321. Santa Claus Conquers The Martians (1964)

“A yuletide science fiction fantasy”? Martians, kids, Santa, dubbing. “Ho! Ho! Ho!” Total Recall (1990) as a children’s film? Silly names, 60s television, Mars needs an enema and Kris Kringle saves the day. I remember watching this and I thought Santa Claus: The Movie (1985) was out there. Christmas, The Wish Squisher, Misfit Toys, “A Patrick Swayze Christmas”, Christmas Specials, Christmas Essays, “Angels We Have Heard On High.” “By order of the Fire Marshall, there is no smoking in this theater”, “Hey hold on… Isn’t there a title to this movie?”, “Big John Call IS Santa Claus in Ol’ Little Town of Deathlahem.” “Oh man… This is really really cheap animation” or “Hey… It’s deligtful. It’s delicious. It’s Delugg”?

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Probably my favorite MST3K Christmas episode, although that could just be because I’ve seen it a lot more often than Santa Claus. It’s a great MST3K choice because they’re riffing on it not because it’s a bad movie, but because it’s so dang weird. The theme song is incredibly catchy to boot. The only sad part for me is that it took multiple viewings over decades to finally catch on that Bomar and Girmar are just short for “boy martian” and “girl martian.” Hooray for Santy Claus!

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It’s catchy. Isn’t it?

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A Patrick Swayze Christmas.

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A cover of A Patrick Swayze Christmas.

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Christmas Catalogue.

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Mads Gift Exchange.

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Mystery Science Theater Hour Intro.

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Adam West introduces Santa Claus Conquers The Martians on Turkey Day 1994.

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A Kidnapped Santa Claus.

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This and The Christmas That Almost Wasn’t (1966) effortlessly are a Double Feature. The Italian Thing and the Sixties and Santa overlap. Each fall into Joel’s tastes of experiment fodder.

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My life was changed the day I realized that Bomar, Girmar, Kimar, and Momar were contractions of “boy martian”, “girl martian”, “king martian”, and “mother martian”

Changed, I tell ya!

And of course Patrick Swayze Christmas is an all-time classic A-1 hit.

This is the first Christmas MST I watch each year. Then we get Santa Claus, then Christmas That Almost Wasn’t. And now after this year, I’ll have to add The Christmas Dragon to the list.

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As a movie choice, Santa Claus Conquers the Martians has considerable stature of sorts, being something of a children’s Christmas movie equivalent of Robot Monster.

Despite its science fiction trappings which help it stand out in the mix, it’s a typical mediocre children’s entertainment with grating kids, half-witted adults, and a Santa Claus whose pipe (judging from his behavior) has something other than tobacco in it. But what really brings in the pain is Dropo. Dropo is one of those horrible unfunny comic relief characters that the kids seem to love but the typical adult instinctively despises. You can only wonder what Hell awaits Mars when Santa appoints him as the Santa of the Red Planet. The actor Bill McCutcheon would continue in children’s entertainment, including a stretch on Sesame Street as Uncle Wally.

Personally, I think Santa Claus has stronger riffing, but Santa Claus Conquers the Martians has better host segments.

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Only-Slightly-Random-Aside, I personally know the guy who did the novelization of this movie. He counts it as one of his greatest achievements. :laughing:

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Ok, I want to know what seriously disturbed individual wants to read the novelization of Santa Claus Conquers the Martians.

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In reading the TV Tropes section on Santa Claus Conquers the Martians, I -will- tell you that it ends with a novel (har) twist:

After some years pass, Venusians kidnap Dropo Claus and take him to Venus, because THEY want their own Santa Claus. So, the cycle begins anew.

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But yeah, this is my absolute favorite Season Three episode, in terms of both what the episode gives you (which is a lot) and the nostalgia factor.

Back in junior high, this was one of the first few MST3K episodes I discovered, thanks to the Mystery Science Theater Hour. And I adored this installment.

