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Santa Claus Conquers the Martians (1964) - Blu-ray Review

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Santa Claus Conquers the Martians

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3 Stars

Something is wrong with the children of Mars and only Santa Claus can solve their mystery moodiness.  With enough misguided Christmas cheer to make the Hallmark channel all a-quiver with silent fright, a band of goofy green Martians (wearing green tights and bedazzled antennae hats) make their Hi-def debut with the ultimate in Christmas gift-giving ideas: a plan to kidnap Santa Claus from Earth.

Originally filmed in 1964, Santa Claus Conquers the Martians is a classic in its own right.  The film, always appearing on someone’s worse film ever made list, might actually be the worst holiday-themed movie ever made but, with a giant robot and a man in polar bear suit crawling through fake snow, it’s just what the doctor ordered for anyone with a science fiction-sized heart and an unyielding love for camp humor.

Directed by Nicholas Webster and featuring an 8-year-old Pia Zadora as a depressed Martian child, Santa Claus Conquers the Martians is the not-so true-to-life story of the United Nations’ search for the jolly fat man in a little red suit (John Call) after he is kidnapped from the North Pole and sent to Mars to assist them with their sad adult-acting children.  Alongside a kidnapped Billy (Victor Stiles) and Betty (Donna Conforti), Santa charms the pants off the Martians with his old timey jokes and natural good cheer.  He even deflects the United States missiles with his Christmas spirit.

While the conniving and very moustached Voldar (Vincent Beck) and his band of merry Martians seem to be the most resistant to Santa’s good nature, even their plan to ruin the holiday (in a Three Stooges-like manner) runs out of steam under Santa’s spell.  It’s only a matter of time before all Martians “accidentally” understand the importance and the true meaning of Christmas.  And, for good measure, there’s a bit of 60’s cinematic zaniness thrown in, at the film’s anarchic climax, to make Michelangelo Antonioni’s Blowup, appearing two years later, look like a mod wannabe.

The script, written by Paul L. Jacobson and Glenville Mareth, features layers of science fiction hooey, laughable dialogue from aliens with human motives, and provides enough opportunities for its actors to make some poor character choices which simply defy explanation.  It’s as awful as it is awesome.  Once you see a Martian dressed up like Santa Claus being held for ransom deep below Mars, you’ll understand what a cult film is.  It’s gloriously off-putting and generally gut-busting in execution.

Santa Claus Conquers the Martians is a riotous mess in almost every way.  Entirely entertaining, the film hits its mark as a holiday film and surpasses it with the holiday and 60’s goofiness it exudes as the Martians learn to celebrate the season that Santa Claus consistently Ho Ho Ho’s about.

If you aren’t singing along to “Hooray for Santy Claus” at the film’s conclusion, then you have no cinematic heart and no true holiday spirit.  And, with the lyrics printed on the screen for you, you really have no excuse.  Just get some weed and let the good times roll.

{2jtab: Film Details}

Santa Claus Conquers the MartiansMPAA Rating: This title has not been rated by the MPAA.
Runtime: 81 mins.
Director
: Nicholas Webster
Writer: Glenville Mareth
Cast: John Call; Leonard Hicks; Vincent Beck; Bill McCutcheon; Pia Zadora; Chris Month
Genre
: Comedy | Sci-fi
Tagline:
Santa Claus saves Christmas for the Children of the World!
Memorable Movie Quote: "A Martian? Wow-wee-wow! I'd hate to meet a creature like that on a dark night."
Distributor: Embassy Pictures Corporation
Website:
Home Video Distributor:
Kino Video
Release Date:
November 14, 1964
DVD/Blu-ray Release Date:
December 4, 2012

Synopsis: The Martians kidnap Santa because there is nobody on Mars to give their children presents.

{2jtab: Blu-ray Review}

Santa Claus Conquers the Martians

Component Grades
Movie

Blu-ray Disc
3 Stars

3 Stars



Blu-ray Experience
3 Stars

Blu-ray

Blu-ray Details:

Available on Blu-ray - December 4, 2012
Screen Formats: 1.33:1
Subtitles
: None
Audio:
English: DTS-HD Master Audio Mo
Discs: 25GB Blu-ray Disc; Single disc (1 BD)
Region encoding: A

The film is presented in an aspect ratio of 1.33:1 and Kino’s transfer has been mined from a 16mm TV print.  There’s some flickering coming from the edge’s of the picture, however, all is not entirely lost. Kino manages to make the image look pleasant The color is warm and saturated, though fleshtones veer to an unnatural shade of orange.  Shadows are fairly deep but there’s a overblown brightness to most of the picture. The print’s age and frequency of use is on display as dirt and scratches are abundant.  The sound, too, is a mixed bag.  Presented in a mono 2.0 LPCM track, dialogue and music are compressed and pops and hisses are audible.

Supplements:

Commentary:

  • None

Special Features:

There really aren’t any special features here.  You get an assortment of rare Christmas shorts that spans about 46-minutes of screen time but really works your patience as you can’t watch them separately.  There are two Max Fleischer cartoons, Howdy Doody’s Christmas, a Harriet Nelson Kodak commercial, several movie theater ads wishing patrons a Merry Christmas (one with Shari Lewis and Lamb Chop), and an ad that brings Abbott and Costello together.

  • Santa’s Cool Holiday Film Festival (46 min)
  • Original Trailer (2 min)
  • Stills Gallery

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