Liam Neeson has carved out a late-career renaissance as the
I get why people like A Christmas Story so much–it’s a classic for a reason–but for Chrissakes, there’s not a single alien in that movie. So how good can it really be? Enter Santa Claus Conquers the Martians, which has multiple aliens. If you somehow have not seen this cinematic masterpiece (I’d call it the greatest movie of all time, but Mortal Kombat exists), here’s a primer for you.
1) The plot is a genius meta-commentary on the futility of humankind’s ultimately fruitless struggle to achieve true meaning whilst caught in the morass of our uncaring, unrelenting universe. Nah, just kidding. Martians kidnap Santa Claus so he can give their kids presents.
2) The theme song is a verifiable earwig. Hooray for Sandy Claus, cha cha cha!
3) Speaking of songs, the Santa Claus Conquers the Martians episode of Mystery Science Theater 3000, which caused the film to pick up a whole new fanbase, featured the song “A Patrick Swayze Christmas.” It’s the best Christmas present the universe could have gotten.
4) Santa Claus Conquers the Martians was the film debut of actress/singer Pia Zadora. Eight years old at the time, she played one of the Santa-obsessed Martian children, Girmar.
5) It’s also the first movie appearance of Mrs. Claus (Doris Rich). It beat out Rankin/Bass’ stop-motion Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer by three weeks, and who remembers that thing?
6) The guns the Martians use in the film are actually painted Wham-O Air Blasters, a popular toy at the time. Really gives you an idea of the high-end production value on display.
7) The director we have to thank for all this genius is Nicholas Webster, who went on to direct episodes of Get Smart, Bonanza, Mannix, The Waltons, and more, plus a 1978 documentary called Manbeast! Myth or Monster?, which cannot possibly be as good as it sounds.
8) There’s a Martian Merlin-type character who tremulously preaches about how children need Santa Claus. Then he explodes
9) The villain is one Voldar (Vincent Beck), a sneering moustachioed Grinch who tries to kill Santa (and the two human children good guy Kimar kidnapped, but it’s OK, he returned them. I’m sure their parents were fine with it) because he thinks Christmas will corrupt his race’s heritage. Then he’s taken down in a toy fight.
10) The fight scene between Volar and Kimar beats every other fight scene into the dust.
11) The names of the main Martian family are Kimar, Momar, Girmar, and Bomar. As in “King Martian,” “Mom Martian,” “Girl Martian,” and “Boy Martian.” Yeah, I know.
12) Dell Comics produced a Santa Claus Conquers the Martians comic in 1964. Sadly, there was only one issue, and the world suffers for it.
13) Near the beginning of the film, there’s a fight between a guy in a polar bear suit and a Martian robot. It’s magnificent.
14) It’s in the public domain and is therefore easy to find. Go watch it right the heck now. Better yet, find the MST3K version instead.