Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Santa Claus Conquers the Martians

Directed by Nicholas Webster.
1964. Not Rated, 81 minutes.
John Call
Leonard Hicks
Vincent Beck
Bill McCutcheon
Victor Stiles
Donna Conforti
Chris Month
Pia Zadora
Leila Martin
Charles Renn
Carl Don
Doris Rich

Children all over Mars are having trouble sleeping. They merely want to watch “Earth programs” on “the video.” The planet’s leader, Kimar (Hicks), is understandably perplexed and searching for an answer. His wife Momar (Martin) suggests he speak with Chochem (Don), a wise old sage who has all the answers. After finding out what month it is, “Septober”, Chochem tells him that the kids are miserable because they don’t have a Santa Claus like they see on all the Earth programs this time of year. Naturally, Kimar decides that the only solution is going to Earth and kidnapping old St. Nick so he can spread Christmas spirit all over Mars. Unintentional hilarity, bad acting, worse dialogue and military stock footage ensues.

When I say bad acting, I’m really serious. We’re talking an entire roster of wooden performers in ridiculous costumes. Actually, the costumes aren’t so bad, but the makeup is terrible. Our martians all have unevenly applied green face paint that makes it look as if they haven’t washed their mugs in a while. However, two actors aren’t so bad. Bill McCutcheon is pretty good as Dropo, essentially the village idiot. McCutcheon would go on to a long career as a character actor. John Call also does well as Santa. Neither blows your doors off, but next to the others, they look like Oscar winners.

There were obviously some budgetary issues, also. The use of military stock footage when the Martians are detected in our skies is a tell-tale sign. The cheap Martian sets are another. Just in case you’re not aware this was made on the cheap, there is a sign you can’t miss. There is a polar bear lurking around The North Pole when they’re trying to grab Santa. Let me re-phrase that. There is a guy in a cheap polar bear suit lurking around what’s supposed to be The North Pole. Even for the era in which this movie was made it’s quite a ways below standard. If this doesn’t make you laugh, you have no soul. Oh, about that North Pole: we’re told it’s 91 degrees below zero up there. That’s fine and dandy except for the fact that our two human children, also kidnapped by Martians, don’t have on nearly enough clothing to avoid freezing to death. The girl has on a skirt! You know what? Never mind. Having them dressed appropriately would make sense where the rest of this flick makes none.

Okay, I’ve really nothing more to say other than one of the Martian children is a young Pia Zadora. She would have a moderately successful music career over the next few decades, along with being more famous for her “celebrity” issues. She’d also totally bomb as an actress. Most infamously she went on to star in the sleaze classic The Lonely Lady. Here, they show her face a number of times but she only has a few lines. Like just about everyone else she delivers them flatly. Ms. Zadora is just a small part of an experience that’s so bad it’s awesome!

MY SCORE: -10/10


  1. I've been seeing a lot of b-movies, and so far I think I've only seen two I'd call hilariously bad: The Room and Santa Claus Conquers the Martians. While John Call is actually a pretty good Santa the whole premise is just so ridiculous and it's awesomely campy with all the cheesy effects like that guy in the polar bear costume you noted, which is followed by another guy wearing a painted cardboard box in an effort to look like a robot.

    1. This certainly qualifies as hilariously bad. To see more such gems, you might have to go down a notch or two below B-movies, whatever that would be (Z-movies?). Yup, the guy in the cardboard box is reminiscent of something you'd see in an elementary school play.

  2. This movie was quoted in a best Christmas movies countdown list (almost sarcastically). It showed a couple of highlights. Santa has a very sinister laugh, that 'polar bear' is the naffest thing I've ever seen, the make up is dreadful and it looks like there was never a budget. Unlike The Room though, this does sound like a bad movie even from the title.