Christmas in July: Out of This World Santa
It’s Christmas in July! Time to take a break from the dog days of summer and fantasize about the holidays. Really fantasize.
And no two films offer a better escape than Santa Claus (1959) also known as Santa Claus vs. the Devil and Santa Claus Conquers the Martians (1964). Both films feature Santa Claus in space, yes space, and both are not to be missed Christmas cult classics.
A Mexican fantasy film directed by Rene Cardona, Santa Claus vs. the Devil features the jolly old elf working not in the North Pole, but in outer space. No ordinary elves for this space Santa, he’s assisted by children from all the countries of the world, space gadgets allowing him to keep tabs on Earth, and Merlin the Magician who equips Santa with magical talismans. Add in mechanical reindeer, and it’s clear this is a different kind of Santa. All this space Santa story needs to liven things up is an adversary. Enter Lucifer who from hell wishes to make “all the children of Earth do evil,” harm Santa and ruin Christmas. So, he orders his chief demon Pitch to travel to Earth to convince children to become bad and turn against Santa. What could go wrong?
Seeing is believing in this cult classic lampooned in Mystery Science Theater 3000 (MST3K) episode #521. Santa Claus vs. the Devil begs for viewer commentary as a film one can truly watch and satirize with the sound off. In fact, sound off might offer the best viewing experience—viewers’ choice.
Five years later in 1964, Nicholas Webster directed American science fiction comedy Santa Claus Conquers the Martians. The film begins with a KID-TV live broadcast from the North Pole where Santa Claus and his elves are making toys. Girmar (“Girl Martian”) and Bomar (“Boy Martian”) tune in intergalactically and soon lose their passion for life on Mars. Concerned that their children are watching too much Earth television, Momar (“Mom Martian”) and Kimar (“King Martian”) seek a solution consulting an 800-year-old Martian sage for advice. The sage warns that Martian children need more joy and to play. Soon a party of Martians take a spaceship to Earth seeking to bring Santa Clause back to their planet to help. Despite creating an extraterrestrial incident, the Martians succeed in bringing Santa Claus back to Mars where, aided by machines, he produces toys for Martian children. What could go wrong?
MST3K featured Santa Claus Conquers the Martians in episode #321. Noteworthy as the first appearance of Mrs. Claus in a movie, it’s holiday satire staple—sound off or on—with plenty of comedic impact.
Forget steaming the Yule Log at your next holiday party, instead go out of this world and stream Santa in space. Santa Claus vs. the Devil and Santa Claus Conquers the Martians are guaranteed to keep the conversation flowing any time of year.