Santa Claus Conquers the Martians (a J!-ENT Blu-ray Disc Review)
January 27, 2013 by Dennis Amith
“Santa Claus Conquers the Martians” is known to be a bad film. But it’s also enjoyed by its fans because that it’s become an annual Christmas favorite because of its Christmas sci-fi nature and kitschiness. So, for those who grew up watching this film will probably want to own it on Blu-ray. If you are a fan of the film, this Blu-ray is for you!
TITLE: Santa Claus Conquers the Martians
FILM RELEASE: 1964
DURATION: 81 Minutes
BLU-RAY DISC INFORMATION: 1080p High Definition, 1:33:1, Widescreen, Monaural, Subtitles: English
COMPANY: Horizon Movies
Release Date: December 4, 2012
Directed by Nicholas Webster
Screenplay by Glenville Mareth
Based on the story by Paul L. Jacobson
Produced by Paul L. Jacobson
Executive Producer: Joseph E. Levine
Associate Producer: Arnold Leeds
Music by Milton Delugg
Cinematography by David L. Quaid
Edited by William henry
Art Direction by Maurice Gordon
Set Decoration by Jack Writght III
Costume Design by Ramsey Mostoller
John Call as Santa Claus
Leonard Hicks as Kimar
Vincent Beck as Voldar
Bill McCutcheon as Dropo
Victor Stiles as Billy
Donna Conforti as Betty
Chris Month as Bomar
Pia Zadora as Girmar
Leila Martin as Momar
Charles Renn as Hargo
James Chill as Rigna
Ned Wertimer as Andy Henderson
Doris Rich as Mrs. Claus
Carl Don as Chochem
A film this bad has never looked so good! Horizon Movies proudly presents a fully restored edition (from HD elements) of the notorious holiday classic. The Martians are irked that their children spend so much time watching TV shows from Earth that sing the praises of Santa Claus, so they decide to make a trek to the planet to capture Mr. Claus. During their mission, they also abduct two children who lead the aliens to the North Pole and Santa. The Martians take all three earthlings back to Mars, where, with the help of a native, they manage to spread Christmas cheer throughout the red planet. SCCTM took on newfound fame in the 1990’s after being featured on Mystery Science Theater 3000 and became a holiday staple on Comedy Central in the years following its 1991 premiere, becoming one of the series’ most popular episodes. It has since found new life again in the 2000’s, having been riffed by Cinematic Titanic, which includes former cast members from MST3K, as of November 2008. Scenes from the movie were also used in both Comedy Central’s ”A Colbert Christmas” and ”Eloise at Christmastime”. SPECIAL FEATURES: ”The Retro Holiday Film Festival” that includes Vintage Max Fleischer Holiday Cartoons, Seasons Greetings from Classic TV Stars, Howdy Doody s Christmas Story, Rare, Remastered Holiday Commercials and much, much more!
It’s a film that has been voted as “one of the worst films ever made” and it’s also a film that has its fans because of its unusual sci-fi nature and that film is “Santa Claus Conquers the Martians”.
Released back in 1964, the film is based on a story written by Paul L. Jacobson and is directed by Nicholas Webster (“Gone are the Days!”, “Mission Mars”) and a screenplay by Glenville Mareth.
The film would star John Call (“The Anderson Tapes”, “Hangman’s Knot”, “Fearless Fagan”), Leonard Hicks (“Route 66”), Vincent Beck (“Vigilante”, “…And Justice For All”) and would be the film debut for actress Pia Zadora (“Naked Gun 33 1/3: The Final Insult”, “Hairspray”, “The Lonely Lady”).
While the film was lauded for just being bad, it would gain in popularity after being featured in an episode of “Mystery Science Theater 3000” in the ’90s and since then, the film would be shown on Comedy Central since 1991 and also featured on “Elvira’s Movie Macabre”.
And now, the film has been remastered for a Blu-ray release courtesy of Horizon Movies and was released in December 2012.
“Santa Claus Conquers the Martians” takes place during Christmas and while Santa and his elves are preparing their toys to deliver and people of Earth are excited, the newscast with Santa Claus is being watched by two children living in Mars, Girmar (portrayed by Pia Zadora) and Bomar (portrayed by Chris Month). Not understanding why children want toys and not knowing what peace and joy is, their parents Kimar (portrayed by Leonard Hicks) and Momar (portrayed by Leila Martin) are concerned with their children.
They have been unable to sleep and there are reports that other children are behaving the same way throughout Mars.
Kimar, the leader of the Martians, and other fellow higher-ups of Mars have a meeting with the old Martian sage known as Chochem (portrayed by Carl Don) who tells them that the problem is that the children of Mars are distracted because in Earth, children are born to experience life, whereas in Mars, they are deprived of their childhood, fit with a device through their brains and have no individuality or freedom of thought.
And this problem has been going on for centuries and the only way to help the children is bring Santa Claus to Mars, so they can have fun.
And so, Kimar decides that they must go to Earth and bring Santa Claus to Mars. But against him is Voldar (portrayed by Vincent Beck), who feels that Mars should go back to its war-like style and that they should not worry about the children, nor should they care about this Santa Claus, but Kimar reminds him who is the leader of Mars.
So, the group takes off to Earth and while Earth spots the UFO and is reported on the news, the martians are confused as they spot Santa Claus in many street corners around the planet. So, they decide to land on Earth and end up kidnapping two children, Billy (portrayed by Victor Stiles) and Betty (portrayed by Donan Conforti), so they can take them to Santa Claus in the North Pole and also, because they don’t tell the government’s military that they came in contact with martians.
