Santa Claus (1959)

Santa Claus

Written and Directed by Rene Cardona

Tagline: “See All the Weird and Wonderful Characters of Make-Believe! The Fantastic Crystal Work-Room of the Happy Elves! The Fabulous Realm of the Candy-Stick Palaces!”

Run Time: 94 min

“This is Santa’s Magic Observatory. What wonderful instruments! The Ear Scope! The Teletalker, that knows everything! The Cosmic Telescope! The Master Eye! Nothing that happens on Earth is unknown to Santa Claus!”
– Narrator


I have to admit that I’ve been saving this movie until the Christmas season. It certainly fits the bill for a bizarre holiday film and a timely new review for the web site. The film is a Mexican production that features Santa Claus fighting a devil named ‘Pitch’ for the future of Christmas. Oh yeah, Santa also has the help of Merlin who lives in outer space along with Santa in his crystal castle. Scratching your head yet? Let me restate this: Santa lives in a crystal palace in outer space, from which he and Merlin battle the devil Pitch for the future of Christmas in Mexico.

Director Rene Cardona (born in Havana, Cuba) is certainly no stranger to schlock films. Included in the 140+ films under his belt, Rene has also directed such wonders as Rock ‘N Roll Wrestling Women Vs. the Aztec Ape (1963), and Gomar: The Human Gorilla (1969). He’s also dabbled in a few of the inexplicably popular (well, popular in Mexico at least), ‘Santo’ the masked-wrestler movies: Santo vs. the Ghost of the Strangler (1966), Santo and Dracula’s Treasure (1969), and Santo vs. the Riders of Terror (1970).

The actor behind Santa’s beard, Jose Elias Moreno, is also no stranger to the silver screen. Appearing in over 180 films, Jose has graced Mexican theaters in such lovely offerings as The Ogre (1957) and Little Red Riding Hood and the Monsters (1962). How he came to play Santa Claus is anybody’s guess.

Oddly enough, the dubbed English narration was spoken by the movie’s American producer, K. Gordon Murry. Apparently Murry ran into a bit of trouble with the boys down at the IRS and had all of his films seized. Before the case could be settled, Murry died of a heart attack. Go figure. Gordon Murray was also a bit of a writer, having penned a few films himself: Shanty Tramp (1967), The Blood of Nostradamus (1961), and Santa’s Magic Kingdom (1966). Hmmm, I’m sure there’s some sort of logical connection between them all, but I don’t have the time to figure it out.

The movie itself vacillates from bizarre to downright creepy. Santa’s collection of Orwellian observation equipment is enough to make even adults want to curl into the fetal position and beg St. Nick for forgiveness. Hell, even the reindeer are creepy looking. Man, I feel for any Mexican kid that had to actually watch this as a child.

So, where to begin? Let’s just see what we have here…

Credits overlaid on what looks like a moldering pound-cake while ‘Jingle Bells’ plays gently on the sound track. This movie can’t be that bad, could it? How could any movie that plays ‘Jingle Bells’ be bad? Oh, ye of little faith. Just you wait.

Ahhh, yes, the credit stating "Filmed at Churubusco-Azteca Studios" should immediately have the hairs on the back of your neck standing on end.

Santa ClausOpen in outer space. Magic castles, made of crystal, float on the cloud tops "high over the North Pole". Yes, I know that there are no clouds in outer space. Thank you. Tell that to the director.

By the magic of a burst of fire-extinguisher powder in front of the camera lens, we segue into Santa’s castle and see him busily at work putting a dress onto an angel doll. As the camera pulls back, Santa begins to laugh maniacally and we see that he’s in fact putting the final touches on a nativity scene. Santa grabs his oversized gut and laughs some more before telling the ceramic figures that he has to get busy making toys for all the boys and girls. Yes, he talks to the ceramic figurines.

Santa takes his leave of the dolls, and makes his way through some massive halls and doorways (oddly Arabic in style, to my untrained eye), where he eventually Santa plops down in front of a big organ. (The musical instrument, you perverts!)

