Every Christmas season, I try to discover some new hidden gem that was best left forgotten in the back of the holiday closet with the unused bows, broken ornaments and strands of annoying tinsel. Several years ago, I discovered one such flick and decided to revisit it this year for Monster Movie Kid. Behold this year’s treasure known as Le Martien de Noel aka The Christmas Martian (1971).
Okay, treasure is a word that should never be used with this hour-long journey. The Christmas Martian is a French Canadian movie clearly designed for children. Some sources credit it as being the first independently made feature-length Canadian children’s film. That said, how many other such films have been made? Probably more than most of us know or remember. The plot is simple enough as we have a Martian (Marcel Sabourin) visiting a small town in Quebec. His saucer, which looks straight out of Plan 9 From Outer Space, is need of some repairs and he is also exploring Earth as his people believed the planet to be deserted. As he travels throughout town, innocently spreading panic amongst the townsfolk of little green invaders from Mars, he becomes friends with Cathy and Frank.
The Martian sports one of the most unique visions of our intergalactic neighbors I’ve ever seen. He is wearing some type of scuba diving suit with a multi-colored vest and an odd fishnet. Most of the movie deals with silly sequences in the snow and random conversations between the Martian and the children. Once he gets the saucer moving again, he takes them for a ride and, courtesy of some various stock footage, we see various places around Earth, such as the North Pole and the Sierra Desert. The children see his innocence but once the townspeople discover the rumors of invaders are real, they decide to seek out the alien and kill it, as most smallminded humans usually seem to do.
This little film might have been better if it would have about half the running time. It reminded me of some of those foreign films that always popped up on the CBS Children’s Film Festival on Saturday mornings with Kukla, Fran and Ollie. It suffers from a nonsensical script written by Roch Carrier and the haphazard directorial style of Bernard Gosselin. However, since neither of them was an experienced filmmaker and they reportedly ran out of money before finishing it, the end result is a bit of an odd mess.
The cast is mostly actors who never made another film again. The one exception being the Martian himself, Marcel Sabourin, who is a well accomplished actor. His American credits include The Sum of All Fears (2002) and The Hitman (1991). He is also well-known for several Quebec children’s TV shows.
The Christmas Martian won’t surpass other Christmas oddities like Santa Claus (1959) or The Magic Christmas Tree (1964) on the so-bad-it’s-good scale but the cheap special effects are fun to laugh at. Just brace yourself for one of the most horrendous end title theme songs you’ll ever hear. If you’re looking for something different to watch this year and have an hour to kill, you can watch the film on YouTube. It’s better than your aunt’s fruitcake…but not by much.