Attack of the ‘B movies’

A friend and I were walking innocently through Target one day during the holiday season, and that’s when we spotted “it.”

It was in one of the bargain bins, and we knew we just couldn’t pass it up. It was a movie called “Santa Claus Conquers the Martians,” and it was only a dollar. (And yes, that is a real movie, and yes, $1 was too high a price to pay for it.) Yet our sense of curiosity ultimately got the better of us; we knew it had to be bad, but we couldn’t resist finding out HOW bad.

We weren’t disappointed. I’ve seen a lot of badly made movies, but this one really took the cake. I won’t go into great detail about the plot — just know it involves a group of Martians kidnapping Santa Claus and taking him back to Mars because their children are depressed there is no Christmas on Mars. And it goes downhill from there.

The acting, the dialogue, the costumes, the set design, the plot, the music — all of it was terrible. Yet I’ve always maintained that once a movie reaches a certain level of awfulness, it becomes so bad it’s actually funny. My friend and I laughed so hard through “Santa Claus Conquers the Martians,” and by the end, we were in tears.

I’ll admit it — I’ve got a soft spot for “B movies.” Like I said before, they have to be so ridiculously bad you can’t help laughing; if they’re not over-the-top or cheesy enough, they’re miserable to sit through (for example, “Batman and Robin” wasn’t bad enough to be funny — it was just painful). The made-for-TV Syfy Channel movies are priceless (how can you not love “Mega Shark Versus Giant Octopus”?)

Sometimes the movies are unintentionally bad, and other times you can tell the writers know the film has no budget and no chance to be good, so they decide they might as well have as much fun with the concept as they can. The “Mystery Science Theater 3000” makes these bad movies even funnier by providing commentaries and wisecracks on such cinematic treasures as “Attack of the Giant Leeches” and “The Saga of the Viking Women and Their Voyage to the Waters of the Great Sea Serpent.”

I probably could have found a better way to spend that dollar I paid to watch “Santa Claus Conquers the Martians,” but I still pull it out whenever I need a laugh. The quality of the movie wasn’t worth paying a dollar, but the fun we got out of it definitely was.


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