Loren Gillespie | Grand Blanc, MI USA | 12/05/2004
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Typical manic editing for the dubbed US release, here only given a SEVERELY modest fullscreen (non pan-and-scan) DVD release from Westlake Entertainment(and honestly it seemed to me it was a different 'edit' entirely from the US network television airing of this film I once saw when I was younger... but it could just be my imagination too;). Still, this version of director Rene Cardona's brilliantly flawed surreal masterpiece is like a Ken Russell Christmas fable. It's metomorphic, yet simple and crude. It has wonderfully bizarre music and set design, as well as beautiful costumes, colors, and lighting (unless this film was originally B&W and I'm not aware). I loved the regional representations of the children, and the awful english dub is obviously a cheesy B-movie fan's lemon or love. I love it. The print on this DVD is fullscreen and has severe specks and scratches, the picture quality is rough at times... And either a digitally remastered audio track or print has been presented here. It's not really specified on this Westlake Entertainment DVD release. There is NO DTS track, though-- that seems to be incorrectly listed as a feature of this particular 2004 Westlake Ent. DVD release here on Amazoncom. But it's still worth it to see a goofy gem of an X-Mas film, full of wild ideas and imagery (A TALKING CHILD LOCATOR? YIKES!)--Some of which is very much a precursor to the newer much beloved shows like Pee Wee's Playhouse and HR Puff-N-Stuff (one never knows). Fun film for the whole family in this edited up version for the US audiences. Pitch the devilish demon is harmless pseudo-relgious/spiritual nonsense, while ol' Saint Nick is portrayed like a GOD. Fun concepts abound, but the dub is BAD. But fun. Highly recommended, and the DVD has a nice cover that looks almost like a silver-age comic book cover!"
Looking for a Slightly More BIZARRE Christmas Film?!
Monty Moonlight | TX | 12/01/2005
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Far out in space, but directly over the North Pole, lives Santa Claus in his castle in the clouds. From his majestic home, he oversees the Christmas preparations handled by his team of children from around the world. Though, it seems they spend most of their time performing regional songs in a trance-like state. All seems to be going well this year, until one of Satan's devils, Pitch, is ordered to cause Santa trouble again. As Santa Claus spies on the children below with bizarre gadgets that look to be stolen from Peewee's Playhouse or Sid and Marty Krofft and prepares for his annual journey by gathering supplies from his cohorts, Merlin the wizard and a magical blacksmith, Pitch is busy on the ground teaching children to hate Santa Claus and to steal and vandalize. Pitch focuses his energy on three wicked brothers and a poor little girl named Lupita who is desperate to get a doll for Christmas. Lupita's resistance is unyielding, however, and Santa is determined to reward the unfortunate and tormented child. The three bad little boys, on the other hand, are playing right into Pitch's hands. A fourth little boy is also a subject of concern. The boy is rich, but he's also a good little boy who is neglected by his parents. In order to grant the request in the child's letter, Santa will have to remind the parents how much they love their son, something he does by drugging their drinks while making his rounds with his disturbing, wind-up, albino reindeer that have a vampiric reaction to sunlight. For the most part, though, it's all an epic battle of wits between Santa and Pitch, on which the fate of Christmas all depends!
In 1959, the world of cult-film was given a magical Christmas gift in the form of "Santa Claus," a Mexican film by director Rene Cardona. This brightly colored, completely backwards story of Santa vs. Satan has got to be one of the most bizarre films I have ever seen, surely produced by some sort of "Church of Santa Claus." Despite its utter weirdness, though, it is a highly enjoyable annual experience. People often talk about "Santa Claus Conquers the Martians," a film I have yet to get around to seeing, but I can't imagine it holding a candle to this wonderful travesty. Truth be told, I'm sure this "children's film" would succeed in giving many children nightmares, but for the adult who gets a kick out of the occasional bizarre film, this is one for the library! Santa is downright creepy with his inappropriate laughing fits and the odd faces he makes as he plays his organ for the child laborers he uses instead of elves. And, since when does Santa live in heaven and battle Satan? More importantly though, what's up with those freaky toy reindeer that turn to dust if the sunlight hits them? "Santa Claus," despite being badly dubbed (and, according to various sources, badly edited for the dubbed version) and having plenty of print scratches and flaws, is a must have for the collector of Christmas or bizarre DVDs. To put it plainly, this film is a trip!"
My Favorite Santa Movie
Scott | Texas | 12/30/2006
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Okay, I'll admit, I haven't seen too many movies about Santa, but out of the ones I have seen, this Mexican version is by far my favorite.
The first 20 minutes or so of the film are drowned in politically correct boredom, where all of the countries of the world receive special recognition, reminding you why you never want to attend a graduation ceremony if at all possible.
But the film picks up soon afterward. We discover that Lucifer doesn't want Santa to have a successful Christmas this year, so he choses Pitch (one of his devils) to be in charge of wrecking Santa's trip.
Pitch figures: Why stop there? Why not spread evil in other ways as well? So he attempts to get a little girl named Lupita to steal a doll. She refuses because she wants to be good, so Pitch finds three other boys to tempt. He gets them to throw rocks at a store window, and when Santa sees this through his weird talking-telescope he ain't happy.
When Christmas Eve comes, Santa winds up his laughing mechanical reindeer and flies his sleigh down to Earth. You see, he actually lives in outer space, ABOVE the North Pole. Pitch gives Santa all kinds of problems, stealing his sleeping powder and his "flower to disappear." As a result, a viscious dog chases Santa up a tree, cornering him. So Santa has to call on Merlin the magician for help.
Because of all the problems Pitch causes, Santa is only able to visit Mexico City, and by my count he was able to make four different households. Yet the movie implies his trip was a success, and so everyone's happy at the end, and Little Girl Lupita gets the doll she wanted after all."
J. M. Rosekrans | usa | 02/12/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This was a very different kind of movie.Something diffrent than the same old christmas tale.Enjoyed it and glad to have it in my collection."
Creepy holiday fun
skinnyrobbie | NC, USA | 10/08/2008
(4 out of 5 stars)
"As a kid, I saw this film every Christmas at kiddie matinees. It was a tradition, even though it's as dizzying an experience as other movies that bent my young brain from "The Wizard of Oz" to "The Birds". As an adult, I'd mostly forgotten the film until the video generation. No company bothered to release this on VHS, but somehow I found a copy in the $3 bins one Christmas. The VHS tape was recorded at the 6-hour speed, tracking errors from start to finish, drop-outs from cheap manufacturing, etc. It actually put my VCR at risk to even play the tape! But that's ancient history, since we've reached the digital age.
I fully expected to buy 5 or 6 copies of this film before finding a satisfactory copy. The only other edition I own is a lo-fi off-the-air treatment on MST3K. This is the first appearance I have found on DVD, so my expectations were very low (due in part to my endless cynicism earned over the years.) The print is not restored -- and frankly, it's doubtful any historian will ever bother to restore this baby -- but it's still very nice considering the origins and what can usually be expected. No extras or anything like that, which is fine. I don't need filler that I will watch once, if that. The more space available on the disc for the movie itself, the higher the bitrate can be expected. The print is spotty in places, but mostly clean, the brightness and contrast look fine, and the color saturation is bold while never resorting to being hot and muddy.
You can read reviews on the film itself all over the web, I'm just letting you know that for an obscure treasure like this, it's a safe purchase. And the film will likely captivate the younger modern kids still."