José Elías Moreno in Santa Claus (1959)

Santa & Satan

Where do I start, well if anyone asks you if you want to watch "Santa Claus" find out which movie they are on about first as whilst there is the well known "Santa Claus" from 1985 with Dudley Moore there are others including this 1959 offering from Mexico. And no matter how generous I feel I have to say this 1959 movie is bad, bad acting, bad effects and bad costumes are just some of the numerous issues with it. But to be fair the version which I watched was the dubbed American version, the version which you can find to watch online for free because it is no longer protected by copyright and it is not the best version thanks to the poor dubbing and various other reasons. But more importantly this is a Mexican Christmas movie, which whilst strange when it comes to certain things does hark back to the religious roots of Santa being Saint Nicholas and so when I say Santa has to deal with Satan and his minion Pitch, it isn't completely ridiculous.

Christmas Eve is near and Santa (José Elas Moreno) at his palace in the heavens above the North Pole is preparing to go out and bring joy to all the good little boys and girls especially two little Mexican children, one who wishes his wealthy parents would spend more time with him, the other a little girl whose family is too poor to buy her a doll. But Satan plans to rain on Santa's parade and sends his minion Pitch (José Luis Aguirre) to Earth to turn children bad and so putting Santa out of a job.

Let me say this because whilst "Santa Claus" is an undeniably bad movie with lots of reviews ripping it to shreds the whole aspect of Santa having to deal with Satan is not totally far fetched. Whilst the popular, commercialised version of Santa just has him as a gift giver the roots are in religion with him being Saint Nicholas and so the whole Satan aspect whilst poorly handled isn't completely ridiculous. Plus whilst I am no expert on Mexican culture I am sure their interpretation of Santa varies to other nationalities with quirks which feel strange to those not brought up with them.

But having got that out the way with this 1959 movie is still bad with some terrible sets, terrible costumes, terrible acting and some very strange scenes. There is a scene where the young girl who wishes she could have a doll for Christmas has a dream featuring dancing dolls, very creepy dancing dolls with over sized heads. The dancing doll scene is not the only weirdness as from Santa's palace in the sky to Pitch wearing a red body suit and pantaloons it is all really strange which coupled with the bad acting makes it an unforgettably strange experience.

Here is the thing "Santa Claus" currently sits in the list of the 100 worst movies on imdb and I question whether it deserves that spot. It seems to me that taken in context, that of being a Mexican movie from the 1950s it certainly doesn't deserve to be in that list even when watched now. But I guess most of the low votes which have lead it to be there are from those who have watched the poorly dubbed version who find Santa doing battle with Satan all a bit too strange and not fitting with the commercialised version of Santa.

What this all boils down to is that "Santa Claus" is a bad movie and I haven't even mentioned the white wind up reindeer or that Santa doesn't have elves but uses child labour from around the world or that he works with Merlin the wizard. But it isn't, unbelievably, not completely terrible, just another countries interpretation of Santa, made for children and from a bygone era.

Tags: Christmas Movies