Santa Claus Conquers the Martians.
After the having to suffer Gigli, it was a relief to know that not only was our next movie a B-movie, but it was a kids film too. Also it’s a nice short movie so even if it was terrible (a distinct possibility on this list), then it would all be over in 80 minutes. I’d never actually seen this film, not being a fan of most Xmas movies, but I did know one thing from it. I’ve said before about the punk band Sloppy Seconds writing a song based on The Horror of Party Beach, well they also covered the theme tune from this “Hooray For Santy Claus” which can be heard here http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vTFWrBnmQrg
On Mars worried parents Moma (Leila Martin) and Kimar (Leonard Hicks) are concerned that their children are watching too much Earth television. Due to the way Mars society is structured the kids aren’t allowed to be free and have fun. So like any sensible person, the Martians decide the best way to combat this is to kidnap Santa Claus (John Call) and force him to make toys for the Martian children. To make matters worse, the Martians kidnap two children to make sure they kidnap the real Santa and take them back to Mars too. The evil Martian Voldar (Vincent Beck) thinks that Santa is corrupting the Martian children and wants to kill him and the kids, and plots to kidnap him from the Martian toy factory (which he also sabotages). Unfortunately for him he kidnaps Dropo (Bill McCutcheon), a Martian who is a big Santa fan and who has started to dress as him. Will Santa be able to save the day and get back his freedom? Do I really need to answer that question?
Basically this film is a prototype to A Nightmare Before Christmas. It has kidnapping, a great song, and acting that could rival any stop-motion picture of its time. Of course being a live action film, this isn’t necessarily a good thing, but the analogy still stands.
Although this is undoubtedly a terrible movie, it’s also an unintentionally hilarious one. There are many great examples of this, but one of the best is when the kids encounter a polar bear at the North Pole. It’s the most unconvincing man in a bear costume that I’ve ever seen. This includes the various people I’ve seen collecting money for charity whilst dressed in badly made costumes and also the old Hofmeister lager “follow the bear” adverts.
But the bad costumes don’t stop there. The Martians have a robot called Torg who seems to operate on the same principle as Siri. Every word has to be carefully said to make it understand. It looks like it’s made of a cardboard box spray-painted silver, with a few dials painted on it. Why is this? Because it IS a made of a cardboard box spray-painted silver, with a few dials painted on it. The head looks a little better, even thugh it wobbles on top of the body, but it’s still just a large can spray-painted silver with two orange painted plastic bulbs for eyes and a gaping mouth. The arms and legs are the standard silver coloured heating duct tubes. It’s a thing of beauty. A thing of beauty that could have been made in any primary school.
As for the rest of the cast, the Martians are just a bunch of actors painted a weird green colour, wearing capes and awful looking helmets. I've actually started to notice a trend amongst the costume design of B-movies. They all at once seem to have decided that if you need a helmet, then raiding the inner workings of your dishwasher produces THE most futuristic effect. Actually I'm glad that these people had all the latest kitchen appliances at their disposal. Seeing a Martian with a U-bend stuck on the side of his helmet would just silly. Oh well, at least they didn’t manage to mess up the Santa costume TOO badly and he has a marvellous looking beard.
Another hilarious moment is when Voldar shoots Santa’s elves with a freeze ray. The actors are as wobbly as the actors in Troll 2 when Grandpa Seth freezes time to allow Joshua to stop the family from eating the deadly Nilbog food (you can read all about that here http://100reasonstogooutside.blogspot.co.uk/2013/10/74-troll-2-wes.html). Actually they're probably worse. Even Micheal J. Fox playing Musical Statues on a moving train would be more convincing. To top the hilarity off I honestly can’t think of another movie that has misspelt newspaper headlines in it (SANTA CLAUS KIDNAPED BY MARTIANS).
The acting is generally abysmal, but John Call plays a suitably jolly Santa, and Leonard Hicks isn’t too bad as the Martian leader. Bill McCutcheon as Dropo is like a camp, drunk uncle. Quite obviously he’s meant to be the comic relief in this movie, but was actually the only person that didn’t make me laugh. The two kids (Victor Stiles and Donna Conforti) enunciate every line of their scripts slowly as if to make sure they’re getting every word right. It’s. Like. Watching. William. Shatner. As. A. Child. Actor.
As usual though it really doesn’t help the actors if the script is bad, and the script for this is unsurprisingly terrible. It does feature some amazingly bad lines though, which again are so funny that they just add nothing but charm to the movie. My favourite exchange in the movie is between the two Martians Rigna and Voldar:
Rigna - "Chochem is eight hundred years old, you can't dismiss the wisdom of centuries."
Volda - "I can."
Volda - "I can."
Whilst this movie is terrible, it’s also a joyous watch. Bad acting, awful costumes, ridiculous plot and the best Christmas song ever recorded make for a fun movie, and shouldn’t that be what Christmas movies should be all about? Now everyone with me… S-A-N-T-A C-L-A-U-S. HOORAY FOR SANTY CLAUS!