When It’s A Wonderful Life lost its public domain status, numerous low budget TV station found themselves in a programming fix. No longer could they offer almost nightly screenings in December of the Christmas classic for a rock bottom price. Where could they go to fill the timeslots? Luckily outer space offered a solution. Santa Claus Conquers the Martians had the perfect title for night owl viewers during the holiday season. The popularity of the cult film soared when Mystery Science Theater 3000 turned it into their holiday special. But what about people that want to see the movie unmocked and in 1080p? Santa Claus Conquers the Martians has zapped itself onto Blu-ray as an intergalactic treat.
Martians are very jealous of the Earth. They invaded New Jersey to ruin Halloween. They blew up our Moon over the protests of Bugs Bunny. They needed our women. Finally, they wanted the one thing that brings us joy: Santa Claus. Why can’t the Martians leave us alone? This time it’s kinda of the fault of Earthlings. Martian kids have become addicted to watching TV from America. They are hooked on coverage from Santa’s workshop. The Martian parents decide to do what any Earth parent does when they whine about wanting something for too long: they get it. In this case the adult Martians come to the North Pole and abduct Santa (The Anderson Tapes‘ John Call). They also snag a little boy and girl. Santa gets forced to open up a toy factory on Mars to pump out the goodies for the green kids. But there’s a faction of Martians that don’t like this earthling running their children. Is Santa going to escape or be executed by the Martians? Not to spoil the movie, but it’s not allowed to get that bleak. This was intended for children craving a holiday film with UFO action.
The cast has a few future stars hidden beneath green make up. Bill McCutcheon plays the happy Dropo. He’d eventually become Uncle Wally on Sesame Street and win the Tony on Broadway in 1988. The big discovery for this low budget holiday film is Pia Zadora as the Martian girl. Little did viewers suspect she’d win the Razzie for The Lonely Lady. Director Nicholas Webster returned to the Red Planet to make Mission Mars with Darren McGavin (Kolchak: The Night Stalker) and Nick Adams (Rebel Without A Cause). He’d wrap up his career directing TV episodes including Mannix, Bonanza and In Search Of…. This movie would be his gift to cinema. Santa Claus Conquers the Martians is as joyfully corny as its title and worth enjoying in a high resolution after the egg nog takes hold.
The video is 1.33:1 full frame. The information on the DVD box states the transfer was struck off a 16mm print that was made for TV broadcasts. Compared to the crummy video master used on the numerous public domain DVDs, this Blu-ray brings out the greens on the Martian cast. They did a fine job getting a 1080p image off a 16mm source. The audio is mono.
Santa’s Cool Holdiay Film Festival (46:17) is a series of Christmas themed cartoons, promos and commercials that would have played at the movie theater. The classic Fleischer cartoon “Christmas Comes But Once A Year” gets an HD upgrade. Abbott and Costello promote Christmas seals in one PSA.Howdy Doody visits Santa’s workshop. “Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer” gets the animated short treatment. Things wrap up with a movie theater staff wishing you a happy 1952.
Trailer (1:57) is a modern promotion for the film. They do a great job psuhing the film with “spoiled martian brats.”
Stills Gallery are photos from the set. Santa is always happy.
Santa Claus Conquers the Martians finally gets a decent transfer to make its cheesy premise pop on the screen. What’s more fun than the movie is the reel of Christmas themed bonus shorts. This is the perfect Blu-ray to run during a nostalgic time of the holiday season.
Horizon Movies and Kino Lorber presents Santa Claus Conquers the Martians. Directed by: Nicholas Webster. Screenplay by: Glenville Mareth. Starring: John Call, Bill McCutcheon, Victor Stiles and Pia Zadora. Running Time: 81 minutes. Released: December 4, 2012. Available at Amazon.com.
Tags: Bonanza, Broadway, It's a Wonderful Life, Mannix