Fifty-six years ago today, the film Santa Claus Conquers the Martians premiered. I remember seeing it for the first time on TV at my grandparent’s house when I was very young. I remember not understanding any of it, but loving how dark and strange it was. I was then reintroduced to it by Elvira at some point. Add it to your holiday movie list. The good news is that it is in the public domain, so the entire film is below.
Title: Santa Claus Conquers the Martians
Directed by: Nicholas Webster
Produced by: Paul L. Jacobson
Screenplay by: Paul L. Jacobson
Story by: Glenville Mareth
Starring: John Call, Leonard Hicks, Vincent Beck, Bill McCutcheon, Victor Stiles, Donna Conforti, Chris Month, Pia Zadora, Leila Martin, Charles Renn
Music by: Milton DeLugg
Cinematography: David L. Quaid
Edited by: Bill Henry
Production Company: Jalor Productions
Distributed by: Embassy Pictures
Release date: November 14, 1964
Running time: 81 minutes
Country: United States
Budget: $200,000 (estimated)
The Martians Momar (“Mom Martian”) and Kimar (“King Martian”) are worried that their children Girmar (“Girl Martian”) and Bomar (“Boy Martian”) are watching too much Earth television, most notably station KID-TV’s interview with Santa Claus in his workshop at Earth’s North Pole.
Consulting the ancient 800-year-old Martian sage Chochem (a Yiddish/Hebrew word meaning “sage”, though pronounced differently from the film’s version), they are advised that the children of Mars are growing distracted due to the society’s overly rigid structure. From infancy, all their education is fed into their brains through machines and they are not allowed individuality or freedom of thought.
Chochem notes that he had seen this coming “for centuries”, and says that the only way to help the children is to allow them their freedom and be allowed to have fun. To do this, Mars needs a Santa Claus figure, like on Earth. Leaving Chochem’s cave, the Martian leaders decide to abduct Santa Claus from Earth and bring him to Mars.
The Martians cannot distinguish between all the fake Santas, so they kidnap two children to find the real one. Once this is accomplished, one Martian, Voldar, who strongly disagrees with the idea, repeatedly tries to kill Santa Claus along with the two kidnapped Earth children. He believes that Santa is corrupting the children of Mars and turning them away from Mars’ original glory.
When they arrive on Mars, Santa and the children build a factory to make toys for the Martian children. However, Voldar and his assistants, Stobo and Shim, sabotage the factory and change its programming so that it makes the toys incorrectly. Meanwhile, Dropo, Kimar’s assistant, who has taken a great liking to Santa Claus and Christmas, puts on one of Santa’s spare suits and starts acting like Santa Claus. He goes to the toy factory to make toys, but Voldar mistakes him for Santa and kidnaps him.
When Santa and the children come back to the factory to make more toys, they discover that someone has tampered with the machines. Voldar and Stobo come back to the factory to make a deal with Kimar, but when they see the real Santa Claus, they realize that their plan has been foiled. Dropo, held hostage in a cave, tricks his guard Shim and escapes. Kimar then arrests Voldar, Stobo, and Shim. Santa notices that Dropo acts like him, and says that Dropo would make a good Martian Santa Claus. Kimar agrees and sends Santa and the children back to Earth.