Santa Claus Conquers the Martians is a 1964 holiday movie directed by Nicholas Webster. It was filmed in New York state over the course of two weeks on a modest budget. Several of the actors were primarily known for their work on the stage.
Due to its perennial appeal, the film enjoyed some financial success, but has been widely derided as cheap-looking and nonsensical.
The flamboyantly dressed Martian Kimar is upset that his children have become obsessed with TV shows from Earth that extol the virtues of Santa Claus. In the broadcast, a KID-TV reporter visits Santa's workshop and interviews the jolly old elf and his helpers. Kimar, however, after a brief visit with the "laziest man on Mars", Martian Dropo, consults the wise oracle Chochem. Kimar is told that the children of Mars do not act like real children, and that to act normal again they must have fun in their life. Another Martian known as Voldar dislikes this idea and the two Martians repeatedly butt heads. It is revealed in the flight that Dropo has stowed away on the ship. When the Martians arrive on Earth, they see many Santas, but they do not know which is the real one. Kimar decides to ask two Earth children, Billy and Betty Foster, for help. They tell Kimar that the real Santa is at the north pole, but Voldar fears they might warn the authorities, so the Martians decide to take the children with them to the North Pole and to Mars. Dropo shows the children around the ship, but when the others come in he panics and forces them into the radar box.
Kimar and the others arrive at the North Pole, and Kimar decides to use the mysterious "Torg" to capture Santa. Upon hearing this plan, Billy sabotages the ship's "radar box" to make sure that the Martians will be detected upon their escape from Earth. They then set out to find Santa's workshop and warn him before the Martians get him. However, the children are waylaid by Voldar and an unconvincing "polar bear". When they try and reach Santa for the second time, they are captured by Torg, an unconvincing "robot". They are brought back to the ship while Torg batters down the door of Santa's workshop. Santa, however, turns Torg into a toy, prompting the Martians to take him themselves, freezing several elves and Mrs. Claus in the process. Santa comes quietly and the rocket travels to Mars. Along the way, Santa tells several stories to the children in an effort to cheer them up, but they fall flat. On the ship, Voldar attempts to dispose of the children and Santa by throwing them out the airlock, but they escape through the air vent, with Santa's chimney magic.
When they arrive on Mars, Santa and the children meet the Martian children, Bomar and Girmar. Santa's infectious laughter makes the Martian children laugh for the first time in years, and Santa quickly builds a factory to make toys for the Martian children. Voldar, Stobo and Shim, sabotage the factory and change the programming so that it makes the toys incorrectly. Meanwhile, Dropo puts on one of Santa's spare suits, as well as a false beard and starts talking and acting like Santa Claus. He goes to the toy factory to make toys, but Voldar mistakes him for the real Santa Claus and kidnaps him. When Santa and the children come back to the factory to make more toys, they discover that the machine has been tampered with. Voldar and Stobo come back to the factory to make a deal with Kimar, but when they see the real Santa Claus in the factory they realize that their plan has been foiled. Dropo, held hostage in a cave, tricks Shim, who was guarding him, and escapes. Kimar then arrests Voldar, Stobo and Shim. Santa notices that Dropo is acting like him, and says that Dropo would make a good Martian Santa Claus. Kimar agrees to make Dropo a Santa Claus on Mars and sends Santa and the children back to Earth.
- John Call as Santa Claus
- Leonard Hicks as Kimar
- Vincent Beck as Voldar
- Bill McCutcheon as Dropo
- Victor Stiles as Billy
- Donna Conforti as Betty
- Chris Month as Bomar
- Pia Zadora as Girmar
- Leila Martin as Momar
- Charles Renn as Hargo
- James Cahill as Rigna
- Ned Wertimer as Andy Anderson
- Doris Rich as Mrs. Claus
- Carl Don as Chochem / Von Green
- Ivor Bodin as Winky
- In addition to Mystery Science Theater 3000, this film has also been riffed by Cinematic Titanic and RiffTrax (Live). It holds the distinction for being the only film to be riffed by all three entities (to date).
- This film was also used on Elvira's Movie Macabre.
- A re-make has been announced as "in production", but few other details are available.
- The film has also inspired live stage shows in Chicago, Las Vegas, and Los Angeles.
- The first documented appearance of Mrs. Claus in a film.
- John Call, Victor Stiles, and Chris Month were cast after being seen in the original Broadway run of Oliver!, in which they appeared as Dr. Grimwig and two workhouse boys respectively.
- Most of the film was shot in an abandoned aircraft hangar on Long Island, New York.
- The Martian guns are actually painted Wham-O Air Blasters.
- This is Pia Zadora's film debut. She would go on to win a Golden Globe award (under questionable circumstances) for her role in the 1982 film Butterfly.
- When Santa starts making toys, one Martian is fascinated by "a coiled spring that walks down stairs." Slinky had a resurgence in the early 1960s.
- Executive producer Joseph E. Levine was also responsible for Hercules and Hercules Unchained.
- The techno music group The Laziest Men on Mars got their name directly from a line spoken during this movie. Their song "Invasion of the Gabber Robots" was one of the earliest known Internet Memes.
- Was nominated in The Golden Turkey Awards series for Most Insufferable Kiddie Movie Ever Made. It lost to Pinocchio in Outer Space.
- Re: the naming conventions of the Martian family - The boy Martian is named Bomar (BOy-MARtian) and the girl Martian is named Girmar (GIRl-MARtian). The mother Martian is named Momar and the father, the King of the Martians, is named Kimar. Logically, the mother Martian should be named Queemar (QUEEn-MARtian) or the father should be named Famar or Damar (FAther-MARtian or DAd-MARtian).