Santa ClausOk, let’s see if I can adequately describe the insanity on the screen. Santa taps a few keys and some sort of monitor, mounted on top of the organ, displays the word "Toyland". You see, this is a magical pipe organ that allows Santa to see into his "toy factory": Toyland. (Talk about a sphinctor-factor of 10!)

The narrator informs us that Toyland is "sort of an ‘international toy factory’. Here are gathered boys and girls of different races and creeds."

Santa ClausLet me get this straight: Santa has gathered kids from all over the world to labor at toy manufacturing. Said toys, produced by the children who "volunteered" to come to Toyland, are then distributed without charge to the all the other children in the world. Sounds like a bum deal to me.

Anyway, Toyland, as we see, is merely a gigantic sound stage ringed with tall card-board candy canes, along with soap-flake "snow" being sprinkled by off-camera stage hands from the rafters. The children appear to be gathered in groups based on nationality, where they "happily" make toys all year round, separated from their families and without any hope of returning home.

Now comes one of the longest and most bone-chilling sequence of shots in any film I have ever seen. Yes. It’s time for the children to dance and sing for Santa. As jolly old Santa taps away and "ho-ho-ho"s at the keyboard, each region’s name appears on the monitor. We then see that region’s representative children perform a little song and dance number for Santa. (Do you ever get the feeling you are about to witness something terrible? Do you have that feeling now?)

Lets’ look at this one group at a time:

Santa Claus Group 1

"Little helpers from Africa": Yes, a few black kids decked out in face paint and loin clothes, beating bongos and dancing about. They even have little bones sticking out of their afro’s.

Santa Claus Group 2

"Here are Santa’s helpers from Spain": A desultory boy and girl of about 7 years of age sit and "sing". The boy seems to be churning butter while the girl taps on a bongo. (Aren’t they supposed to be making toys?) Is it just me, or does this boy seem terrified? Maybe if he doesn’t meet his butter output quota for the day Santa beats him.

Santa Claus Group 3

"Tots from China lend a hand as well": As, <ahem> Oriental music twinkles in the background, these Chinese "tots" sing and do their best to please their all-seeing master: Santa.

Santa Claus Group 4

"Boys and girls from England": Yes, England did not escape the kidnapping of its children either. Instead of showing some kids, you simply hear a couple kids singing "London Bridge is Falling Down" while Santa rocks back and forth on his bench. Go figure.

Santa Claus Group 5

"Japan also helps Santa": Yup, they sure do: by sating Santa’s lust for off key children’s songs. Why do all the kids looks so scared in Toyland? Shouldn’t somebody investigate this?

Santa Claus Group 6

"Talented children from the Orient": If "talented children from the Orient" means means a pre-teen belly dancer, then Santa is right on target. Hmm, I wonder why there’s a bunch of rifles behind the "Oriental" kid sitting on the floor? Maybe they’re are planning a coup against Santa and his regime…

Santa Claus Group 7

"Even Russia has a delegation": Hmmm, "Even" Russia. For some reason the soap-flake "snow" is really pouring down on the poor Russian children on this shot.

Santa Claus Group 8

"The group from France, headed by Yvette and Pierre": Yes, while < *cough* > Yvette and Pierre sing and paint dolls (Why, Pierre, you bad little boy), Santa bangs on the keyboard and chuckles with glee. Wait a minute, those are the same two kids from Spain!

Santa Claus Group 9

"German boys and girls help Santa, too": Santa, Santa, Santa uber alles.

Santa Claus Group 10

"Here’s a happy song from Italy": While two boys stand silently in the rear holding toy sail boats, a young Italian lass cradles a doll and sings to Santa. Happy times indeed.

Santa Claus Group 11

"The islands of the Caribbean": Wow, you can just feel that "Caribbean" laid-back atmosphere pouring out of those kids. Merry Christmas, mahn!

Santa Claus Group 12

"The South American group includes Brazil and Argentina": Wow! You mean you actually consider Brazil and Argentina a part of South America? Yippee! Bang that tambourine, senorita! Do people in South America walk around with fruit baskets on their heads? And hey! Again! Those kids from Spain!

