It is the eve of Christmas Eve and I have decided to punish myself. I do not completely understand the reason, but I feel compelled. Maybe because I know the Christmas gifts I bought are inadequate and I am just counting down the hours to disappointed faces. Or maybe because I have ingested a handful of quality films recently (including the dark yet beautiful ‘Girl with the Dragon Tattoo’) and the guilt I feel for not staying in the cinematic muck where I belong is overwhelming. Whatever the reason, I am punishing myself in a heinous way. I am reviewing the 1959 Mexican/American co-production ‘Santa Claus’. This movie will be a stain on my brain for the rest of my life.
‘Santa Claus’ is best known for being featured on Mystery Science Theater 3000 in the 90s, but after the safe laughs and intelligent wit of that television program few people have hated themselves enough to seek out this photographic mongoloid. Well, my self-loathing knows no bounds.
The plot resembles a parable told by an insane fundamentalist preacher that has been bit by the alter snakes one too many times: Santa Claus lives in a gold and crystal palace in outer space. There he holds captive hundreds of children from every country on Earth, forcing them to make his toys and entertain him like jesters in a king’s court. These mini-slaves are humiliated. They are dressed like the ugliest stereotypes their respected nation can produce. As these captive kiddies toil away they sing the most sorrowful songs their little, sad voices can muster. Santa Claus scans their work and bellows a haunting laugh with enjoyment. In this picture Santa looks like a jolly old space corpse and Santa’s palace is decorated like the Pee Wee’s Playhouse version of the Death Star.
Meanwhile, in the depths of hell, Satan has summoned his greatest demon (Pitch) to ruin Christmas once and for all and turn the children of the world away from the benevolent love of Space Santa and toward the seething hate of the Lord of Flies. [Does Lucifer know that Old Saint Nick is running a sweatshop and possible kiddie harem up above? If he did, I don’t think that the Son of Perdition would be trying to stop Santa. I think he would team up with him Superman/Muhammad Ali style and split the world into two equally unholy kingdoms.]
On the evening of Christmas Eve, as Santa delivers toys to the chosen children of Earth, Pitch begins his plan of sabotage. Here, the story separates into three parts. We are introduced to 3 children. The Poor Girl, The Rich Kid and The Mean Boy. Santa and the Demon use these children as examples to show the other who is more powerful. All The Poor Girl wants is a doll for Christmas, but her parents can barely feed her let alone buy her a doll. The Rich Kid has everything in the world, except for the love of his Mother and Father. Lastly (and leastly) The Mean Boy and his friends find Christmas stupid and wreak havoc on those who celebrate it. The Demon coaxes The Poor Girl to steal a doll, but Santa makes sure she gets caught. The Poor Girl worries all Christmas night that she won’t get her present, which she does after Santa takes his good ole' time. The Rich Kid has shitty parents. The Demon doesn’t need to do much there, case closed. Or is it? Santa intervenes in this family's life worse than Doctor Phil during Sweeps Week, but instead of Kris Kringle showing the Kid’s parents the true meaning of the holidays ala ‘A Christmas Carol’, the Bearded One drugs the Kid and his folks with a potion that makes them all love each other.
By the end the Demon has Santa trapped in a tree with a rabid dog inches away. The family Santa was visiting has woken up and the police and fire departments are on their way to stop him (the Demon made an anonymous phone call to the cops that an intruder was in the family’s house). Santa seems cooked. He is running out of time to deliver the rest of his toys and any minute his cover will be blown for all eternity. Santa has one last idea. Call Merlin the Magician from King Arthur’s Court! Merlin refills his magic sleeping dust and flower of invisibility and Santa disappears before anyone can wake up. The Demon is sent back to hell where he will serve out his eternal punishment that the Father of Lies himself has decreed. For failing to stop Christmas, Pitch the Demon will spend the rest of his days in hell eating…chocolate ice cream, instead of the hot coals he loves so much. That’s it. That is the movie. There.
‘Santa Claus’ is a story of good versus evil. Santa is an evil and malevolent stalker of children and the Demon is a voice of reason in a world that embraces insanity. Besides the ‘Temple of Doom’ style mine in Santa’s workshop, the fat man also watches all the children of Earth with custom made spying devices. The worst being the Ear-probe; this machine allows Santa to focus on any Earthly conversation. It is heard with crystal clarity, but the words are spoken by a giant pair of human lips attached to the machine. These lips look suspiciously like a vagina…or a space vagina. Once Santa gets down to Earth he enters people’s homes, uses sleeping dust to knock kids unconscious and drugs everyone else into believing he isn’t real. This allows Santa to play roulette with the souls of certain children. And when he loses? Whatever, take their souls, those kids were bad anyway.
‘Santa Claus’ isn’t just a mind numbingly bad film that plods from scene to scene with no discernable rhythm or pace. The film isn’t just an ugly looking, low budget children’s film forgotten by film history because of the ineptitude of the filmmakers. NO, ‘Santa Claus’ is a harmful piece of bizarro propaganda from ultra conservative insaniacs that don’t even understand that they have turned Santa Claus into the villain. The real lesson of this story is to never mix Christianity and Methamphetamines. Or you will make a movie like this!
The Poor Girl's soul is being fought over by Santa and Satan. Watch as they make her dreams scarier than a Fulci film!