Saturday, December 20, 2014

Santa Claus Conquers the Martians (1964)

Note:  This review was originally posted to my Epinions account.

I’ve seen some bad movies in my time. Some are bad in an enjoyable way, much like Riki-Oh: The Story of Ricky. Others leave you wondering why the movie was made in the first place, much like Santa Claus Conquers the Martians.

The story is simple. Kimar, leader of the Martians, notices that his children are sad and not doing what Martian children should be doing. He’s distraught over this and seeks the advice of the eldest and wisest Martian, Chochem. Chochem tells Kimar that the children of mars have little reason to be happy. They study too much to the point where they have the minds of adults trapped in very young bodies. They need someone like Santa Claus to bring them joy and happiness.

Kimar takes it a step further and decides to actually kidnap Santa. He takes a crew to Earth and lands somewhere a major city where they find all sorts of people fitting the description of Santa. They meet two children, Billy and Betty, that direct them to the North Pole. Since the Martians can’t trust the kids not to rat them out, the kids have to go along for the ride.

The Martians arrive at the North Pole, but the kids escape and plan on warning Santa. The warning comes too little too late for Santa, as the Martians put Mrs. Claus and several elves in suspended animation. Santa has no choice but to go with the Martians.

Things aren’t all that great on the ship. Kimar has a dissenter named Voldar who tries to throw Santa and the kids out of an airlock. He thinks that Martians would be to soft and cuddly to be effective warriors. Once they get back to Mars, he’s arrested and told he’ll stand trial for going against his leader.

Once back on Mars, Santa gets an automated plant to make toys for all the good Martian boys and all the good Martian girls. Billy and Betty help Santa in his new workshop. Everything seems to be going fine until Voldar decides to shut down the factory and kidnap Santa.

As luck would have it, Kimar has an assistant named Dropo that tries to dress up as Santa. Voldar ends up kidnapping Dropo, not realizing that Santa isn’t a Martian. (This is despite having seen both Dropo and Santa up close and that Martians look nothing like humans.) After a toy fight, Santa saves the day and Kimar realizes that Dropo could be as effective a Santa as the real Santa. Santa, Billy and Betty are allowed to go home in time for Christmas.

I ended up watching the entire movie just to see how bad it was. It was pretty bad. Even the names aren’t that creative. Another reviewer pointed out that Kimar may be King Martian. Notice that he has a wife, Momar, and two kids, Bomar and Girmar. I’m assuming that the names come from Mom Martian, Boy Martian and Girl Martian respectively. I’m thinking that Dropo may be the Martian Marx brother. As for a lot of the other names, I can’t quite figure those out. The movie isn’t worth that much thought.

I couldn’t get the Martians. There were maybe two Martians that had any intelligence at all, yet they’re capable of flying across the solar system to Earth. I mean, Dropo was an idiot and yet two other Martians mistook him for Santa. Granted, there may be more intelligent Martians that built the space ships, but you don’t put just anyone in a plane and call them the captain. Just to fly the thing requires intelligence.

The costumes look like something out of a thrift store reject sale. The people doing the makeup must have seen them and done an appropriately bad job. There was nothing redeeming about either. I cant’ even get a decent sized paragraph out of it, that’s how bad it was.

As for the plot, it left a lot to be desired. Santa and Co. don’t fight back at all. Even when Santa’s told that he’s going to be staying on Mars permanently, he’s just like, ‘oh, well!’ The kids mope around, which is to be expected, but they, too, go along with everything. There’s no resistance of any kind. Santa never comes close to attempting to conquer the Martians. I guess the conquering part of the title comes from the fact that the Martians adopted that part of Earth culture.

There was no real redeeming quality to this movie. The lighting was horrible, the makeup and costumes were horrible. The movie looks like it was done on a budget of $5 including the actors’ salaries. This is truly a one-star movie in every sense of the term. Even the opening/closing music was annoying. I got the movie as one of the Free One Demand selections and even then, it was overpriced. Avoid this movie.

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