Santa Claus Group 13

"The countries of Central America": Well, I guess if you had to choose four kids to represent the countries of Central America, these would probably fit the bill. Strange how those Spanish kids keep turning up over and over. Once again, why is the boy to the left holding a rifle?

Santa Claus Group 14

"Children from the U.S.A.": Yup, two kids in cowboy outfits, strumming toy guitars and singing "Mary had a Little Lamb". Home sweet home. After seeing that, I sure do miss the States, I tell ya.

Santa Claus Group 15

"A neighborly group of helpers from Mexico": Ahhh, last but not least, our neighbors to the South: Mexico. They appear to be the only ones with a full drum set. Or whatever the hell all that equipment is in front of them. I had hoped they would sing "La Cucaracha", but they didn’t. Damn. Sheesh! Another kid with a rifle! This time he’s polishing the barrel while pointing the weapon at his chest. Doh!

With our tour through all 15 rings of Hell complete, we can now start our movie. Did I mention that we used over seven freakin’ minutes on this crap?! I wonder what’s worse: Actually making a movie with this much padding, or watching and timing it like I do? Man, maybe Santa will get me a life this year.

The two Mexican kids exit Toyland and go up to talk to the big guy himself. The girl hands a toy devil to Santa. (The toy looks a bit like a red corn-dog holding a pitchfork)…"Hmmm," says Santa rubbing his bearded chin, "Nobody ordered one of those…". Mexican Boy goes on to explain that in order to use it you have to light the fuse (umm, does this sound very smart?), at which point Mexican Boy produces a sparkler from out of nowhere and ignites the fuse coming out of the devil toy’s butt.

Santa ClausCut to Hell. No, no, I don’t mean cut back to the earlier Toyland sequence, I mean cut to Hell where we see a devil, named Pitch, frolicking about and casting little <whooshing!> smoke bombs about a cave where he supposedly resides. Pitch is eventually joined by a cast of other devils who join him in his frolicking and perform a little dance number that looks a lot like a synchronized swimming routine, except that it takes place in Hell.

Lucifer, or whoever the hell is running that nuthouse down there, calls out over some sort of loudspeaker system and informs Pitch that he will be heading up to Earth, but, “This time you must not fail! This time you must not be defeated by that bearded old goat Santa Claus!” Pitch cringes at the reminder of his past failings and cowers in fear when he is warned that if he fails in "making all the children of Earth do evil", then he will be "punished". (Umm, he’s already in Hell…maybe he’ll be forced to watch the 7 minute Toyland sequence again.)

Oh yes, in an beautifully ironic bit, Pitch’s punishment will be to eat chocolate ice cream…because, well, he’s a devil, and a devil would hate to eat ice cream…oh, never mind.

Santa ClausBack topside, on Earth, the Narrator shows us a bunch of kids greedily staring through a toy-shop window. "Here’s a good little boy who’s daddy is quite rich," we are told. Pan to the right. "This mother on the other hand, is very poor." (Damn class system! Kill the rich! Kill the rich!) The poor mother’s daughter, Lupita, wipes a tear from her eye as she gazes wistfully at the dolls her family will never be able to afford.

Suddenly three "rude little boys" push their way to the front of the crowd in front of store. "The devil likes rude little boys," we are told, "and it doesn’t take long for him to find them." This fact is confirmed as Pitch appears beside the boys and rubs his hands in eager anticipation of setting his plans in motion.

For some reason, mainly because it’s in the script, the boys walk away and plop down on a street curb. Yes, Pitch has "Turned these boys against Santa" and conjures up three large rocks immediately behind the boys. To my great non-surprise the boys hurl the rocks into the window and shatter it. One rock hits the animated Santa mannequin in the store front and somehow another rock hits Santa in the head in his floating castle in outer space. (Hey, I’m just reporting what’s happening.) (See Classic Lines)

Three kids, standing at attention in front of Santa, Pedro (Mexican kid), Spanish Girl, and Chinese Boy, report that they know the names of the 3 bad boys who threw the rocks. Santa doesn’t care about that, "They’ll get punished in due course." (!!). Santa’s only concern is in rewarding the good, poor girl, Lupita.

