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Nobody expects a film with a title like this to be serious, and certainly this one wasn't - which helped a little, despite it being terrible. Here, cheesy Martians travel to Earth with a clunky robot to kidnap Santa and two Earth children, and take them back to Mars in the hope of bringing some good cheer to their own planet and their depressed Martian offspring. But there is one villainous Martian who thinks Santa is nothing but a troublesome fat man in a red suit, and tries to put a stop to him. A bad film to be sure, but I must confess I found the title song "Hooray for Santa Claus" fun in a definitely offbeat sort of way. * out of ****
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
When is sweetness that thing that rescues the tart from bitterness, and
when is it the thing that makes the already sweet sweeten to vomitus? I
pondered this whilst rewatching the 1964 color film 'classic' Santa
Claus Conquers The Martians. This little film routinely shows up on
many folks' Worst Films Ever Made lists, along with such abominations
as Plan 9 From Outer Space, Robot Monster and The Beast From Yucca
Flats. Yet, while there truly is no 'more' to this film vs. the others,
in terms of depth, acting, writing, cinematography, etc., there is one
big difference between this film and the others: this is the only one
of those films, and a half dozen more notorious 'so bad they're good'
films, which was made and targeted specifically for children. The
others were failures of a mature vision (so to speak), whereas this
film is the failure of an immature vision; a sort of failed Elf- the
Will Ferrell hit of a few years back. For that reason, it is far more
difficult to pin down what exactly is the result of mere ineptitude and
incredible stolidity (not to mention cheapness, for the film was not
made in Hollywood, but at the 'Michael Myerberg Studios' on Long
Island, New York; which was, in reality, an abandoned Air Force hangar-
if legend is to be believed) and what is the result of cynical adults
simply not 'getting' bygone children's entertainment fare. Think of
Santa Claus Conquers The Martians as the 1960s answer to that current
piece of PC PBS swill, Barney The Dinosaur. Of course, this is an
instance where I am openly pondering intent (although, with such a
title, what sort of serious intent could this film have?), but because
that's perhaps the lone thing that might take a rational being more
than an instant to decide their opinion on.
The film was directed by one Nicholas Webster, who went on to a mildly successful Hollywood career as a television director, and was written by two- Paul L. Jacobon and Glenville Mareth, who did not. The film's only other claim to fame- aside from its artistic ignominy, is that it featured the film debut of Pia Zadora- the legendarily bad future softcore porno star who won a 1982 Golden Globe Award for Butterfly, purchased by her decades older billionaire husband. Zadora stars as a Martian girl called Girmar (Get it?: Girl Martian- Girmar).
Here is an in depth (OK, a cursory) look at the film's narrative, such as it is: The kids of Mars are dull, lazy, and trained from birth by electronic devices to have a full store of knowledge by the time they are able to toddle (sort of like children now, who at three or four, are Internet savvy .and increasingly autistic). Worse, they are zoned out by watching mindless Earth television shows (the revenge of Newt Minnow!). The King of Mars, Kimar (Leonard Hicks), is perplexed, and asks his wife, Momar (Leila Martin, aka Mom Martian) about what's ailing their two kids, Girmar (see above) and Bomar (Christopher Month: OK, let's see .Boy Martian?). They divine that the kids are not having fun, so Kimar rallies the top leaders of Mars to visit an 800 year old sage, Chochem (Carl Don), in a Martian forest (which lacks trees), and he tells them the legend of Santa Claus, and how Mars needs a Santa Claus. I swear, Yoda from Star Wars was patterned after Don's seminal performance here . I probably first saw this film when I was five or six, less than a decade after its release, and it has stuck with me through the years- despite its flaws, which attests to the fact that it has power, from whatever source. Of course, the same can be said of herpes, but enough of that line of reasoning. The DVD version I saw was on one of those cheapo 50 pack DVDs, thus there were no special features, and the public domain version of this film is about at the level of a 20 year old VHS tape- i.e.- in some reels the Martian's look like they're wearing green skin makeup- due to desaturation; in others gray, pink or black (my wife initially thought Girmar and Bomar were black kids!); and in some others there appears to be no makeup. The music, aside from the theme song, is virtually nonexistent. The film is also notable for some of the stock footage it uses of U.S. military planes scrambling to intercept the Martian flying saucer (although, in honesty, the craft looks more like a bad erector set than Plan 9-like pie tins).
