Friday, April 29, 2011

Week 5: Santo en el hotel de la muerte (Santo In The Hotel of Death, 1961)

          It's week five, and, I wish I had better news, but I'm afraid we've got another dud. I've heard many film critics say that a terminal flaw for a film is for it to be boring. Even "bad" films can be entertaining, or interesting, due to technical aspects, or ambition, or just having parts that outweigh the sum. If a film is just plain boring though, than there's nothing really there to salvage it. Hotel De La Muerte is utterly boring, so terminally boring that it's basically dead on arrival. 

      But wait, it can't possibly be that terrible can it? It's a Mexican Wrestling picture for God's sake! Surely there must be some dumb, frivolous entertainment value in it somewhere....? No! There's none of that. However, there is plenty of Fernando, Virginia and Fernando's partner Conrado, a.k.a. Kangaroo Kick (I'm quite certain that during his previous two appearances, Conrado was never, ever introduced by name.) From now on, when these characters show up at all, I'm going to punish the movie. It's like spelling your name wrong on your SATs! Any movie they're in from now on automatically loses two silver masks!

Santo disapproves of his lack of serious screen time.

      Making matters worse is that Santo not only doesn't show up until the 30 minute mark, but he's barely in the movie for any great capacity after that. The bulk of the film is Fernando and Conrado investigating a series of murders at a hotel resort built over top of some Aztec ruins. Of course Virginia manages to shoehorn her way into the proceedings. She shows up at the resort with a friend, who is promptly murdered in the next scene. Things sorta play out like the classic ten little Indians scenario, where characters are picked off one by one. The movie makes a half assed attempt to throw a red herring out there, in the form of a Amish bearded blackmailer that Virginia refers to as "that bearded kid". Amish beard is so overtly sleazy and uncooperative with Fernando that it obviously can't be him committing all the killings. 

Mister Amish Beard.
            As the bodies pile up, and then disappear (more on that later), Virginia pleads with Fernando to radio Santo for help on his fancy watch communicator, but Fernando refuses, I guess trying to prove that he's not totally inept and dumb. Of course that all goes out the window when an unknown assailant smashes a wooden chair over Fernando's useless gourd of a head. While unconscious, Virginia radios Santo, who along with Mathias, seems to be sitting around in his Not-Batcave doing nothing at all. Maybe they were waiting with baited breathe for Fernando to call in? I doubt it, because as soon as Virginia begs for help, Santo agrees to come to their aid...after his big wrestling match. Santo goes to said match, wins, and then he and Mathias spend another ten minutes off screen driving to the resort/blood bath. 

In his spare time, Fernando cooks Meth.

          It turns out that the quiet Dr. Cobera is behind all these grisly murders. Why? Well, let me try to explain this to you so it makes sense to the both of us. Dr. Cobera is a historian, specializing in the Aztecs. He's secretly been hunting for Aztec gold in the catacombs under the resort for years. This is briefly hinted at early on in the film as a shadowed figured orders generic Mexican henchman to dig. Of course, its never explained what they're all looking for until the end, so these vague, dark shots of guys digging up the dirt floor of tunnels really don't make a lot of sense in the context of the murder plot. Confusing your audience is fun! 

Santo and Mathias out for a leisurely drive.

       Why is he killing women on the resort then you ask? Well, technically he's not. Apparently Cobera has been abducting them, making exact wax castings of each woman, and then placing the wax castings, lovingly detailed to look real, and murdered, at strategic points at the resort, thus the woman get reported murdered. Then, somehow, his henchman steal the wax figures back, all the while, Cobera is keeping these women prisoner in the catacombs. What the hell does any of this have to do with Aztec gold? Nothing at all. Dr. Cobera just likes to do this to pass the time while his goons do all the grunt work, trying to find gold. Makes sense right? Yeah, no, it doesn't, at all. Stupid...

A wax figure...submerged in a pool...