Off to "Santa’s Magic Observatory" to take a peek at the kids on Earth. This "Magic Observatory" is where Santa observes every damn thing that every damn kid is doing on Earth during every damn minute of the day. You’re starting to like Santa less and less, aren’t you? You’re getting paranoid, scared, and nervous, aren’t you? Santa is watching you!

The Narrator gives us a run down on the Santa’s surveillance equipment:

"This is Santa’s Magic Observatory. What wonderful instruments! The Ear Scope! The Teletalker, that knows everything! The Cosmic Telescope! The Master Eye! Nothing that happens on Earth is unknown to Santa Claus!" This shit would make a C.I.A. agent drool!

Yech, the "Teletalker" even has a huge set of lips. Ewwwww!

Oh my God! The Master Eye is exactly that! As they peer down on Earth, a long mechanical tendril with a big green eye extends from the telescope and gazes down upon the Earth.

Santa ClausSanta Claus

Santa is watching you!

After a few seconds of peering, Pedro reports, "I think I found the girl…in Mexico!" (Big surprise.)

Cut to bustling street market where little Lupita is enjoying watching a puppet show. When her mother takes her hand and starts to leave, Lupita grabs a doll from a vendor’s stand and tries to hide it under her sweater. "No! Lupita! Don’t steal!" shouts the Narrator. As Lupita tries to decide whether or not to put the doll back, Pitch pop ups beside her.

Santa ClausAs Pitch whispers into Lupita’s ear that it’s ok to take the doll because she doesn’t have any, the Narrator implores the young girl to ignore the temptation and return the doll to its rightful owner: "No Lupita! Don’t listen to him…It’s bad to steal! You’ll be sorry!" Lupita does the right thing and returns the doll, but she’s not out of moral danger yet for Pitch makes another effort to convince her to steal. Alas, the Narrator talks her out of it again and the story trudges along, sort of.

Next victim? The good little rich boy. After the "Master Eye" finds the boy sleeping soundly in his bed, Santa engages the "Dream Scope" so that all can watch what’s going on in the boy’s dreams. (Santa can see my dreams? Eiieieeeeeee!!!!)

"Let’s watch the little rich boy’s dreams," the Narrator suggests…

Gee, this should be fun…

"How strange…and what large gift boxes," the Narrator informs us as we see Little Rich Boy (LRB) running down to his living room to see 2 enormous gifts beside the Christmas tree.

"Could they be toys?…[LRB opens the boxes]…Why! They contain what a child loves best: his parents!"

Yes, inside the boxes are LRB’s parents, group hug ensues. (Ack!)

Not completely satisfied with LRB’s dreams, Santa moves the Dream Watcher thingee to little Lupita…

Well, we don’t actually cut right into Lupita’s dreams, but we do see her sleeping in a bed in her family’s one-room hovel. As mama knits something and papa dabbles at a work-bench, Pitch makes his entrance.

Santa Claus"Confounded devil! Why can’t he leave Lupita alone?" our Narrator asks. I agree. Wouldn’t it be better to target a child that who, if turned to evil, could do the most damage? Say, a kid whose dad was a policeman (take his gun and kill people)? Just how ‘evil’ can Lupita be? Stealing a doll from a street market? Ooooo! So evillllll!

Needless to say, Santa gets pissed when he sees Pitch blowing on the slumbering child. Yes, I did say ‘blowing’. Hey, just go with it. Well, Santa fears the worst: by blowing on Lupita, Pitch will become part of her dreams. Umm, OK.Lupita’s dream? Glad you asked. A giant room filled with dry-ice fog and a row of large gift boxes lined up against the far wall. Inside the boxes are, surprise, dolls just like the ones from the street market, only much, much bigger. The giant dolls do their best to convince Lupita to steal them, but the brave little girl refuses: "Stealing is bad. I want to be good." (Can’t argue with that.)

