“Let the children lose it
Let the children use it,
Let all the children boogie.”-David Bowie
With Christmas approaching, our senses are flooded by festive tunes (most radio stations started 1 Nov), holiday themed TV scheduling (started a week or two before Thanksgiving in some areas), and everything flavored, scented, or Santa-fied to ensure you have the “best” Christmas minus the unneeded debt the retailers want consumers to accept this holiday season. Remember, if you aren’t spending or in debt, you are not helping the economy, being a Patriot, or a good parent because little Timmy didn’t get everything he wanted. Ahhh, the winter wonderland of living in a retail obsessed nation which passes judgment their neighbor’s spending habits– if you aren’t spending, you aren’t living. Ho, ho, ho, Merry Christmas Jesus.
With all of the Christmas corporate propaganda, there will be many festive films ready on the tube to make your eyes dance like sugar plums at all holiday film hoopla. Why not take a chance with some new Christmas titles and add them to your yearly tradition? Today’s title is a bizarre cult flick, full of enough candy cane zaniness and Sci-Fi, your brain will get a cinematic cavity. This feature should be viewed every year and without further ado, I present Santa Claus Conquers the Martians (1964).
Welcome to the post 1950’s America; the great space race has started, JFK is assassinated, Vietnam is starting to consume the nation for the next decade, America is progressively changing, and kids are watching too much TV on Earth, and Mars. These were, and still are typical naggings from parents since our solar system’s conception of the TV. Parents Momar, Leila Martin of God Told Me To (1976) and Kimar, Leonard Hicks of Route 66 (1964), are worried about their children Girmar, Pia Zadora of Hairspray (1988), and Bomar, Chris Month of The Nurses (1964), due to the effect Earth’s alluring TV broadcast from Santa’s North Pole sweatshop is having on the siblings. The youth of Mars, now infected with glee watching the carefree life of kid’s on Earth, become jealous and self-aware of their social restraints. The awakening is similar in sorts to what The British Invasion did for our teens before the late 60’s adopted tune in, drop out as their mantra.
Conquers does hint messages of conservatism versus liberalism and the effects that McCarthyism’s Red Scare had on the country and the entertainment industry years prior. Maybe it’s just me reading too much into a Santa in Space film that looked like it was filmed in a low budget cable access production studio. Ho, ho, ho, let’s see where this intergalactic sleigh ride takes us.
In a state of dismay, thinly veiled at the oppressive nature of Communism, our Mars parents and civic leaders, ask their planet’s wise elder as what to do with their children. Chochem, Carl Don of Zotz! (1962), philosophizes that the Martian society is too severe and stressful for wee little ones, who are forced to be industrialized by their authority to think, obey, consume, and sleep the Martian Law with their planet’s obsession to technology and social assimilation. Loss of individuality and freedom are the biggest stressors for our prepubescent aliens that just want to let their antennas down and get their jolly on. Martians worried their kids aren’t happy, want to bring Santa to Mars. Rather than the parents being constructive in how to loosen the reins on their kids, they kidnap two Earthling children to lure Santa, John Call of Hangman’s Knot (1952), from the North Pole and abduct him to their angry red planet, in hopes Kris Kringle will manufacture happiness to the Martian children.
With every idea, good or bad, you are going to have a naysayer. Voldar, Vincent Beck of …And Justice for All. (1979), is our naysayer. Voldar does not agree with his Martian leaders’ decisions on lightening up, brining joy to the planet, and he tries to kill Santa on various occasions only to come up short each time. Will Voldar, with his henchmen, Stobo, Al Nesor of Hot Stuff (1979) & Shim, Josip Elic of One Flew over the Cuckoo’s Nest (1975), kill Santa with a Yule Log? Will the children on Earth have no toys on Christmas day? Will Santa reveal that he is actually an OG with the North Pole chapter of The Bloods? Will the kids of Mars revolt against the establishment, and probe everything they see for scientific research?
Santa Claus Conquers the Martians was directed by Nicholas Webster of Mission Mars (1968) with a story and screenplay by unknown scribes, Paul L. Jacobson and Glenville Mareth, on a budget of approximately $200k. Conquers is a rare, absurd film that would have been the bizarre brainchild of Ed Wood of Plan 9 from Outer Space (1958), if the zany director had ventured into holiday children’s films. Conquers has been labelled as one of the worst films ever and brought to cult status in the early 90’s when Mystery Science Theater 3000 added the title to its collection of screwy titles. Rumors have swirled around Tinseltown for several years that a remake is in the works as another vehicle for Jim Carrey of How the Grinch Stole Christmas (2000) talents, but still no film has come to fruition. Conquers must be seen at least once and you might actually like it. It is so bad, it’s good and may be even better after a couple strong egg nogs. So, get your protein pills, put your helmet on, and venture deep into space this December with Santa Claus Conquers the Martians.
Check out the Santa Claus Conquers the Martians Trailer
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- Rick Baldwin is a writer, filmmaker, film/music historian, and can be found on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/rick.baldwin.568
- Twitter Rick Baldwin @RickBaldwin79 and firstname.lastname@example.org