MST3K: Santa Claus Conquers the Martians
by Caffeinated Joe
Tom Servo - decked out for Christmas with a water globe in his head - and a red-nosed Crow are browsing outrageous Christmas shopping catalogs. Gypsy wants a pony, but that doesn't seem likely in outer space, dear.
In the invention exchange, the mad scientists invention turns fun gifts into the unwanted and boring stuff no one wants. Joel and the bots take inspiration from the Island of Misfit toys and show off their Misfit gifts for Christmas, including an Easy-Bake-Foundry and Mr. Mashed Potato-Head!
The movie the gang is forced to watch this week is the Pia Zadora 60s "classic," Santa Claus Conquers the Martians. Oh boy! Let's dive in, shall we?
|Kimar (left) with his two Martian children.|
A Martian elder warns his people that the Martian children aren't children, really. They are adults in child bodies. The kids need to be kids again and to help them, they need a Santa Claus on Mars. He then pulls a David Copperfield and vanishes. So, Kimar, who also happens to be the Martian leader, decides that they will go to Earth and take our Santa! Of course, this is easier said than done, since upon viewing Earth from their spaceship, they see dozens, nay, hundreds of men dressed as Santa! Which is the real one? Does it matter? Earth mobilizes their stock footage, er... defenses at the arrival of the Martians.
|Groovy martian space crew on the flight deck.|
On a break, Joel and the bots prepare to go caroling, with Crow's original Christmas tune, "Let's Have A Patrick Swayze Christmas." Good stuff, this is.
Back in the movie, Kimar and his cronies come upon two Earth kids, Billy and Betty, and question them about the whereabouts of the real Santa Claus. Voldar, the not-so-nice Martian, grabs the kids and convinces Kimar they have to keep them from talking to the authorities. Yes, this mission has now degraded into child abduction.
Back on their ship, the Martians locate Santa's workshop. The Earth kids, having heard of the plan, decide they need to do all they can to stop their captors. Seeing the "futuristic" Martian ship and their not-well-thought-out plan, I can see these kids succeeding. Easily.
Voldar informs Kimar that the kids have escaped the ship and heads after them while Kimar summons Torg, the Martian robot, to aid in the search. The kids hide in a snowy cave and then encounter a *ahem* scary polar bear who lives in said cave. I guess he wants them to leave his stash of Coca-Cola alone. No sooner do the kids evade this menace, then they run into Torg, who, while cumbersome and slow moving, manages to grab both children. Kimar has them sent back to the ship, then gets his diabolical plan back on track. Remember, they are here to get Santa! Concentrate, people. I mean Martians.
Another break, the bots are lamenting the horror that is this week's experiment, so Joel shows them a bunch of tapes he has gotten his hands on, including Frosty the Snowman, Mr. Magoo's Christmas Carol, the Marlo Thomas It's a Wonderful Life and a bunch of movies where a curmudgeonly person learns the true meaning of Christmas! Ho Ho Ho!
|The Martians and their robot arrive at the North Pole to seize Santa Claus!|
Back at the North Pole, Torg confronts Santa and his elves. Santa thinks Torg is just a big toy. Another well thought out part of this Martian plan. Kimar and crew head in to take over, with Voldar "zapping" the elves with an air gun, sort of freezing them in place. Mrs. Claus comes in, upset over the lack of toy-making, so she is also frozen. The Martians leave with Santa, forgetting their ace-in-the-hole robot Torg in the process. Yeah.
The news people talk with a space expert - he talks with an accent, so he has to be smart - about what is being done to save Santa. He gives them lots of technical jargon and we see the rocket launched to get Santa back. Meanwhile, Santa's jovial attitude is rubbing off on his Martian captors. All except for Voldar, that is! Santa tries to cheer up Billy and Betty, but they feel guilty for leading the elite Martian task force to the North Pole. Pshaw, Santa says.
The Martians realize the people of Earth are mounting a rescue. Voldar, with his best tour guide face on, offers to show Santa and the kids around the ship. They aren't buying his act, they know he's a bad dude. But they go anyway, of course. All of these people deserve each other. Billy completely sees through all of Voldar's scheme - he wants to suck the trio out the airlock and into the void of space! Like all Batman villain traps, their is a timer above the airlock door, counting down the seconds until ... the door opens. Naive Santa thinks Voldar just left them there for a moment, he didn't mean to subject them to their doom. Even though Billy just explained it all. And the door has warnings, conveniently written in English, for them to read.
