I don’t know, sometimes you hear so much about a movie for so long that when you actually get a chance to view it there’s just no way it can ever be as good or bad as the advance word would suggest. Or am I totally wrong?
Anyway, Santa Claus Conquers The Martians is an example of a movie that I’d heard about for a hell of a long time and never managed to see, despite my curiosity about something often tagged as one of the worst movies ever made. And I’ll just say right now that it’s certainly not one of the worst movies ever made. It’s not very good, and it can never cover up it’s minute budget, but it’s so bizarre and unintentionally hilarious that you can definitely get some fun from it.
The plot is childish and simple. Martian children are getting restless and a bit depressed because they have been watching too much Earth TV and realise that they need the injection of joy only an overweight man with a sack full of toys can provide. A bunch of martians (led by Kimar, played by Leonard Hicks) kidnap Santa (John Call), along with two Earth children, and make him do his good work on Mars. But the martians seem to be mistaken in thinking that they need Santa there to be Santa, especially when there is the ever-happy and benevolent Dropo (Bill McCutcheon) in their midst.
There are so many great (and I am using that word in the loosest possible sense) moments here that I don’t know where to begin. The news report that starts off the movie. The annoyingly precocious and unphased children. The fact that Santa always has a laugh whenever someone breathes in an unthreatening manner (and it goes on, slightly extended and slightly creepy, like the false chuckle moments that would end every episode of Police Squad). The polar bear. Dropo’s antics. The nuclear curtain. The big, bad robot. All of these things make absolutely no sense to you until you see the thing but give it a watch and you’ll recognise all of these “added entertainment value” factors immediately.
And you CAN see it here and now, thanks to the wonderful resource that is the internet archive.
Bad acting, bad makeup and effects, bad dialogue (from Glenville Mareth, based on a story by Paul L. Jacobson), bad direction by Nicholas Webster, bad, bad, bad all round but it’s strangely akin to multiplying two negative numbers together and getting a positive because I still had fun.
DIRECTOR: NICHOLAS WEBSTER
STARS: JOHN CALL, LEONARD HICKS, BILL MCCUTCHEON
RUNTIME: 81 MINS APPROX