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Santa Claus (episode)

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521 - Santa Claus
Air Date December 24, 1993
MST3K Director Jim Mallon
Movie Director Rene Cardona
Year 1959
Cast José Elías Moreno
Cesáreo Quezadas 'Pulgarcito'
José Luis Aguirre 'Trotsky'
Preceded by 520 - Radar Secret Service
Followed by 522 - Teen-Age Crime Wave

Ho-ho-ho! I'm here to kick butt and lick candy canes, and I'm all out of candy canes!
  — Santa about to fight Pitch in Deep 13

The Movie



"I have no idea what my emotions are suppose to be"

Santa Claus, high above the North Pole in his cloud-borne castle equipped with surveillance devices, has his legion of kidnapped child labor prepare presents to deliver on Christmas Eve. Santa is especially interested in helping Lupita (Lupita Quezadas), the daughter of a poor family who wants nothing more than a doll, and a young boy whose parents are so wealthy they never spend any time with him. However, the Devil will have none of this and sends his minion, Pitch, to foil Santa's plans. Pitch, in turn, recruits three naughty boys to help him set traps for Santa.[1] Merlin the magician provides Santa Claus with supernatural assistance: powders to keep children asleep, a golden key that opens everything, and a flower that makes him invisible. Wacky hi-jinks ensue.



Pitch in Santa Claus

  • This movie is public domain, so it’s played frequently in the original Spanish during the holiday season. As a result (as strange as it may seem), it has become a cherished holiday tradition for many Spanish-speaking TV viewers worldwide.
  • The movie is closely examined in an extra track on the Shout! Factory release by Kevin Murphy, cult film archivist Charles Kilgore, and Mexican film historian David Wilt . Some of the more salient points made:
  • Santawatches

    Santa watches us

    In the late 1950s in Mexico, 'Santa Claus' was a (literally) foreign concept. While not unknown, Santa was very much a gringo construct: children didn't get their presents at Christmas from Santa, but from the three magi of the New Testament. And speaking of...
  • The idea of Santa Claus as a sort of "holy superhero" is bandied about. Here we have a character with comic book gadgets and superpowers, battling a direct minion of Satan. Does that make Santa an alliterative Christ figure? Maybe... But then why is he shown early in the movie assembling a creche?
  • Santa5
    The movie was a very ambitious project for the time and place. Just filming in color was an extravagance (Kevin Murphy describes the effect of the garish, oversaturated color as "like being hit in the face with a clown"); the large and fairly complex sets also added to the cost. The Mexican film industry had never really done either fantasy or sci-fi up until this point, so the set designers seem to have been given a surprisingly free rein to do whatever they wanted.
  • This film did not receive a general release in the United States. The U.S. distributor, K. Gordon Murray, booked the film as a special children's matinée attraction in which the film would only be shown once or twice.
  • While billed simply as "El Diablo" ("The Devil") in the credits, Pitch's character name in the original version is "Precio" ("Price").

The Episode

Host Segments


TV's Frank gives Dr. F his gift

Prologue: Mike and the Bots' attempt to sing carols ends in disaster when Mike knocks over the thermos full of nice, very hot chocolate. 


Gypsy gives Mike a sweater

Segment One: As the SOL crew recovers from their carolling injuries, Frank reveals has shaved his head to buy Dr. F a watch fob. Dr. F signs over an old savings bond since he forgot to get a present for Frank. On the SOL, Crow gets a Steve Alaimo album, Tom Servo gets a drug and IV handbook, Mike gets a sweater with "Joike" knitted on it (Gypsy started it for "the other guy"), and Gypsy receives underwear-in-a-candy-cane. Frank laments the loss of his hair for nothing, as Dr. F tells "Mark" this week's movie, telling him "it's a well thought out documentary about the Crimean War", only for Frank to angrily shout "It's a stupid Mexican kids movie!!!"

MST3k Santa Klaus rock band on the SOL

"We are Santa Klaws!"

Segment Two: Rock band Santa Kläws performs "Whispering Christmas Warrior". The Mads respond in true rock fan fashion.

Segment Three: The Bots have arranged a Nelson family reunion via the Hexfield Viewscreen - except they got the wrong Nelson family. Turns out there are not only thousands of Nelsons on Earth, but Mike isn't from Green Bay.

