Blu-ray Review “Santa Claus Conquers the Martians”

Actors: Pia Zadora, Bill McCutcheon, Ned Wertimer, John Call
Directors: Wallace Worsley
Rated: NR (Not Rated)
Release Date: October 30, 2012
Run Time: 81 minutes

Film: 3.5 out of 5 stars
Extras: 4 out of 5 stars

“Santa Claus Conquers the Martians” has always been one of my favorite “bad” movies.  It is a cheesy 1964 science fiction film and it regularly featured in the “bottom 100” list on IMDB.  I found out about this film many years ago thanks to being spoofed on “Mystery Science Theater 3000”. Since then it has always been a favorite around the holidays.  When I say this is bad…I mean bad. But that doesn’t mean that I don’t recommend it.  I highly recommend it.  It is one of those films that you just have to watch over and over and then tell you friends about it.  Kino is giving this film the real treatment in this special edition Blu-ray.  The film is not what you would call high-definition worthy but it reminds me of other films like “Plan 9 from Outer Space”. The song “Hooray For Santy Claus” is such a terribly bad song that it will have you humming it all season.

Official Premise: Santa Claus Conquers the Martians tells the story of the depressed children of Mars (including one played by an 8-year-old Pia Zadora), who can only be brought out of their funk through the jolly cheer of Old St. Nick. So the Martian leaders travel to Earth and kidnap two local kids and Kris Kringle himself. Brought back to the Red Planet, they are forcibly installed in a factory to make toys. But you can’t manufacture happiness, with Santa having to teach his alien overseers the true meaning of Christmas.

Kino Classics has really made this bad film actually quite amazing.  It is a fully restored edition from HD elements and it is the first time that this movie is available on Blu-ray. The full-screen, 1.33:1 transfer looks a literally a thousand times better than the mass public domain prints. The mono audio track works for the film and didn’t really expect much more than that here. There are tons of great vintage special features included here. The collection of extras are really all over the map. First we get various vintage Christmas-themed footage for Santa’s Cool Holiday Film Festival. Then we have Shari Lewis and Lambchop giving a season’s greeting. America’s favorite family The Nelsons have a sponsor ad for Eastman Kodak.  Max Fleischer’s “Christmas Comes But Once a Year and Rudolph, the Red-Nosed Reindeer” cartoon is included. Castle Films’ Santa short subject from 1950 shows up, as well a bit from Abbott & Costello and also 1951’s Howdy Doody’s Christmas.  Did I mention all over the map? Lastly there are 50’s and 60’s vintage theatre Christmas greetings.


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