Christmas on Mars Review
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Each year, musicians everywhere get in the holiday spirit by releasing their very own holiday album. But psychedelic rockers The Flaming Lips decided not to celebrate the holiday season like everyone else—by releasing yet another cover of “Jingle Bell Rock.” Instead, they’ve chosen to release their very own holiday movie. The result is a bizarre sci-fi adventure involving Santa Claus suicide, a little green man, and disturbingly graphic outer-space hallucinations. Ho ho ho!

In Christmas on Mars, a ship full of space settlers are slowly coming to the realization that people just weren’t meant to live in space. Nothing is going as well as they’d planned—and, to make matters worse, their ship seems to be falling apart. With their oxygen levels dropping, various members of the crew are starting to hallucinate. Others are simply wandering the ship, preaching doom and gloom.

  
 
When one of the crew members—dressed in his Santa suit—decides to end it all by walking off the ship, it puts a serious damper on the uplifting Christmas party that Major Syrtis (Flaming Lips musician Steven Drozd) was trying to plan for his shipmates. And after Syrtis retrieves the suit off the body, the only other willing Santa he can find is a mute Martian (writer, co-director, and Flaming Lips singer/songwriter Wayne Coyne) who was found wandering around outside the ship.

Christmas on Mars is a bizarre (and often disturbing) cross between a cheesy, low-budget ‘60s sci-fi flick, an experimental art film, and that kind of goofy home movie that you used to make with your friends when you were kids. Most of it is filmed in fuzzy black and white, with the occasional shot of psychedelic Technicolor—and it’s accompanied by an eerie instrumental sci-fi score.

For some (okay…many) of you, that might be reason enough to stay away from this unconventional holiday film. But I actually enjoy the occasional cheesy old sci-fi movie—so I stuck with it, eager to see what kind of wacky outer-space hijinks would ensue. Unfortunately, though, the time I spent watching Christmas on Mars could very well have been the longest and most confusing 84 minutes of my life. The pace is painfully slow, and the plot is just plain confounding. It seems that there wasn’t much of a script, either—so it’s generally filled with meaningless profanity, awkward pauses, and strange, long-winded psychobabble.

To quote a line from Major Syrtis, “Hold on. Somethin’…somethin’ is weird in here.”

Yes it is, Major Syrtis…yes it is. And you, my dull, hallucinating space friend, are right in the middle of all that weirdness—you and your bloody baby…and your creepy astronauts…and your Technicolor alien.

So if you’re looking for some wacky, unconventional holiday entertainment this year, steer clear of Christmas on Mars and stick with the cheesy (and less disturbing) holiday cult classic, Santa Claus Conquers the Martians.

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