This Santa might actually frighten a small child, chortling uncontrollably through the whole movie and leering at the camera. More than likely, however, a kid above the age of four would probably find it unbearably hokey and dumb.
SANTA CLAUS D: René Cardona (1959); with José Moreno, José Luis Aguirre, Armando Arriola. Mini-mogul K. Gordon Murray, better known for importing Mexican wrestling movies, used to trot out this south-of-the-border Yuletide mess every year and make a bundle. Those days may be gone, but Santa Claus still remains one of the stranger Christmas movies ever. Santa doesn't live at the North Pole but actually somewhere in the clouds above the Pole. As shown in a sort of multicultural pageant, he has a crew of children from around the world ("even Russia") toiling away in his workshop and observatory, and clockwork mechanical reindeer haul his sleigh. The mystery of how Santa knows who's naughty and nice is cleared up when he's shown to have listening devices, a wiggly eyeball on the end of a metal gooseneck, and a computer that speaks with a creepy pair of foam-rubber lips, using them to zero in on any kid he picks out. Merlin the magician is also in Santa's employ, supplying him with dream powder (for dosing wakeful kids) and an Invisibility Flower that he can sniff when he needs to disappear. Satan, on the other hand, is gittin' jiggy in hell with a pair of red tights, horns, Spock ears, and red make-up. He sends one of his subordinate demons, Pitch, to Earth to ruin Christmas (with the understanding that he better not screw this one up). Pitch jumps around and prevails on a trio of brats to cause trouble at a department store Christmas display and tries to convince a poverty-stricken girl to steal the doll she wants so badly. With bottom-of-the-barrel production values, lurid Technicolor, and a weird, unintentional sense of surrealism, this movie puts the omniscient Santa in somewhat the same league as God, keeping an eye on everything that's happening on Earth and going mano-a-mano with Beelzebub himself. This Santa might actually frighten a small child, though, chortling uncontrollably through the whole movie and leering at the camera. More than likely, however, a kid above the age of four would probably find it unbearably hokey and dumb, opting for a Super Mario Bros. game to burn up some time instead. For adults, mix this movie with a bunch of eggnog (or better yet, watch the MST3K crew dismantle it) and reflect on its inept charm and its bizarre mix of theology and Kris Kringle.
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