Continuing on with the holiday madness...be sure to check back later tonight for more Christmas action! After reviewing Santa Claws, I'm glad I'll no longer have the opportunity to proclaim a movie as the worst ever made. Mission accomplished. But that doesn't mean other movies aren't vying for the title. Today's Christmas flick takes us back to the year 1964. Before I continue, I have to explain some things. The movie is I guess somewhat intended to be for kids - in part by nature, and in part by the fact that nobody with any independence would choose to watch this with their time. However, I must mention that if this movie was indeed meant for kids, it was meant for kids who have suffered three lobotomies and are of the result of an incestuous marriage.
SANTA CLAUS CONQUERS THE MARTIANS! Good God, picture my expression when I came across this one at the video store. I knew I struck gold, but I didn't know what kind of gold until I actually sat down to watch it, where the answer became clear. Shitty gold. I'm sure the person who invented the wheel was so excited by his discovery that he didn't bother to do anything remotely useful with it at first. Likewise, the people who made this film were so excited over their startling realization that cardboard doubles as a spaceship and splash-painted rubber balls double as Mars that they completely disregarded the fact that they were supposed to be telling a good story. Instead, what we get is without question the most insane Santa Claus yet, a guy who's incessant giggling is so startling, even the martians have no choice but to laugh along. We're also privy to such scenes as the magnificent fake polar bear attack, not to mention a killer alien robot who thinks its a toy because Santa looked at its crotch.
Not sure what to make of all this, but after watching it, reviewing A Very Brady Christmas doesn't seem like that much of a daunting task. But that's up next, let's see how Santa reacts to life on Mars. You'll be pretty surprised by how well he takes the news.
The children on Mars are depressed, and for a multitude of reasons other than the fact that they've got clothes hangers and pipe cleaners coming out of their heads. They're also upset because their faces appear to be loosely covered in leafy monkey dung. They're also upset because they're in this movie. But most of all, they're upset because they're watching Earth programs on television, where the painful truth is before their eyes: Mars has no Santa Claus.
How do they know this? Well, Santa's being interviewed on the news. That's right! Live interview with Santa on a television show that's broadcasted all the way to Mars. For 1964, that's some pretty kickass technology. Santa laughs heartily, and just before he answers the reporter's questions about toys, he...laughs heartily again! See, this is no ordinary movie Santa Claus. This isn't a guy who's relatively jolly and throws a 'ho ho ho' in where it fits. No, this is Santa on crack. The kind of Santa who laughs at funerals. The guy literally laughs his way through the entire motion picture, if I dare call it that. Most people don't know this, but he wasn't scripted to do that. John Call just tripped over all his ridiculous lines. He knew they were too inane to actually say, so he laughed instead. This explains why Santa's so happy about being kidnapped by the martians later, and also why he shows no anger after one of them makes a pretty blatant attempt to murder him.
Martian parents everywhere are concerned. All of their children are sad and depressed, and nobody knows how to stop it! They're sick of having to use the 'sleeping gas' to get their kids to bed, and virtually no child is eating the jelly beans that supposedly taste like hamburgers either. Its a global affair, and something must be done immediately. I should mention that these martians apparently celebrate Chirstmas. They're also all wearing scuba gear. Up above we see Leonard Hicks' stunning portrayal of Kilmar, the lead martian. Kilmar's virtues are a little messed up, but he's not really a bad guy. He just wants his kids to smile. And isn't that what we all want?
Earth has its Magic 8-Balls and Ben Kenobi for sage advice. Mars has a crazy old man who lives in a cave. Before he takes a powder by disappearing in an ominous cloud of smoke, he tells the martians what Mars needs: Santa Claus.
At first, they're a little unsure of whether or not making the kids happy is worth traveling to Earth to kidnap Santa Claus. It really negates the whole 'holiday spirit' idea. But hey, the old crazy man said to do it. Despite some protests, Kilmar and some other idiots gather in the spaceship and head for Earth. The spaceship appears to be a can of corn with yellow construction paper loosely wrapped around it, but hey, a Volvo isn't exactly the best looking car on the market, now is it? They just want to get this done as quickly and safely as possible.
The Earth reporter tells the world that a martian spacecraft is on the horizon. He doesn't seem too shocked about it, and its easy to see why. The guy just announced an interview with Santa Claus ten minutes ago. After that, martians are a breeze.
