Santa Claus Conquers the Martians

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Santa Claus Conquers the Martians
Santa Claus Conquers the Martians 1.jpg
Promotional film poster
Directed by Nicholas Webster
Produced by Paul L. Jacobson
Joseph E. Levine
Arnold Leeds
Written by Paul L. Jacobson
Glenville Mareth
Starring John Call
Leonard Hicks
Vincent Beck
Bill McCutcheon
Victor Stiles
Donna Conforti
Chris Month
Pia Zadora
Leila Martin
Charles Renn
Music by Milton DeLugg
Cinematography David L. Quaid
Edited by William Henry
Distributed by Embassy Pictures Corporation
Release date(s)
  • November 14, 1964 (1964-11-14)
Running time 81 min.
Country USA
Language English
Budget $200,000 (estimated)

Santa Claus Conquers the Martians is a 1964 science fiction film that regularly appears on lists of the worst films ever made. It is regularly featured in the "bottom 100" list on the Internet Movie Database, and was featured in an episode of the 1986 syndicated series, the Canned Film Festival. It was directed by Nicholas Webster, and it stars John Call as Santa Claus. It also includes an 8-year-old Pia Zadora playing the role of one of the Martian children and also marks the first documented appearance of Mrs. Claus in a motion picture (Doris Rich plays the role), coming three weeks before the TV special Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer also featured the character.

The film took on newfound fame in the 1990s after being featured on an episode of the comedy series Mystery Science Theater 3000. The episode became a holiday staple on the Comedy Central cable channel in the years following its 1991 premiere. It has since found new life again, as it has been the subject of new riffing by Cinematic Titanic and RiffTrax, both productions of former MST3K writers and performers. The movie was also featured on the current run of Elvira's Movie Macabre.

Plot[edit]

The story involves the people of Mars, including Momar ("Mom Martian") and Kimar ("King Martian"). They're worried that their children Girmar ("Girl Martian") and Bomar ("Boy Martian") are watching too much Earth television, most notably station KID-TV's interview with Santa Claus in his workshop at the North Pole. Consulting the ancient 800-year-old Martian sage Chochem (a Yiddish word meaning "genius"), they are advised that the children of Mars are growing distracted due to the society's overly rigid structure; from infancy, all their education is fed into their brains through machines and they are not allowed individuality or freedom of thought.

Chochem notes that he had seen this coming "for centuries", and says the only way to help the children is to allow them their freedom and be allowed to have fun. To do this, they need a Santa Claus figure, like on Earth. Leaving the Chochem's cave, the Martian leaders decide to abduct Santa Claus from Earth and bring him to Mars. As the Martians could not distinguish between all the fake Santas, they kidnapped two children to find the real one. Once this is accomplished, one Martian, Voldar, who strongly disagrees with the idea, repeatedly tries to kill Santa Claus along with the two kidnapped Earth children. He believes that Santa is corrupting the children of Mars and turning them away from the race's original glory.

When they arrive on Mars, Santa and the children build a factory to make toys for the children. However, Voldar and his assistants, Stobo and Shim, sabotage the factory and change the programming so that it makes the toys incorrectly. Meanwhile, Dropo, Kimar's assistant, has taken a great liking to Santa Claus and Christmas, puts on one of Santa's spare suits and starts acting like Santa Claus. He goes to the toy factory to make toys, but Voldar mistakes him for Santa and kidnaps him.

When Santa and the children come back to the factory to make more toys, they discover the machines have been tampered with. Voldar and Stobo come back to the factory to make a deal with Kimar, but when they see the real Santa Claus they realize that their plan has been foiled. Dropo, held hostage in a cave, tricks his guard Shim and escapes. Kimar then arrests Voldar, Stobo and Shim. Santa notices Dropo acts like him, and says that Dropo would make a good Martian Santa. Kimar agrees to let Dropo be the Martian Santa Claus and sends Santa and the children back to Earth.

Cast[edit]

Release[edit]

Home Media[edit]

Due to its public domain status in the United States, Santa Claus Conquers the Martians has been released on many different bargain-price DVD labels.