         To make this idiot plot even more idiotic, Cobera pronounces to captured Fernando, Virginia and Conrado in a Santo disguise (El Santo has pulled a switcheroo here on the villain) that he had no intention of killing the abducted women, but now that they've interfered, his hand has been forced. What the hell else was he going to do with them? Was he going to keep them prisoner for years and years in the Aztec ruins? Use them as sex slaves? Make more and more wax castings of them and dress those castings up in various costumes? When they're revealed to be alive still, they're all wearing maid outfits, so perhaps he was going to force them to clean his hotel room forever? It makes no sense. 

Santo's cut scene from "Evil Dead 2"

             Five movies in, Hotel De La Muerte is the worst Santo movie so far. A plot that doesn't make much sense, a villain with inane motivations, and lead characters that are about as exciting as watching a book convention on C-SPAN. Aside from being boring, the movie's other great sin is its lack of proper screen time for its lead character. At approximately 80 minutes, Santo maybe appears in about 1/4 of the total run time, and even when present, he's mostly there to clean up after the the useless lead characters. 


ZERO Silver masks out of a possible Five.

Fun Fact: The Aztecs could see into the future, and after seeing their name used in this movie, committed mass suicide. 

Friday, April 22, 2011

Week 4: Santo contra el rey del crimen (Santo vs. The King of Crime, 1961)

            Well, its week four, and just as I was starting to think we're finally getting to the good stuff, I watch this entry in the Santo series. Actually, I shouldn't set things up for disappointment so early. It's not all bad. It's mostly bad. It starts out with a young boy named Roberto, who upon witnessing a group of a dozen or so older boys torturing a young girl's puppy, decides to intervene. Of course, there being a dozen boys, and most of them being bigger than Roberto, it comes as no surprise that little Roberto gets his ass stomped pretty good. Only the appearance of a foot patrol cop saves Roberto from massive head trauma. 

"I am justice..."

           Roberto goes home to explain what happened to his ailing father. Impressed by his son's courage, this sickly old man reveals that he is in fact El Santo, and that every man in their family for generations has held the mantle of El Santo at some point, and that its passed from father to son. Now things seem clear. This is suppose to be an origin movie. Think Batman Begins, if Batman Begins was as crappy as The Phantom starring Billy Zane. Through the miracle of the dissolve transition, Roberto becomes an adult, an adult who's unmasked face we do not get to see, thanks to some clever blocking. Roberto has honed his fighting skills in the professional wrestling circuit and is now finally ready to accept his inheritance. With the El Santo mantle, Roberto gets his own batcave (which we've seen in previous movies) and also a Mexican equivalent to Alfred Pennyworth, known as Mathias. This all sounds pretty interesting right? Well, hold on, because Fernando, Virginia and Kangaroo Kick all return from the very first Santo movie. Apparently this is their origin story too...

           This is where the whole movie basically goes off the rails, as it becomes a tedious police procedural. Aside from showing the initial meeting between Santo and Fernando and KK, the origin story line is dropped altogether. Instead, Fernando becomes the focal point, as he and KK investigate an illegal sports betting ring that may be fixing events either by getting players to throw their matches or killing players outright. The main sport this crime ring focuses their attentions on is Jai Alai. What in the blue hell is Jai Alai? Here's a video explanation...

           Santo isn't even aware of this crime ring until they try to kill him during one of his wrestling matches by dousing his ringside towel with acid. It's only through Virginia's intervention that is he saved from a face full of holy shit. Does Virginia get any thanks for this? Nope. Fernando and KK are provided with fancy communicator watches allowing them to converse remotely with Santo, while Virginia is chastised by all for being invasive and impudent. Sexism is fun! 


          It's hard not to draw parallels between Santo in this movie and Batman. Santo has a good deal of Batman-like story beats, or at least comic book-like superhero elements, more so than the previous three movies. One example I haven't mentioned yet, and actually one of the higher points of the movie for me, is when Santo gets a bit more vigilante with this crime ring, going so far as to interrogate a Jai Alai player who's been paid off by the crime ring, throwing the poor bastard around in a dark alley. Santo seems like so much of a goody good hero, (since he is a face wrestler) that it was refreshing to see him get a little nasty with the goings on in the story line. 

