Sunday, December 18, 2011

Review: Santa Claus Conquers the Martians

Credentials: 25%, Certified Rotten ( /// 2.3 out of 10, #80 on the Bottom 100 List (

Plot: Dark days for the good people of Mars. Their children have become lazy, unresponsive, and just sit in front of the TV all day watching crappy shows beamed from Earth. The Martian overlords deduce their offspring are suffering from an acute case of Santa-envy. So, they hatch a plan to kidnap the jolliest of Earthlings and force him to bring presents to good little Martian boys and girls. It’s up to two precocious Earth-children to save Santa from the clutches of the Red Planet and keep Christmas where it belongs: Earth! Season of giving my ass! Get your own Santa you slimy aliens! USA! US… I mean… PLANET EARTH! PLANET EARTH!

Why it sucks: Now, when I sat down to watch “Santa Claus Conquers the Martians,” images of Kris Kringle mowing down Martians with a huge machine gun and running in slow motion away from a massive explosion danced through my head.
             (SPOILER ALERT!)
Yeah, not so much. Despite the placement of the word “conquer” right there in the middle of the title, Santa doesn’t engage in any sort of belligerent, action-hero style behavior whatsoever. A better title would have been: “Santa is Kidnapped by Martians and Peaceably Arranges His Swift and Safe Return.”
It’s upsetting. I wanted to see Santa kicking space man ass all over the Red Planet. I wanted to see him break a yule log over an alien’s head. By god, is that too much to ask? Apparently it was.
The movie is 47 years old and trust me it shows. “Santa Claus Conquers the Martians” is so slow it could put snails to sleep. The effects, while not quite Ed Wood bad, are still in his ballpark, especially the irritating reliance on stock footage for all things military.
The main villain in “SCCtM” is a mustachioed Martian named Voldar. The main conflict in the movie is the previously mentioned kidnapping of Father Christmas. The problem? Voldar doesn’t want any part of kidnaping Santa, it’s the alleged “good” Martians that want him. It’s not often the lead bad guy has NOTHING to do with driving the conflict. Actually, I don’t think that has ever happened before or since this movie was made. Why? Because like Chewbacca living on Endor, it does NOT make sense!
Another odd quirk: The characters in the movie are prone to fits of insane laughter. Every now and then, everyone on screen will just burst out in this horribly forced, cackling laughter for seemingly no reason. By the fourth or fifth time, it gets really creepy and uncomfortable.
Between the dated effects, lifeless story, whiny kids and misleading title, “SCCtM” is infuriating. The best thing about it is the stupid title, which ends up setting the bar to a height the cast and crew could never hope to achieve.
--- Dropo, one of the good Martians, is like an unholy cross between Gilligan and Jar Jar Binks, only less lovable
---The thing about the Martians is they don’t look like aliens. They look like people who spent a day in the coal mines or hanging around Pig Pen. Also, why are all the Martian signs in English? Wouldn’t they speak some kind of space language?
---“Hooray for Santa Claus” makes “Friday” seem like “Stairway to Heaven.”
--- Holy god I hate the kids who are too smart for their age, yet keep finding themselves in trouble gimmick. So played out…
---Boy, Torg the Martian Robot, really, really sucks. And yet he looks like Awesome-O from “South Park.” Not sure how that’s possible.     
Worst of the worst: The two Earth kids are hiding out from the Martians in a cave located somewhere near Santa’s workshop. Suddenly, they’re viciously attacked by a man in a cheap polar bear costume. Or a maybe it was a real polar bear, wearing a cheap white bathrobe. Either way, it looks awful and then the useless cardboard robot named Torg shows up and things really get stupid.

Video Evidence
Post polar bear assault

And because it’s the season of giving, enjoy a little early Christmas present from the good folks at the internet, here’s the “Mystery Science Theater 3000” gang’s take on “SCCtM”… in its entirety!

Bumblebee tuna to all!

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