With Los Angeles experiencing a cold snap, the Holidays and all the bog savings sales on television, the pop-ups on my computer and ad slicks dropping out of the daily paper, Christmas is surely upon us faster than Miley Cyrus next twerking in public. For even I, a purveyor of crime and nefarious doings, hope for peace on Earth and goodwill toward all…and Santa Claus in a line-up. As a writer of hardboiled fictive fare, I can’t help myself but always wonder about what lies beneath the smile and twinkle in the eye. What sort of serpentine thoughts lay coiled in a corner of a given person’s brain? Do they take a journey now and then to the dark side? If by some crazy set of circumstances I got the gig to write, oh let’s say a bio-pic of a Sister Teresa-like woman, I’d have to show her doubling down at the craps fade line after washing lepers to show how she blows off steam. She gets in deep to a loan shark and in a pivotal scene, rips off the charity funds for the orphans.
I blame my warped yule outlook on Santa Claus Conquers the Martians. This was an epic I saw as a kid about the Martian leader kidnapping Santa Claus and a couple of Earth kids to bring Xmas cheer to the children of Mars who lack, you know, Xmas cheer. According to the cast list on imdb.com, Pia Zadora plays one of the Martian leader’s kids, Girmar. You remember Pia don’t you? If not, I suggest renting The Butterfly based on the James M. Cain novel. In this flick, Ms. Zadora plays the scheming daughter of a lonely desert rat who returns all growed up with a butterfly tattoo to have an incestuous thing with pops. A dodge really so she can get her mitts on the silver in the mine he’s been guarding for years.
Anyway, back to the Claus. In the remake of Santa Claus Conquers the Martians, ol’ St. Nick is gonna have to man up. I’m thinking not live action this time but the story is told in elegant, retro stop motion puppetry like the Fantastic Mr. Fox. The Martian leader again sends his minions – and you have to have a lead goon with a memorable quirk like a robot hand or some such as Rudolph, the red-Nosed Reindeer (with a laser ray emitted from his nose, natch) will have a showdown with this brigand. But the plot isn’t about kidnapping Santa but about retrieving this special toy his elves have made that’s harmless on our world, but a deadly weapon on Mars.
The henchmen get in a shootout with the elves, who of course use super soakers filled with mace, and some of the flying reindeer while Santa and Mrs. Claus (an older, but nonetheless sexy, brainy woman who is the backbone of the operation, handling inventory, toy recalls and the like) happen to be away from the workshop saving a polar bear and her children trapped on an ice floe. Indeed the couple are lamenting the effects of global warming when they hear the commotion from not too far away. By the time they get back to the workshop, the Martian goons have departed with the toy, though a few of them lay bleeding green blood into the white snow. And Blitzen, poor, brave, Blitzen, is mortally wounded and dies in Santa’s arms.
This time it’s personal, Santa vows, shaking his fist to the heavens. Not only is there the ticking clock of why the hero must achieve his goal in a set time or her can’t making his pending rounds, but he has to avenge Blitzen and save the Martian innocents. The elves work triple time and construct specialized weaponry for Kris Kringle including devices like iPods that emit bright pulsing light (Mars is a gloomy planet and the Martians are light-sensitive) and kung fu grip gloves. The remaining reindeer are outfitted with oxygen helmets and space suits, and with the missus riding shotgun hefting her special edition GI Joe pulse rifle, it’s on to set things right on Mars.
From 19th century political cartoonist Thomas Nast, credited for first depicting an American version of Santa Claus, Frank Castle, the killing machine known as the Punisher in comics who has donned Santa’s gala garb so as to inflict his mayhem on unsuspecting mobsters, old school illustrations with the Claus selling Pepsi or Lucky Strike cigarettes (my dad’s brand), to my man David Walker's Badazz Mofo Productions, Black Santa’s Revenge: He Knows When You’ve Been Naughty, Santa is a man for all seasons and tastes.
Time to get your nog on.