Did I mention that this is one weird movie? Check this out:

Doll: "Why don’t you steal us? We can all be yours!"

Lupita: "No. You know that stealing is bad and I want to be good."

Doll: "But you must learn to steal."

Lupita:"No…You know that stealing is bad and I want to be good."

Doll: "We dolls don’t like good little girls. "

Lupita:"No…to steal is evil and I don’t want to be evil."

Doll: "You must be evil if you want the doll."

Lupita:"No…You know that stealing is evil and I don’t want to be evil."

and so on and so on and so on. (This witty exchange between Lupita and the doll brings back memories of my first paper I wrote in my Philosophy 101 class.)

Lupita wakes up and we cut back to Santa’s floating palace. Next target? The three boys that threw the rocks through the toy store window. This time Japanese boy has the honor of zooming the creepy eye-on-a-stalk on the slumbering boys down on Earth.

"The three boys are beneath a large bed and they are speaking in a low voice," reports little Mexican Boy. (Man, imagine if Stalin would have had one of those gadgets! Sheesh!)

Santa ClausThis time Santa focuses "The Ear Scope" onto the boys so he can hear their discussion. The "Ear Scope" has been realized by gluing a rubber ear to an oscillating fan and dangling it from a wire. George Lucas…eat your heart out!

Oh lord! Once the "Ear Scope" locks onto the boys’ conversation, their voices are reproduced by the giant pair of lips on the Teletalker! I’m going to have nightmares about this, I just know it. Anyway, if you can focus on what the boys are saying and not the giant pair of lips talking in a 8-year old boy’s voice, you will learn that the mischievous youths are planning to steal some toys. To add insult to injury, the boys even discuss how Santa is "too old" to know what’s going on anymore and they’ll just lie to him and say that they were "good" if he ever were to ask them.

Well, Santa gets pretty pissed upon hearing that and makes another effort to see them via the big eyeball in space. Now Santa somehow transmits his voice through space and into the boys’ bedroom, and warns them that he sees and hears everything that they say so they "better watch out!" Understandably, being verbally threatened by an unseen entity freaks the kids out and they flee.

As soft, muted, twinkly Christmas music plays in the background, we cut to a montage of scenes showing kids writing letters to Santa asking for cute and cuddly things. In other words: Beer break.

Another har-dee-har moment as the local post office dumps the letters addressed to Santa into the incinerator. Thanks to the miracle of reversed footage, the letters "float" up the chimney and into Santa’s magic palace where they fall onto his head. Like I said: Har-dee-har.

Santa manually sorts the letters, one by one, so this should take about 400 years. Anyway, he stumbles across the letter written by the three bad boys where they state that they have all been very good. "Ha! You can’t fool Santa Claus," intones our Narrator as Santa tosses the bogus letter into the "Liar’s Box" (!).

With a "Ho ho ho!", Santa makes his way down to the slave shop, I mean Toyland, and makes an important announcement. Santa has to leave for Earth in a couple of hours but there’s still "thousands" of toys left to make. He encourages the kids to make an "extra effort."

"It’s all up to you!" Santa remarks with a chuckle as he turns and leaves the work area.

There is just something very, very wrong with all this.

Everything is all a-twitter in the floating palace. Santa makes ready the white, mechanical reindeer that will pull his sled around the globe. Just to add some excitement to the film, little Mexican Kid tells Santa to "return to the castle ahead of the sun rise because of [sic] the sun will turn the reindeer to dust."

Gee, I never heard that one.

So let’s see, gee, if I wonder if Pitch is going to delay Santa’s return to the very last second. Blah.

Santa ClausAnyhoo, now the kids of Toyland Inc. file into the room and toss their gifts into Santa’s magic bag. The bag of course is glued to the sled where a hole is cut into the bottom so the sack never "fills up." In fact, one gift gets stuck and you can see an off camera stage hand pull the package down the hole from inside the sack! Brilliant! I love my job!

