Ratings Key



★★★★
= Excellent. The best the genre has to offer.
★★★
1/2 = Very Good. Perhaps not "perfect," but undoubtedly a must-see.
★★★ = Good. Accomplishes what it sets out to do and does it well.
★★1/2 = Fair. Clearly flawed and nothing spectacular, but competently made. OK entertainment.
★★ = Mediocre. Either highly uneven or by-the-numbers and uninspired.
1/2 = Bad. Very little to recommend.
= Very Bad. An absolute chore to sit through.
NO STARS! = Abysmal. Unwatchable dreck that isn't even bad-movie amusing.
SBIG = So Bad It's Good. Technically awful movies with massive entertainment value.

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Santo en el museo de cera (1963)

... aka: Argos contro le 7 maschere di cera (Argos vs. the 7 Wax Masks)
... aka: Samson in the Wax Museum
... aka: Santo Contra os Monstros do Museu de Cera (Santo vs. the Wax Museum Monsters)
... aka: Santo in the Wax Museum

Directed by:
Alfonso Corona Blake
Manuel San Fernando (U.S. version)

Strange things are underway at El Museo de Cera Dr. Karol (Dr. Karol's Wax Museum). And by strange things I mean most of the same things that had already gone down in such classics as Mystery of the Wax Museum (1932) and House of Wax (1953). A young couple arrive there just in time to take part in Dr. Karol's (Claudio Brook) informative tour. They see wax figures of actor Gary Cooper, Mexican revolutionary hero Francisco “Pancho” Villa, French serial killer and real life “Bluebeard” Henri Désiré Landru, Gandhi, Joseph Stalin and others. Joseph-Ignace Guillotine is also shown with what the doctor calls his most famous invention, which he adds he also became the first victim of. It's a good thing Dr. Karol has his other talents because he'd make for one lousy history teacher (Guillotine neither invented nor died by the guillotine). Dr. Karol notes that he has a “special process” to make his figures but, just like the Colonel's 11 herbs and spices, he ain't telling anyone. He will however show you what's cooking in his showroom...

Karol takes the tour group down a long flight of stairs into a dark cave where he keeps his all of his spookier star attractions. These include Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, the Phantom of the Opera, the Frankenstein monster, a werewolf “bitten by the Abominable Snowman in Tibet” and Quasimodo. The public isn't so interested in the historical figures and want more monsters... and who is Dr. Karol to let them down?




Photographer Susana Mendoza (Roxana Bellini) shows up asking to take pictures of the figures for a magazine article she and writer Ricardo Carbajal (Rubén Rojo), who also happens to be engaged to her sister Gloria (Norma Mora), are working on. Dr. Karol agrees but asks her to return later on to do the follow-up questions and take more photos. Susana does just that but when she arrives she's startled at the doctor's odd behavior and makes a quick exit. On her walk back home she's attacked and kidnapped by a facially-scarred man who was first seen snatching up a male in the same spot in the opening sequence. Gloria and Ricardo become concerned when Susana doesn't return home. After an old woman returns a camera she'd dropped in the park they know something is up and get in touch with the cops. The police chief (Jorge Mondragón) assigns Inspector Fernández (Víctor Velázquez) to the case, but I think we all know who's ultimately going to end up saving the day.








Considering Susana isn't the first person to disappear after visiting the wax museum, the Inspector goes to see Dr. Karol, who insists he's innocent. Karol even has his professor friend Armando Galván (José Luis Jiménez) call his good buddy Santo in to help. Santo's (of course!) busy wrestling, but he eventually shows up and becomes convinced that Dr. Karol is innocent once he thwarts an assassination attempt. A look into Karol's past reveals he was a concentration camp survivor and, after he relocated to the U.S. in 1950, survived a murder attempt when someone attempted to kill him with acid, hideously scarring his hands and body in the process. Maybe it's the same guy trying to kill him again? Well, actually, nope. It's all a carefully orchestrated plot by the doctor to cover his ass because he's up to the usual mad doctor things... Like dreaming of creating a world of physically deformed beings to reflect the anguish he feels inside.








In Karol's hidden underground lab he's working hard at creating some real "monsters" by disfiguring people one of his two faithful henchmen (Fernando Osés and “Leon Moreno” / Nathanael León) have kidnapped for him. For those who get in the way or threaten to expose him, a large smoking cauldron of acid wax awaits. As for all of the creations in his downstairs monster exhibit, they were once human and they're all actually still alive but kept in check with an injection that freezes them in place. He's holding Susana prisoner there in hopes of eventually turning her into (shades of Dr. Moreau) a “Panther Woman.” Oh yes, and Karol hasn't seemed to age over the years for some reason. Maybe he uses the freezing solution on his face. Maybe he invented Botox in his spare time. We're never really told.








I had a bit more fun with this one than I did with SANTO VS. THE VAMPIRE WOMEN (1962). It could have a little to do with the fact I was able to find a decent print in its original language with English subtitles, or it could have to do with me being a sucker for wax museum movies but either way I found this a bit more enjoyable. There's probably nothing here you haven't seen before but it's all good, clean, old-fashioned fun. Unlike with Vampire Women, which had several painfully long wrestling bouts interjected in, this one features three wrestling matches but at least this time they're shorter (2-3 minutes apiece instead of 10). In the strangest one, Santo wrestles a prissy Frenchman with powdered hair who prances around and is laughed at by the audience!




This is technically the eighth film featuring Santo and was released theatrically in Mexico City in the summer of 1963. Spain got the film a year later and it played theatrically in the U.S., too, as a Spanish-language-only release distributed by Azteca Films. In 1965, it was dubbed into English and sold with a package of other foreign films to TV by K. Gordon Murray and AIP-TV. A third Santo movie, Santo contra los zombies (1962), was also English dubbed and released to American TV under the new title Invasion of the Zombies. It was distributed by an obscure company called Television Entertainment, who also handled the U.S. release of the Mexican Neutron series.

★★1/2

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