          Fernando also seems to be more like a Commissioner Gordon to Santo's Batman, although why a police detective (its made clear in this film that Fernando and KK are policemen) would just go along with a crazy in a silver luchador mask at his word isn't really made clear. Gordon's motivations and his relationship with Batman makes sense because of how crime ridden a place Gotham City is. However, Mexico isn't all crime ridden, at least I hope it wasn't back in the 60s. Beyond a basic pulp story convenience, the only explanation I can determine is that Fernando seems to know just how incompetent he is as a law enforcer, and needs all the help he can get. This is hammered home in the climax, when Fernando manages to get himself captured by the King of Crime, OFF CAMERA! 

Mexican Jackie Gleason and his midget hunchback friend.

          Speaking of the King of Crime, yet again, these movies leave me frustrated by not giving Santo a strong antagonist. For starters, the titular king of crime, who is a Mexican Jackie Gleason, seems to be more the King of Illegal Sports betting, as that's the only criminal activity the movie shows him lording over. Sure, it involves murder, intimidation, and even kidnapping, but its all for sports betting. He never dabbles in prostitution, or drugs, etc. One who dubs themselves the "KING" of crime surely would have to cover the entire range of crime, not just one niche of it. He does have one thing going for him. His chief henchman is a midget with a hunchback. This midget is never even given a name. It's amazing. 

Who the hell cares?

          The movie is also light on wrestling matches, which I found surprising. The previous three had at least three matches per movie. This one only had two. However, the first one is so brutal, and prolonged, that there really wasn't a need for more matches. This match is actually the most compelling action scene in the entire movie, as Santo and his opponent bound and leap around the ring at each other like a pair of dobermans given speed and let loose in a moon bounce. Seeing such violence in a movie from the 60s era western hemisphere is shocking, even if it is a wrestling picture from Mexico. 

        One of the more brilliant scenes in the movie, and the main element that keeps me from giving the movie one silver mask for the rest of its suckage, is a switcheroo that Santo pulls at the end of the second act. Jorge, a Jai Alai player who's got himself deep into debt with the king of crime, is being forced to throw a match. Santo switches places with him, getting Jorge to inform officials and the audience in attendance, that in honor of a player murdered in the previous scene, Jorge is going to wear a silver luchador mask for his match. It's such a ballsy, and brazenly stupid thing that all the characters accept, that it went from being dumb to being amazing. No one seems to notice that Jorge, wearing a wrestling mask, has suddenly gained 20 pounds of muscle mass, and is also shorter. It's stupefyingly awesome. 

A tender moment between Fernando and Virginia...

          El Rey Del Crimen starts out strong, trying to give its titular franchise carrier a prestigious back story and motivation, but all of that is scuttled by trying to shoehorn dullards from previous movies as costars. The lack of a strong antagonist also hinders the movie from being truly good. While the need for a second protagonist, whose face can be seen by audiences is understandable, the need for a strong, effective villain is too great a burden for the film to bear. 


Two Silver Masks out of a possible five. 

Fun Fact: Like El Santo,  the Dos Equis' "the most interesting man in the world" plays the game of Jai Alai.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Week 3: Santo contra los Zombis (Santo vs. the Zombies) 1961

          It's week three and we've finally reached a film that feels like a true Santo starring vehicle. We finally also see Santo clash with his first supernatural antagonists, a concept that would come to dominate the later part of the El Santo film series. This one feels like there might be some transitional elements at play here. We find El Santo still working with clandestine Federales, lead by a hombre simply known as "the Chief", with another hombre known as "St. Martin" (other characters formally refer to him as "Mr. St. Martin throughout the movie. It's damn strange.) seemingly working as the head field man. I say seemingly, because its pretty apparent from the get go that this whole thing is going to be Santo's gig.

