Screened Saturday, October 11, 2008
In 2001 Flaming Lips frontman Wayne Coyne conceived Christmas on Mars, a disorienting sci-fi feature that follows a small band of colonists who have settled on the red planet. Flaming Lips member Steven Drozd plays Major Syrtis, a man who tries to lift spirits in the colony by arranging a Christmas pageant to celebrate the impending birth of the first baby on the planet. Unfortunately the man Syrtis chooses to portray Santa commits suicide and a vital part of the space station has malfunctioned, and its inhabitants fear that their days are numbered. Syrtis also suffers from a series of hallucinations, mostly involving oversized vaginas. But the sudden appearance of a green-skinned alien, played by Coyne, changes everything. Coyne and his gallant cast and crew produced Christmas on Mars on a minuscule budget. The creaking sets, most of which were constructed in the director’s backyard, only add an endearing, and frequently amusing, air to the proceedings. The amateurish performances from a cast of nonprofessional actors are often played for laughs, and their efforts are broken up by cameos from stars such as Fred Armisen and Adam Goldberg. Christmas on Mars) ultimately harks back to the kind of surrealist midnight movies that found favor in the 1970s, such as the Monkees’ _Head or Alejandro Jodorowsky’s The Holy Mountain, and is likely to attract an audience looking for similar far-out thrills.