadora is in this, as if anyone cares.
Maybe I have a soft spot somewhere in my heart for poorly written,
badly conceived, silly 1960s children's movies - but I really can't
understand why Santa Claus versus the Martians is in the worst 100
movies of all time here on IMDb. Sure, most viewers will breathe a sigh
of relief when it ends, but this film really seems downright harmless
compared to the six month old Kennel Ration Hollywood has been feeding
us as commercial film for the last ten or so years. Hey, at least it's
not a remake, a sequel, or a 2 hour long CGI cartoon with a few human
faces tossed in for effect.
Santa Claus gets kidnapped by distraught martians (white guys with bad green makeup and a few dishwasher parts glued to their heads, as well as inexplicable capes), who want to rescue their depressive, antisocial children from the doldrums by giving them all toys and a big red-suited guy with a beard to laugh at... err... with. Santa adapts to life on Mars very well and starts cranking out the toys with the help of Martian machines, but political controversies surrounding his activities soon threaten the fabric of Martian Society.
I'm not kidding.... really.... this is the plot.
Aside from the ludicrous plot and mediocre acting (Bill McCutcheon gives the only really enjoyable performance in this film, though Pia Zadora and Vincent Beck are not too bad), this is no worse than many of the kid films of its time. In the age of ADD and general impatience, however, this film is more than a little dated. The only modern kid I can imagine enjoying this film is one with an extraordinarily great attention span and a penchant for B-films. In terms of production, this film has the feel of a 2 hour, 1960s low budget TV show, and is almost as clever.
I would recommend avoiding this film unless you're compelled to watch films which go to extremes. I found it cute, funny, and more than a tad ridiculous. To most people, it's a film version of your great Aunt's wallpaper - it's just there on the TV, while far more interesting things are happening in the carpet below your feet.
Basically everything is wrong about this film, and that's what makes it so great. It's hysterical, but even as you're laughing yourself breathless you can't help but feel bad inside that you're actually chewing down this rotten junk food. Because that's what Santa Claus Conquers the Martians is: a case of food poisoning. There are layers and layers of awfulness in this movie, and it really is an unforgettable experience. The actors are all stoned out of their minds and extremely ugly. The title pretty much explains the plot, although there's not really a lot of "conquering". Maybe a better title would have been "Santa Claus Laughs at Inappropriate Times while Hanging Out with Bad Actors in Silly Outfits"? Just saying. I know it isn't as catchy, but at least it's not deceiving.
It would be impossible to sum up all the stuff that sucks about this film, so I'll break it down into what I remember most strongly: a man in an ingeniously fake-looking polar bear costume (funnier than the "bear" from Hercules in New York); an extra with the most unnatural laugh you're ever likely to hear; an ex-dope addict martian with tics; kid actors who make sure every syllable of their lines are slowly and caaarreee-fulll-yyy prrooo-noun-ceeed; a newspaper headline stating that Santa's been "kidnaped", and a giant robot. Yes, you read that right. A giant robot.
The worst acting job in here must be when Mother Claus and her elves have been "frozen" by the "Martians'" weapons. Could they be *more* trembling? I know this was the sixties and everyone was doped up, but still.
This wins the Dung Beetle Award of the year. Destined to become a Christmas classic for me!
First I saw "Reefer Madness." It was bad, but great.
Then I saw "Plan 9 From Outer Space." Horrible, but enjoyable.
After that I saw "Robot Monster." Awful and yet spectacular.
Finally, I saw "Santa Claus Conquers the Martians" Wow, how can you make a lame plot for a screenplay worse? By making a low budget film out of it. And that's just what Joseph Levine thought when he released this film onto an unsuspecting Earth. Now I ask you, is this indeed the WORST film of all time? My opinion: NO. In my translation of the meaning "bad film" means "unbearable, unwatchable and disposable." Not "Santa Claus Conquers the Martians." This film is a landmark in the American motion picture industry. The makers of this film actually had the guts to create and release this film. Now that takes some serious talent! Let's not forget the actors either. Surprisingly the acting isn't nearly as bad as it's made out to be (people confuse the 'acting' with the 'plot.'). The children, the Martians and even Santa Claus make one heck of an impression on a shoe-string budget film like this (don't forget that weird professor Albert Einstein wannabe). Above all, clever a production design really create a fine sense of cheesiness. Now, how about a brand new DVD 'Special Cheesy Edition' of "Santa Claus Conquers the Martians?"
"Santa Claus Conquers the Martians" is a rare and satisfying little gem of a film that broke, no, shattered all the rules of making a "good and enjoyable" movie. Now if only the bad films we get nowadays would be as bad as this one. Then they would actually be deemed "enjoyable."
I give "Santa Claus Conquers the Martians" 5 frozen-stiff elves zapped by Voldar, out of 5.
A true cinematic cult classic.
