‘Santa Claus Conquers the Martians’ Review: Sci-Fi Santa

Posted in The Screening Room by - December 05, 2014

It’s now 20 days until Christmas, and things just keep getting better. Today’s entry in the Kulture Shocked Christmas Movie Marathon is Santa Claus Conquers the Martians, and my oh my, are we in for a treat. If you’re a fan of B-movies or love the “So Bad It’s Good” class of films, this one is for you. This film is an incredible mixture of sci-fi, Christmas cheer, and slapstick, all filmed in garish or as the original 1964 poster says, “Space-Blazing” color. 

Now, by no stretch of the imagination am I going to claim that this film is a masterpiece, but I am willing to say that this is by no means, a “bad” movie. We’re talking 1960s cinema here, and thanks to my mom, I grew up watching movies from the 50s and 60s, so I get and appreciate the look of these films. The only defining aspect about this movie that places it in IMDB’s “Bottom 100” and other “So Bad It’s Good” lists is the dated material and production. For the most part, this film possesses a decent Christmas story and doesn’t suffer the same maladies that plague other B-movies. Generally, quality of production is decent for the time period, the characters are justified and maintain continuity throughout the story, and the film doesn’t try to do more than necessary. It successfully tells its story and provides holiday cheer in an unconventional way. 

Let’s set the film up. Martian leaders are concerned that the children of Mars are growing distracted due to the society’s overly rigid structure. From infancy, all of their education is fed into their brains through machines and they are not allowed individuality or freedom of thought. Basically, Paul Jacobson and Glenville Mareth are using the old proverb “all work and no play makes Jack a dull boy” as a plot device and juxtaposed against present day it can be seen as an allegory for how technology is taking over our society (something the 60s has become very good at predicting…) So, after consulting an 800 year old Martian elder who says the only way to help the children is to allow them their freedom and be allowed to have fun, Kimar (King Martian) decides to abduct Santa Claus from Earth and bring him to Mars.

So far we have a solid foundation for a fun seasonal film. I’ll admit, I watched this movie stone cold sober and I actually enjoyed it. It won’t ever crack into my Top 5 Favorite Christmas films, but it tried, and I commend it for that. So here’s what I suggest. Get some of your friends together (doesn’t have to be everyone, maybe just the fun ones?), have everyone take 3 shots of Jameson, pour a couple mugs of hot cocoa with a splash of peppermint schnapps, and queue up Santa Claus Conquers the Martians. If you like Star Trek: The Original Series and you’re a fan of Christmas, you’ll get a kick out of this film. Especially if you’re well lubricated with booze.

Final Say: Watch It.

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