The film also slips in some none too sly political references, such as Santa forgetting a reindeer's name, and calling him Nixon, then literally winking at the camera, or having the TV reporter who first informs the world of Santa's kidnapping, interview Werner Von Breen (not Braun), head of NASA- or the film's equivalent. Small moments like this almost make up for the ineptitude of good intentions, as does the casting of Ned Wertimer as the TV reporter who goes to the North Pole to interview Santa, for Wertimer would later go on to star in a small role as Ralph the doorman on the TV show The Jeffersons.
But, reread the above; I wrote almost. Despite my personal affection for this winsome little horrorshow, I cannot give it an enthusiastic Ebertian thumbs up, the way I can for some of the aforementioned classic baddies. Instead, let my thumb quiver in the middle. Decide for yourself if that's a recommendation or a deleted scene of Dropo just after indulging a flatulence fetish.
Ah, the dangers of too much Earth TV... makes Martian children behave
worrisomely and their parents Earth raiders kidnapping Santa.
Even a child in the original audience would have known enough of Mars for this setup to be laughably silly. Even so, there is a campy creativity at work here that saves the film from being the worst ever, or even worst Santa movie ever (that distinction being firmly reserved for Santa and the Ice Cream Bunny).
With gaggles of martians bumbling around like Marx Brothers, Martian June Cleavers producing Chocolate Layer Cake Pills as special family treats, a Mrs Claus blushing that "Television" has come to her house, a set of pipe-smoking toy-making Little People as elves, and Pia Zadora as child of the red planet, there is enough to keep your brain in question mode for a long time.
Don't ask questions. Liquor up and enjoy...
I have seen this film twice now. In fact, I own it. I found it about a
year ago in the states for a buck. I feared watching it for about six
months. Finally, I built up the courage and a few friends of mine and I
watched it. All I can say is wow.
I quite literally laughed my way for the full hour and half. It was painful. Voldar was by far the best character. He was just so furious.
Tell me this. How can Santa turn a robot into a toy by looking at it? Why did the midgets still shake after they were 'frozen' by the Martian freeze ray? Worst of all, why did the user of the ray gun have to make their own shooting sounds? Oh, and has anyone ever heard of a 'Radar Box'? I'm a radar guy in the Navy and I've never heard of one... WTF? The Polar Bear scene was one of my favourites. Quite clearly a man in a suit, the polar bear ambled along on his hands and knees (yes, knees... there was no effort taken whatsoever to conceal the legs...).
Nevertheless, for sheer stupidity, this film was enjoyable. Eighty-one minutes of pure stupidity. Pure laughable stupidity.
I suggest you watch this if you have nothing to do. Or if you partake in smoking certain banned substances.
I didn't like this movie when I was a kid. Now, as an adult, I can appreciate the true awfulness of this movie. I love movies that are so stupid that they're entertaining. I love Ed Wood movies, Lost in Space, Zontar the Thing from Venus, but this movie surpasses the stupidity threshold. If your children insist on watching this movie, I recommend leaving the room!! Does this movie have any redeeming qualities?...Hmmm...Vincent Beck did do a fair job portraying the villain...and...Oh yes,you do get to see a prepubescent Pia Zadora standing around with a blank look on her face when she doesn't have any lines!! There's plenty of holiday entertainment out there you can watch before enduring this.
I don't see why someone would think people would want to see a movie
about Santa Clause and Martians, but I guess someone did, and gave
birth to this. "Santa Clause Conquers the Martians" is a strange kids
film, but it probably will appeal to 6 year olds. Also the title really
doesn't describe the plot. It's more about Santa befriending the
Martians rather than conquering them.
Martian parents are very annoyed that their kids are watching too many Earth programs on the TV. That somehow leads them to capturing two Earth kids and Santa Clause to suck the joy out of life, but Santa uses his charm to become friends with most of the Martians, but the few that still hate him plot against him.
None of the actors, including the man who plays Santa Clause are likable and they all do a pretty bad job. The special effects are better than I expected, but they are still really bad... a guy in a bear costume and a really strange looking cardboard robot. The climax of the film is one of the dumbest things I've ever seen, and any mildly positive thing goes away here. But even with all of it's continuity errors, terrible acting and pure strangeness, it's still better than other bad Christmas movies, such as "Santa Claus" (1959).