Kilmar and friends come across a little boy and girl sitting in the woods. Alone. The kids are a little stunned at first that green men from Mars pointing guns at them are asking where Santa Claus is, but thankfully, little Billy has a cool head. He kindly informs them that all the other Santas they see strolling around town are just his helpers, and the only way to find the real Santa is to go to the North Pole.
To show their appreciation, the martians kidnap the little kids. At first, Billy doesn't realize that he has just totally sold out Santa to Mars. Little Betty on the other hand doesn't realize much of anything. The picture quality on the video was poor, so I don't know for sure, but I'm gonna say its a 50/50 bet that they just got a cardboard cutout of a girl to play Betty. It explains why she doesn't change facial expressions from now till the end of the movie.
The martians kidnap the kids and head off to the North Pole, where Billy and Betty escape to find that the rumors weren't true after all - the North Pole is actually one of the most temperate places on the planet, a virtual pleasure to stroll around in the middle of the night. They do run into a few problems though...
First, they encountered a polar bear. A polar bear which appears to have hind legs longer than mine. Hmmm. The kids take this as an omen that they should leave the sanctity of the cave they're hiding in and stroll along the snowline idly, awaiting doom. And doom comes in various forms, you know. Sometimes, doom comes in the form of a robot made out of tin foil with all the mobility of a coat rack.
The martian robot didn't catch the kids because he's skillful. He caught the kids because they stared at him for 15 minutes without moving, giving him ample time to wallow the 20' over and grab 'em. The Pulitzer, I tell you. Stanley Kubrick's famous attention to details was inspired solely from this film.
The robot's mission isn't complete yet, though. But hey, he's batting a thousand so far so there isn't much reason to doubt his abilities. This robot is Mars' greatest asset. And sadly, the biggest display of technology in this movie. Okay, I understand, its from 1964. I don't expect dinosaurs to chase Jeff Goldblum around. But at the very least, they could've remembered that Earth children shouldn't be able to breathe on Mars, and that that pop guns simply don't have the ability to make Mrs. Claus freeze (somewhat) in her place. Yeah, I left some of those scenes out from this review, but remember this holiday week's special motto: I'm doing it for your own damn good. Time for the robot to kidnap Santa!
Interestingly enough, Santa has superb defenses. The robot breaks down the door and throws the elves around, but Santa stops him dead in his tracks with the mightiest method I've ever seen: he says the robot looks like a toy. Because of this, the robot simply refuses to move, and is forgotten for the rest of the picture. No joke. Santa stares at his painted pelvic region, classifies him as a 'superbly made toy,' and that's that. Oh yeah, he laughs while he's doing this too. This Santa laughs at everything. Charismatic Claus.
The Martians, on the other hand, can't be stopped by being called toys. They enter Santa's workshop, which is clearly labeled as such on the outside, and demand satisfaction. To prove their point, they turn the cap guns of doom on some elves and Santa's glorious purple-haired wife, who seems to be having a bit of trouble remaining perfectly still. The cameraman fears nothing, mind you, so we get a full 20 seconds of Mrs. Claus doing her best to remain still and not blink.
They tell Santa he's being kidnapped, and are responded to with the heartiest laugh Mars has ever heard. This is 1964, right? Santa Claus may have very well had the world's first case of Alzheimer's. The martians have just shot all his friends and have flat out told him he's coming back with them to Mars, and the only thing Santa can muster up is a round of laughter. The absurdity of this scene is doubled when you realize who's in it: martians and Santa Claus. Hopkins wouldn't be able to make this scene work, so these guys just have absolutely no chance. They take Santa Claus away, and I guess news travels fast, because...
The reporter announces the unthinkable: MARTIANS HAVE KIDNAPPED SANTA CLAUS!!!! Holy SHIT imagine reading that in the Daily News. I don't even think Weekly World News would go this far. I put this movie on at around 3 AM last night, already hungover and already looking for sleep. I nodded in and out of the blasphemous robot-chase scene, but seeing that headline in print brought me back to life like a hammer to the skull. What the Hell are we watching here? Thank god movie companies usually have some sort of creative board of directors nowadays to veto bad ideas like this one.
And oh yeah, the reporter still shows no signs of shock over what he's reporting. In fact, he breaks the news almost gleefully. Must be Jewish.
