Monday, November 21, 2011

Pre-Thanksgiving Turkey: Santa Claus Conquers the Martians

He's the Jolly Old Elf in a red suit!
They are BIG Green Men from Mars with an even BIGGER robot!
Before Tim Burton's The Nightmare Before Christmas, they were the ingredients for the weirdest Christmas movie ever!

Santa Claus Conquers the Martians was filmed in 1964 in that bastion of cinema, Long Island, New York (in an unused aircraft hangar).
Starring a host of tv and b-movie actors including handsome-but-stiff Leonard Hicks as the good Martian leader Kimar, 60s villain/voiceover artist Vincent Beck (who did lots of work for Irwin Allen's sci-fi shows) as the film's mustache-twirling Martian villain, Voldar, and John Call as a pretty damn convincing Santa Claus, the flick is touted these days as the debut of future talentless chantuse Pia Zadora as Martian Kid Girmar. (Thankfully, she has rather limited screen time.)

The plot's pretty simple.
The children of Mars are in a funk.
The adult Martians deduce it's due to the childrens' strict and sterile upbringing, and that to "normalize" them, the kids must have fun!
And what could be more fun than celebrating Christmas?
But, to do a proper Christmas, you need a Santa Claus!
Thus, the Martians journey to Earth to kidnap Santa Claus and force him to create a Christmas celebration on Mars!
Then, as they say in TV Guide, hilarity ensues! (well, sorta)

As an example of low-budget filmmaking, it's actually pretty effective.
Every penny (what few of them they had) is up on the screen.
The costuming and Santa's Workshop and Mars sets are as good as those of tv shows of the period.
(The Martian robot is probably the weakest element from a design and execution standpoint, but nobody's perfect!)
There's extensive use of stock footage (from Dr. Strangelove, no less).
And, the idea to utilize the then-popular Wham-O Air Blaster toy guns as Martian weapons was either a stroke of marketing genius or clever use of limited funds. Either way, sales of the guns shot thru the roof after the film hit the kiddie matinee circuit!

If you're between 3-9 years old, the flick's a lot of fun.
If you're between 10 and whatever the local drinking age is, it'll drive you nuts, especially the theme song!
If you're over the local drinking age, do so before watching! It's available on a host of public domain dvds as well as one of the Mystery Science Theatre 3000 snarkfests.

And you just knew we at Atomic Kommie Comics™ were going to include Santa Claus Conquers the Martians in our Cool Christmas collection on stuff including kid and adult sweatshirts, hoodies, mugs and coasters, tree ornaments, throw blankets and snugglies, and greeting cards!
BTW: The image is from the comic book tie-in. There was also a 45 single of the theme, a spoken-word LP album of the movie's dialogue, and a novelization, all of which are HTF and expensive when you do find them!
Now I can't get that damn theme our of my head..."Hoo-ray for Santy Claus..." AARRRGGGHHH!

FREE: an early holiday gift from us to you: a link to a download the film itself in various formats!
Now it can drive YOU nuts, too!

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