MST3k Santa Claus Deep 13 Host Segment- Santa Claus & Pitch visit

Pitch (played by Paul Chaplin) visits Deep 13

Segment Four: Mike and the Bots sing an all-inclusive politically correct holiday song: "Merry Christmas...If That’s Okay".

Segment Five: Mike is clearing up the wrapping paper from opening Christmas presents, but is feeling a little sad. However, Gypsy points out the window of the SOL that it's snowing, giving the crew on the SOL a snow day! Meanwhile, back in Deep 13, the devil Pitch is having a snack with the Mad Scientists. As Pitch outlines his plans for the New Year, bells can be heard and Santa Claus himself bursts onto the scene and begins to spar with Pitch. Dr Forrester and TV's Frank happily watch the scuffle unfold.

Stinger: A maniacal mechanical reindeer laughs

Other Notes

Guest Stars


  • Unusual credits: An instrumental version of "Merry Christmas...If That's Okay" is played instead of "Mighty Science Theater".


Obscure References

  • "Ted Danson's comedy school."
In a rather bizarre incident, Ted Danson performed a monologue in blackface at a Friar's Club roast of Whoopi Goldberg, who he was dating at the time. She wasn't impressed, and the relationship ended soon afterwards.
  • "What is this, Sliver?"
Said in reference to Santa's many observation devices. Sliver is a 1993 thriller in which voyeurism was a key plot element, hence the reference.
  • "I think David Byrne stole this music."
A reference to Talking Heads frontman David Byrne.
  • "A Steve Alaimo album?!"
Steve Alaimo was a pop singer and teen idol during the early 1960s. He starred in episode 207 - Wild Rebels.
  • "I love him! I love him! And where he goes I'll follow..."
Lyrics from I Will Follow Him sung by Little Peggy March.
  • "Children on the verge of a nervous breakdown!"
A reference to the 1988 Spanish film Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown.
  • "Bertolucci is brought in to direct this scene."
A reference to Bernardo Bertolucci, and The Last Emperor (as the comment is made during the Chinese children's singing).
  • "Okay, back to cram school!"
Cram schools, a common phenomenon in Japan, are a type of private school that offers intensive tutoring for standardized tests and examinations.
  • "Don't say anything to upset them!"
Servo is quoting John Cleese's observation about German tourists from his mid-1970s sitcom Fawlty Towers.
  • "Get up, stand up...stand up for your rights!"
Mike is quoting the Bob Marley song "Get Up, Stand Up".
  • "Puppet Master III!"
Puppet Master III was a 1991 direct-to-video horror movie about evil living puppets.
  • "It's the 'Trilogy of Terror' dolls!"
Trilogy of Terror was a made-for-TV anthology horror movie from 1975, with one memorable segment about Zuni fetish dolls.
  • "The J. Paul Getty, Jr.-scope!"
A reference to oil heir John Paul Getty III, who was kidnapped in 1973 by captors who eventually cut off one of his ears.
  • "I was born in a house my father built..."
Richard M. Nixon opened his memoirs with this line.
  • "The minute Yossarian..."
The opening line from Catch-22.
  • "Please Mr. Ruth...Hit a home run!"
The young boy brings to mind the final scene from The Babe Ruth Story: where a young cancer patient asks Babe Ruth to hit a home run for him. Babe Ruth not only fulfills this promise, but upon doing so the young cancer patient is seemingly cured. This sappy scene earned the movie a reputation for one of the worst and wholly inaccurate biopics ever made.
  • "Did he say 'Blessed are the cheesemakers'?"
Crow is quoting a line from the Monty Python movie Life of Brian.
  • "I'm more popular than Jesus!"
A reference to the infamous statement attributed to John Lennon of The Beatles, and the contradictory celebration of the two Christmas icons.
  • "Jim J. Bullock is more frightening than that devil!"
Actor Jim J. Bullock is best known for playing the non-threatening character Monroe Ficus on the 1980s sitcom Too Close for Comfort.
  • "All he has to do is use the magic dreaming powder made by Mr. Merlin!" "And Mr. Owsley!"
Chemist Owsley Stanley was San Francisco's largest producer of LSD during the late 1960s.
  • "Red Adair is brought in to extinguish the fire!"
Red Adair was a famous oil-field firefighter.
  • "Summer of My German Stormtrooper!"
The Summer of My German Soldier is a novel about an American girl who befriends an escaped German POW during World War II.
  • "A young Barton Fink!"