My rating: 1/2 out of ****. 83 mins.
Despite what other reviewers may say, this movie is full of practical
purpose. You see, Santa Claus Conquers the Martians is, fortunately,
Yes, fortunately, because otherwise it could not be used with children as an effective illustration that Santa Claus could not possibly exist. Parents are warned to give their children sufficient comfort during the watching of this film, as they realize through the horrific acting (which will remind them of their uncle's attempts at Santa in his red bathrobe on Christmas day) that they have been had the first 4-5 years of life. In this way, Santa Claus Conquers can quickly pull your child through a difficult realization in their earlier years. A two thumbs-up children's educational video!
This reviewer anticipates a sequel involving the Easter Bunny or Elvis Presley against the same Martian enemy -- Santa Claus Conquers may have started what will become a series of trusted vaccinations against the more ridiculous myths of American culture.
For those MST3K fans out there, "Santa Claus Conquers the Martians" is
undoubtedly a movie you've heard of. For those not so familiar, the
basic plot is Martians kidnap Santa to bring happiness to Mars. Sounds
pretty bad doesn't it? While it isn't the worst movie ever made, it's
easily the worst holiday movie ever made. I simply can't believe how
bad it is.
The worst example of the vomit inducing dialogue includes a scene where Santa forgets the name of his reindeer and calls one of them "Nixon". Are you cringing yet? This movie also has some of the worst special effects I've seen, which brings to mind "Plan 9 from Outer Space". This movie has a crappy robot and a crappy polar bear. I'm truly scared of these moments not because of their effectiveness, but because of the utter incompetence of the costume department in the film.
Still, despite it's horridness, it's still worth watching. It's in the public domain, so a quick look on Google, Yahoo, etc. will easily result in a few places to download the movie. I must say, Edward Wood would be proud of this film.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Seeing as it's Christmas time (still just), I thought why not a have a
crap Christmas film to be the latest entry into the Steveo1986 file of
movie stinkers? "But then, why did you - and every other reviewer for
that matter - watch this festive drivel?" I hear you ask. And a good
question, from all this:
Santa Claus Conquers The Martians; despite the title, there is more chance of this crap conquering your mentality. In fact, if anything, the martians conquer Santa Claus in some ways. The story is that a Martian couple on Mars are concerned about the children of the planet being depressed, so they travel to Earth and kidnap Father Christmas to introduce Christmas to the children in order to cheer them up. But, oh jeez...oh jeez oh jeez oh jeeeeeeez...um, yeah, they also kidnap to two children with acting that I can probably only describe as the most pathetic ever. I mean, for crying out, it's so shockingly cringefully...-?-..., it's not even rehearsal quality! They act out their lines by ev-er-y b-leed-ing syl-la-ble. Quite frankly, I hope to hell they both have eternal bans from acting.
Tne others aren't much better, the parent Martians are kind of OK. The other Martians are just quite stupid, they can't tell the the retarded Martian isn't the real Santa. And Santa finding cold dinner funny. Wow! Billy Collony should make a time machine and say to his child "eat it now or it will go cold and that'll be so f***ing hilarious!!!". I don't think so. In other words, if you want a good sane Chrimbo, avoid this like the plague.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
This movie was almost as bad as "Manos: The hands of fate", it was
really not worth the time and effort put into it, it had to have been
another cheaply made movie, judging by the cheaply made guns that when
you point them at someone they make a noise and the person freezes and
also of course the bear in the north pole where you can clearly see the
mask of it drooping over the body, this movie almost made me go to
tears with its crappyness, i would say i had a much better time
watching "Manos: The hands of fate" since both of these movies came in
a Mystery science theater package.
The name it self made no sense, its not like Santa Claus did anything to conquer them, he just made them presents and thats about it, I'm not gonna go on, this movie made me so mad that i could write forever and ever, but i wont just one more comment: That stupid Robot was the stupidest prop i have ever seen used in a movie, it was like huge, but then it got the kids and it was regular size again, this movie made me very sad and i probably will never watch it again. i suggest not buying this movie, or if you do, send it as a lovely Christmas present to the relative that sends you fruit cake, happy holidays!
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