Monday, September 28, 2009

Monster Crap Inductee: Santa Claus Conquers The Martians (1964)

Monster Crap: Santa Claus Conquers The Martians
A Piece of Dropo

A few years ago, VH-1 and Blender Magazine had a show about the songs that are so bad they are awesome. In movies, you have many movies that are so bad, they are bad. But rarely do you have a movie that is so bad, it is awesome. This time, we look at one of those films that has in fact become a cult classic for being a really bad movie. It is called Santa Claus Conquers The Martians. I would say more about this movie, but I will save all the information about this film outside of the film itself till after the summary because there is a lot to cover so let’s begin the movie.

We begin this movie with a crappy children’s song that misspells Santa Claus by calling him Santy Claus.

Interesting note is Santy is now known as a type of computer virus. This movie was done a while ago in 1964 and this computer worm was big in 2004, but I can’t pass on this translation for this song.

Hooray For Computer Worms

Someone also misspelled the word “Costume” in the credits for Costume Designer by saying…..Custume Design. After the long and seemingly painful opening credits, we finally see a TV announcer announce that they have a correspondent at the North Pole. Let us also mention that the TV station is called KID TV.

Also, may I mention that we have TV cameras at Santa’s workshop? Maybe it is just me, but wouldn’t Santa have a problem with his face being seen on TV since all the kids have to be asleep before the fat man shows up.

Anyways, watching KID TV are two Martian children. They are watching earth’s shows with frowns on their faces. A reporter is on the TV talking about the North Pole and making crappy jokes while wearing a fur coat. Where is the blood throwing activists when you need them? He gets a tour of Santa’s workshop from the big man himself as Santa is very welcoming of the cameras.

Let’s note that Santa is smoking at this moment and in today’s society, Truth would be all over this like wine on rice. In a speech about how things are going to be the same, he forgets the reindeers’ names. He actually said one of the reindeer was named Nixon.

Let’s note that Santa is smoking at this moment and in today’s society, Truth would be all over this like wine on rice. In a speech about how things are going to be the same, he forgets the reindeers’ names. He actually said one of the reindeer was named Nixon.

Yes, President Nixon Was A Reindeer In Disguise

Mrs. Claus then shows up to chastise Santa for wasting time he could be making toys by talking to this reporter. Mrs. Claus realizes they are on television and becomes ecstatic. Anyways, while Santa is showing Andy around, he shows him a toy mockup of a Martian. The reporter, after making fun of the toy, says that he hopes aliens have people like him to give joy to the little ones.
Back on the Mars household, Kimar (King Martian) is looking for his subordinate, Dropo. He finds Dropo, sleeping under the table. Using a noise rod, he wakes the lazy subordinate up, laughing as if he is being tickled. In fact, while laughing, Dropo calls it a tickle ray.

He then calls Dropo the laziest man on Mars. When asked about sleeping, he says he was practicing. Kimar, who is not amused, tells him to practice doing his work. He asks where wife, Momar (Mom Martian) is, is. Dropo tells him that she went to the store to get some new food pills because the kids haven’t been eating. Kimar blames the Earth programs for confusing the children.

He sees the kids watching television and sees that they are really sad. He forces the kids to go to bed and their beds are some weird table

Kimar and a few of his comrades go up to the Martian sage Chochem, who is 800 years old. He asks the old man what is wrong with the children. The sage tells Kimar that since it is December on Earth, the kids are seeing Santa Claus on the Earth programs. One of his comrades, Voldar, doesn’t understand this whole Christmas issue and once told, doesn’t want anything to do with it. He believes that Christmas and joy to the kids will cause laziness and that laziness will transpire to their adulthood. The old man tells him that the Martian children need a Santa Claus. After explaining this in a very long and boring speech, Chochem leaves in a puff of smoke. Because of this revelation, Kimar has decided that Earth has had Santa Claus for long enough and now Mars needs him. Basically, they plan on kidnapping the fat jolly man. Voldar hates the idea, but is overruled and the Martians head towards Earth in an attempt to kidnap Santa Claus.

The Way These Two Look At Each Other, You Are Wondering Why They Don't Kiss And Get It Over With.

It should be noted that on this ship, it seems that the aliens are flying it on a Simon board game.