Sweet Jesus. They test Santa's ability to cheer up the kids by introducing both parties, leading us to the movie's absolutely most asinine scene. Santa strolls into the room, gives the two martian kids one look, and busts out laughing. NO WORDS, mind you...just laughing. The martian kids are so frightened by this fat white guy that they just laugh along with him, for what seems like hours. The adult martians all agree that Santa is the way to go. So they build him a workshop to make toys for the children. Santa and the kids still haven't made much of a fuss over being kidnapped and taken to another planet, but then again, I didn't show you the scene where one of the bad martians locks them in an air vault and prepares to leave them floating in space. If they weren't pissed about that, this whole kidnapping thing is child's play.
For what its worth, the toy shop is pretty cool. I want one. Santa presses buttons and we see toys plop out of their appropriate slots. Unfortunately for the children of Mars, the selection is limited. There's only slots for dolls, baseball bats, toy cars, and balls. So if any baby martians were hoping for Yo Yo's, this'll be the last Christmas that they believe in Santa Claus. I don't know, I guess I can see a little green martian girl wanting a human baby doll for curiosity's sake, but what are all these kids gonna do with baseball bats? By my count, every child on Mars is going to receive one. This kidnapping has more plotholes than the movie itself.
Meanwhile, Dropo, the most annoying of the martians, tries on a Santa Claus suit. To our dismay, he likes what he sees enough to fondle himself in the mirror for three minutes. There's a lot of scenes in this movie that have no right to be there, but this one actually serves a purpose. Try to figure out how Dropo's donning of the Santa outfit will pan out. Come on, try. Its not that hard. Its not like anyone put any thought into this movie. Oh fuck it, I'll just spoil it for you: Dropo will end up being Mars' version of Santa Claus. Just forget I told you, I wouldn't want to spoil the ending of this jewel of modern cinema before its time to.
Voldar is the especially evil martian. While most of the others are indeed kidnappers, they're rather friendly to the Earthlings and Santa. But Voldar doesn't have kidnapping on his pipe cleaners...he wants to murder Santa. To do so, he enters the workshop carrying a disintegration gun. Santa laughs off the threat, much like he laughed off everything else in the movie. Remember, Santa is omnipotent. Voldar might think he has Santa where he wants him, but Mr. Claus knows what awaits in the background. KILLER TOYS and KILLER CHILDREN!!!!
The battle pits kids with tennis rackets and wind-up soldiers against a big mean martian with a gun. Keeping with the film's spirit of not making any sense, the children win the war by covering Voldar in Silly String while remote controlled tanks bump into his feet. Its a Christmas miracle!
HO HO HO - HAHHAHAHAHHAHHAHHH!
Yes, Voldar's been vanquished, and Santa is safe. Of course, he's still been abducted by aliens, but at least his life isn't in any imminent danger. And really, its not that bad. These aliens aren't probing his ass or making him eat jelly. They're just making his job easier by giving him convenient buttons which instantly create toys. Sure, the ambiance on Mars isn't that great, but its somehow got a better climate than the North Pole.
Santa tells the rest of the martians what I already told you: Dropo would make the perfect Mars version of himself! What a glorious day, problems solved across the solar system! Claus and the dumb kids exchange goodbyes with their humble hosts and kidnappers, wish each other a merry Christmas, and take off back to Earth in what I'm pretty sure was a coffee can with two marbles taped to it.
To be brutally honest, I've seen worse. But if you've read this site for any length of time, you know what I've seen. For a rookie, this movie won't just prove intolerable. It'll drive 'em to the brink of sanity. I can get over the martians' headgear, the stupid children, the ridiculous robot...but I just can't get over the laughter of Santa. I've now seen movies that have Santa Claus raping women, killing families, and flying away in vans. But this is the one flick that'll forever change how I view jolly old Saint Nick.
Overall Rating: For a movie this lengthy, I shouldn't be able to sum it up as easily as I have below. I didn't try to kill myself during this one, but I can't say the same for my VCR. Recommended for bad movie collecting completists, but certainly not for the weak of heart. Or for the intelligent. Or the living.
Martian: Santa, you're coming with me!
Santa: Ho Ho Hooooahahahahhahahahah!
Santa: HAHAHAHAHAHAH! HAHHHAHAHAHAHAH!
Martian: Oh fuck this. I'll just kidnap a hooker instead.