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Santa Claus to save everyone from Martian attack

Kitschy classic at heart of holiday film festival in Sandy this weekend
by: Contributed photo Santa Claus defiantly smokes a pipe as he is held at laserpoint by a Martian in “Santa Claus Conquers the Martians.”

We all know Santa Claus keeps a list of those who are naughty and those who are nice.

What many of us didn't know until 1965, however, was that Martians were listed among the former.

That's right, if you weren't alive in the swinging 1960s, you're probably not aware that one of the most important movies ever made, 'Santa Claus Conquers the Martians,' related how Ol' St. Nick was kidnapped by aliens who wanted to force him to make toys for their red planet children.

The digitally remastered movie is being re-released on a one-time-only basis to theaters across the United States and Canada this December, along with other classic holiday movie moments.

You can see how Santa deals with the Martians on Saturday, Dec. 17, and Sunday, Dec. 18, in the Sandy Cinema, 16605 Champion Way, Sandy (sandycinema.com). Showtime is tentatively set for 6:50 p.m., but to be sure, call 503-826-8100.

You also can view a preview trailer at SantaMartiansMovie.com.

'Santa Claus Conquers the Martians' is the main feature of a retro compilation called 'Santa's Cool Holiday Family Festival,' which features a family-friendly mix of vintage Technicolor Christmas cartoons; holiday greetings from 1960s TV personalities like Shari Lewis and Lambchop as well as Ozzie and Harriet; a 1949 bouncing-ball sing-along to 'Jingle Bells;' and seasonal animated cartoons.

Filmed on a New York City soundstage in 1964, the cast of 'Santa Claus Conquers the Martians' was made up of top-notch Broadway and soap opera character actors, including John Call as Santa and Bill McCutcheon as a bumbling Martian.

Even the child actors in the film were Broadway veterans, and 'Santa Claus Conquers the Martians' marked the film debut of 10 year-old Pia Zadora who, like all of the Martians, performed in varying degrees of green face makeup.

The movie package includes two rarely seen cartoons from the studios of Max Fleischer, animator of Popeye and Betty Boop - 'Christmas Comes But Once A Year,' about a grandfatherly inventor who visits an orphanage to pose as Santa Claus, and 'Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer.'