This Game Controls Alien Spaceships

For no apparent reason, the Martians decide to fire rockets on Earth. You know, if you want to do a stealth mission, the worst thing to do is to fire aimlessly. It kind of ruins the whole stealth mission. They then decide to try and find Santa Claus after firing the rockets. They look at an Earth city and Voldar comments how primitive it is. After a discussion, it seems that the Martians are unable to find Kris Kringle. Also, when they think they found him (in the main city), they only are looking for people in red suits and see many guys in red suits.
They then figure that since there are so many Santa Claus, then they won’t miss one. A news report comes in that an unidentified object has just been sighted in orbit over the earth

So much for the whole stealth mission to kidnap Santa Claus. It would have probably been easier if they just took one Santa Claus from the corner and leave. Obviously, there must be a wife in that UFO. All of the scenes where the Earthlings are preparing for defense are of course copied once again from somewhere else (this time from Dr. Strangelove). The Martians find out that Earth has detected them so they turn on their radar shields. Originally, they don’t work, but then they work. It turns out that in the radar shield box, Dropo was sleeping. Dropo explains his actions that he basically wanted to see Earth. Dropo then plays with the buttons and nearly causes trouble before they send him away. The aliens then decide to land and ask for directions. You know, there has to be a wife in there somewhere.

And who do these aliens ask for directions from? Why, it is two kids named Billy and Betty. The kids, after the initial shock, tell the Martians that Santa Claus is in the North Pole. The Martians then remember that they are on a stealth mission (Dooh) and abduct the children. Obviously, the Martians have never heard of an Amber Alert or Michael Jackson just needed them to run an errand for him. While in the spaceship, Dropo decides to give the kids a tour of the spaceship’s cockpit. When they find out that Kimar, Voldar, and the other two Martians are coming up, they decide to hide. Dropo decides to hide the children in the radar shield box. Dropo decides to leave, but not before Voldar berates him about his laziness. After landing on the North Pole, the Martians decide they need help to capture Santa by activating Torg.

The Martians leave for their quest as the children finally decide to run off and try to warn Santa of the Martians. But before leaving, the kids decide to sabotage the radar shields by pulling out all the wires. Another weird thing is the kids get off the ship before the Martians do.

Voldar comes in late and obviously this does not make Kimar happy. He thinks that Voldar is making every attempt to screw up this mission, although to be fair….Kimar is doing a fantastic job of that on his own. Voldar informs Kimar that he checked on the children and says they escaped. After hearing this, Kimar decides to send Torg after them. The kids don’t go far when they run into a polar bear.

You can even see the gap that separates the headpiece from the body. The polar bear leaves so the kids try to continue towards Santa Claus. The kids try to find north and they see that Torg is after them. Now who is Torg you ask….well, I have just the answer for you.

Unfortunately, instead of run, the kids just stand there and Torg easily catches them. Voldar tries to have Torg kill them, but Kimar stops him by saying he controls the robot, knowing that Voldar would attempt something like this. Kimar then tells the children not to escape again or else they wont be so lucky. They are imprisoned back on the ship and now there is no stopping the Martians from executing their plans. Voldar still has problems with the whole idea and once again voices his displeasure, which is once again being fallen upon deaf ears. The Martians find Santa’s workshop and send Torg after him.

The elves try to stop him and get pushed aside. Santa mistakes Torg for a toy and because of this (for unknown reasons), Torg becomes a toy.

The Martians bust into the scene and confront Santa. Santa thinks they are toys, but the lead elf tells him they are Martians. The elves and Mrs. Claus try to stop the Martians, but they are shot with freezing guns. But since this is a cheap movie and the filmmakers used Whammo Air Blasters, all that happens is a pop and the person holds still. Santa becomes dejected and finally surrenders. The newspapers reveal that Santa has been kidnapped by aliens and so much for the whole stealth mission to kidnap Santa.

Back at the spaceship, the Martians find out that rockets are following them and find out that their radar shields have been sabotaged. Unfortunately, since Earth’s technology is so poor and unable to get to Mars, the Martians lose them. What is even worse now is that when Santa tells jokes, the kids don’t get it, but the aliens are laughing hysterically.

Dropo comes in to feed the kids, but they seem homesick and that makes Dropo sad. Voldar tries to kill the kids and Santa by sending them to the airlock room and opening the airlock. Unfortunately, his plan fails as Santa is able to magically get up any chimney like device and escapes via the small air duct with the children. Because of this attempt, Voldar is arrested and locked up in the prison. Santa thinks that this was all an accident so we can tell that he is out of the loop with reality. They land on Mars, which from afar looks like a bowling ball, without much trouble. However, when they try to get Voldar, they find out that he has escaped.

