For those who can’t wait for the holidays to get here, the Historic Howell Theater has you covered. They will be showing a double feature of two classic Christmas B-movies on Sunday.
First, at 2:30 P.M. is the Mexican film “Santa Claus” from 1959. The film was directed by René Cardona and co-written with Adolfo Torres Portillo. It was dubbed into English and directed by Ken Smith (a pseudonym for American producer K. Gordon Murray, who redubbed and re-released many kid-friendly foreign films, usually fairy tales, for American audiences).
In this bizarre film, Santa Claus does not live at the North Pole, but in a castle in space. Instead of elves, children from all over the world help him make toys. Meanwhile, in Hell, Lucifer instructs his chief demon Pitch to travel to Earth and turn the children of the world against Santa.
We then follow five different children that Pitch tries to convince Santa that they are bad. There is Lupita, a girl from a poor family who wants a doll more than anything else. Next, there is Billy, the son of wealthy but negligent parents, and three brothers who enjoy making trouble. Since Santa can’t travel to Earth before Christmas, he uses his latest forms of technology to spy on them.
Once he gets to Earth, Pitch goes all out to stop Santa in his tracks and ruin Christmas forever. Will he be successful? Or can Merlin the Wizard, Santa’s slightly absent-minded assistant find a way to help Santa defeat Pitch?
At 4:30 P.M. is “Santa Claus Conquers the Martians” from 1964. Directed by Nicolas Webster, we meet a Martian family who are worried that their children are watching too much Earth television, and become fixated on KID-TV, which includes an interview with Santa Claus at the North Pole. Martian leader Kimar has a consultation with an ancient 800-year-old Martian sage, who tells them that the children of Mars are growing distracted due to the society’s overly rigid structure; since birth all their education is fed into their brains through machines and they are not allowed individuality or freedom of thought.
The sage explains that he had seen this coming “for centuries”, and says the only way to help the children is to allow them their freedom and be allowed to have fun. To do this, they need a Santa Claus figure, like on Earth. So the Martians head to earth to capture Santa Claus and bring him to Mars. Since there are so many faux Santa Clauses on Earth, they decide to kidnap two Earth children in order to get to the real Santa Claus.
Once they arrive on Mars, Santa, the two Earth children, and Kimar’s bumbling assistant Dropo do their best to bring fun, happiness and Christmas cheer to the children of Mars. But a rogue Martian named Voldar thinks otherwise. Can Santa and the kids stop him from destroying the Christmas spirit?
Tickets are $12 for both films. Patrons are strongly encouraged to wear ugly Christmas sweaters to the films. Advanced tickets may be purchased here.
Two additional screenings of “Santa Claus Conquers the Martians” will take place on November 10 and November 17, both at 7:15 P.M. Tickets for those screenings may be purchased here.