Santa Claus Conquers the Martians
Santa Claus Conquers the Martians is a 1964 American science fiction comedy film directed by Nicholas Webster, produced and written by Paul L. Jacobson, based on a story by Glenville Mareth, that stars John Call as Santa Claus. It also features an eleven-year-old Pia Zadora as Girmar, one of the Martian children.
Martian ruler Kimar (Leonard Hicks) is upset that the children of Mars are lazy and under the influence of too much pop culture from Earth. They are obsessed with the planet's television programs and don't want to do much of anything. In an attempt to get the kids peppy again, Kimar orders the kidnapping of Santa Claus (John Call), hoping that the jolly old toymaker will know how to cheer the children up again. But two Earth children are also nabbed, and this complicates things for Kimar.
Why It Can't Conquer the Martians
- The acting is so bad that it can actually come off as genuinely painful to watch. None of the characters the film's reactions to anything that occurs in the movie is realistic to how an actual person would react to them, and they all act hammier than an enormous platter of pork chops (and not in a good way either), often bursting out laughing or screaming for no apparent reason. It often feels like this was intended to keep the audience's attention (although any other performances in the film that don't fit into that mold are incredibly bland like the actors, unsurprisingly, don't actually want to be in the film), even though that fails due to how uninteresting and boring the movie's actual story is (see WICCTM# 8).
- One of the most infamous examples of this is when Mrs. Claus finds out that she and Santa are on the news, and then she starts sporadically screaming and flailing before leaving which causes both Santa and the reporter to burst out laughing. This was possibly to symbolize that she was excited, but the way it's executed is just horrendous and, as previously mentioned, a reaction that no person would have to any sort of situation.
- The story of aliens capturing Santa to bring Christmas to their planet after discovering Earth is outright ridiculous. Because if sentient lifeforms actually found the planet Earth for the first time in 4.5 billion years, chances are, they wouldn't be interested in the planet's holiday traditions. Given how many resources Earth has, needless to say, Christmas isn't the first thing that would grab the attention of extraterrestrial life forms the first time they found out about the mere existence of the planet.
- Horrible costumes that look like they were homemade as an arts and crafts project than ones that were made by experienced and professional designers. The Martians in particular look like they just took random kitchen utensils and stuck them into their helmets to try and pass them off as "antennas". Other than that, there's also a robot that looks like it was made from cardboard boxes. The Martian ray guns also have this issue, as they're actually painted Whammo Air Blasters to make them look like alien weapons.
- There are some very blatant examples of stock footage used for certain scenes in the film. The most noticeable and prominent example being the scene showing the spaceships being sent by NASA to rescue Santa from Mars and the U.S. Air Force, as it's incredibly obvious that they're pre-recorded footage of ships taking off that clearly wasn't filmed by the producers or anyone working in the film of the film and had already likely been used in other films before (and maybe even after) this one.
- The Martians in this film are little more than the most stereotypical portrayals of aliens in media. They're green men, have months of the year with suck ridiculous names as "Septober", and are overall so fascinated by Earth that they must have some things that it doesn't make sense for them, at all, to want when they first discovered a planet with sentient life that behaves and looks much like them (as previously mentioned in WICCTM# 2).
- Awful soundtrack. The opening song for example, is annoying, high-pitched, and even sounds actually distorted and like it was recorded by a really old or low-functioning camera.
- Speaking of the distortion in the audio, this problem doesn't just apply to the opening song. It actually applies to a large majority of the sound in the film, from the characters' dialogue to the (albeit very limited) background music itself.
- Similar to What's Up: Balloon to the Rescue! and Rapsittie Street Kids: Believe in Santa (the latter of which being another critically-panned Christmas film, unironically), this movie can't seem to decide who's the main character and simple drones on for a majority of its runtime just following random characters doing things to conveniently further the runtime. For example, the beginning of the film sets up the notion that Santa will be the main character, but then it focuses on a pair of kids trying to save him from the Martians.
- Speaking of the two kids, they quickly prove to be incredibly idiotic. Because when the Martians kidnap them and try to get them to tell them where Santa is, never does it cross their minds that maybe they can lie to the aliens about where Santa is and they simply tell them the truth.
- The film in it of itself is incredibly boring. In spite of all the over-the-top and obnoxious acting and terrible dialogue being probably meant to keep it's audience's attention. But not even they could actually keep an audience paying attention to the film (not even because of how jaw-droppingly horrible they are, and that's kinda saying a lot).
- Laughably bad dialogue and delivery from the cast members alike. Examples being:
- "They're going to kidnap Santa Claus. And us too!"
- "Hello again! Hello again!"
- "Do you think you'll be ready by Christmas Eve?" "Well, we've never disappointed the kids yet! Ha ha ha ha ha!"
- "And it'll be harder for us to find Santa's workshop." "I'm scared!"
- "What's soft, and round, and you put it on a stick and you toast it in a fire? And it's green?" "What?" "A martian-mellow!"
- Misleading Title: In spite of what the title states, Santa doesn't actually end up conquering the martians. As all that happens is that Santa gets captured by the martians, befriends a few of them, leads them all to his side via Christmas Cheer, and ends up making amends with the Martian King, Kimar, to send him back to Earth.
- The song at the intro and end is incredibly cringy.
- Some funny moments here and there. Mainly due to the characters' ridiculously hammy acting.
- It can be enjoyed in a "so bad, it's good" kind of way.
Santa Claus Conquers the Martians was critically panned upon its release for its acting, story, lack of focus on its characters, and effects. Rotten Tomatoes gave the film a 22% score, based on 23 reviews, with an average rating of 3.3/10. Its critical consensus says, "Ho ho, oh no." However, the film soon gained a cult following not long after it's release due to it being seen as "so bad, it's good".
In 1994 there was an announcement that this movie was getting a reboot with Jim Carry staring as Dropoid and the daughter of Nicolas Webster directing this movie, however there has been no other accountments for this remake till this day.
- This film documented the first appearance of Mrs. Claus in a motion picture as well as Pia Zadora's first cinematic film to star in.
- Stobo, portrayed by Al Nesor, is often thought to be Jamie Farr instead.
- This movie was featured in an episode of Mystery science Theater 3000.