Last night, wrapping presents, I watched that classic film — Santa Claus Conquers the Martians.
For those unfamiliar with the film, it’s the story of Kimar, leader of the Martians, and his plan to kidnap Santa Claus and bring him to Mars in order to make the Martian children happy, but along the way two human children are kidnapped and nearly murdered by a Martian who wants Mars to return to its glorious military past.
Made in 1964, Santa Claus Conquers the Martians has production values that make early Doctor Who look good by comparison. The Slitherin in “The Dalek Invasion of Earth” was surely more believable than the man in the polar bear suit that attacked the children at the North Pole.
Watching the film last night I realized that this could easily have been a prequel to Star Trek‘s “Requiem for a Martian.” There we saw the last days of the Martian civilization as the human colony on Mars supplanted it. Might the seeds of the end of the Martians have been planted here, as the Martians took up Christmas and Santa Claus as part of their culture? What if Shazzerd were Bomar, the Martian leader’s son, a century later, the last of his kind? This connection had never occured to me before, yet now that I think about it it’s easy to see how the two stories could co-exist, though not in any sort of official way.
The other thing I realized was how much like The Nightmare Before Christmas this was. Kidnap Santa Claus? Check. Evil nefarious person wants to destroy Santa Claus lest he corrupt the alien society? Check. It’s not exactly the same — no musical numbers, for one thing — but in broad strokes the two stories are quite similar.
Santa Claus Conquers the Martians is supposed to be one of the worst films of all time. It’s not that bad. If caught in the right mood, it might even be fun, no matter how absurd the premise is.