Santa Claus (1959) — With extra devils and wizards!

“You shall be punished, and instead of red-hot coals, you will eat chocolate ice cream.”

Justin’s rating: A holly jolly nightmare

Justin’s review: Suffice to say, if you’re in the mood for a Santa Claus movie, you are not hurting for choices. There are plenty of wholesome Santa flix, quite a few anti-hero Santa entries, muscley Santa stories, and even countless movies about Santa’s family and elves. But where do you go if you want a Santa who exists in an unhinged universe full of devils and wizards? The 1959 Mexican classic Santa Claus, of course!

After an intolerable opening medley of kids songs, Santa and a couple of children accidentally summon one of a bunch of ballet devils named Pitch. Pitch heads to earth to try to tempt boys and girls into doing bad things, and thereby forfeiting their Christmas presents. He doesn’t have a high success rate of this, as one might expect by his cartoonish tights and fake plastic ears.

But even this sad devil could be more than Santa can handle, as Jolly Saint Nick is stuck impotent in his space palace until Christmas Eve. All he can do is use his array of bizarre spy gear to invade the privacy of the three or so kids the movie actually cares about. You? Santa doesn’t give a fig about you.

He does give a fig about answering his fan mail and also paying visits to his neighbor Merlin. You know, the magician who’s a standard figure in all Christmas tales. Merlin is brewing something to give joy to people, so feel free to call out a drug producer in the making.

Santa also visits a topless Keymaker, slims down with exercise equipment, practices sliding down fake chimneys, gives his reindeer statues (?) a once over, and engages in some cat-and-mouse tomfoolery with Pitch on Christmas Eve. It does escalate somewhat when Pitch convinces a bunch of adults to take up shotguns and start stalking around for some reason. As a manhunt begins for Santa, Merlin sends some help from above, Pitch is doused with a hose, a little poor girl gets her dolly, and all’s well that ends weird.

Obviously, this is Not a Good Film. It’s barely a film. But as a target for mockery, it’s great entertainment. Horrid dubbing, kooky plot twists, and an unorthodox look at Santa’s methods and lifestyle makes for a spectacle that needs checking out.

Didja notice?

  • Santa lives in a floating space palace
  • Santa plays the organ and has a whole bunch of racial stereotypes hanging out with him
  • These kids are from “The Orient.” No specific country.
  • Demons have easily upset tummies if they eat ice cream
  • Super creepy robot Santa
  • Nobody notices this very red devil in their midst?
  • If you throw a rock at a fake Santa, it hits the real one
  • Santa has all sorts of spy gadgets and a giant robotic mouth
  • Santa can see your dreams, why not
  • “A dream is a wish your heart makes”
  • The creepy giant doll dance
  • The devil is older than Santa
  • The post office has a special chute to send letters to a cackling Santa
  • Santa has a “liar’s box”
  • Merlin’s little noises as he bops around
  • The Keymaker has some serious chest hair going on
  • Santa’s reindeer are powered by a wind-up key
  • Poor devil is freezing. Feel bad for the guy.
  • Santa drugs kids to knock them out so he can deliver presents in peace

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