Santa Claus Conquers The Martians (1964)

Back in The Good Old Days, I recall taping this off SBS. More than once, too. Possibly three times, in fact. Oh dear. In typical fashion for me at that time, having taped the damn thing (more than once) I then retired the tape to the tape library, fully intending to get around to it one day and, well, never actually doing so until I watched it on TVS tonight… TVS’ Xmas Day schedule was actually more Xmassy than some of the other stations managed, and this was the triumphant (?) conclusion. This is a terrific example of what is meant by the term “high concept”; like Snakes on a Plane, the title kind of sums up the content of the film… the children of Mars (both of them) are more hooked on TV programs from Earth than the studies they’re supposed to be doing, and the 800 year-old Martian sage says the problem is Martian kids aren’t allowed to have fun like Earth kids are. (Absolutely no contemporary political allegory here, of course.) The logical solution? Kidnap Santa Claus from the North Pole and take him back to Mars, to bring “joy through toys”. SCCtM is a more or less canonical “bad movie” thanks to the Medveds and MST3K, and still haunts the lower reaches of the IMDb Bottom 100. And, let’s face it, with good reason. Several good reasons, in fact, including pretty much each and every cast member (IMDb notes “Most of the cast came from Broadway shows of the time”, and I assume they all went back to waiting tables once shooting wrapped). And we’ll say nothing of the polar bear, which even Ed Wood might’ve been ashamed of. Yet, like Ed Wood’s films, there’s something charming about this debacle; it’s quite dreadful but it seems strangely sincere as a piece of children’s entertainment, which is what it was meant to be, after all… as it is, it was a weirdly perfect way to end Xmas Day 2012.

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