Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Santa Claus Conquers the Martians

Santa Claus Conquers the Martians, Pia Zadora's cinematic debut, was a holiday favorite at the Bilderback household during the 1970s. Channel 25 in Washington, DC played the movie every Christmas, and every year my brother and I watched it. We were too young to know anything about the camp aesthetic, and we didn't think of the movie as "bad." The idea of Santa being kidnaped by Martians then kicking some green butt may have seemed a little silly to us, but we liked it. The film's cold war subtext and imperialist implications were lost on us young Bilderbacks (I was a long way from a PhD in Cinema Studies at six).

Santa Claus Conquers the Martians is available online for free at archive.org, and I suspect at the Ocean State Job Lot for $1. And seven-year-old Pia Zadora does not get near a garden hose in this movie, so it is safe for the whole family. (Pia's interview with Joey Ramone in SPIN was a classic.) This is often cited as one of the worst movies ever made, but I have trouble calling movies as entertaining as this (or Plan 9 From Outerspace, or Glen or Glenda) "bad." In my opinion these are better movies than a lot of the ones that get the institutional recognition of being nominated for academy awards. What do you think the chances are someone is going to bother to write a blog entry about such boring fare as Seabiscuit or Million Dollar Baby in 40 years?

Here are two versions of the awesome theme song from the movie "Hooray For Santy Claus!" The first is the original version from the movie and is credited to Milton DeLugg & The Little Eskimos. In the SPIN interview Zadora claims she sings the song, but I am having trouble finding independent confirmation of that. Any info would be appreciated. The second version is a remake by Senor Tonto, which is also available for download at their website. Both are wonderful.

13 comments:

Anonymous said...

Milton DeLugg And His Band With The Thug were the house orchestra on The Gong Show. What a beautiful man.

Last time I saw Santa Claus Conquers The Martians, I was struck by the feeling that they shot the entire movie over the course of a single afternoon.

Pete Bilderback said...

Now that you mention it, the song does have a "Gong Show" vibe to it. Speaking of the Gong Show, isn't it time to bring it back. Americans have proven themselves more willing than ever to suffer humiliation for the privledge of being on television for a few moments.

dan said...

My friend in Seattle, Tony, used to do a cover of this song. It sounded just as good.

Pete Bilderback said...

Was Tony the guy you first roomed with in Seattle who made music on his Commodore 64?

dan said...

No, I never roomed with Tony. He was married and had 9 pet rats and had willingly given over his apartment to his collection of B movie videos and soundtracks. So, there was no room for me.

It would have been infinitely preferable than rooming with that other guy, who's ears were so sensitive that he used to shut off the fridge while he tinkered with his audio equipment.

dan said...

BTW, I'm far from sold on Million Dollar Baby as being Oscar worthy. I thought it dragged at points and I was rather disgusted with Clint's gratuitous slap at welfare recipients.

But it was a big step up from, say, The English Patient.

Pete Bilderback said...

That guy seemed very strange, and probably not too pleasant to room with. There is a guy on an audio board I used to frequent, who I somehow thought might have been your old roommate. I don't know why exactly, other than that he the poster lives in Seattle, and is very into electronic music. He also seemed to generate a lot of hostility.

This is him:
http://cgi.audioasylum.com/scripts/mail.pl?user_ID=13768

dan said...

Is he English? Anthony was. I can't recall his last name.

Pete Bilderback said...

Not sure. I think I remember the guy was living on disability (or something like that). I don't frequent those boards too much anymore because I basically have the audio system I want now, and I discovered political blogs. What I remember about the guy was he would ask for "advice" and then tell anyone who answered his questions they were an idiot.

dan said...

It could well be him. He was living on disability. He told me at first that it was due to his back, but it was actually due to depression. He smoked a lot of hash.

Pete Bilderback said...

Holy crap! It is the same guy for sure. I can't believe my suspicion was right--I had a vague memory that he might have been on disability, and that coupled with the location and strange behavior is what got me thinking it might be him. I meant to ask you about this years ago.

I remember when I visited Seattle that it seemed you did not have the ideal roomate situation, but having seen this guy in action online, I can only imagine. You should check out some of his posts sometime. Audiophiles tend to be a bit nuts anyway, but he was clearly off his rocker.

Anonymous said...

This is like some strange Daniel Clowes comic or something. Awesome.

Dumbek said...

I still scan the channels for this movie every Christmas morning.