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Film: Santa Claus

Prepare yourself for a Big Brother Santa Claus fighting the evil forces of prancing demons with the help of child labor and Merlin.

El Santo Claus was directed by Rene Cardona and written by Cardona and Adolfo Torres Portillo. The original film was produced in Mexico in 1959 and features primarily Spanish dialog. It depicts the adventures of Santa Claus in preparation for and during his annual Christmas rounds. Most commercial adaptations of the Santa Claus legend add a distinctive twist to the traditional story, but this film trumps them all with its depiction of an interdimensional Santa doing battle with a demon sent to Earth by Lucifer to ruin Christmas by killing Santa and "making all the children of the Earth do evil." Furthermore, Merlin (yes, that Merlin) serves as Santa Claus' Q, inventing things like The Flower to Disappear for Santa to use.

Believe it or not, there's a good explanation for the film's... unique take on Santa Claus. In the late 1950s, Santa Claus remained an unfamiliar figure in much of Mexico, where holiday gift-giving customs still focused on the Magi and their feast day, Epiphany (January 6). Even today, many discussions of Mexican Christmas customs make no mention of Santa Claus, instead focusing on such traditional holiday elements as posadas and piñatas. Santa has become more popular only in recent decades. Another odd running theme is the focus on social standing and class, which was a major concern of Mexico during that period; see Los Olvidados.

A dubbed and slightly edited English-speaking version was produced for U.S. release in 1960 under the direction of K. Gordon Murray. Santa Claus was considered to be a financial success over several holiday-season theatrical releases in the 1960s and 1970s. Broadcast of the film also became a holiday tradition at several U.S. television stations. The film garnered at least one award, winning the Golden Gate Award for Best International Family Film at the San Francisco International Film Festival in 1959.

A series of shorts by K. Gordon Murray mixed film from Santa Claus with new footage filmed at the various Santa's Village theme parks. These were riffed by Rifftrax as "Santa's Village of Madness". This makes the film "Santa and the Ice Cream Bunny" a technical sequel.

Not to be confused with Santa Claus The Movie.

For the Mystery Science Theater 3000 version, please go to the episode recap page. Red Letter Media also reviewed it on their The Best of the Worst Christmas Episode.

Santa Claus has examples of:

