‘This is Santa’s Magic Observatory. What wonderful instruments! The Ear Scope! The Teletalker, that knows everything! The Cosmic Telescope! The Master Eye! Nothing that happens on Earth is unknown to Santa Claus.’
Santa Claus lives in an outer space palace with Merlin the forgetful magician. Work carries on all year round in his celestial toyshop where little children of many different nationalities help to make presents for their terrestrial counterparts. In the run up to Christmas, a demon called Pitch is despatched from Hades to Earth; his mission being to convince children to misbehave and sabotage the big day.
We should all be grateful to film distributor K. Gordon Murray, who imported films from Mexico in the 1950s and 60s, and had them dubbed for release to the American market. Without his tireless efforts on our behalf, we might never have met the Aztec Mummy or made the acquaintance of the Brainiac. On the other hand, we would have been spared the spectacular banality of Kris Kringle, his clockwork reindeer and the cinematic equivalent of binging on the most tasteless candy you can imagine. Yes, it’s an endless procession of toe-curling vignettes guaranteed to dissolve tooth enamel on contact.
The action begins at the toyshop, where Santa is suffering from some strange nervous affliction that causes him to chuckle non-stop. He pounds a big keyboard as toddlers in national costume deliver one whiny song after another in a sequence that goes on for longer than the opening ceremony of the average Olympic Games, and manages to be even less interesting. Bad guy Pitch is bright red with horns and convinces 3 naughty boys to throw rocks at a shop window. Ooooh. But he can’t persuade poor little goody two shoes Lampita to steal a dolly. The timeless battle between good and evil has rarely been depicted in such gripping terms.
Director Rene Cardona had been directing films since 1927 and had covered most of the genres: crime, western, science fiction, musical comedy, wrestling. In fact, he introduced us to Gloria Venus & The Golden Rubi – those wonderful ‘Wrestling Women’ – in ‘Doctor of Doom’ (1963). He remade that film as ‘Night of the Bloody Apes’ (1969), which was banned in the UK in the early 1980s as part of the trumped-up ‘video nasty’ scandal.
So he might not have been the most obvious candidate to bring us this heartwarming tale of festive cheer and, hang on, perhaps things actually aren’t as simple as they first appear. Let’s take a closer look. Here we have a guy living in splendour in a gold and crystal palace. He employs only children in his workshop (sweatshop) and all we find out about their working ‘terms and conditions’ is that he feeds them ice cream made from clouds (of dubious nutritional value). He uses a giant telescope to watch the children on Earth to see what they’re up to without their knowledge (covert surveillance!) and even looks inside their dreams and thoughts (a disgraceful invasion of privacy and the dream of every government everywhere). He also takes special powder with him on his trip to Earth to bestow ‘happy dreams’ (opiates for the masses). But it gets worse. He gives gifts (bribes!) to those children who have conformed to his behavioural dictates and ideologies and excludes the rest. There’s no escaping it; Santa is a megalomaniacal, drug dealing, capitalist dictator!
We need to get Edward Snowden in there pronto. Santa must be stopped! Join the fight today! Your planet needs you! Do you want to hear more?