TOMB OF NOSTALGIA: SANTA CLAUS (1959)

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SANTA CLAUS (1959)

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Delightfully bad holiday flick was made in Mexico and dubbed into English making it even worse than it already is. The story has Santa (José Elías Moreno) preparing for Christmas from his workshop in space…yup, that’s right…where he is assisted, not by elves, but by children from every country…apparently Santa is totally fine with child labor. As Santa readies for the one day he comes to Earth, Satan…you also read that right…sends his demon henchman Pitch (José Luis Aguirre) to Earth to corrupt all the children into doing evil and ruining Christmas. Now it’s up to Santa to stop the Devil’s little helper from turning all the good kids bad!

Flick is directed by René Cardona from a scatterbrained script by he and Adolfo Torres Portillo and is simply a weird little movie that is quite amusing in it’s epic badness. Aside from having a child labor force, creepy Santa can also watch children 24/7 with his magic eye, has a key that can open any door, powers of invisibility and can even see into kid’s dreams…stalker much!?…and what’s with the shirtless blacksmith (Ángel Di Stefani) and that lip thing! Not sure I want to know! All the traditional Christmas elements are thrown out the window as Santa has his castle in space, mechanical reindeer and even has Merlin The Magician (Armando Arriola) working for him. From it’s hilariously cheap sets, horrible SPFX and disturbing children’s dream sequences, this is a hysterically awful…and sometimes uncomfortable…attempt at a Christmas movie from our filmmaking friends South Of The Border…and we’d love to know what they were smoking when they came up with this yuletide nonsense. The first half of this cheap flick is spent with Santa observing Pitch’s hi-jinx with his James Bond meets Pee Wee Herman spy equipment, as creepy St. Nick can only come to Earth on Christmas…a restraining order perhaps? We do see Santa scaring three boys out of being naughty, so this is a possibility. The second half is Santa vs Pitch as he tries to bring Christmas to all the boys and girls and Pitch plots with three bad kids to stop him. There is a fairly slow pace, some religious overtones and just overall seems like something out of a drug induced nightmare, far more than a holiday tale of everyone’s favorite jolly fellow…and is entertaining for all the wrong reasons.

Sometimes creepy flick has sentimental nostalgia, as I actually saw this as a teen at a Saturday matinee in the late 70s at the long gone Fairview cinema…hey, there was free popcorn and I took my hot MILF neighbor’s son to score points with his babe of a mom…and it is far funnier now that I am old enough to appreciate camp and unintentional laughs. Back then it was just awful and even my ten year-old charge knew it. Definitely worth a look for a holiday ‘so bad it’s good’ film festival with some brews definitely required as part of the show. Would make a great WTF Christmas double feature with Santa Clause Conquers The Martians!

-MonsterZero NJ

3 hilariously bad Mexican Christmas trees.

fred clause rating

Uh…Santa…what the f%&k is that?…

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TOMB OF NOSTALGIA: SANTA CLAUS CONQUERS THE MARTIANS (1964)

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SANTA CLAUS CONQUERS THE MARTIANS (1964)

(Remember, clicking the highlighted links brings you to other reviews and articles here at The Movie Madhouse!)

If there ever is a holiday movie that warranted a “What the heck were they thinking?” it’s this one. Ridiculous story finds Martian ruler Kimar (Leonard Hicks), lamenting that the joy-less and robotic Martian society is negatively effecting their children, who are obsessed with watching TV programs from Earth. He comes to the conclusion that the children should experience fun and happiness and the only person who can bring that to the kids of Mars is Santa Claus (John Call). So, Kimar kidnaps Santa, along with two Earth kids, Billy (Victor Stiles) and his sister Betty (Donna Conforti) and brings them to Mars. Once there, the jolly Santa starts to win over the Martians, but the evil Voldar (Vincent Beck) plots to put an end to all this holiday cheer and return Mars to it’s old ways.

Written by Paul L. Jacobson and Glenville Mareth and directed by Nicholas Webster, this is a terrible movie on most levels. The story is ludicrous, the sets and FX are horribly cheap, the acting is terrible and it moves at a snail’s pace for an 80 minute movie. That’s also exactly what makes this flick a twisted yuletide treat, it’s just bad enough to be delightfully entertaining…especially with a healthy helping of holiday spirits while you watch. You sit there just wondering what drugs were passed around during the script writing process and marvel at how seriously the cast and director are taking this nonsense. The actors playing the Martians play it with complete urgency, save Bill McCutcheon as the oafish Dropo and John Call’s Santa comes across as more oblivious and deranged than jolly, as Santa. He seems barely bothered at all that he has been kidnaped to another planet and that certain factions are out to get him there. The dialog is atrocious and a sub-plot of an Earth ship in pursuit to rescue Santa is completely dropped after a scene or two. Where did they wind up?…and why expect any logic from a movie as scatterbrained as this!

At this point this flick is regarded as a camp, “so bad it’s good” classic. And It certainly is a lot of fun for all the wrong reasons. So if you are going to add this to your holiday watch list, make sure there is plenty of egg nog or whatever your favorite holiday beverage is and have a good time with the audacity of it all. Also renown as the first role for singer and actress Pia Zadora as one of Kimar’s children.

3 campy Christmas trees.

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