Santa Claus (1959)

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This deeply wacked out holiday anti-classic, yet another oddball Mexican fantasy brought to American audiences by cut-rate exploitation distributor K. Gordon Murray (Savages From Hell, Mother Goose’s Birthday Party) tells the “real” story of Santa Claus, whom we discover doesn’t work out of the North Pole after all. Instead, Santa and his “good friend and associate” (uhhhh …. OK) Merlin the Magician have a base of operations in a castle on a small satellite orbiting the Earth, from which they observe the activities of children both good and bad through an elaborately creepy surveillance system. While kids all over the globe (most of whom apparently wear stereotypical native costumes and sing annoying holiday tunes at all times) are trying to be good, the Devil wants to increase youthful misbehavior. With this in mind, he sends his henchman Pitch, an obnoxious demon with saggy red tights and a serious digestive problem, to Earth. Pitch, with much relish, starts his reign of terror by attempting to goad a little girl from a poor family into stealing the doll that she wants. Eventually, Santa and Merlin catch up with Pitch for a not-so-spectacular final battle of Good vs. Evil. So strange, awful and annoyingly sweet as to feel like the movie equivalent of LSD-soaked candy canes, Santa Claus played the kiddie matinee circuit for decades, and was eventually roasted by Mike and the robots on MST3K. You better watch out … (Dir. by Rene Cardona, 1959, Mexico, dubbed, 94 min., Not Rated) Digital