Next: wind up the mechanical reindeer. Upon being wound up, the door began to stomp, blow smoke out of their noses (!), laugh, and chomp their teeth. This is really nightmarish stuff! Holy crap! (And why are there only 4 reindeer instead of 8?)

Santa ClausWith another maniacal "Ho ho ho!", Santa and the deer take off and fly through outer space down to Earth. "Whew! That was close! He almost ran into the moon!" gasps the Narrator as a miniature Santa sled almost bumps into a styrofoam ball suspended by a wire.

As Santa closes in on good old Earth, the Narrator jumps in again, "And here’s the planet Earth…I wonder where Santa will go first? Europe? Africa? America?"

Why, no!

"First stop: Mexico City!"

Cut to LRB who is being tucked in by his parents before they go out to a fancy gathering, leaving the kid home all by himself on Christmas eve. "If you get bored you can go down and practice your piano lessons," suggests mom.

Meanwhile, on a roof top somewhere in Mexico City, the Three Bad Boys are laying in ambush. "As soon as Santa Claus lands on the roof, all three of us will jump on him. We’ll tie him up and we’ll stick him in his sack, and then we’ll go home with all of Santa’s toys."

Charming.

"What about Santa?", asks one of the boys.

"We can make him our slave!" replies the leader.

Charming indeed.

Pitch has also been busy preparing a trap for Santa. Woo hoo! Pitch plans on "pushing a chimney out of place so Santa can’t get into the house!" Why, Christmas will be ruined! Yikes! Santa stops the sleigh high in the clouds and climbs down a rope ladder to the roof. After jumping into the "misplaced" chimney, Santa notices that something is amiss. He’s a sharp one, that Santa!

Santa Claus"Well, there’s more than one way to beat the Devil," we’re told, "Santa will jump down the chimney with his magic parasol!"

His magic what? What the hell kind of ‘Santa’ do they have down there in Mexico anyway?

Let’s just say that a 200+ pound Mexican actor dressed up like Santa and floating around with a little white umbrella is not something you see every day.

Inside the house, two little boys hear Santa enter and almost come into the living room. Thanks to Santa’s "Magic Dream Dust prepared by Merlin (!)" (heh, heh…I used to take that stuff in high-school), the boys go back to sleep.

For some reason, Pitch pushes the chimney back into place upon which time Santa blows a bunch of ash from the fireplace up the flue and into Pitch’s face. Ha ha.

Next house. Hilarity ensues. Just as Santa sits up on the chimney, Pitch (who earlier teleported into the house and did a little jig…I kid you not), starts a fire in the fire place and sends flames up the chimney which nearly fry Santa’s ass off. (I will admit, I chuckled at that.)

You know, this is the second house Santa has visited, so he has, what, 3 gazillion more to get to before the night is through? I’m not trying to be pessimistic, but at this rate, I must say that it looks like Pitch has won.

Back to our feature presentation. Knowing that Santa has to come through the front door since there’s a fire in the fireplace, Pitch blows on the doorknob and turns it red hot. (Bastard!)

Well, Santa sees what Pitch is up to (Did I really just write that?), and climbs through the window instead. Pitch, bending over and blowing on the doorknob, is in the perfect position for, yes, a canon shot up the rear. Santa pulls a toy canon from his sack, puts a pencil down the barrel (!), and fires it directly into Pitch’s crimson posterior.

Finally, we’re getting somewhere. Santa sneaks into the LRB’s house to find him alone and asleep on a chair in the living room. (All together now…"awwwwww…..") As the child slumbers, Santa places assorted gifts under the tree and whispers to the boy that he is "going to do something that he only does for children that are really good…" (ummmm….)

Yes, he’s going to let LRB see him as he really is by using "the powders that will make you dream that you are really awake." (Huh?) After blowing some glitter on the sleeping boy, Santa commands him, "Now, awaken while you’re dreaming…"

Blah blah blah. Santa reassures the kid that his parents love him.

Beer break.