  • Affably Evil: Pitch comes across this way, to an extent. He was obviously intended to be evil, but his portrayal is if anything buffoonish.
  • Always Camp: Pitch can out-effeminate HIM at times.
  • And That's Terrible: Pretty much everything the narrator says about whatever Pitch or Satan do.
  • Another Dimension: Santa is, according to the film, from the Fifth Dimension.
  • Arch-Enemy: Pitch.
  • Bad Dreams: Pitch inflicts this on several characters including Lupita.
  • Bad Santa: Unintentionally.
    • It doesn't help that he has the same voice as Lucifer...
  • Badass Santa: With all of the powers that Santa has and with Merlin as his Q, Santa is able to defeat a Devil.
  • Bigger Bad: Pitch may be the movie's chief antagonist, but Lucifer is the one who ordered him to do it. It's his only scene.
  • Black and Gray Morality: Though as the film progresses, it descends into Gray and Gray Morality territory - see Moral Dissonance below for Santa, but Pitch seems less evil than intended.
  • Beard of Evil: Pitch, and a case can be made for Santa.
  • "Blind Idiot" Translation: The awkwardly-named Flower To Disappear is a good example of this.
  • Bread, Eggs, Milk, Squick: One of the letters sent to Santa asks for, among other items, a bicycle, a baseball bat, an atomic laboratory, a machine know, typical children's toys.
    Crow: Oh, it's from Qaddafi!
    • Values Dissonance: It's actually a chemistry set that comes with a small amount of radioactive material, and they were popular in the 50's.
  • Captain Obvious with a dose of Viewers Are Morons and Lull Destruction: The narrator, who describes every single thing that happens on screen.
  • Catapult Nightmare: Lupita has one of these.
    Crow: (as Lupita) I had the 'Nam dream again!
  • Classical Mythology: Vulcan. In the English version he's referred to as "The Blacksmith". In the original version his name is "Llavón" (a play on the word "llave", key).
  • Clockwork Creature: The Laughing Nightmare Reindeer.
  • Cool and Unusual Punishment: Satan threatens to dip Pitch in ice-cream if he fails.
    • In the original version he says he will make Pitch eat chocolate ice-cream because he's lactose intolerant instead of his usual fire and brimstone meals.
  • Creepy Doll: Lupita has to face some of these in her Pitch-induced nightmare.
  • Culture Equals Costume: Santa's helpers.
  • The Danza: Lupita Quezadas as Lupita
  • Disproportionate Retribution: The Affably Evil Pitch, who doesn't do much evil, is punished by Santa. The punishment? Pneumonia.
  • Evil Laugh: The animatronic Santa doesn't sound jolly so much as this.
    • The real Santa's laughs aren't much better.
    • Pitch has an evil laugh of his own, but it just doesn't compare.
    • And don't forget the reindeer. Evil Dead, anyone?
  • The Faceless: Satan.
  • Fake Nationality: Santa's helpers.
  • Flaming Devil: Pitch
  • Flash Step: Apparently, not only can demons teleport, but it sounds like a piano key being struck.
  • The Fool: Pitch.
  • Goldfish Poop Gang: The trio of "bad boys".
  • Good Is Not Nice: Santa.
  • Hell: In a Christmas movie? That's... different...
  • Human Aliens: One of Santa's young assistants is implied to be not of this world when he asks what types of food people on Earth eat.
  • Laughing Mad: That one laughing reindeer is by far the best example of this.
  • Leg Cling: Santa, out of pity, appears in front of the Lonely Rich Kid... who then grabs Santa's boot and begs for someone to love him. Seriously, if you didn't feel a tug inside during this scene, you have no soul.
  • Leitmotif: Pitch has one. Appropriately enough for a demonic servant of Lucifer himself, it's...a goofy-sounding bassoon piece.note 
  • Lonely Rich Kid: One of the subplots the film follows is a rich boy whose parents frequently ignore him to go out to parties, even on Christmas. Naturally, he writes a letter to Santa wishing for his parents to come home.
  • Mall Santa: The animatronic Santa, in a sense.
  • Moral Dissonance: Santa is given a free pass to be at least as evil as Pitch.
  • Narrator
  • Notable Original Music: Notable in that it's pretty bad.
  • Oh, Crap: Santa has one of these moments when he realises his dreaming powders are gone... and there's a big dog coming right at him.
    • And the dog's called Dante.
  • Ominous Floating Castle: Santa lives in one.
  • Only Six Faces: The multinational groups of Santa's helpers are mostly the same few kids in different costumes.
  • Our Demons Are Different: Pitch.
  • Playing Against Type: By IMDB's account, Moreno was prior to the film generally cast as gang members, both sympathetic and unsympathetic, and played against type in this film, which is that for which he is most famous. If this is his against type role...
  • Public Domain Soundtrack: Just count how many times "Jingle Bells" plays as background music.
  • Punny Name: The Flower to Disappear was originally named in the Mexican version as "La Flor de No Te Veo" (the flower of "I can't see you"), which is a play on the phrase "no te veo" and "Nochebuena", the Spanish name for the Poinsettia.
  • Public Domain Characters: Featuring a list of characters nobody expects to be in the same movie:
  • Robe and Wizard Hat: Merlin.
  • Sociopathic Hero(?): Santa
  • Take Our Word for It: "He almost ran into the Moon!"
    • Visiting about four houses in Mexico City = delivering toys to all the children on Earth.
  • Take Over the World: Pitch declares that he will rule the world with Santa out of the way. Apart from his plan making very little sense to begin with, not only is he in the service of Lucifer, but the way he says it implies that Santa is the incumbent ruler of the world...
  • The Devil Is a Loser: Pitch fits this to a tee.
  • Trickster Archetype: Pitch.
  • Truth Serums: A variation is found in Santa's "Cocktail of Remembrance" which he gives to the rich boy's parents after they've left him alone at home to attend a dinner party.
  • Unusual Ears: Pitch.
    • Not to mention Santa's "earscope," a satellite dish with a giant plastic ear in the center.
  • Upgrade Artifact
  • Villain Decay: Pitch, in a way. When you consider that he works for Satan, is Satan's CHIEF devil, and thus responsible for tons of pure horrific atrocities & nastiness on Earth! Said dark Hell-spawn is an almost-harmless, goofy, mincing, ineffectual buffoon in this movie.
  • When You Coming Home, Dad?: The Lonely Rich Kid thinks this, if he doesn't actually say it.
  • Widget Series: W.M.T. (Weird Mexican Thing), to be exact.

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