This holiday season, I wanted to cover a lot of different types of Christmas movies. I kinda figured this should include at least one movie that falls under the category of "so bad it's good". No other Christmas movie fulfills this status quite like 'Santa Claus Conquers the Martians'.
Years ago, this was taped for me when it was on TV because the title alone seemed like something "right up my alley", which was accurate. Upon hearing the title, it became a must-see situation, and the film did not disappoint. When this was taped for me, I was only just beginning to realize that "so bad it's good" subcategory even existed, upon seeing the 'Mystery Science Theater 3000' movie (viewing 'This Island Earth').
The film starts out with an interview with a very real and unquestionable Santa Claus (John Call), getting ready for Christmas. This interview is being watched by Martian children who question what things like "tender love and care" are. The idea is that these kids are miserable because they don't understand certain emotions. As a result, the Martian parents go to Earth, abduct Santa, and ask him to bring joy to the Martian children.
Santa comes through for them, but upon wanting to return to Earth, the Martians insist that he's there to stay, and bring Christmas to their Children to keep them happy, much like the Earth children. Oh, speaking of Earth children, two named Billy and Betty Foster (Victor Stiles and Donna Conforti) end up abducted as well, because the movie needs kids to relate to.
Anyway, the whole thing is a mess, the martians look ridiculous, the acting is altogether horrible, except there's one strangely redeeming quality - Santa, himself. For as bad as this movie is, this is one of the best representations of a Santa Claus I've ever seen, even though they make him a bit dumb. But his laugh is great, his smile is charming, and he's totally believable. And that's such a weird thing to say about such an otherwise terrible (but super fun) movie.
Indeed, this one belongs in the realm of our favorite horrible hits like 'The Room', 'Plan 9', 'Troll 2', 'Manos', and a continuing list of films that are so horribly done that we hold them close to our hearts. Hell, some of them even get movies made about them. If you take a peek at IMDb, it's nestled between 'Jack and Jill' and 'Steel' as one of the worst movies ever made, in its bottom 100.
For as bad as this movie is though, I'd still highly recommend watching it for a good laugh. It doesn't even need to be around Christmas. It's just a must-see title, any time, for those who love these types of movies. A good one to put on with a room full of friends and just make fun of the whole way through. It really should be a 1, but the Santa, and the ridiculous premise give it that slight nudge up one. It's terrible, but fun.