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Boo for Santy Claus
on 25 August 2011
Every now and then you hear about a movie that is so abysmally, outrageously, mind-blowingly bad that you just HAVE to watch it. "The Room," "Manos, the Hands of Fate," and stuff like that.
This is one of them: "Santa Claus Conquers The Martians," which takes an insultingly ridiculous premise... and makes it even more insultingly ridiculous with hammy acting, silly dialogue, and the worst climax. This is a movie so bad that it actually spins right past the limits and becomes a brilliantly ghastly parody of yuletide cliches!
The children of Mars (all two of them) are becoming withdrawn and depressed, which a crazy old hermit declares to be a sign that MARS NEEDS... SANTA CLAUS! So the Martians to go Earth to kidnap Santa Claus, so he can spread holiday joy. With the help of two idiotic human kids, they get to the North Pole and capture Santa Claus (John Call), who seems to be just fine about being abducted to another planet. I suspect drugs were involved.
But the eeeeeevvvvillll Voldar (Vincent Beck) doesn't want Santa to spread love and joy across Mars, so he spends the space voyage trying to do away with them. The commander Bomar (Chris Month) takes the kids and Santa into his home, but will they ever make it back to Earth? Or will Voldar destroy them first?
The title "Santa Claus Conquers the Martians" actually sounds kind of cool -- like it might contain Santa and an elf army waging interstellar war. Unfortunately, instead we get an amalgam of every Christmas cliche and poorly-imagined Z-movie scifi trope, in one sloppy sopping treacly mess.
The dialogue is about as entertaining as a railroad spike in the eye ("What's soft and round and you put it on a stick and you toast it in a fire, and it's green? A Martian mallow!"), the sets are painfully cheap (IS THERE MORE THAN ONE MARTIAN HOUSE?), and there's not really any plot. Santa and the kids sort of saunter around being annoyingly cheery, and Voldar periodically tries to kidnap and/or kill them.
It also has one of the most chaotic, ridiculous climaxes ever inflicted on an audience, involving one of the bad guys being beaten up with TOYS. It's even stupider than it sounds.
As for the acting, it's horrendous. The children manage to be wooden, twee and affected all at the same time, and Santa is obviously high as a kite (attempted murder? HOHOHOHO!). And the Martians are inept bumblers who couldn't find their feet with a telescope, including a subplot where Voldar and his goons can't tell that A MARTIAN IN A SANTA SUIT isn't the real Santa.
As the icing, we also have Bill McCutcheon as Dropo, a blithering drooling dolt of a Martian who is meant to be charming comic relief, but who is about as funny as licking the third rail.
"Santa Claus Conquers the Martians" is a movie so blithely, outstandingly inept in every area that it ends up being mildly entertaining. For the full effect of its hideous goofiness, try the MST3K version!