Earthlings have long held an affinity for the jolly bearded fellow in the red suit that hands out Christmas presents each year. Is it any wonder that other planets might just be a little jealous that we haven’t shared St. Nick with the rest of the galaxy? Well, that all changed in 1964, when the Martians took matters into their own hands in the campy sci-fi classic, Santa Claus Conquers the Martians. It might not have given Citizen Kane a run for its money in terms of quality, but that hasn’t stopped numerous generations from gleefully embracing this one-of-a-kind B-movie that remains popular to this day.
The poor kids on Mars have a tough life, what with all of that forced educational programming that has left them little freedom to have fun. Luckily, they are allowed access to some good ol’ Earth television and, as a result, have become enamored by famed North Pole resident, Santa Claus. One particular set of Martian parents, Kimar and Momar (dad and mom, respectively) become aware of this trend, thanks to their kids Girmar and Bomar, and bring their children’s fascination with St. Nick to the attention of the all-knowing Martian, Chochem, who realizes the importance in letting the children of Mars have a little fun in their lives. To that end, he instructs the Martian leaders to head over to Earth and kidnap the famed Kris Kringle.
The idea is to have Santa set up shop on Mars and start churning out toys for the kids, but that doesn’t sit well with one particularly cantankerous alien named Voldar, who would rather see Santa killed, rather than corrupt their ancient culture. So when Santa arrives, along with two Earth children, Betty and Billy, Voldar starts plotting their demise. He immediately sends his henchmen, Shim and Stobo to sabotage the new toy factory so that it builds defective products. And when fellow Martian, the dimwitted Dropo, starts impersonating Santa around town and shows up at the toy factory, Voldar mistakes his identity for the real thing and kidnaps the faux Santa. Meanwhile, the real all-knowing Santa is a step ahead of the scheming and Voldar’s plans quickly unravel. But the big guy is too kind-hearted to leave the children of the planet sans Santa and he has a pretty good idea of who might make a suitable replacement for him on the planet.
While there may not be any huge box-office revenues to report or a list of Academy Award nominations, Santa Claus Conquers the Martians is one of those films that is almost impossible not to like, despite its “B” status. And, although the film certainly didn’t boast an all-star cast, eagle-eyed viewers might notice that one of the Martian kids is actually a very young Pia Zadora.
Recent generations were re-introduced to Santa Claus Conquers the Martians as part of the Mystery Science Theater 3000 show on Comedy Central. The cast poked fun at (skewered) the film in their own inimitable way, leading it to become one of the most popular episodes, one that airs every holiday season. And, although rumors of a remake have persisted for years, it would appear that this classic film is safe from being re-invented as of this writing.
If you count this B movie as one of your guilty pleasures whenever the holidays roll around, we welcome any and all thoughts about Santa Claus Conquers the Martians in our comments section.