Written by: Glenville Mareth
Every now and then a film will come along that is so profoundly flawed that audiences can’t help but celebrate everything terrible about it. Santa Claus Conquers the Martians; with its consistent spelling errors in title cards, actors that miss every other cue, astonishing amount of stock footage, and paper-thin plot about aliens that decide to kidnap Santa Claus until he gives the Martians some Christmas presents; is one of the quintessential bad movies to watch this holiday season. This incredibly campy movie stars multiple B-list actors; with the only really notable names being the likes of Pia Zadora (this being her film debut), and Bill McCutcheon, as well as a few character actors who later made a small career in television. This film is so cheaply made, poorly shot, terribly acted and haphazardly written that it in turn becomes incredibly charming, in a way that 1960's science fiction very effectively captured.
Due to the fact that I have never watched Santa Claus Conquers the Martians completely sober, I decided to keep the tradition going and write an authentic review/drinking game combination, and by 'authentic,' I mean I will get drunk by my own rules as the film progresses. Starting with the standard double rum and eggnog, I press play.
Do a shot during the title credits during every spelling error: “'Custume' designer” being one of the more glaring offenders. As an added challenge while the film progresses, drink every time you realize that the damnably catchy opening song is stuck in your head still.
Drink every time someone called Andy Henderson, “Andy Anderson”: Hint: It happens basically every time Santa addresses him.
Yell, "DROPO!" every time Dropo screws up or does something clumsily. If you don't yell, then finish your drink: As the obviously meek comic relief, Dropo acts like a court jester throughout the entire movie. I can only assume his name is Dropo because in spite of the Martians being an advanced race, he totally drops the ball at every single given moment.
Sip whenever you notice that the Martian green face makeup is being sweated off: I had to make this one ‘sip’ because unfortunately (or fortunately, depending on how drunk you’re looking to get playing this game) you’ll be drinking pretty much every time an alien is on screen. It is pretty obvious that Santa Claus Conquers the Martians is a cheaply made movie, and the apparent lack of a makeup department only makes it funnier.
Drink during scenes of obvious stock footage: This rule is going to probably kill you. Basically every time there is any mention to government, kidnapping, armies, or anything that can easily fill time, there's a cutaway sequence of about two to five minutes of material that is obviously not original. There is so much stock footage in Santa Claus Conquers the Martians that I would not be surprised if it is one of the most stock-footage laden films in movie history.
Drink every time the children in the film out-act the adults: Everyone is uniformly bad at acting in this movie, but the kids still manage to repeatedly out-shine the other actors.
Do a shot during the polar bear scene: Due to multiple needless scenes in this movie, it becomes crystal clear in no time that there is not a lot of plot to speak of in Santa Claus Conquers the Martians. This is the reason why there are so many long scenes where what is happening has nothing to do with the narrative – the polar bear scene definitely being one of the worst offenders, but it is still hilarious. The man wearing the bear suit is clearly wearing an extremely cheap costume which is so obviously fake that I wouldn’t be surprised if it was a rug.
Drink every time a newspaper flashes on screen that has nothing to do with Santa or kidnappings: As with the polar bear scene, one of the funniest aspects of Santa Claus Conquers the Martians is the fact that there is so much filler where something entirely needless is happening; and the newspapers that flash on screen are yet another example of it. Most of the newspapers have nothing to do with the film, or are masked by foreign languages which we can only assume also have absolutely nothing to do with the movie.
Drink every time a joke is told that totally falls flat: Santa and Dropo have a hard time making anybody laugh with their lame one-liners.
Drink during the toy-fight scene: At this point it feels like the filmmakers just said 'fuck it' and included anything that would bring the movie up to a respectable 81 minutes. This entire fight scene feels like a fever dream at best, which should go well with the expected buzz that viewers should have by this point in the movie/drinking game.
Finish your drink during the ending credits because by this point you've probably forgotten the theme song, but now it's returned with a vengeance.
S-a-n-t-a C-l-a-u-s, hooray for Santa Claus!
- Richelle Charkot (pop culture writer, reviewer, and host of Southpawd)