Review Index

By LOU HARRY (Roadside Amusements; 2005)

Don’t get too excited about this book, as it’s not the proper novelization of the 1964 abomination SANTA CLAUS CONQUERS THE MARTIANS that I was hoping for. Drafted over 40 years after the film’s original release, it’s essentially a sustained goof that constantly makes fun of its source, not unlike the popular MYSTERY SCIENCE THEATER 3000 episode that did the same thing (and did it far better!). The book’s packaging gives an indication of its quality, with numerous blurbs that refer to the flick and none to the text itself. I’d like to read a true novelization of SATAN CLAUS CONQUERS THE MARTIANS--i.e. one written around the time of the film’s release that attempts to at least take it semi-seriously--but such a publication doesn’t appear to exist.

     Then again, though, I’ve never been too enthused about this particular film. It isn’t entirely without fascination, but in my view should not be ranked with the likes of PLAN NINE FROM OUTER SPACE or ROBOT MONSTER, both of which really earned their bad movie credentials (as did the mind-roasting 1959 Mexican import SANTA CLAUS, which outdoes the present film in every respect). SANTA CLAUS CONQUERS THE MARTIANS, on the other hand, is really just another dopey kids movie, of which there already exist quite a few.

     It has Santa Claus kidnapped by silly cap-wearing Martians, who are concerned their children are becoming too enamored with Earth culture. A young Pia Zadora plays one of the Martian kids (a fact promoted endlessly over the years, although she actually has very little to do), and there are also two Earth children along for the ride. Weird it may be, but it’s also a poorly paced and extremely dull film with a wildly misleading title (Santa doesn’t actually “Conquer” anyone). The most memorable sequence in my view occurs at the very end: the “Hooray for Santy Claus” sing-along, complete with bouncing ball lyrics.

     Author Lou Harry faithfully follows the events of the film, relating the story from the point of view of the Martian girl played by Miss Zadora. Also featured are copious green-tinged stills from the film and innumerable present day pop culture references (to the internet, STAR TREK, Monty Python, THE DAY THE CLOWN CRIED and many other things that weren’t around when SANTA CLAUS CONQUERS THE MARTIANS was made). There are some genuinely funny lines here and there (such as the explanation of how the Martian “Spaceship Number One” got its name), but overall there’s little of any worth here, literary or otherwise.