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Santa Claus is a 1959 live action motion picture depicting the adventures of Santa Claus in preparation for and during his annual Christmas rounds. Most commercial adaptations of the Santa Claus legend add a distinctive twist to the traditional story, but this film trumps them all with its depiction of an extraterrestrial Santa doing battle with a demon sent to Earth by Lucifer to ruin Christmas by killing Santa and "making all the children of the Earth do evil."
El Santo Claus was directed by Rene Cardona and written by Cardona and Adolfo Torres Portillo. The original film was produced in Mexico and features primarily Spanish dialog. It should be noted that in the late 1950s Santa Claus remained an unfamiliar figure in much of Mexico, where holiday gift-giving customs still focused on the Magi and their feast day, Epiphany (January 6). Even today, many discussions of Mexican Christmas customs make no mention of Santa Claus, instead focusing on such traditional holiday elements as posadas and pinatas. Santa has become more popular only in recent decades. This helps explain some of the film's... unique take on Santa Claus.
A dubbed and slightly edited English-speaking version was produced for U.S. release in 1960 under the direction of K. Gordon Murray. Santa Claus was considered to be a financial success over several holiday-season theatrical releases in the 1960s and 1970s. Broadcast of the film also became a holiday tradition at several U.S. television stations. The film garnered at least one award, winning the Golden Gate Award for Best International Family Film at the San Francisco International Film Festival in 1959.
Not to be confused with Santa Claus the Movie.
Santa Claus has examples of:
- Affably Evil: Pitch comes across this way, to an extent. He was obviously intended to be evil, but his portrayal is if anything buffoonish.
- Always Camp: Pitch can out-effeminate HIM at times.
- And That's Terrible: Pretty much everything the narrator says about whatever Pitch or Satan do.
- Arch Enemy: Pitch.
- Bad Dreams: Pitch inflicts this on several characters including Lupita.
- Bad Santa: Unintentionally.
- It doesn't help that he has the same voice as Lucifer...
- Black and Gray Morality: Though as the film progresses, it descends into Gray and Gray Morality territory - see Moral Dissonance below for Santa, but Pitch seems less evil than intended.
- Beard of Evil: Pitch, and a case can be made for Santa.
- Bigger Bad: It's often forgotten, but Pitch is shown being charged with his strange mission by Lucifer himself at the beginning of the movie.
- Blind Idiot Translation: The awkwardly-named Flower To Disappear is a good example of this.
- Camp Gay: Pitch
- Captain Obvious with a dose of Viewers are Morons and Lull Destruction: The narrator, who describes every single thing that happens on screen.
- Clockwork Creature: The Laughing Nightmare Reindeer.
- Cool and Unusual Punishment: Satan threatens to dip Pitch in ice-cream if he fails.
- Creepy Doll: Lupita has to face some of these in her Pitch-induced nightmare.
- Culture Equals Costume: Santa's helpers.
- Evil Laugh: The animatronic Santa doesn't sound jolly so much as this.
- The real Santa's laughs aren't much better.
- Pitch has an evil laugh of his own, but it just doesn't compare.
- And don't forget the reindeer. Evil Dead, anyone?
- The Faceless: Satan.
- Fake Nationality: Santa's helpers.
- Flash Step: Apparently, not only can demons teleport, but it sounds like a piano key being struck.
- The Fool: Pitch.
- Goldfish Poop Gang: The trio of "bad boys".
- Good Is Not Nice: Santa.
- Hell: In a Christmas movie? That's... different...
- Laughing Mad: That one laughing reindeer is by far the best example of this.
- Leitmotif: Pitch has one. Appropriately enough for a demonic servant of Lucifer himself, it's...a goofy-sounding bassoon piece.
- Lonely Rich Kid: One of the subplots the film follows is a rich boy whose parents frequently ignore him to go out to parties, even on Christmas. Naturally, he writes a letter to Santa wishing for his parents to come home.
- Mall Santa: The animatronic Santa, in a sense.
- Moral Dissonance: Santa is given a free pass to be at least as evil as Pitch.
- Narrator: The original version of this movie didn't have a narrator.
- Notable Original Music: Notable in that it's pretty bad.
- Oh Crap: Santa has one of these moments when he realises his dreaming powders are gone... and there's a big dog coming right at him.
- And the dog's called Dante.
- Ominous Floating Castle: Santa lives in one.
- Only Six Faces: The multinational groups of Santa's helpers are mostly the same few kids in different costumes.
- Our Demons Are Different: Pitch.
- Playing Against Type: By IMDB's account, Moreno was prior to the film generally cast as gang members, both sympathetic and unsympathetic, and played against type in this film, which is that for which he is most famous. If this is his against type role...
- Public Domain Characters: Featuring a list of characters nobody expects to be in the same movie:
- Robe and Wizard Hat: Merlin.
- Sociopathic Hero(?): Santa
- Take Our Word for It: "He almost ran into the Moon!"
- Take Over the World: Pitch declares that he will rule the world with Santa out of the way. Apart from his plan making very little sense to begin with, not only is he in the service of Lucifer, but the way he says it implies that Santa is the incumbent ruler of the world...
- Trickster Archetype: Pitch.
- Truth Serums: A variation is found in Santa's "Cocktail of Remembrance" which he gives to the rich boy's parents after they've left him alone at home to attend a dinner party.
- Unusual Ears: Pitch.
- Not to mention Santa's "earscope," a satellite dish with a giant plastic ear in the center.
- Upgrade Artifact
- Widget Series: W.M.T. (Weird Mexican Thing), to be exact.