Now in the Martian household, the Martian children are greeted by their dad, Kimar. Kimar reveals that he has brought guests. Those guests are the Earth children and Santa Claus. After the meeting, they all laugh and the Martian parents seem very pleased. At a nearby cave, Voldar is unhappy with his situation of being a fugitive. He has already amassed a group of mutineers to join him (and when I mean group, I mean just two). One of the men, Shim, has spied on Santa’s new workshop and says that soon the workshop will be flooded with toys. Voldar believes that soon, all Martians will be blithering idiots. Of course, they already are…..but let’s not hold that against him. They decide to sabotage the new assembly line so Santa will become a laughing stock. Meanwhile, we see the assembly line in perfect order. It seems that some children have replaced elves so I guess that means there are no child labor laws on Mars.

Santa seems extremely bored with the new assembly line since it seems the jolly guy enjoys working. Santa that it is time to stop working so they close up shop. It seems that once again the kids are homesick and this confuses Kimar, Momar, and Dropo. While Kimar and Momar try to figure out what to do, Drop decides to try on the Santa suit. Seems Dropo aspires to be like Santa Claus. He uses a pillow, a fake beard, and some food to make himself look like Santa. Dropo decides that since his finger isn’t tired, he would go back to the workshop and make some more toys.

Unfortunately, Dropo’s decision does not turn out well. It seems that at the workshop, Voldar, Shim, and Stobo are at work sabotaging the assembly line. When they hear someone coming, they immediately hide. They see Santa Dropo enter the room. Because they don’t know any better, they mistake him for Santa Claus and they take this opportunity to kidnap Dropo. Back home, Kimar and Momar look for Dropo and are worried by his disappearance. Santa Claus seems to dismiss Dropo’s disappearance, thinking he is trying to be Santa. At the workshop, Santa finds out that in an unhumorous fashion that his assembly line has been sabotaged. Basically, tennis rackets and baseball bats are combined into one, Teddy Bears and Dolls have different top and bottom halves, as well as trains are screwed up. Bomar calls his dad, Kimar, about the news.

Back at the cave, Voldar and Stobo decide to make their demands personally to Kimar. Because they think they have Santa, they believe that Kimar won’t attempt anything. The decision to leave Shim on guard of Dropo proves to be bad as the ever-so-dumb Dropo outsmarts him by switching wires for a machine. This move allows Dropo to easily escape. At the workshop, Kimar sees the sabotage and suspects Voldar to be behind everything. Voldar shows up outside and makes demands saying he holds Santa Claus hostage. Kimar, knowing the truth, plays with Voldar and allows him to find out that Santa is at the workshop.

This foils Voldar’s plans and Voldar, Shim, and Stobo, after a few short fights (one involving Voldar being beaten by toys), are arrested and sent away. Dropo comes back and Santa Claus decides to name Dropo Santa Claus of Mars. Dropo accepts as do Kimar and Momar. Because of this change, the children and Santa Claus are allowed to go home and are just in time for Christmas Eve. The movie ends with the crappy Santy Claus song.

Before I get to my review, it is time for me to explain a few things. This movie is actually based on an actual story written by Paul L. Jacobson. And despite the fact that this movie is being inducted into Monster Crap, it has spawned many things. This movie spawned a tongue-in-cheek novel of the same name by Lou Harry in 2005. This movie was inspiration for a self-described Nerd Techno band to call themselves The Laziest Men On Mars. There have been theatrical productions of this movie and there is actually a planned remake of this movie. It has been used as clips in several TV shows and movies. Santa Claus Conquers The Martians has in fact become a true cult classic.

For some news of certain cast members. Bill McClutcheon took this experience as an actor for children shows and hit it big on the huge kids TV show, Sesame Street. If you must ask, you would remember him under the name of his character……..

Yes, Bill McClutcheon was Uncle Wally, Bob’s colorful uncle. An occasional teller of tall tales, Uncle Wally was one of the few adults to believe Big Bird about Mr. Snuffleupagus. Bill McClutcheon would be on the show until 1992 when he retired. On January 9, 2002….Bill McClutcheon passed away from natural causes at the age of 77. He left behind a wife and three kids.

Another cast member who moved on to better things was Pia Zadora, who played Girmar. She became a child pop singer and was part of a very controversial press shoot at a very young age. She later appeared on Penthouse as an adult.

Ned Wertimer, who played that annoying reporter Andy Henderson, would go on to being on All In The Family and The Jeffersons as a doorman Ralph Hart.
Now for my thoughts on this movie and I have to say this. I really do believe that while this movie was poorly done, the cast seemed to have a lot of fun and joy working on this movie. Rarely do you see that in Hollywood and for that, I commend them for not taking everything so seriously. John Hart may have been one in a bad movie, but he was a very convincing Santa Claus and seemed to have done a lot of research into the character. Normally, I would ridicule such a movie, but I have done enough ridiculing for this movie and must say that no matter how bad the production of this movie was, I could see the joy this could send to very small children.

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