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Category:    Home > Reviews > Comedy > Camp > Holidays > Christmas > Action > Aliens > Santa Claus Conquers The Martians (1964/Kino/Horizon Blu-ray)

Santa Claus Conquers The Martians (1964/Kino/Horizon Blu-ray)


Picture: B-     Sound: C+     Extras: C+     Film (longer version): C-



Considered one of the worst films of any kind ever made, Nicholas Webster’s insanely bad Santa Claus Conquers The Martians (1964) has been issued in endless DVD editions and even famously spoofed by Mystery Science Theater 3000 actually inc4reasing its awareness and popularity, but the idea that it would come out on Blu-ray is almost unthinkable.  However, Horizon managed to get a really good film print (an nice Avco Embassy print at that) of the film actually made for TV broadcast (though an earlier Blu-ray with a shorter print was mistakenly issued at first, this is the disc available now) that is in better shape than anyone could have ever hoped for.


Santa goes on TV from the North Pole, only to get the attention of Martians who decide to nab him, but nothing will be that simple here.  From the text of my original DVD coverage, here is more…


“Made back in 1964 with some special toys even made by the great Marx Toys Company [in its final years of being the #1 toy company in the world; we don’t think this film stopped that], the film is still a howler over four decades later with a cast of mostly unknowns giving us the far-from-classic story of how Martians want to capture everyone’s favorite red-clad gift-giver.  It is a mess, but an amusing mess.


Another sign of trouble is the acting debut of Pia Zadora as a child actor playing “GirlMar” the Martian Girl, and to think that is a highlight!  Running a long 80 minutes, director Nicholas Webster has no idea what to do with the story or the crazy sets.  Martians think Santa can help them or they can learn more about earth without kidnapping the average earthling, but it is just so stale, pointless and odd that train wrecks cannot compete.  Of course, they are tearing themselves apart, so why kidnap two human children?  At least it is not full of it, because it is not preachy or has any crazy religious overtones like so much such holiday material has now.  It is trying to be fun for kids, even though it fails just about all the time.  You have to see it once to believe it.”

Turns out Jamie Farr is here in one of his early and many character actors turns before reaching entertainment world immortality on the hit TV version of M*A*S*H and becoming a major Hollywood personality.  And once again, what many thought was so bad then does not seem totally as bad now, though this is still awful.  Longer means funnier in this version (at 81 minutes, comparatively,) ambitiously shot on real 35mm film and after seeing (and reviewing, along with my colleagues on this site) dozens of awful would-be Christmas classics that are really sappy melodramas and too often Right-Wing propaganda not so cleverly disguised as “warm holiday fare”, Santa Claus Conquers The Martians lands up being a more authentic holiday film by default, if joining a strange shortlist of weird Christmas productions that deserves an extensive analysis of its own.




The 1080p 1.33 X 1 digital High Definition image transfer can show the age and limits of the print used, but this print by far has the best color I have ever seen or ever expected to see on this notorious dud.  The phoniness is clearer than ever and you can even see how the makers really thought they were making something good by the effort (cheap as it looks now) they were putting into this oddball production.  This is actually a more professional job than most HD shoots I have suffered through lately and makes the film worth a look for all.  The DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 2.0 Mono lossless mix is not as good because the audio was done on a budget and shows its age.


Extras include a new trailer, a few stills and a nice collection of holiday promo shorts, clips to promote businesses near movie houses and drive-ins during the holiday season and two animated shorts by the Fleischer Studios including one coming from a terrific three-strip, dye-transfer Technicolor print.



-   Nicholas Sheffo


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