Santa Claus (1959) This film is not really a horror movie but since it had the devil in it I had it on my watch list. Apparently a classic Mexican Christmas movie it is something many people watched all through their childhoods. Since I am really only covering Christmas Horror I will right this review ass if this was a horror film.
Deep in space a malevolent being watches over the planet earth. Confined to his prison for all but one day a year this being is watching and making lists of potential targets. He is Santa Claus (Jose Elias Moreno) living in his crystal prison waiting for his time to return to earth. He is not alone there in his prison, no he has taken many child slaves. Forced into stereotypical grouping by point of origin they are forced to sing for the evil being, an insulting caricature of their society. Then they are forced work tirelessly building trinkets for this man to use to bribe other children in a massive behavior modification plan.
He watches the earth through his giant telescope waiting for December 24th, the one day a year he is allowed to leave his prison, fly to the earth and break into house after house putting his plans into action.
Hidden from him in the hot lava filled interior of the earth is Pitch (Jose Luis Aguirre Trotsky), who against all odds tries throughout the movie to keep children from falling under the spell of Santa. Portrayed as a devil in the film which is really just propaganda for the "Jolly" one. He tries his best to get some kids to ignore the brainwashing and live their own lives. Santa who can see pitch when he comes to the surface is infuriated that anyone is upsetting his plans to have all children behave as he wishes. These three boys who resist Santa are shown as bad because they refuse to be brainwashed and with the help of Pitch may come out of this with their wills intact. Also shown is Lupita (Lupita Quezadas) born to a poor Mexican family all she wants is a toy doll. Her Mother who has already grown up under Santa's influence wants her to be a good girl. This means you have nothing but if you behave in accordance to a strict set of rules and wish very hard maybe the arbitrary Santa will throw a trinket your way. Her Mother (Nora Veryan) knows for all her platitudes to the wonders of Christmas that really the poor often receive nothing. You would think for all the magic Santa has he could help Lupita's father find work, but know helping people is not his game. Getting everyone to act one way, his way is what it is all about.
The third character is the rich boy named Billy (Antonio Diaz Conde hijo) who because he has all the toys and trinkets he wants can't easily be pulled into the Santa scheme. Santa has to get him believing that his parents are too inattentive and should spend every minute with him. When this does not seem to work Santa on Christmas eve actually has to intervene with the parents themselves. He drugs them with a cocktail to make them do as he wishes and that way can get Billy into his army of followers.
On the 24th of December Santa flies to the planet and starts the long process of bribing the children of the world. He is armed with a sleeping powder created by the imprisoned Merlin the magician that when blown into the air puts anyone to sleep so Santa can have his way. On top of this his has a key that unlocks any door making his breaking and entering all the more easy. Sometimes though he still likes to slide into a house through the chimney although it is unclear in the film why he would have to when in possession of a magical key. The last tool of his trade is a magic flower that when sniffed makes the smeller invisible. This way he can very easily escape detection.
Pitch works tirelessly through the night to foil Santa's brainwashing attempts but armed with only ideas he is hard pressed to fight against the magically armed fat man. He tries though and is foiled at every turn. This is what most of the film focuses on. Santa pushing his "everyone behave how I want you too." and I will bribe you with toys, countered by Pitch trying to convince people they are being brainwashed. Like in so many horror movies the end is inevitable with little Lupita being lost in the end with doll in hand she joins the troops of Santa. The three boys who help Pitch are scorned and receive coal in their stockings, but at least retain their free will.
Pitch for his part does everything he can to keep Santa away from kids, heating door locks and even trying to steal Santa's slay but the beast is too strong for him. He tries to get the people of the city to notice him, but help from Merlin keeps the battle a draw and we will have to deal with the voyeuristic pedophile again in the future.
Rating (2.6) 5.0 and up are recommended, some just more recommended than others.