They are told that the solution is to let the children be children, to allow them to laugh and learn how to have fun, so naturally, the best course of action is to travel to Earth and kidnap Santa Claus. That turns out to be slightly more complicated than expected when they seemingly find a thousand men in red suits and end up kidnapping two children when they reveal where to find the real Santa.
However, the Martians are quickly won over by their new friend, who manages to bring joy and happiness to all. That is except for one small group who oppose the changes Santa is bringing to their society, and plot to get rid of him. Hilarity inevitably ensues as the Martians try to protect Santa from the rebels that want him off.
I’m not normally a huge fan of so bad its good-type movies, but this one was a lot of fun. I think part of what makes this particular b-movie work so well is that it is self-aware of its status. It knows it’s a cheap b-movie with a ridiculous premise, cheesy special effects, and an extremely low budget. In fact I wouldn’t be surprised if half the toys we see in the movie were just whatever the filmmakers could find under $5.00.
The thing is many b-movies still try to take themselves seriously, and what really makes this film so enjoyable is that it embraces its absurdity. It knows it’s a silly movie and just goes all out, with the bizarre costumes worn by the Martians, the campy sets, and the obviously fake special effects. The "robot" the Martians try to use to kidnap Santa (which ends up becoming one of his toys) is obviously just an actor wearing a cardboard box and the polar bear is clearly just a person in a suit.
Naturally, the acting ranges between poor and over-the-top, but given the quality of the overall film it fits in perfectly. There is, however, one performance that stands out: John Call is surprisingly good in the role of Santa Claus. He captures the essence of the character so perfectly you forget its just an actor. Every scene he’s in Santa manages to be so jolly and loveable. He’s such a kind man and always manages to find ways to brighten up even the darkest moments of the film. Really, when I think of Santa Claus, I imagine someone like in this movie.
While the title Santa Claus Conquers the Martians is something of a misnomer (since he doesn’t really “conquer” them), the movie is great campy fun. It’s no ground-breaking masterpiece in the vein of 2001: A Space Odyssey, but if you want an enjoyably bad b-movie you’ll be in for a real treat.