Barton Fink was a 1991 film directed by the Coen Brothers.
  • "What is this, 'Home Alone 3: The Quickening'?"
The Quickening was the subtitle of the second "Highlander" movie (and in general refers to the power surge that results when one of the immortal warriors beheads another).
  • "Flaming Moe's!"
Flaming Moe's was a Simpsons episode in which Moe the bartender takes credit for a flaming cocktail invented by Homer.
  • "Moms Mabley!"
Moms Mabley was an African-American comedian who began her career on the so-called "chitlin circuit", then became popular among white audiences during the 1960s.
  • "Hosni Mubarak!"
Hosni Mubarak was president of Egypt from 1981 to 2011.
  • "It's the last episode of 'A.K.A. Pablo'."
A.K.A. Pablo was a short-lived sitcom from the mid-1980s.
  • "I'm here to eat candy canes and kick ass, and I'm all out of candy canes!"
Stated during the final host segment, this is a parody of a line from the 1988 movie They Live.
  • "I've written a letter to Daddy..."
The signature song of former child star "Baby" Jane Hudson from the film What Ever Happened to Baby Jane?
  • "and when you awaken... You'll be Rick Wakeman"
Rick Wakeman a British born keyboard player famous for playing in the band "Yes ".
  • "The giant turtle named Gamera is about to attack the city."
The third and final reference in the episode to a previous movie experiment, Mike is openly stating the Gamera franchise character.
  • "I feel the need. The need for speed."
Crow is referencing the famous quote from the Tom Cruise 80s film Top Gun.
  • "There's a man outside....""His name is Jim, he asked if I could marry him."
Paraphrased from the song The Boys in My Little Girl's Life by Mike Douglas and recited sometimes by school children.
  • "I want to live in America, Cadillacs zoom in America..."
Lyrics from the song "America" from the stage musical and film West Side Story.
From a song by Taylor Dean
  • "The only thing this child wants..." "Is fear itself!"
A parody of a famous speech by FDR.
  • "Clap on, Clap off"
Parody of the commercial for The Clapper
  • "I love him, I love him, and where he goes I'll follow..."
Lyrics from the song "I Will Follow Him".
  • "Cop killer, c-c-c-cop killer..."
Parody of the song Cop Killer by Ice-T's band Body Count
  • "Next up in the Jr. vocal category...Thailand"
Parody of the late Ed McMahon and his show Star Search
  • "I'm Martha Raye!"
The doll seen during Lupita's dream sequence resembles the late comedy actress Martha Raye
  • "It's a Rue McClanahan doll!"
Lupita's huge dolly looks like the late actress Rue McClanahan from Mama's Family and The Golden Girls.
  • "Relax, it's just Keith Magnuson!!"
Former NHL player, tough guy Keith Magnuson
  • "Jamie Farr!"
The devil resembles the actor best known as Corporal Max Klinger from TV's M*A*S*H, Jamie Farr
  • "I suppose hell got an NEA grant?"
The National Endowments for the Arts has been known to give funding to sometimes controversial projects.
  • "Hey look! The ghost of Ross Perot"
Ross Perot ran for President in 1992.
  • "Think I'll go have a Rumple minze"
Santa wants a peppermint-flavored liquor, Rumple Minze
  • "Ma Barker's Killer Brood"
Killer Brood is a low budget crime film released in 1960.
MST3K 521 Promos01:16

MST3K 521 Promos

  • "Would you shut the bloody organ grinder up!?"
A reference to Monty Python's Cheese Shop Sketch
  • "It's Rob and Laura!"
The bedroom is reminiscent of the Dick van Dyke Show

Various other in-jokes are delivered here:

  • Tom makes various Three Stooges noises such as a "Ne-ahh-ah" (once when Santa's unusual gadget device is first shown; a second time during the chaotic finale for the film).
  • While the three mischievous children are sitting on the sidewalk in their first scene together, Mike mumbles the theme for The Little Rascals series.
  • When Santa opens his mouth and starts yelping during the ending, Tom lets out his best impression of a Tarzan yodel.
  • The segment of Frank and Forrester exchanging gifts is a parody of O. Henry's Gift of the Magi. The story was earlier parodied by the Mads in Santa Claus Conquers the Martians.

Video Release


MST3K DVD cover

Commercially released on DVD by Shout Factory in December 2009 as part of The Mystery Science Theater 3000 Collection: Volume 16, a 4-DVD set with The Corpse VanishesNight of the Blood Beast, and Warrior of the Lost World.

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