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‘RiffTrax Live: Santa Claus Conquers the Martians’ is yuletide fun

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Santa’s little helpers are no longer known as elves; they are now “brownies.” At least that is what they were called during the Dec. 5 presentation of “RiffTrax Live: Santa Claus Conquers the Martians” at Cinemark 14 in Chico.

The guys of RiffTrax (Mike Nelson, Bill Corbett, Kevin J. Murphy) got together for another live riffing at the Belcourt Theater in Nashville, Tenn., and the presentation was streamed to theaters nationwide, courtesy of Fathom Events. This was their third live event this year, and it was also their 10th live event overall. And just in time for the Christmas holiday, the guys dug up the 1964 cheeseball, “Santa Claus Conquers the Martians.”

Preceding this was the short, “Santa Claus and the Fairy Queen,” which is where the audience discovered that the elves were called brownies. The guys claimed that they found this short “in a dumpster outside of the Piggly Wiggly.” An ecstatic brownie named Snoopy took the audience around Santa’s shop and showed all the toys in the building. And yes, the guys made several “Peanuts” references during this short.

The RiffTrax guys took jabs at the characters involved the short, including one called Candy Lion – who informs everyone that he can eat candy – and a Ragedy Ann-looking doll. During the short, there were poorly edited jumps, and the guys assured the audience that they weren’t having a stroke.

For “Santa Claus Conquers the Martians,” the trio did a superb job at tackling a film that many “Mystery Science Theater 3000” fans discovered through the cult show. That particular episode became a cult classic amongst the show’s fan base.

The plot is basically about Martians – a word that only they can use, according to the guys – kidnapping Santa from Earth, so their planet can have one of their own. Also kidnapped are two kids, whom one of the guys referred to as “young Mulder and Scully.” And, of course, you can guess what happens just from the film’s title.

The audience at Cinemark 14 seemed to enjoy the presentation, but there was one person sitting next to the Chico Movie Examiner who kept on saying “Too soon!” after certain jokes. Yet, none of the jokes really seemed to be insensitive or poorly timed, so it’s uncertain why he kept on saying that.

As always, the RiffTrax event had its own special preshow in which the guys create humorous, fake movie quotes and other things. Since this was a holiday special, one of the slide categories was dedicated to horrible stocking stuffer ideas. One example was “Blitzen scat.”

Special thanks to Fathom Events for providing passes to this event.

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