Sunday, November 14, 2021

Santo el enmascarado de plata y Blue Demon contra los monstruos (1970)

... aka: Santo and Blue Demon vs. the Monsters
... aka: Santo y Blue Demon contra los monstruos

Directed by:
Gilberto Martínez Solares

You know you're in good hands when the opening credits not only proudly introduce our wrestling heroes and their co-stars, but also treat all of the monsters just like they're other cast members. We're then off to Arenamex for a battle royale featuring burly female wrestlers as the announcer informs us that "No one would dare face these dangerous representatives of the weaker sex!" That's followed by a tag team match between Blue Demon and his partner Juan Garza, who are facing off against "El gigante de ébano" ("The Ebony Giant") and "El Arabe" ("The Arab"). The crowd only seem to really care about Blue Demon and chant "Blue Demon! Blue Demon! Blue Demon!" over and over again regardless of who's fighting at any given time. Poor Juan Garza may as well not even be there. Needless to say, Blue pummels his black and middle eastern opponents and wins the match. So where is Santo, you ask? Well, he is strangely standing on the sidelines watching the matches and does not participate. I guess it was his day off.

At a cemetery, Otto Halder (Ivan J. Rado) and his daughter Gloria (Hedi Blue) show up for the funeral of Otto's estranged brother, Bruno (Carlos Ancira). A descendant of Transylvanians, Bruno was a brilliant though evil scientist who became world famous for bringing the dead back to life through brain transplant operations and he's passed along his secrets to his faithful hunchback dwarf assistant, Waldo (Santanón). Waldo and a bunch of obedient green-faced zombie henchmen (all former criminals brought back to life), steal Bruno's corpse, take him back to their desert castle home / lab and revive him by putting a metal cap on his head and sticking him in some kind of glass chamber called a "brainwave re-transmitter." Now back to life, Bruno is out for revenge. For what? Well, uh, basically a couple of people made fun of him and called him crazy.

Suspecting something is afoot at the castle, Blue Demon sneaks in to investigate. He's knocked out when one of the zombies beats him with a stick, is tied to a table and then stuck in a tanning bed-like "duplication chamber." A flick of a switch later and Bruno creates an evil duplicate of the wrestler that's "programmed to kill" and will blindly obey Bruno's every order. He hopes to use the clone against Blue Demon's best friend, who happens to be Santo, as well as his brother Otto (who previously mocked his experiments) and niece Gloria, who also happens to be Santo's girlfriend. Small world, eh?

The Blue Demon duplicate and zombies attack Santo and Gloria. The botched kidnapping ends with a car chase and the bad guys getting blow up after their car goes over a cliff and explodes. Still, they all manage to survive and are then sent out by Bruno to round up a bunch of famous monsters to help them in their schemes. They go to a cave and get their hands on bat-eared El Vampiro (David Alvizu), hit up a museum and snatch the geriatric La Momia (Fernando Rosales) and also acquire wolfman El hombre lobo (Vicente Lara), one-eyed plantigrade swamp monster Ciclope (Gerardo Zepeda) and hulking, bolt-necked. copyright-friendly Franquestain (Manuel Leal aka Tinieblas). There's also another strange monster hanging around the lab that looks like a dwarf wearing an oversized, mud-caked alien mask and with a giant exposed brain (!), though it is never named and does absolutely nothing other than just stand there.

A lot of movies make you wait forever to see the monster. This one is having none of that and throws all of its ten cent creations at you right away and gives them all their own little rampage. The wolfman goes to a hut, shreds a couple of villagers (Carlos Suárez, Margarita Delgado) and kills a little boy off-screen. The cyclops (who has a glowing orange eye) kills a fisherman, the vampire sinks his fangs into a couple of dancers (Elsa María Tako, Yolanda Ponce) and transforms them into lingerie-clad vampire brides and the Frankenstein monster attacks a couple necking in the woods, strangles the girl and smashes the guy's head with its foot! Santo is coerced into a wrestling match against El Vampiro, which hilariously ends with the vampire seeing a crucifix, turning into a bat, all the rest of the monsters miraculously materializing in the ring and everyone fighting while spectators flee in terror.

To relieve some tension, Santo, his girl and future father-in-law go to a dinner theater, where we're "treated" to three or four minutes of Adalberto Martínez and a bunch of dancers performing in scenes that seem like they were taken from another movie entirely. That's followed by another (mercifully shorter) musical number performed by three guys on a stage set. Most of the time, however, is spent on horribly-choreographed fight scenes. There's one after another and they usually end with the loser knocked out or presumed dead, springing back and then running off to fight the same cats all over again. Considering the fact this is wrestlers fighting a bunch of rubber-masked monsters we're talking about here, and these scenes are often sped-up Benny Hill style, they always generate more hilarity than excitement.

I actually enjoyed some of the previous Santo adventures non-ironically, especially the b/w Gothic ones. Of course they're all goofy and silly just by their very nature, but some of better ones aren't poorly made and are quite atmospheric. This one, on the other hand, is prime SBIG material all the way! There are a whole lotta adjectives one could use to describe this mess of a movie. Dumb, cheap, childish, plotless, poorly-made, horribly-edited, technically inept... Yet also fast-moving, charmingly daft, hilarious, busy and, best of all, extremely entertaining from start to finish. I enjoyed nearly every ridiculous second.

This was first made available on VHS by Something Weird, who only released a Spanish-language version. The DVD releases from Alter Films out of Mexico and Hannover House out of the U. S. both come with English subtitles.

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