           A Maria Sandoval comes to the investigators for help in finding her missing father, a professor well versed in Haitian zombie rituals. Meanwhile, a number of kidnappings and robberies occur by what appear to be zombies. COINCIDENCE! HAHA! I should clarify for those who are fans of the zombie genre that these are not the flesh eater types that are so popular amongst hipsters and emo kids today. Released in 1961, this zombie film sports pre-Night Of The Living Dead zombies. These zombies are more along the lines of the ghouls seen in films like White Zombie or I Walked With A Zombie. They don't eat people unless told to, something that never occurs in the film. They are unique in that they display the ability to use assault weapons, the weapon of choice being a strange sort of crowbar that causes objects they come in contact with to catch on fire. They also sport fashionable leather tunics. For Zombies, they're quite tasteful

Wrestling is many things, but its never, ever, gay...

           After Santo and his team have a couple exhausting physical confrontations with these characters, it becomes apparent that they're being controlled by an unseen force. Unseen to them anyway. We see him, a black hooded figure in a nefarious looking underground lab (is there any other way for such a place to look?). This masked fiend's identity is not revealed until the very end of the movie. In an effort to not be a jerk, I won't spoil it for you, in case you do actually want to see this film, even though you'll be able to figure it out from a mile away. Actually, it's Maria's "blind" uncle. There, I spoiled it for you. OOPS!


           While Los Zombies is a pulp horror adventure, it also makes a strong effort to reinforce the fact that its also a wrestling picture, headlined by a wrestler. This is hammered home from the first frame, as the film opens with Santo and an unidentified tag team partner beating a pair of unidentified heel wrestlers senseless. Then we get the opening credits. Immediately after said credits, we're treated to yet another of Santo's matches, this time a one on one match that starts off polite and professional enough, until Santo's opponent gets anxious with him, at which point Santo gives this screwhead a proper working over. I admired the film's tenacity in wanting to make its audience sit through not one, but TWO wrestling matches before even a shred of plot line has been revealed. 

Sex Appeal!

        Another admirable aspect of the film is the physicality of the antagonists. While not the now traditional gruesome flesh munchers that most hope for in a zombie motion picture, they manage to be similar to Jason Voorhees or Michael Myers, in that they are eerily silent, physically imposing brutes. In more than one fight scene, they manage to physically overwhelm and exhaust Santo. It's a fine change of pace from the usual criminal element types that are less than a match for the greatest of all masked wrestlers. 

Santo likes spying on his boss...

          The threat to El Santo's prowess is brought to a climax when the Black Hooded zombie-master/blind uncle gets wind of Santo's upcoming wrestling match. He manages to kidnap Santo's opponent, zombify him, and send him back to do battle with our masked hero. Santo only manages to save himself by pulling down the man's pants (I'm not kidding...) and thus damaging the zombie's control apparatus. 

A lost scene from "the Three Stooges meet Cobra Commander"

         If I had any real issue with the film, it would be its lack of genuine risk to the heroes. We know El Santo is going to make it out alive, but the impact would be greater if we didn't also know the same could be said for his entire team. Next to no character work is really done for any of them anyway, so why not have one or two of them knocked off by a magic crowbar wielding zombie anyway? It would've given the film a sense of danger that was otherwise lacking somewhat. 

Another oddity is that both Santo and the hooded zombie-master/blind uncle both have what can only be described as "God Cameras". I call them God cameras because both men have video monitors that allow them to watch cohorts where ever they may be. Santo seems to watch the rest of his investigators this way, instead of just being in the office with them. the zombie-master is able to see car chases (these zombie can drive) from street angles and places that are entirely impossible for him to see from without his cameras having some sort of godlike power to them. I'm probably over thinking this particular issue, but it is jarring to sit there and wonder exactly how either of them is seeing all the shit they are seeing.

             While not a total reinvention of the wrestling or zombie genres, Los Zombis manages to finally give the El Santo series a proper starting point, while also establishing the universe these films take place in by including the supernatural evils that would dominate the later, zanier films in the series. It's a nice straight faced prelude to the more monster centric films to come.

Three silver masks out of a possible five.

Fun Fact: This was the first El Santo movie to be released, dubbed  into English, stateside, known as "Invasion Of The Zombies" by Murray K. Gordon, the same producer who distributed the horrible Mexican Santa Claus movie from Mexico. 

