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25 Days of Christmas: ‘Santa Claus Conquers the Martians’
December 23, 2012Posted by on
Make no mistake: Santa Claus Conquers the Martians is a terrible movie. It has a dubious plot, questionable acting, bizarre character beats, and lousily special effects. But I love it, through and through. I suppose a lot of it has to do with the fact that this movie and I have a special connection which goes back a number of years (more on that below).
In this holiday tale, the Martians realize that something is wrong with their kids. The obvious solution is, of course, to the kidnap Santa Claus from Earth so he can spread Christmas joy to Mars. However, not all the Martians are for this plan and one group plots to destroy Santa Claus and rule the planet or something.
When I first watched this movie in 2007, I was transfixed by the bizarre and somewhat surreal nature of it. I knew it was awful, but I could not look away. A year later, I showed the move to a girl I was dating at the time, and she had a similar reaction to it. I think what helps is that it is so out there, you can swallow it easier. It also helps that the film is so earnest, that you cannot help but like it. It seems like everyone in the movie was trying so hard to make the best movie they could.
I truly believe that the story being told is not all that bad. The execution is what is lacking. Maybe it was a budget issue. I do not know. I would love to see an updated version of Santa Claus Conquers the Martians with the proper attention given. I think it could be a true holiday classic.
As I mentioned, I have a special connection to this movie. In the winter of 2008, I (somehow) convinced the school I taught at to produce this as an “original” play. I did the adapted and directed it for the stage (and, in the process, SCCTM became my life for a good 6 months). And, looking back in hindsight, it was arguably the best of the eight shows I directed when I worked there. I was also surprised at how (seemingly) well my student actors took to the story. They either had total faith in what we were doing or simply did not care. I am guessing it is the latter.
I honestly would not recommend Santa Claus Conquers the Martians blindly. It can be very tough to get through without knowing what you are in for. That said, I highly recommend the Mystery Science Theater 3000 or Cinematic Titanic versions. The “riffing” the hosts provide serves as a good gateway drug into watching the film. But, if you are in the mood for a holiday camp classic, you cannot go wrong with Santa Claus Conquers the Martians.