Friday, December 17, 2010

Canon MST3K Review: Santa Claus

Hey, it's almost Christmas, as I am sure you have noticed. So in the spirit of Christmas I decided to sit back and watch an episode of Mystery Science Theater 3000. This episode featured the 1959 Mexican film titled Santa Claus, which has been dubbed over for American audiences. Thank God they did, as this film deserves to be appreciated by all of Earth's children. It's just that good. Well, actually it's one of the strangest films I've ever had the pleasure of seeing. Santa Claus was adapted for American audiences by a man named K. Gordan Murray, who also was the narrator in this cinematic effort. In this film, Santa and his child helpers are not situated at the North Pole, but instead they have a compound somewhere out in space, with a powerful enough telescope to zoom in on any house on Earth. Also, Santa has a powerful enemy in Satan, who sends a demon named Pitch to earth to thwart Santa Claus's attempts at bringing joy to all the children around the world. A few more notes about this episode, and yes there are SPOILERS, so in case you want to watch the movie sometime then you may want to stop reading. Then again, I can't see why you would want to, so I encourage you to read on.

- At the beginning of the movie, Santa is sitting on a bench playing a giant organ as children from all around the world sing various songs from their region. The singing is terrible, most of the songs aren't even Christmas songs and the whole thing lasts about seven minutes and is accompanied by Santa playing and laughing like a maniac, which would become a common sight throughout the movie. To make matters worse, the stereotyping of the various kids is politically incorrect at best (especially Africa, and according to this movie, all American children are cowboys). Not only that, but these kids actually spend their days and nights slaving away for Santa's enterprise, taking the place of the elves that normally work for Santa. I guess Santa had his operations base moved into outer space because by golly, there are no child labor laws outside of the Earth's atmosphere.

- After the viewers are tortured with horrendous singing from all around the globe, we cut to Hades, where a few demons in tight red costumes perform a dance number for what I assume is Satan's enjoyment. After that gets completed, a demon named Pitch is selected to muddle up Santa's mission, and if he doesn't do it, Pitch will have to eat a lot of chocolate ice cream. Apparently Pitch is lactose intolerant. Pitch as a whole seems, well, a wee bit effeminate, to say the least, and his skin tight uniform does not do him, or us, any favors. Every time he gets on screen, Pitch is usually seen prancing around like a schoolgirl before doing whatever dastardly deed he's going to do. Although I will say that Pitch does stoop to some rather low tactics to get what he wants, he's mainly used as a source of slapstick comedy until the end, where he finally gets smart and does a couple of things right.

- The story also centers around a few kids from Mexico City. There's Billy, the rich kid who gets a whole lot of toys but only wants more attention from his parents, who instead decide to spend Christmas Eve night at a cocktail party. There's Lupita, a poor girl who only wants a doll for Christmas, yet has never gotten one even though she's been good over the years. Also, there are three young boys who are never named and may or may not be brothers, but they're angry at the world about something so they decide to lash out and eventually, with Pitch's assistance, come up with a plan to kidnap Santa and take all of his toys. Oh please, like they're the first kids to think up that scheme. As it turns out, the worldwide battle of good and evil between Santa and Pitch will be centralized around five children in Mexico. Well, that's nice to know.

- The Santa Claus in this movie is, how shall I put it, crazy as a loon. He is prone to fits of hysterical laughter, has a horde of children working for him, and most disturbing of all, Santa has the power to not only see children while they're sleeping, he can also see their dreams. There are two scenes involving Santa in this film that would freak me the freak out when I was a kid. The first one was when all the kids' letters to Santa came, and Santa, with the look of a Manson follower in his eyes, laughs hysterically while swimming in all of the letters for about a minute before getting to business and reading the letters. The second one is when Santa cranks up the toy reindeer, as in this version, Santa's reindeer are actually toys that need to be cranked in order to work. Anywho, Santa successfully cranks the reindeer, as their toy eyes and legs start to move, Santa starts the chuckle like a madman once again. But what makes it worse is that the toy reindeer join Santa in a laughing fit that makes it both look and sound like a demented creature from a horror film. Also, for some reason there's a pentagram on Santa's wall. Um, I don't think I want this Santa coming down my chimney.

- There are a couple of other eccentricities that I want to mention. One is that Santa has another assistant, and its none other than the wizard Merlin, who provides Santa with some sort of special powder that will put children to sleep, and a flower that allows Santa to disappear. Yes, Merlin the magical wizard works alongside Santa Claus. Why not just toss in Don Quixote while you're at it? The other involves Lupita's dad, who can't seem to find work. The reason behind this might be because he's looking for a job in the early morning hours on CHRISTMAS DAY, where nothing is sure to be open except for the odd bar of club and apparently the nightclub where Billy's parents decided to party at.

Overall, I can't believe this movie was made for kids. It's just way too weird and has a couple of scenes that may very well give me nightmares tonight.  It is a rather hilarious episode, as this movie is just begging to be picked apart, and Mike and the Bots do not disappoint in riffing this movie. Overall, I'd give the movie a 0.59 out of 10, but I'd give the episode a 7.02 out of 10. Well, thanks for reading, and if you have any comments about this or previous posts, or ideas for future reviews or posts, than share them either by leaving a comment or by sending me an e-mail at

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