Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Review: Santa Claus (1959)

Credentials: 2.1 out of 10, Ranked #60 on the Bottom 100 list, (Imdb.com) / N/A (Rottentomatoes.com and Metacritic.com)

Plot: You may have heard some jive about how Santa Claus lives in the North Pole with his legions of toy-building elves. Dirty, vile lies all of it. According to “Santa Claus,” (and with a title like that it must know what it’s talking about) Santa lives in a castle in OUTER SPACE and flies to Earth each year on a sled powered by huge tinker-toy reindeer. Oh yeah, and his helpers aren’t elves, but thousands of kidnapped children from all corners of the globe. As if all that wasn’t weird and disturbing enough, eventually the devil decides to ruin Christmas for everyone. So he sends his minion Pitch to wreak havoc for Santa as he journeys around the world--- but really just one town in Mexico.  

Why it stinks: The movie is called “Santa Claus” for god sakes. Not “Santa Claus does this” or “Santa Claus conquers that,” just “Santa Claus.” At first I thought that was a pretty boring and nondescript title, and then I saw the movie.
                Fits like a glove.

                For huge, seemingly unending stretches, “Santa Claus” just follows Santa as he plods around his galactic crystal fortress of solitude thing with his band of abducted children. Of course, the movie doesn’t come right out and say Santa kidnapped these kids, it just completely glosses over how they got there.   However, the soul-less vacant looks in their little eyes say things words never could.  
                “Santa Claus” is flat out weird. The people who made it clearly had big imaginations--- Santa lives in space for god sakes!--- but the movie exists on a painfully small scale.
                Example: The demon’s big plan to ruin Christmas? He sic’s a dog after Kris Kringle and as St. Nick hides in a tree, the demon calls the cops to have him arrested. That’s it.
                And then there’s the usual nonsense about a poor little girl who only wants a dolly to call her own. Guess if she gets it?!?! Go on, guess! Also, there’s a rich kid who just wants his parents to spend time with him. Guess if they do by film’s end?
                You know, for a kid’s movie, “Santa Claus” features a lot of people being drugged. I mean Santa drugs EVERYBODY! He spikes the rich kid’s parents’ drinks to make them love him, he drugs kids to make them go to sleep, he drugs the rich kid into a “waking sleep” for some reason.
                Couple the near-constant druggings with the army of clearly kidnapped kids and “Santa Claus” takes an entirely unintentional hard left turn towards the dark side.  
                Cheap sets, flat acting and painfully dated special effects are also on the menu. Best of all: “Santa Claus” is an import from Mexico, so we get lots of bad dubbing and translation goofs. Something for everyone!

                Worst of the worst: Less than five minutes into the movie, we’re introduced to Santa’s kids. Each country gets their own little ethnic song and dance number. There are no words to describe the horror of this sequence. It’s so annoying it makes “It’s A Small World After All” look tolerable by comparison.

                Video evidence

                Bumblebee tuna!

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