This is truly the worst movie I have ever seen, but it really goes beyond that. Something this stunningly terrible simply had to be done on purpose. Every joke, every "special effect" every background, every costume is done without any kind of thought as to not looking like it was done in under fifty seconds. This film brings artistry to sub-mediocrity. Something so basely horrible defies the physics of cinematography. I could not make a worse movie if I spent absolutely no time at all making it. Someone really, really tried to make this piece of gold stink like a thousand dead scatologists. If you have a dollar on you the next time you pass by your local dollar store, do yourself a favor and revel in the worst thing you can imagine.
Every year on Christmas Eve me and my friend exchange strange gifts
with each other. Last Christmas I gave him a bike with no wheels and he
gave me a video which his grand-dad gave to him once upon a time. The
video was called, "Santa Claus Conquers the Martians", I instantly
thought "omdays I so have to watch this!", and I did. I was hooked.
SANTA VS. ET = $$$. This movie would be the wet dream for any movie
watching fanboy, as I reiterate, this is SANTA VS MARTIANS for God
sake! How can you NOT want to watch this and NOT like it?
Santa Claus Conquers the Martians is a brilliant film made for the brilliant mind. Simple brains can't comprehend the beauty and raw voice that it embodies. People who say "I don't get it" or "it was boring" just wouldn't know a good film if it came and whacked them upside the a**.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
I think that the main magic of many of these endearing old camp films
comes from the fact that they undoubtedly have something amiable,
cordial .In these things, SANTA
excels. From this came a sort a
primitive poetry that has emotional relevance and can still be enjoyed,
tasted. The effects were clumsy and what not, yet the touch was light
and amiable. It elicited, on the viewer's part, a complicity. SANTA
is in no way a classic; but it is a cordial amiable funny movie very
aware of its limitations, humble yet confident. It was the joyfulness
of the pictures made by another race of movie makers. This is what has
been lost since, and is missing today.
Such films have an undeserved fame, an unmerited bad reputation; they are not bad, they are clumsy. There are thousands of worst movies; and more clumsy.
These are picturesquely clumsy. This is their specific. Only the philistines take them for being 'bad', or even 'the worst'.
SANTA was so long ago labeled, classified, that,as a newcomer to the cult,I knew what to expectand I was not disappointed. I suspect of hypocrisy those who pretend to be amazed (negatively) by what this film is aboutor about what it looks like. Come on, we all already knewthe film but confirms us. Its cult precedes it.
Santa Claus is a funny ,serene Sci-Fi adventure for kids. I have seen for the first time as a 29 yrs. man,and liked it.I can only guess what a fun experience might this film be for a kid. It is clumsy in a way so humble, so modest, that it's endearing. It is a nice joyride, colorful and amusing. It is cheerful ,childish and clumsy. I do not understand the sour bitter compact prejudice against it. It's not much to be said about SANTA CLAUS; what can one comment about a nice joke, or about an unpretentious fairy tale?
The title pretty mush somes up what kind of movie we have here. That is
cheesy, dumb, and wrong on so many levels. In other words, the perfect
film for MST3K.
I don't really need to how bad it is but there is only one msytery that eludes me. Who the hell thought that this might a good enough idea to put money to fund a film like this? I can only think of two reasons:
1. Since it's a holiday film, they thought they could get away with it. 2. It was made in Canada.
Still I love the MST version and can't think of a better film that could serve as their Chrismas special. Also I never noticed prior to watching this that Santa is smoking. An icon for children everywhere is smoking out of a pipe! Hilarious!
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
This film is regarded as a "turkey" and one of those films that's "so
bad it's good." There are several things to consider when reviewing
this film, but the most important considerations are the time it was
made and the intended audience.
Santa Claus Conquers The Martians was made in 1964. Anyone who was a child around 1964 can tell you it was a very innocent time compared to today. Kids genuinely believed in Santa Claus then. One must also consider a child's concept of Martians, robots, and space travel in 1964. The cheesy Martian makeup and the clunky robot may evoke laughter from a modern audience, but a child's toy collection in 1964 might have had a Marx tin robot toy that looked very much like the one featured in this film. In fact, Marx Toy Company created the toys used in this film.
I was born in 1968, and I remember watching this movie on commercial television in the early 70s with my mother. Adult viewers see the story, set design, and effects as cheap and silly, but to a child in the 60s and 70s, this film was perfect Christmas viewing.
It's important to remember that this film was intended for children, and more specifically, children from a specific time in history. Not all films are timeless, and this one can be regarded more as a time capsule, showing just how innocent kids were 50 years ago.
The premise that Santa was real and had adventures beyond his annual duties was just fun for kids. I can't imagine this film having the bad reputation it has if it were done as one of the Rankin-Bass animated Christmas specials.
A look at the cast also reveals that all of the adult actors were professionals from stage and other film productions. I found the line delivery and acting to be sincere, and it's obvious that the cast did this because they loved their children. If this were done as a stage production, the audience would laugh along with the silliness, but kids would be mesmerized. And that's another thing to consider: the movie's costumes and set design actually seem more suited to a stage play rather than a film.
I'd say if you watch this film expecting some kind of sci-fi classic, you'll be disappointed. But if you look at it from a historical point of view, and consider that it's a play made with love for children who believed Santa Claus would visit them soon, you might see it in a different light.
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