As the group head to the North Pole and the children try to escape thanks to the martian idiot Dropo (portrayed by Bill McCutcheon), they are re-caught by the martian’s giant robot and in the process, the martians head to the North Pole and break into Santa’s workshop where they kidnap him.
And now the martians, along with Santa, Billy and Betty are taken back home to Mars. Meanwhile, news on Earth causes fear and panic that two children and Santa Claus have been captured.
The martians have built an automated factory for Santa Claus to bring toys to the children of Mars and sees if it will aid in their health and happiness and bring them back to their original self, and while the martian children are happy, Kimar and Momar start to see that Billy and Betty are now starting to exhibit the worsened behavior of the martian children, and Momar suspects its because they were taken away from their families.
Meanwhile, Voldar and a few men are not so happy with Kimar bringing Santa and toys to their children, afraid it will make Martian society weak. And they plan a coup against Kimar to stop Santa and Christmas in Mars.
“Santa Claus Conquers the Martians” is presented in 1:33:1 and while the film probably looks its best on Blu-ray, one should not think of this film to be pristine. The intro has some flickering and it’s important to note that on the rear of the package, the following message is featured: Due to teh rarity of materials available, the master for this film was created from a 16 mm European print secured by Holland Releasing with the HD telecine and color correction completed by Fotokem/Burbank. Since this print was originally created for television, it is presented in a 1:33:1 aspect ratio. The original theatrical release of this film was projected in a matted 1:85:1 with a safe top and bottom. As a result of the master having “removed the matte”, this presentation of the film actually reveals additional information on the top and bottom of the frame.
The film somewhat shows its age and is a bit soft, but it actually looks very good thanks to it being remastered in HD. I didn’t notice any compression problems at all. But picture quality does show the unbalance of makeup during that time (which was evident in the HD releases of the “Star Trek” television series on Blu-ray) but while not pristine, its the best that “Santa Claus Conquers the Martians” will probably ever look.
AUDIO & SUBTITLES:
“Santa Claus Conquers the Martians”is presented in DTS-HD monaural. It does have its issues with it not being cleaned up but for those who love listening to “Hooray for Santy Claus” (sung by Pia Zadorra and other children) during the intro, this is the best you’ll hear of this song. Also, dialogue is understandable. Just don’t expect a clean lossless audio track as you will hear a bit of hiss and crackle.
“Santa Claus Conquers the Martians” come with the following special features:
- Santa’s Cool Holiday Film Festival – (46:17) Featuring many Christmas clips, animated shorts, commercials from the 1950’s-1960’s featuring the Nelsons, Shari Lewis and Lambchop and more. These are not separate and must be watched as a full featurette.
- Trailer – (1:57) A newer trailer for “Santa Claus Conquers the Martians”.
- Stills Gallery – Featuring eight stills that can be viewed via your Blu-ray remote (or mouse/keyboard).
While “Santa Claus Conquers the Martians” will be seen as one of the worst films of all time, for science fiction fans, it’s one of those films that people who believe in “it’s so bad, it’s good” will probably enjoy this film.
The whole premise of martians going to Earth to kidnap Santa Claus and bring him to Mars is really far out and makes you wonder if the writer was on some drug, but watching it today, you can’t help but enjoy it because it’s so bad.
You have a martian race who all wear these ugly green outfits, children on Mars who watch American television and martians who speak English. You have your idiot martian and as for Santa Claus, I don’t know about how others have felt over the years, but when I first watched this film, I felt Santa was a bit creepy.
And this film’s not going to win over sci-fans because costume design is terrible, makeup is not applied all that well (and the Blu-ray release makes these problems even more visible), special effects and set design is not all that great. But once again, this film has earned its reputation for being bad, but yet there are a legion of fans who need their fix on “Santa Claus Conquers the Martians” because its bad. People who grew up with this film as they have grown up with other annual Christmas favorites such as “A Christmas Story”, “Home Alone”, “It’s a Wonderful Life” but instead of being a really good film, it’s more of watching this film because it’s so kitschy but so far out, that it makes you think if Glenville Mareth or Paul L. Jacobson were on drugs while creating this film.
But to this day, I still watch this film when it airs on television and now watching on Blu-ray, this time watching it with my 9-year-old and he found it to be amusing and entertaining.
As for the Blu-ray release, this is probably the best one is going to see of this film. While the picture quality and lossless track is not pristine, it still benefits from its remastering. So, for those hanging on to those old VHS tapes recorded from TV, go ahead and throw those away and get this Blu-ray instead. Also, for those who are nostalgic or are curious of older Christmas commercials or shorts, you get 46 minutes of classic Christmas clips from the ’50s and ’60s also included on this Blu-ray release.
Overall, “Santa Claus Conquers the Martians” is known to be a bad film but I have seen way worse films than this and dare I say, I’m always entertained by this film because of its far-out nature. But for parents, this is probably a holiday film that you want to show your young children as they won’t question the low production values or its crazy storyline.
And the film is enjoyed by its fans because it has become this annual Christmas favorite for some because of its Christmas sci-fi nature and uber-kitschiness. So, for those who grew up watching this film will probably want to own it on Blu-ray. If you are a fan of the film, this Blu-ray is for you!
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