SANTA CLAUS CONQUERS THE MARTIANS is on Netflix Instant. As with SANTA CLAUS, it’s also been deservedly victimized on MST3K. Watch if you want to pick your poison between these two holiday horror flicks.
People seem to think, incorrectly, that Seth Grahame-Smith invented the mashup with Pride and Prejudice and Zombies. Though it ushered in a whole slew of imitators such as ABRAHAM LINCOLN VAMPIRE HUNTER, Smith merely set off the latest iteration of a trend that’s been around a long time. The mashup was in fact very trendy in the mid-60s, with silly crossovers such as the appallingly bad BILLY THE KID VS. DRACULA, and the even more atrocious SANTA CLAUS CONQUERS THE MARTIANS.
The plot: Martians are upset their kids are unhappy. They decide to kidnap Santa, bring him back to Mars and force him to make toys for their kids. They also scoff up two kids, who outsmart them and also a polar bear. Awful humor that nobody would laugh at abounds, including one of Santa’s jokes about “Martian-mallows,” and a one-liner about the automation of his shop on Mars. The movie pushes so much leaden humor on its audience, and yet none of it is ever funny. It’s not scary either; the polar bear suit wouldn’t work at a costume party, and the robot pales in comparison to Ralph Kramden’s in the classic Honeymooners episode. It doesn’t satisfy as sci-fi either, because it’s not aiming that high; there’s no actual science fiction outside a preposterous space ship and silly Martian outfits and guns.
In fact, I can’t fathom exactly to whom this film is supposed to appeal. No discerning sci-fi, horror or comedy fan will find anything to enjoy here. Even In Its Own Universe fans will find little to love about this trash. With its uneven tone and intent, it’s no surprise this flick makes a lot of those Worst Films lists.
How odd that SANTA CLAUS CONQUERS THE MARTIANS is one of those flicks that falls into comparison with another flick made around the same time. To AMERICAN WEREWOLF IN LONDON vs. THE HOWLING and A BUG’S LIFE vs. ANTZ, you can add MARTIANS vs. SANTA CLAUS. I’ll take THE HOWLING and ANTZ hands down, and in this case, I’m taking SANTA CLAUS. In that flick, Claus takes on Lucifer, the villain from the horror classics ROSEMARY’S BABY, THE EXORCIST, THE OMEN and LEGEND. In MARTIANS, he takes on a bunch of green painted extraterrestrials, which include a dude with a porn stache and Pia Zadora in her first role. He conquers them with jokes and wind up toys. Lame.
Mashups really never work for me. Trying to jam things together from different genres often leads to mess ups, and SANTA CLAUS CONQUERS THE MARTIANS is a total mess. Jane Austen may not approve of zombies, but I’m quite sure she would be appalled by St. Nick and a bunch of green faced extraterrestrials. I know I am.