Aug 182011

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8. Santo and the Blue Demon vs. the Monsters

Year: 1970
Director: Gilberto Martinez Solares
Writer: Rafael García Travesi, Jesús Sotomayor Martínez
Cast: Santo, Blue Demon, Jorge Rado, Carlos Ancira
Country: Mexico

Spoilers ahead.

What would a cult column be without a Mexican wrestling film? The Santo films are absurdly popular around the world, if you’re unfamiliar El Santo is a Mexican wrestling hero who on principle never removes his mask (a badge of honour in Luchadore wrestling) He finds himself fighting the forces of evil in this series of Mexican luchadore films and the evil ranges from witches to aliens to zombies to the all-out mayhem of this offering. Santo was an incredibly popular wrestler, one of the most beloved in the history of the sport, and in the 1950s a comic book about his adventures was started, one that would run for over three decades. His popularity was at such a height during the period that he was invited to make some films, and in 1958 he made his big screen-debut in The Evil Brain. The film flopped, possibly down to the fact that Santo was cast as the sidekick of the lead. Santo’s movie career really started in 1961 with Santo vs the Zombies, his first headliner. Santo would go on to make over 50 films, all of which followed the same rough storyline. Santo is a wrestler/superhero, he comes in contact with B-movie evil, he wins. Everybody’s happy.

As fun as all the Santo films are this is possibly his greatest and most insane outing. When scientist Dr. Halder dies, his servant Waldo, a bald hunchbacked dwarf, steals the body from the crypt and takes him back to Halder’s secret laboratory, in a cave hidden underneath a castle. Waldo uses his master’s equipment to revival Halder’s corpse. Halder is an evil genius who intends to create an army of zombies to take over the world. He’s also seeking revenge on his brother Otto and niece Gloria who denounced his experiments. Unluckily for him, Gloria’s boyfriend is El Santo and El Santo’s best friend is fellow luchadore, the Blue Demon. Halder’s zombies can’t take down Santo and the Blue Demon, so he resurrects five monsters, an amphibious cyclops, Dracula, Frankenstein’s Monster, the Mummy and the Wolf Man. The costumes are close enough to the Universal standards to be familiar but ghetto enough to avoid copyright claims. Dracula creates himself a couple of vampiress slaves. Halder also captures the Blue Demon and creates a robot clone, convincing Santo that his friend has turned evil. There’s also some weird little creature with an exposed brain that just stands around and watch. It’s fair to say that the plot gets lost somewhere in the mix of all this mayhem, and it’s not surprising when a film that runs less than 90 minutes has no less than 11 main villains and a host of cheap looking zombie extras.

Most of the film is one long series of ridiculous action scenes as Santo battles various combinations of the monsters. It’s as delirious and silly as you’re probably expecting based on the synopsis, but it’s actually grislier than you might expect and it honestly tries to be frightening (even it fails miserably) and you can see the inspiration of Hammer horror all over the monster scenes. So if you want to see a Mexican wrestler beating up craptacular renditions of classic monsters then this is the film for you. Joking aside, the Santo films are actually an important part of Mexican cinema, in the same way that the old serials are an important part of U.S. cinema. It feels very much like part of one of those serials and it might be more successful if it had been filmed as a serial, where it wouldn’t have felt quite so rushed. But to the cult viewer, that rushed, frantic feel actually adds to the appeal of the film. It’s difficult to recommend this to everyone,but for those looking for a hilarious and entertaining 90 minutes, you could do a lot worse than giving Santo and the Blue Demon a try.

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  2 Responses to “100 Most Bizarre Films Ever Made: 8. Santo and the Blue Demon vs. the Monsters”

  1. Still enjoying reading these reviews mate!

    • Darren Williams

      Thanks. I think you’re an excellent reviewer, so that means a lot. :) I’ve been slacking lately, trying to get back up to speed now.

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