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Interlude: Concerning Email Notifications...

Hey Readers, 

            After receiving some complaints that the email notifications do not seem to work, I did some investigating. By investigating, I mean, I signed up for it myself and waited to see what would happen yesterday. It did notify me about yesterday's review...about 12 hours after I posted it. My spam filter also sent it to my spam box, so if you've signed up for the email notification (and thanks for doing that) check your spam box. Chances are they're going there. I don't know why it's taking Blogger 12 hours to send these emails, but more as that develops....

Friday, April 8, 2011

Week 2: Santo contra hombres infernales (Santo vs. The Infernal Men, 1958)

           Boy was this one a hard slog. What's most amazing about it is that it was a hard slog at a whopping 75 minutes. One of the earlier feature film adventures of Santo, this one is more film noir than wrestling adventure movie. This time around, a man named Enrique is being pursued by criminal types. Santo arrives just in time to witness Enrique get gunned down in the streets of Havana. Enraged, Santo flies into action, battering these infernal men! Of course, the movie halts in the middle of Santo walloping an hombre to give us its opening credits, set against an ambulance that is racing to the scene of Enrique's plight, seemingly shot in real time...

      The Ambulance arrives, Santo and these infernal men! he was pummeling are nowhere to be found. As Enrique lay dying in the street, his internal monologue informs us that he must tell the authorities of the dark things he's seen. We're then treated to the lengthy flashback that is the majority of the movie. It turns out that Enrique has been sent into havana to go undercover. He meets a lovely lady who sings what seems to be the mandatory mariachi song these movies always have. What is the song about? I'm not sure, there were no subtitles, but considering that Enrique is kissing her hand through it, I'd imagine it's just wonderful.

Mandatory Mariachis!

          Enrique's people stage a bar fight for him on the beach front cafe he's taken his date to (I think bar fights are another mandatory element to these films). Enrique takes the opportunity to flee amongst these infernal men!, leaving his date to deal with the police I guess. He quickly becomes one of them by killing a pursuing police officer, something again obviously staged by Enrique's people. 

    Who are these infernal men! I keep referring to? I'm not really sure. They're obvious criminal types, but its never made clear what their aim is. They're smuggling something in and out of the dock area they call their turf. It's first hinted to be something volatile like TNT or explosives of some sort. Later on, as Enrique fully integrates himself into the gang, they do what appears to be a drug pick up out at sea. It's never made clear what these infernal men! are dealing in though. It never shows what exactly Enrique and Santo are trying to put a stop to, so we never really know what's at stake.

Creature from the black lagoon? Nah, just El Santo.

            Speaking of El Santo, after disappearing during the opening credits, he doesn't show up again until about 18 minutes in, when he comes creeping into the gang's dock like he's the Creature from the Black Lagoon. He does recon on the gang by swimming in from the ocean, in almost full wrestling gear, Mask, boots, tights. I'm surprised he doesn't also have his goddamned cape on. It's just as practical when swimming! He doesn't do this just once, but three or four times. 

       Something else I noticed about this movie is how terrible the editing is. Things are often shown multiple times from different angles, mundane things, like someone lighting a cigarette, and the the angle choices are just as mundane. It makes the movie come off as really odd and inept. Of course, the best moment of the movie comes out of this incompetence, when, in a moment of pure inept editing, Santo magically appears on the dock to rescue his new friend Enrique, who's ruse has been discovered. One moment, the dock is empty, and the next El Santo is there, as if he's been teleported. 

Nope! Nothing wrong with this picture...

          Another thing that's noticeable, only having seen these two movies so far, is that guns never really come into play as a threat to El Santo, only other characters. Antagonists do drawn down on Santo, but he easily evades their gunfire. It's silly, but its also the same kind of logic you'd find in any number of martial arts movies. During his first appearance, Santo dives into the ocean and swims off when someone tries to open fire on him. At the film's climax, Santo is mopping the floor with these infernal men! Five guys are getting their asses handed to them by a maniac in a silver mask, and it never occurs to any of them to shoot him, even after they've incapacitated him with a 2 X 4. 

