“What is Christmas?” someone asks in this no-budget sci-fi children’s movie. The answer: “It’s a Christian holiday ruined by commercialism?” Wait, that’s Joel Hodgson on Mystery Science Theater 3000, which made merry mincemeat of the film in a classic 1991 episode (available on Rhino Video). “Shield your eyes, Frank,” Dr. Forrester warns at the beginning of a plot that has Martians kidnapping Santa, who enumerates his reindeer as “Prancer and Dancer and Dunder and Blitzen and Vixen and Nixon.” One of the Martian kids is a 9-year-old, puce-faced Pia Zadora (Joel: “Go play with your Golden Globe Award that we bought for you”), and there’s a tacky robot named Torgen (“It’s a guy in a cardboard box with a coffee urn on his head”). Toward the end, when the show-bizzy, borderline-gay Martians are arrested, Tom Servo cracks, “Don’t forget to read ’em their Carmen Miranda rights.” Joel seems pained by the whole experience — “I almost feel like I shouldn’t be watching” — but the MST3Kgang makes it a pleasure. Bad was rarely so good.
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