Bizarro Masterpiece Theatre: Santa Claus Conquers the Martians

The Grand Mal Face of Christmas.


Film: Santa Claus Conquers the Martians (1964)

Director: Nicholas Webster

Starring: John Call, Leonard Hicks, Bill McCutcheon

Written by: Glenville Mareth


There are a lot of stupid Christmas movies out there, so I’m not going to say that Santa Claus Conquers the Martians is the most ludicrous holiday film out there, but it’s certainly in the running.  The B-movie production values and the bizarre premise of Santa meeting extraterrestrials certainly give this flick a healthy dose of ridiculousness, though beyond the idea of sci-fi Santa, the plot is your conventional God bless us, everyone.

The element which pushes this masterpiece into the plaid is Dropo, an embarrassing specimen of Martian man who may be the greatest crackhead in cinematic history.  Characterized as “the laziest man on Mars” and looking like a cross-eyed green version of Data from Star Trek: The Next Generation, Dropo bumbles and violently twitches around the spaceship sent to kidnap Santa and bring joy to the children of the red planet.  Of course, once Santa and some wayward Earth kids get on the Martian expressway, this bumpkin idiot starts glowing with the innocence of a child with massive head trauma.  He helps the earthlings fend off some bad green apples, Santa infects everyone with the spirit of Christmas, and due to a severe lapse in judgment Dropo becomes the Martian Santa Claus.  I feel sorry for them.

I’ve never seen epilepsy captured so convincingly on film.  Dropo’s manic, chinless antics at times become frightening in their intensity.  Half of the time I expected members of the crew to run into the shot and put a spoon in his mouth.  This is not the man I would entrust with the seasonal happiness of a potted plant, much less an entire planet.

My vote for Martian Santa Claus would go to Cousin Eddie from National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation 1 and 2, played by the great Randy Quaid.  Heaven knows he needs the work.