I mean, look, you have Crow AS RUDOLPH THE RED-NOSED REINDEER IN SILHOUETTE. Plus you’ve got so much going on with all the festiveness on the SOL and in Deep 13.

The host segments here are god-tier. From the dreaming over catalogs (this was absolutely a thing) to the New Island of Misfit Toys (Toaster Dolls! Servo’s narration over his Easy-Bake Foundry! GPC’s Mr. Mashed Potato Head! CROW’S ROAD HOUSE BOARD GAME!!!) to the deviously evil Wish Squisher, to Let’s Have a Patrick Swayze Christmas (probably one of the five best host segments they’ve ever done), to Joel tricking Frank into sending an interesting selection of Christmas movies to turn the joy tide after the experiment, to a genuinely touching moment with GPC’s Christmas essay, to ANOTHER genuinely touching moment with the Bots vocalizing Hark the Herald Angels Sing as Joel reads a moving letter, to the Gift of the Magi closing scene in Deep 13, it’s all like a great big hug and at least 50 gift certificates to a stationery store.

Love it to pieces.

There’s a reason why I make the MST3K Christmas episodes a cornerstone of the holiday season. I used to watch this every December until I got my hands on a copy of Santa Claus, and then I watched them both for the holidays.

Then The Christmas That Almost Wasn’t came along, and I added THAT to the holiday lineup as a welcome addition.

I look forward to doing the very same with The Christmas Dragon. You just know, you know?

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As for the riffing itself? Just an absolute joy over a hokey, goofy, utterly silly movie that has as much heart as it has ineptitude.

Voldar is one of my favorite MST3K riff targets, because he’s such an ineffectual, grandstanding villain who gets verbally skewered in the funniest, most riotous ways (“Pack your other mustache!”). The character is TOTALLY that guy when he does his evil laughter, and Crow sets the tone perfectly with him a quick and abrupt “Sorry” after his abrupt evil laugh fit that we would later see in the stinger.

Santa’s riffed to perfection, too, with the gang having a field day with him.

Servo after Santa wildly goofs up the reindeer’s names: “Ah, yes, and what’s in the pipe, Santa?”

Santa: “The kids know their names!”
Crow: “Yeah, 'cause they’re sober.”

That scene where ALL VERBAL HELL breaks out in the theater after Santa gets a round of laughter going with the Earth kids and Martian children? HILARIOUS. The “kids use toys to stop Voldar” scene is predictably bonkers and inspires fantastic riffing every which way (“That’s great… teach your kids to throw dangerous toys around!”).

Dropo, well… the less said about him, the better. He mugs SO MUCH during the movie, and the gang pulls no punches with him (“You know, you’re the Gilligan of your time, Dropo”).

I feel like I could be all day jawboning about this episode, because it’s so ace, so choice. It’s a favorite for so many reasons.

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Ooh. I get to tell my MST3K origin story!

So I was over at someone’s house, and they were watching an old MST3K episode. I’ve never figured out which one. I think it might have been a Commando Cody short. A jet pack was activated in space. A fart joke was made. I was in love.

But we didn’t get Comedy Central, so whatever show it was (including the title) remained a mystery for me for several years. Then, one day after a grueling shift at my first job at Target, I was flipping through the channels a little bit after midnight and I happened on the MST3K Hour. It was toward the end of the episode (Since the MST3K Hour split episodes into 2 bits, it was roughly the middle of the episode proper.) That episode: Santa Claus Conquers the Martians.

I remember the scene well. It was when the kids were hiding at the north pole, being pursued by some goofy looking aliens and their goofy looking robot. My theory at that point was that the show had actually created a movie to make fun of because there was no way they ever made anything this bad. (I had a lot to learn.) Then the “polar bear” attacked and I’ve never laughed so hard in my life. It became appointment viewing from then on and the rest is history.

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Oh. And one of my favorite riffs ever was when they’re interviewing Santa, and the reporter asks whether Santa will be using some sort of high tech sleigh.

“No, we’re going out the old fashioned way.”
“Guns a-blazing!”

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