They call him S-A-N-T-A! C-L-A-U-S! Hooray for Santy Claus!
It is common for B-movies to pad out their length in some scurrilous fashion, such as by adding confusing and/or irrelevant stock footage, or a dreary montage to a not-quite pop song, but Santa Claus Conquers The Martians is perhaps the only one that envisions kids sitting in a theater (or around a TV) singing the theme song for about 20 minutes after the movie is over. And, yes, I know at least one kid who did that—not me!—in those entertainment starved times of the ’70s, so they were perhaps not entirely wrong in a practical sense, even if they were 100% wrong in an aesthetic and, verily, even in a moral sense.
Heh. Nah. It’s a cute film. It has been riffed many times that I know of: First on the original “Mystery Science Theater 3000” TV show, then by “Rifftrax”, then by “Cinematic Titanic” and now, again, by “Rifftrax”. It was part of the “Rifftrax Holiday Special Double Feature” which clocked in at nearly four hours, which is a lot of riffing, even for the riffiest fans. In fact, after “Santy”, I sort of left it open for us to leave the theater after any of the shorts, but we were not actually inclined to leave. That’s pretty impressive.
That said, the original MST3K riffing has never been equaled in terms of outright laughs. We watched again a couple weeks after this to see if it would hold up, and it did. Besides a good heaping helping of “lentils” jokes, the show features some of the best sketches that show ever had, including the unforgettable “Patrick Swayze Christmas” (written by our very own Michael J. Nelson, and performed by Joel Hodgson, Trace Beaulieu and Kevin J. Murphy). This version doesn’t live up to the sublime riffing Mike, Bill and Kevin did on Santa Claus, and the few sketches, while funny, have a sort of awkward feel to them.
Still, it’s darn good. Four hours good, right?
The highlights included: old TV toy commercials, for such not-quite-classic toys as Jimmy Jet, Gaylord and Dingalings; “Parade of Aquatic Champions” which was some sort of post-war short where celebrities (including Joan Leslie and Buster Crabbe!) hold a swimming exhibition in Beverly Hills, because apparently you can do that on Christmas in Beverly Hills (you really can’t, you’d never schedule such a thing, and only a passing reference is made to “winter” or “Christmas” at the beginning of the short); guest riffer “Weird” Al Yankovic; and a good Max Fleischer “Rudolph The Red Nose Reindeer” cartoon that, nonetheless, is ripe for the riff.
All this stuff’s available on the Rifftrax site, so if you like riffing, you can (and should) check it out!