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Category:    Home > Reviews > Fantasy > Action > Magic > Battles > Holiday > Camp > Santa Claus: Collector’s Edition (1959/VCI Blu-ray)

Santa Claus: 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 Christmas.


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 Ballyhoo Films)

·         Original Trailer

·         It’s a Howdy Doody Christmas

·         Santa Claus Conquers the Devil featurette: Hosted by Daniel Griffith

·         Radio Spot

·         TV Spot

·         Photo Gallery

·         Deleted Scenes

·         Shorts (standard definition)

o        Santaland short films (1-3) by K. Gordon Murray

·         Wonder World Teaser



-   Michael P. Dougherty II


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