Betsy Vardell | Movie Poster of the Day

Holiday Movies in Print: Santa Claus Conquers the Martians

"Blast off for Mars ... with Santa!"

"Space-ship Journey from Earth to Mars!"

"In Space-Blazing Color!"

The poster for 1964's Santa Claus Conquers the Martians plays like an old comic book ad. It sells the goods with all the subtlety of those garish old full-pagers for Charles Atlas bodybuilding or Amazing Live Sea-Monkeys, complete with the narrative-cum-tableau layout. In fact, you hardly have to see the movie at all—the story's pretty much all there on the one-sheet, with any remaining narrative tension relieved by the spoiler of a title.

And frankly, I'm not recommending you do see it—at least not on its own. It's got one star on IMDB and it probably deserves about half that. I first came across SCCM as presented by Mystery Science Theater 3000, with host Joel Hodgson and his robot friends cracking wise on the movie's ludicrously bad set pieces from the silhouetted peanut gallery at the screen bottom. It's the MST3K version that's become a holiday tradition at my place.

Now this particular MST3K episode gets a lot of play around holiday time, and there's a pretty fair chance even casual fans have already seen it—probably more than once. I consider it a perennial classic, but for MSTies looking for a fresh take—or younger folks left flat by Dog Day Afternoon references—some good news: Joel's teamed up with several cast members from the old show to create Cinematic Titanic, in which he and fellow riffers take up positions at the sides and bottom of the screen. They've made their own version of SCCM, which promises a sackful of fine mockery to light up this holiday season.

I'll be tipping egg nog with both.

Posted in: Arts + Culture, Media

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