Collector’s Edition (1959/VCI Blu-ray)
Picture: C- Sound: C Extras: C+ Film: C
A film brought to the states (from Mexico) by entrepreneur K. Gordon
Murray, the 1959 Christmas ‘classic’ Santa
Claus could baffle the most open minded of viewers. In fact, the crew of MST3K even took a crack
at the film, making the skewering of the film more famous than the film itself.
The (unimaginable) plot of Santa
Claus is as follows; Santa comes to earth to battle one of Satan’s demonic
minions named Pitch. Pitch is a red,
devil (bunny?) suited creature and Santa is cast in an odd, not from this
world, Martian sort of role. Pitch is
dead set on turning the children of the world against old Saint Nick, while
Santa arrives to save the day.
The film is written and stylized as if the writer(s)/director had no
idea or only a VERY loose understanding of who Santa was; but (for historical
purposes) if you look back at the world in 1959, Mexico did not have a
tradition/concept of Santa like they have today. Santa was (as we know him today) was just
gaining steam in the USA, so it is no shock that people from Mexico would have
a hard time piecing the concept together.
The entire film could be described as “lost in translation” as one
almost must pause the film and exclaim “WHAT!?”
So many things make absolutely no sense, but again when it is put in the
context of the time period at least some conclusions can be drawn. Many people remember viewing this film in the
1960’s into the 70’s and 80’s, praising the film with fond memories; it is at
this time you will realize they have not seen the film, or were in some
childhood stupor. The film is
awful. Yes, it is awful in a ‘so bad
it’s good’ kind of way, but still awful.
To say the least (which is all that is needed for this film) Santa Claus is an odd, odd film and
VCI’s choice to bring this ‘cult classic’ to Blu-ray when so many other
classics have yet to get the High Def treatment is even odder. Santa is in his Martian workshop and fights
to keep the hearts of children, while the demon Pitch reaps havoc. The film is hilariously bad as political
incorrectness runs rampant with racial stereotypes, guns a-blazing, and an
overall pure misunderstanding of the Santa mythos.
I would recommend watching Santa
Claus in a group setting with a few drinks in hand at any point in the
year. Don’t save this atrocity just for
VCI has recently been stepping up their game by not only releasing
some classic niche films, but also in terms of quality releases; sadly Santa Claus is a step back from that
upgrade in quality. The video is a VC-1,
1.78 X 1, 1080p presentation that is shaky at best. The colors from this 35mm print transfer seem
to have faded over the years, leading to only certain colors ‘popping.’ Reds are the brightest then we have the weird
orange hues of the skin tones, which are distracting to say the least while the
rest of the colors are bland and faded.
DNR gives the film an odd ‘greasy’ look at times that has certain
aspects appearing blurry as fine detail is washed away. Some dirt/debris/scratches still exist in
this transfer and I just wish the whole presentation was better.
The audio is only a hair better, but that is diminished by the fact
that choosing your audio selection is nearly impossible. For some reason VCI ahs horrible Menu
pages/navigation on their Blu-rays and Santa
Claus Blu-ray is no exception. You
have multiple choices here between English 5.1 LPCM or 2.0 mono mixes and the
same in Spanish. The mono tracks are
actually better as all the 5.1 track does is amplify this odd and annoying
‘hiss’ noise in the background. Needless
to say I was not impressed.
Surprisingly this release has a host of extras to view:
Commentary by K. Gordon Murray historian Daniel Griffith (of
It’s a Howdy Doody Christmas
Santa Claus Conquers the Devil featurette: Hosted by
Shorts (standard definition)
Santaland short films (1-3)
by K. Gordon Murray
Wonder World Teaser
- Michael P. Dougherty II