Televised Days of Christmas: Santa Claus Conquers the Martians

[Is there a better way to celebrate the manger-birth of a superpowered messiah-baby than watching television? Hell no! Join Rendar Frankenstein as he navigates Spaceship OL through the Televised Days of Christmas!]

It can’t be easy to be Santa.

Sure, the guy doesn’t have to work most days of the year. His extended vacation lasts from about December 26th through December 23rd, excepting the occasional check-ins to make sure his slaves helpers aren’t slackin’. He has the distinct pleasure of hanging his stockings with Mrs. Claus.

There’s no doubt that the jolly fat man has a nice life.

Still, Santa has the most stressful job imaginable. In a single night, the dude travels the globe, delivering presents to every single good boy and girl – a task that demands physical prowess, mental clarity, and incredible courage. By the end of his circumnavigation, St. Nick’s body has withstood incalculable g-force speeds, been stretched and crumpled through Chimneys in Chinese acrobat facsimiles, and subjected to countless cookie-calories. Through all this, Santa manages to keep a perfect record of which presents (or coal-lumps) go to which kids, never making a mistake along the way. And to top it all off, the white-beard’s got John McClane-sized balls, visiting even the homes of deserving children who just so happen to have meth-smokin’ gun enthusiasts for parents.

The only way Santa’s job could be more daunting is if his philanthropy had to go interplanetary.

So what are the implications of other planets making demands of Earth’s resident avatar of goodwill? How does a lifelong altruist react he’s told that he’s not reaching enough people?   What happens when a holiday conflict goes worlds-wide?

Well, it just so happens that Santa Claus Conquers the Martians.

In 1964, director Nicholas Webster assembled a team with the sole purpose of portraying an interplanetary Christmas struggle. The result is Santa Claus Conquers the Martians, a feature that aims to give the `ole Yuletide tradition a shiny science-fiction gloss. Of course, the movie ends up falling victim to the campy sensibilities of the era in which it was produced; as such, it has come to be derided as an earnest effort but celebrated as a kistchy trainwreck.

The movie begins by showing Martian children in a state of mental paralysis, unable to pull themselves away from the living-room video-screen which is playing broadcasts from Earth. Since Mars is in the month of Septober, Earth is in mid-December, and as such all of its television programs are dedicated to Christmastime subjects. The Martian kiddies are so enamored of Santa Claus that they can’t shake the horrific reality that their lives of devoid of joy and cheer and seasonal celebrations.

The kids of Mars aren’t eating. They aren’t sleeping. All they’re doing is longing for Santa Claus.

When Kimar, Martian leader and all-around badass, notices the duress his children are under, he decides to act. Against the wishes of his council, Kimar seeks the wisdom of Chochem, the centuries-old Martian sage. Chochem tells the council that they’ve become wayward, training their children to become unthinking cogs of a militaristic regime rather than free-thinking, high-spirited creators of tomorrow. As such, he urges them to ape the Earthlings and introduce a Santa to the red planet.

Unfortunately, Kimar assumes that the only way to bring Christmas to Mars is to kidnap Earth’s Santa Claus. A raid is arranged and before long Santa is traveling to the fourth rock from the sun against his will. However, a couple of Earth-kids have stowed aboard the Martian rocket, originally brought aboard by Dropo, Kimar’s the intellectually-deficient but wholly benevolent slave.

Once back on Mars, Santa is forced to work in a faux-North Pole that produces toys via automation. Mr. Kringle isn’t happy about being indentured, but he’s acquiescent. But what really gets under his skin is that Kimar’s plan doesn’t even allow him to fully utilize his skills, as all he does is press a button. Kimar begins to notice that the most jubilant being of Earth isn’t happy on Mars, and neither are the Earth-children.

And that gets Kimar thinkin’.

So despite being a kidnapper, Kimar is actually well-intentioned. At the end of the day, the dude just wants the children of Mars to be happy. The same cannot be said of Voldar, the malevolent council member who tries to sabotage the mission at every turn. With his poorly applied green face paint and Rick Rude-styled mustache, this curmudgeon’s evil ploys steals the show.

When all is said and done, Earth gets its Santa Claus back. And Mars gets a Santa Claus too! Santa Claus Conquers the Martians is a rumination on the idea that beings of consciousness are in some ways very similar, and in others quite different. We all need love and affection and celebration in our lives.

But we might need different types of love and affection and celebration.