Santa Claus Conquers the Martians (1964)

santa claus conquers the martians poster 1964 movie
1 Overall Score
Story: 1/10
Acting: 1/10
Visuals: 1/10

So bad it is good, catchy Santa Claus song


Movie Info

Movie Name: Santa Claus Conquers the Martians

Studio: Embassy Pictures Corporation

Genre(s): Sci-Fi/Fantasy/Family/B-Movie/Seasonal

Release Date(s): November 14, 1964

MPAA Rating: Not Rated

santa claus conquers the martians aliens santa workshop

I will commercialize the holiday on Mars just like on Earth!!!

The children of Mars begin to grow depressed watching Earth television and the leaders of Mars decide to travel to Earth to capture Santa Claus (John Call) for their kids. When they arrive on Earth, the Martians led by Kimar (Leonard Hicks) kidnap brother and sister Billy (Victor Stiles) and Betty (Donna Conforti) and trick them into leading them to Santa’s base at the North Pole. With Santa, Billy, and Betty as their prisoners, the Martians head back to Mars, and it becomes up to Santa, Billy, Betty, and a goofy Martian named Dropo (Bill McCutcheon) to keep the evil Voldar (Vincent Beck) from stopping the quest to bring toys to Mars.

Directed by Nicholas Webster, Santa Claus Conquers the Martians is a B-Movie family holiday film.  The film often makes the “worst of” lists, but due to being in the public domain and a cult following, the movie often plays at late nights during the holiday season.  Its popularity was boosted more by Mystery Science Theater 3000 which featured it on a fourth season episode (MST3K #4.21).

santa claus conquers the martians pia zadora girma

I’m confused…do we want Santa or not?

Santa Claus Conquers the Martians was one of those midnight movies that was often on static-y channels growing up.  It was seen as goofy time fillers, but it was one of those movies you might actually stay up for just because of the extreme low level of quality of the movie.

The story makes no sense. It begins with a live broadcast from Santa’s workshop (how that works I don’t know) and also has Martians smart enough to intercept Earth television signals and know how to fly to Earth, but not smart enough to know where to find Santa when they got there. The generic goal of “making Martian children happy” also seems really random…fortunately some Akira Kurosawa-Martian elder-seer-Chochem-reject (Carl Don) gives the Martians leaders the direction they need.

Acting wise, there is a lot of uncomfortable “actors” with really lame roles. It doesn’t seem like the characters know what they are doing most of the scenes…fortunately many of the scenes end in maniacal laughter for both the heroes and the villains of the movie…since the director/storywriters didn’t know how to end a scene. The movie does feature the first film role for Pia Zadora as one of the Martian children.

santa claus conquers the martians polar bear costume

I’m kind of like the Wampa but more man-dressed-up-in-a-bad-polar-bear costume-like

The bad story and acting combines with some of the worst visuals that were often aided by the poor broadcast quality of the airings.  The aliens are so non-threatening (just some glitter green paint and antennas), and the sets make the original Star Trek look high-tech. Add to that the worst polar bear costume in the history of film, and the movie screams B-Movie classic.

Santa Claus Conquers the Martians is a must for B-Movie fans and one of those movies that must be seen to believe. Its cult success is still growing, and now it is sometimes shown by theaters around the holidays (a stage play was also developed).  Ironically, the film has some Christmas lore to it in that it is the first representation of Mrs. Claus (Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer premiered later in the season).  There also has been some talk of a remake (which fortunately sounds like it is shelved), and of course Jim Carrey’s name has been floated around as a modern Dropo…ugh…we can only hope.

Author: JPRoscoe View all posts by
Follow me on Twitter/Instagram/Letterboxd @JPRoscoe76! Loves all things pop-culture especially if it has a bit of a counter-culture twist. Plays video games (basically from the start when a neighbor brought home an Atari 2600), comic loving (for almost 30 years), and a true critic of movies. Enjoys the art house but also isn't afraid to let in one or two popular movies at the same time.

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