Oh God. Now we’re at the restaurant where LRB’s parents are eating dinner. A waiter (<cough><cough> Santa), brings over a couple of drinks (complete with bubbling dry-ice fog flowing from the glasses).

"What a strange drink," mama remarks.

"It’s a Cocktail of Remembrance [!]that only I can make," says Santa. Apparently this drink will make you realize what you truly love in life…or some crap like that.

Santa ClausThe couple take a sip of Santa’s mystical concoction and realize what they truly love in life: "little Billy". (Hey! A name! Thanks!) Yes, realizing that leaving Billy alone at home on Christmas eve might have been a little insensitive, the enlightened parents don their jackets and hurry home.

Group hug ensues. Awwww…..

As in, "Awwwww…man, I can’t take much more of this crap."

Pitch in the meantime has helped the Three Bad Boys (3BB) to rig up a trip wire on a roof. When Santa comes…wham! Right on his fat ass. (And then what? Oh my God…am I really analyzing their plan?) Anyway, Santa outwits the kids and gives them a bunch of old shoes for Christmas. With Pitch’s magical encouragement, the boys begin to argue and fight amongst themselves. What a lovely movie.

Pitch next tries to steal Santa’s sleigh, but the reindeer don’t respond to his commands. Damn! Looking over the side of the sleigh, Pitch sees Santa making his way back up the ladder from the roof below. Pitch hides in the back of the sleigh as Santa jumps into the driver’s seat then summons a pair of scissors and cuts a hole in Santa’s bag of "Magic Dreaming Powder" .

"Now Santa won’t be able to put anyone asleep!" (Is that a bad thing?) Santa also loses "The Flower To Disappear" (sic), so he can’t become invisible anymore. (Really folks, I’m just reporting what I hear, I’m not going to try to make any sense of this.)

"Let us hope the ‘Flower To Disappear’ doesn’t fall into bad hands!" the Narrator chokes. Yes, let’s.

At the next house, Santa, thinking he’s invisible, walks in front of a guard dog. Pitch blows on the dog and the hound springs after old St. Nick. Santa chuckles and reaches into his pouch only to discover his magical tools are missing.

"Run Santa! Climb that tree! It’s your only chance!" shouts the Narrator.

With Santa treed by a viscous pit bull, Pitch snickers and rubs his hands together with glee. (Once again, doesn’t there just seem like there is something fundamentally wrong with all this? By the way, the dog’s name, ‘Dante’, is written on the dog house. Whoever dubbed Pitch’s voice pronounces it "Dan-tee"…oh, sweet Inferno, where is thy sting?)

Pitch teleports inside the house and whispers into the ear of the man who lives there, "There’s a prowler out there…he’s here to kill your children and your wife!" (This is a kid’s movie?) "Defend yourself! He’s going to murder you!"

Realizing that he’s in a pretty tight pickle, Santa cries out for Merlin. Yes, I said ‘Merlin’. You know, the sorcerer from the King Arthur legend who is now a part of the Mexican Christmas. Oh, and by the way, when Santa cries out for Merlin, the "Teletalker", yes, the machine with the giant lips, replicates Santa’s voice in a way that reminds the viewer of something that one shouldn’t think about when watching a kid’s movie. Leave it at that.

OK, Pitch wakes up the whole house and the police are summoned. Yippee! Pitch blows on a sleeping grandfather (I think) causing him to call the fire department because he thinks the house is burning down. Oh joy. Hee Hee! I’m having so much fun now.

Santa ClausOh wait, now Pitch goes back to poor Lupita’s house and tells her that poor children don’t get any presents from Santa because they’re poor. (Seems a bit redundant, but just go with it.) Lupita’s mother reassures her that Santa loves children that are "obedient" and shooshes Lupita back to bed.

Now Pitch pops back to Santa and lays it on the line: "Your reindeer will turn to powder, you will starve to death, and I will rule the Earth!" (Lovely, lovely children’s film.)