  • Originally broadcast on The Comedy Channel (United States) on December 21, 1991, the Mystery Science Theater 3000 version of the film was released on DVD by Rhino Home Video as part of "MST3K: The Essentials" on August 31, 2004.
  • Mill Creek Entertainment released the film on DVD as part of their Holiday Family Collection in 2006.
  • Cinematic Titanic riffed the film on DVD, released in November 2008.
  • The Cinema Insomnia version was released by Apprehensive Films as part of their Slime Line series.[1]
  • E1 Entertainment Elvira's Movie Macabre version was released on DVD on December 6, 2011.
  • Kino Lorber planned to release a Santa Claus Conquers the Martians: Kino Classics Special Edition on Blu-ray and DVD on October 30, 2012. However, it was discovered that the discs had been pressed using a severely truncated master copy running only 69 minutes. A new version was released on December 4, 2012, with the original running time intact.
  • RiffTrax, a production of several former MST3K writers and performers, selected the film for riffing in a live event held December 5, 2013 and broadcast to movie theaters around the country.
  • The beginning scene that the Martian children are watching and when this film was release in late 1964, the television program that the children are watching with the announcer making his broadcast and the signage below his microphone, the station call letters, being "KID" is an actual assigned call letter by the FCC to a radio/television studio in Idaho Falls, Idaho. To date, "KID" is still assigned to the AM radio portion of the studio, whereas the television side of the studio, due to a ruling by the FCC that radio and TV can't hold the same call letters, had to add a letter to the original call sign where the television studio is called with the new call sign being, "KIDK".

Reception[edit]

From 20 reviews in Rotten Tomatoes, the film scored a 25%.[2]

Influence[edit]

A single issue comic book adaptation of the film was published by Dell Comics.[3]

It has been named one of the worst films ever. Years later, the film was included as one of the choices in the book The Fifty Worst Films of All Time.

The movie was featured in episode number 3.21 of Mystery Science Theater 3000 and a new version by the MST3K spinoff Cinematic Titanic became available in late November 2008.[4][5][6] Scenes from the movie were used in both A Colbert Christmas: The Greatest Gift of All! (during the song sung by Toby Keith), and Eloise at Christmastime (when Sir Wilkes is watching television).

A scene from the film featuring Bomar (Chris Month) and Girmar (Pia Zadora)

The movie spawned a tongue-in-cheek novelization by Lou Harry, released by Penguin Books/Chamberlain Bros. in 2005. The book, which includes a DVD of the original film,[7] presents the story from the perspective of a now-adult Girmar, who has not only succeeded her father as ruler of Mars, but also narrates the tale in a 'valley girl'-esque type of language.

In 1993 a theatrical production of Santa Claus Conquers the Martians, the Musical premiered at the Factory Theatre in Chicago, adapted and directed by Sean Abley.[8][9][10] In 2006 a second theatrical production premiered at the Maverick Theater in Fullerton, California, this version was adapted by Brian Newell and Nick McGee. The Maverick's production has become a comedic success, a local tradition and performed every holiday season there since 2006, with the next production to be performed in December 2013.[11]

Brazilian comedy group Hermes & Renato spoofed the film in their MTV program Tela Class, redubbing it as "Santa Claus e o pozinho mágico" (Santa Claus and the Magic Powder; "magic powder" being more loosely translated here as "angel dust"). In this version, Santa is a drug dealer.

References[edit]

Notes
  1. ^ "Santa Claus Conquers the Martians Slime Line DVD". Apprehensive Films. Retrieved 19 July 2010. 
  2. ^ "Santa Claus Conquers the Martians". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved 2014-05-21. 
  3. ^ Mareth, Glenville (March 1966), Santa Claus Conquers The Martians (comic book), New York, NY: Dell Comics 
  4. ^ Chaplin, Paul; et al. (May 1996). "Season 3". The Mystery Science Theater 3000 Amazing Colossal Episode Guide. Bantam Books. p. 59. ISBN 0-553-37783-3. 
  5. ^ "Season Three: 1991-1992". Mystery Science Theater 3000: The Unofficial Episode Guide. Satellite News. Retrieved 2007-11-05. 
  6. ^ "Mystery Science Theater 3000: Santa Claus Conquers the Martians (1991)". Internet Movie Database. Retrieved 2007-11-05. 
  7. ^ Harry, Lou (27 September 2005). Santa Claus Conquers the Martians (hardcover) (1st edition ed.). New American Library. ISBN 978-1-59609-163-4. 
  8. ^ "Factory History". Factory Theater. Retrieved 2007-11-05. 
  9. ^ "Biography for Sean Abley". Internet Movie Database. Retrieved 2007-11-05. 
  10. ^ "Sean Abley: Writer/Director/Producer". Dark Blue Films. Archived from the original on 2007-10-15. Retrieved 2007-11-05. 
  11. ^ "Santa Claus Conquers the Martians". mavericktheater.com. The Maverick Theater. Fall 2007. Retrieved 2007-11-05. 
Bibliography

External links[edit]