Kimar realizes Voldar's plan to kill Santa and the kids, but he is too late. Fisticuffs then ensue between the two Martians until Santa and the kids come into the room! Seems Santa used his special chimney resizing power to save them through a spaceship airduct. Voldar passes out, presumably from the absurdity of it all.
Landing on Mars, Kimar orders Voldar to be taken to trial. But when the martians go to retrieve him, they find he is gone, leaving Dropo in his place! That can't be good! Kimar's wife, Momar, assures her children that their dad will be back soon. And she is right, he comes back with gifts for them - Billy, Betty and Santa Claus! All the kids meet, and Santa gets everyone laughing hysterically for... no apparent reason. Kinda creepy. Really creepy.
Meanwhile, Voldar and his equally anti-Santa pals hide out, huddle and scheme to stop this new Martian Christmas. Dropo works with Santa and the kids to make toys in an electronic workshop. Santa is more suprised with this automatic, button-pushing toy making machine than he is with oh, being kidnapped by aliens and held prisoner on their planet so he can save all of their children from gloom and despair. Whatever gets him through the night, I suppose.
Kimar and Momar are dumbfounded to find Billy and Betty are depressed. Seems they aren't happy being held on Mars, made to work in a robotic toy factory and kept from their family and friends. Seems Martians have a very hard time learning a lesson. Meanwhile, Dropo dreams of becoming Santa. Donning an extra suit - and an extra beard that just happens to be laying about - he pretends he is Santa. Mars has a lot of problems.
Another break and it is Christmas essay time. Crow reads an editorial about Santa's elves and how we never see them building a computer. Tom reads a piece about Christmas and the dangers of Santa going into space. Joel talks about the 70s and office Christmas parties. Gypsy ends it with a nativity scene in her mouth. All this makes as much sense as the movie, so it's all good.
Voldar and his stooges break into the workshop and he goes crazy on the control panel. Crazy, I tell you! A shockingly NOT stoned Dropo pops in, dressed as Santa, and is kidnapped by the villainous trio, who believe he is the real St. Nick. Even with all his Martian head gear. How the hell did this civilization develop space travel?
Santa, Kimar and Momar wonder what happened to Dropo and the extra suit and beard. And I can't believe I actually wrote that sentence. Santa and the kids start up the workshop for a new day of forced labor, but soon realize things are askew with the machine - it is pumping out misfit toy after misfit toy! Oh no!
Voldar heads out to continue his nefarious scheme, leaving the Dropo-Santa behind with one of his goons. Kimar checks out the machine and slowly puts all the pieces together. Hell of a leader, Kimar is. He runs smack into Voldar amd his accomplice and gets an earful of Voldar's demands. He pretends to cave in, only to show Voldar that Santa is here, at the Martian toy shop. Voldar and his Jamie Farr pal are dumbstruck!
|Voldar wants to get rid of Santa--permanently.|
Dropo switches the advanced Martian light bulbs in the cave, tricking his captor into thinking the nuclear door is intact, thus enabling his escape. I didn't write this, people, I am just recapping. Voldar manages to escape from Kimar, but Billy hears them and alerts Santa, who has a scheme of his own. And he has time to implement this scheme with the kids before Voldar can cross the hallway. See, time moves differently on Mars, I guess. Anyway, Santa and the kids use toys and bubbles to beat the crap out of Voldar, who decides it is better to just wave his arms frantically than use his freezing zap gun. His Jamie Farr pal stays in the hall, preferring to mug for the camera.
Kimar escapes from the closet, finally, and gets Voldar and his goon taken back into custody. Santa tells Kimar that they have their own Martian Santa now - Dropo! Kimar decides to send Santa and the kids back to Earth, not because it is the right thing to do, but because of the meaning of Christmas and the fact they now have Dropo willing to do all the Santa stuff to keep the kids on Mars happy. Good luck with that, Martians.
We get the credits and the theme music, complete with words on screen! Not a classic, that's for sure.
Joel and the bots, free from the film, then sing Christmas carols, sort of, and open their stockings. Some odd gifts are shown and Joel has a letter from a viewer in his stocking. The scientists also exchange awkward gifts, and wish everyone a Merry Christmas.
So, yeah. A typically bad movie made watchable only by sharing the experience with Joel and the bots. The sci-fi elements in Santa Claus Conquers the Martians are subpar, even by 60s standards. I mean, Lost in Space was a documentary compared to this movie! But any time spent on the Satellite of Love is a good time.
Happy Christmas in July, and remember: let's all have a Patrick Swayze Christmas this year!