by Curt Holman
One of my favorite holiday traditions is watching the Santa Claus episode from "Mystery Science Theatre 3000." "MST3K" spoofed two Christmas movies, first taking on Santa Claus Conquers the Martians (a film best known for launching the career of Pia Zadora). It's amusing, but doesn't come close to the hilarity of Santa Claus, a 1959 Christmas film from Mexico that's so completely weird, you want to deny its existence even as you watch it. The story involves Santa Claus matching wits with the devil (specifically, an imp with horns and red tights named Pitch) while trying to distribute presents to the good little children on Christmas Eve. At one point Santa's pal Merlin helps out. The whole thing is on YouTube.
The episode features many immortal moments, including some maniacally laughing reindeer, but I particularly like the scenes in Santa's magic observatory with his rather disturbing gizmos, like the Ear Scope, the Master Eye and the Pleasure Mouth. In the clip below, the observatory scenes run for the first two minutes, and then from the six minute mark on. You also may enjoy the way Pitch says "Curses!" at 5:32 .
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