Holiday Triumphs: MST3K’s Santa Claus

Continuing the fabled tradition begun all the way back in 2009, Scratchbomb presents Holiday Horrors and Holiday Triumphs: an advent calendar of some of the more hideous aspects of this most stressful time of year–with a few bits of awesomeness sprinkled in.

For many years, I’ve lauded the virtues of “Santa Claus Conquers the Martians,” a special holiday episode of Mystery Science Theater 3000. I must watch this show at least once every holiday season in order to have the most Swayzeist Christmas of them all.

mst3k_santaclaus.jpgHowever, there is another Yuletide episode of MST3K that I also watch each year around this time. It dates from the Mike Era and is simply entitled “Santa Claus”. If I don’t love it as much as “Santa Clause Conquers the Martians,” it’s only because “…Martians” is in the pantheon of Greatest Things Ever, whereas “Santa Claus” is merely fantastic.

Like many of the better episodes of MST3K, this one benefits from using a film that is straight-up bonkers. “Santa Claus,” a Mexican production badly dubbed into English, pits Kris Kringle against Satan himself. Or at least, one of Satan’s mincing minions, who prances around our earthly domain trying to get kids to bust windows and disobey their parents.

Santa Claus does his best to combat the forces of evil by gathering together a collection of children from around the world to sing Christmas carols–thus simultaneously offending every race ever. He also races through the sky on a sled pulled by mechanical reindeer, whose hellish cackling will haunt your dreams. There is some truly deranged stuff in this movie nearly on par with monstrosities like “The Attack of the Incredibly Strange Creatures Who Stopped Living and Became Mixed-Up Zombies.”

But it’s not just the movie that delights. Dr. Forrester and TV’s Frank engage in a one-sided “Gift of the Magi”–Frank shaves his head to buy his boss a watch fob, and Dr. Forrester (who’d forgotten all about him) gives Frank a $35 savings bond. Mike and the Bots play a Dream Theater-y tune as the prog rock outfit Sänta Cläus, exchange an odd assortment of gifts, and make an attempt to write a multicultural holiday carol, “Merry Christmas (If That’s Okay)”.

“Santa Claus” also has some of my favorite lines from the show ever:

  • “Santa’s laughter mocks the poor.”
  • “Is it a good idea to jingle all the way?”
  • “Santa’s tendrils reach far and wide. There is no escaping the KLAUS organization.”
  • “Is this weird enough for ya, kids? How does make you feel about Santa?”
  • [over a shot of slack-jawed children] “Santa’s army of walking corpses!”

What I’m saying is, even if you’re a Joel Partisan like myself, do not sleep on “Santa Claus.” It will reward you with plenty of nightmare fuel and buffalo shots of a demon in furry red boxer-briefs.