Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Day 7: Santa in Space?

So I'm finding that this year, in an effort to repeat myself as little as possible, I'm having to really scrape the bottom of the barrel for interesting and different Christmas films.  Last year it was easy, just cover the classics and some of my offbeat favorites and I was fine.  This year I'm still gonna look at some old favorites and repeat some from last year, and there are still some classics I haven't done yet...like White Christmas...but really, I'm finding some stinkers here as far as 'interesting and offbeat' is concerned.  But hey, I promised 25 days of Christmas movies and 25 days you will have...but don't be surprised if you really dislike some of the creative choices I make.  Tonight's film gives Ed Wood's 'so bad its still bad' classic Plan Nine from Outer Space a run for its money and may even best it in terms of pure campy cheesiness.  It capitalizes on two fascinations that America had during the late 50s and early 60s...outer space and Santa Claus.  And what a mash up it is.  We have space ships, martians, Santa, military operations, and various other plot points all crammed into a tight 1 hour and 20 minutes.  Does it work?  Well, I'll let you know once I tell you the story of Santa Claus Conquers the Martians (no, I'm really not making this up).

It is Septober on the planet Mars and the adult Martians have begun to notice something disturbing.  Their children don't want to sleep, they don't care to eat, and they spend all day watching Earth programs on their televiewers (a terrible habit according to the parents).  The martians go to speak with their head wise man about the problem and he informs them that on Earth, it is the beginning of December and that is when they begin preparing for Christmas.  Apparently, the martian children have seen and heard about Christmas and Santa Claus from the televiewer and yearn to have the same experiences that their Earth counterparts have.  You see, martian children are born with the minds of adults and are treated as adults.  They don't play or frolic, and they need to in order to work out their new feelings of restlessness.  The decree goes forth that Mars needs a Santa Claus and the martian fathers head to Earth in their space ship to kidnap him and bring him back to Mars so that he can bring Christmas to their children.  The martians are confused at first, as they can clearly see a Santa on every corner ringing a bell and asking for money.  But when they kidnap two Earth children, Billy and Betty, and ask them where he can be found...they are lead to the North Pole and Santa's Workshop.  So soon, the martians and Billy and Betty are all trying to get to Santa.  Who will prevail and what will become of Christmas?

Wow...just wow.  I really have never seen a film quite as bad as this one.  I mean Octaman was pretty bad...but this one just has all the production value of a preschool stage production...maybe less.  The actors are all over-cranking for a movie of this caliber (like they think they're gonna get an Oscar) and the effects are laughable.  However, boy was it ever funny.  I understand that "Mystery Science Theater 3000" once did an episode featuring this movie and I can imagine that it was pretty amusing.  I'll have to watch that one sometime, but for now I just have the regular film to work from.  Its such a strange concoction of ideas and makes very little sense.  Since when did television crews go to the North Pole to interview Santa?  Why do the martians look like green humans with strange hats?  Why does Mars have Earth food in pill form?  I mean, there is so much that is inexplicable in the film that it makes you giggle.  I bet this movie would be perfect for a tacky Christmas party...so long as you had enough liquor and plenty of witty people.  Once again, I don't suggest that you add this film to your holiday rotation...but if you're intensely curious you can watch it for free on YouTube.  I promise, there's nothing quite like it.

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