Twitter Plot Summary: Santa Claus comes face to face with his mortal enemy: Martians. And laughs at children in an Operation Yewtree style.
Hats off to whoever it was that came up with the plot for this film. Combining a shlock B-Movie narrative with the festive season is such an excellent idea that it’s amazing that nobody else has made the effort to do it more recently. You could say it’s because Santa Claus Conquers The Martians got it right first time, but that would be a horrible lie. It’s so bad it’s borderline unwatchable, yet for those of us with the right mindset it somehow it manages to find just the right balance and proves to be an entirely ridiculous but thoroughly enjoyable sci-fi romp.
The Martians – a group of men dressed in green with Borg-like pipes and antennas sticking out of their heads – grow irritable at how Earth television is corrupting their young, but are impressed by the efforts of Santa Claus to provide peace and good will to all during Earth’s festive season, a concept which is totally alien (haha) to the Martian people thanks to years of conformity and a rigid, unbending society. So they decide to head over to Earth in order to kidnap Santa Claus and bring some of his skills to their own planet as they have no such person of their own to turn to. It is then up to Santa to bring joy to the Red Planet by laughing in an increasingly creepy manner in front of children and… well, not much else.
Not only is this a world in which Santa Claus exists as a real person – and gets extensive interview time on American television no less – but there also seems to be little concern about a minor Martian invasion coming to Earth. It’s at times like this you could really do with Bill Pullman’s President from Independence Day to huskily advise his chiefs to nuke the alien menace. In many ways, it would prove to be a vast improvement on the story.
As a mid-60s B-Movie the special effects are indeed special, just not in the way intended. Not only are there some awful costumes for the Martian invaders (it seems green oversized underwear is all the rage on the Red Planet), there’s also a questionable polar bear (read: man in a suit clearly not being paid enough for this nonsense) and an obligatory Lost In Space style robot called Torg, which is blatantly a man inside a cardboard box. It’s all so totally awful you either laugh along with it or have a mental breakdown. If it’s not the effects it’s the acting, where the notion of a subtle performance is lost on almost everyone except for Santa Claus, played with surprising conviction by John Call. It proves to be the only half-competent performance overall, with everyone else resorting to childish caricatures and increasingly shaky performances.
Suffice to say, this is a film which should only be watched if you truly appreciate bad films that are so bad they are, eventually, fun to watch in an ironic Mystery Science Theater kind of way. Either that, or you watch this as an example of how not to make a film, and leave it very much at that.