Anyway, Merlin hears Santa’s cries for help and rushes to the magic talking thingee. Merlin ponders Santa fix and comes up with a solution: A cat! (Well, at least a way to get rid of the dog so Santa can come down from the tree and get home before sunrise. Let’s see, Santa managed to deliver presents to, oh, 2 houses on Christmas Eve. Nice job, buddy.) Merlin calls down to Santa and tells him to use one of the wind-up toy cats from his bag to distract the dog. The ruse works and Santa successfully gets his big ass down from the tree without breaking his neck. (Off camera off course.)

Meanwhile, the police and fire department have arrived, triggering some excruciatingly lame slapstick involving the family in the house and the cops. I don’t want to describe it. I just…can’t…it’s that stupid.

Merlin warns Santa that time is short but Santa insists on visiting poor Lupita before returning to his extraterrestrial crystal castle. Wait! Hoo Hooo! Pitch is standing in a window, angrily stomping his feet at seeing Santa escape from his perch in the tree. The firemen see only the smoke from Pitch, thinks it’s a fire, and squirt the fire hose on him. Har-dee-har! Hoo! Hoo!

"He’ll probably catch pneumonia…It serves old Pitch right!" the narrator smugly says.

Oh, God almighty…get a load of this:

"Wait!" shouts the narrator, "The ‘Flower to Disappear’ has fallen right into Lupita’s house!" Well, if that isn’t so freakin’ convenient. Santa, you lucky bastard.

Inside, Lupita sleeps in her bed as her mother dozes in a rocking chair. A knock at the door and papa enters, dejectedly tossing his hat on the workbench before plopping into a chair.

Santa Claus"Did you find any work?" mama asks."No, nothing."

I’m not too sure what how many job offers you were expecting since you’re job hunting on Christmas Eve, you moron.

Blah. Lupita spouts some crap about knowing that Santa won’t forget her and runs out the door to find a huge doll standing there. Ahhh, isn’t that sweet?! As in Choke-Me-With-A-Crumb-Cake sweet. (Mama smiles, does that Catholic cross thingee with her hand, and stares wistfully up into the sky. So is Santa supposed to be a God-like being now? What exactly is the connection here. Bah!)

Whoever dubbed Lupita’s voice should be fired.

"So once again," begins the Narrator, "Santa returns to his crystal palace after his yearly rounds."

His yearly rounds?! Did I miss something? He only went to 3 houses in Mexico City?! WTF?

"He is happy…gay…for once again he has brought happiness to the children of the world!"

Cut to final credit sequence with a off-white cue card which reads: "Blessed are those who believe, For they shall see God. Peace on Earth…Good Will Toward Men."

"Merry Christmas!"

The End

Dennis Grisbeck (Dec 2005)

Afterthoughts

What is this whole God-Santa connection?

Why you should never let your kids see this movie:

It makes Santa look like a paranoid nut.
It makes Christmas seem freaky as hell.

Why you should never see this movie:

The lips on the Talking Machine will give you nightmares.
It makes Christmas seem freaky as hell.

Read more about Santa Claus at

IMDB

3 comments to Santa Claus (1959)

  • I got this one on DVD and made it a Christmas tradition for my granddaughter -along with “Santa and the Ice Cream Bunny” and “The Star Wars Holiday Special” (really). She loves it. I think her mom is considering contacting the authorities.

  • Hoss Brothers

    I saw this around 45 years ago at one of it’s annual releases to the kiddie matinee circuit… Even creepier in a dark theater when you’re a preschooler!

    Until the Internet age, I thought I’d hallucinated the damned thing! I thought it couldn’t have been a real movie… Surely no one would subject innocent children to such high-octane nightmare fuel.

    .

  • guts3d

    “Japan also helps Santa”: Yup, they sure do: by sating Santa’s lust for off key children’s songs. Why do all the kids looks so scared in Toyland? Shouldn’t somebody investigate this?

    Um, aren’t most Japanese people Shinto or Buddhists? Bad movie, but as always, a GREAT review! I am going to watch this tonight if I can squeeze the time in!

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