Santo being a creeper

            Dull and turgid at only 75 minutes, El Santo vs. The Infernal Men makes a half assed attempt to be more of a crime noir than wrestling picture, even creeping close to giving Santo a sort of Batman like mission statement at the conclusion. However, it never really lives up to its attempts. It was more than likely meant to be a second feature on a double bill with last week's installment, but I can't imagine a mexican sunday in the 50s being boring enough to endure these two films back to back.


One Silver Mask out of a possible Five. 

Fun Fact: After the El Santo pictures hit their stride and gained popularity in the 60s, this film and last week's were re-released. Santo dismissed them both, claiming them not to be true starring vehicles for him.

Friday, April 1, 2011

Week 1: El Santo Contra El Cerebro Diabolico (Santo Vs. The Diabolical Brain, 1961)

             So here we are, the first El Santo movie. I'm really not sure what to make of this one. There's so many vagaries afoot in it. I don't think this can be blamed on poor subtitling either, since they seemed to make things pretty clear. The gist of the movie, as far as I can tell, is that federales (I think that's what they are) are in the midst of busting up a criminal ring, led by what appears to be Christopher Lee in his Fu Manchu make up. Fernando and his partner, who's name I never got, but who I'll refer to as Kangaroo Kick (I'll explain the nickname later...) are debriefing when Fernando receives word that his troublesome reporter girlfriend has gone undercover deep in some criminals empire. 


Nothing says "NOT undercover" like a white denim suit...

             Fernando and Kangaroo Kick fly into action, and by that, I mean they dress as cowboys and slowly ride horses to a rural village where Fernando's lady friend was last seen. They arrive at a Bar/Brothel where they ask around about the local magistrate, who is apparently so corrupt and evil that a stranger vaguely asking around is enough to cause a bar fight, the silliest goddamn bar fight in cinema history. How silly is this bar fight? Amidst all the chaos, one man stands alone in the center of it all, shadow boxing himself. A random extra has the good sense to finally smash a corona bottle over this poor slobs head, putting him, and me out of misery. During this bar fight, we finally get our first glimpse of El Santo. Apparently the heroes have secret watches that they can talk back and forth to HQ with. This is revealed to us when a pair of creeps ruffle through Fernando's underwear in his hotel room and accidentally turn the watches on. El Santo is there, in full wrestling regalia, just chilling out with a character only referred to as "the Boss" when the creeps voices come through on their bat-cave surveillance equipment.

Just another day at the office.

         The local Magistrate shows up to break up the melee in his establishment (apparently this guy owns the town). This character had a real name too, but his uncanny resemblance to Orson Welles has forced me to refer to him as Mexican Orson Welles. You can tell right away this kat is the villain, because he wears a hat like the guy on the Quaker oats carton, only he wears it cocked, and he looks like Orson Welles. 

Mexican Orson Welles!

          At this point, we're about 30 minutes into the movie already, and it decides to come to a dead stop, so that El Santo can go have a wrestling match. A full scale wrestling match, complete with fans going ape shit. Santo is the face wrestler, and he lets the heel wrestler get the spectators thoroughly riled up. He's a hideous site to be sure. Part George "The Animal" Steele and part your skeevy uncle John, who scared you at family get togethers but thankfully died before you were old enough to be molested by. Santo comes in and makes short work of him, stomping the living shit out of this repellent screwhead. Its sort of a jarring experience, this weird wrestling insert, but keep in mind this is essentially a wrestling movie, the kind Barton Fink was suppose to write. There has to be some kind of meat and potatoes wrestling in there for the fans who came out. The Boss is in El Santo's corner, so it obviously wasn't something filmed separately and inserted during post. Maybe if some of the modern day wrestlers who tried to make the transition to Hollywood had inserted random wrestling matches into their otherwise shitty films, their movie careers would fare better. Imagine if that shitheap The Tooth Fairy ground to a halt, so that the Rock could splatter some unfortunate jobber's brains all over the squared circle. The Rock certainly wouldn't be slumming it in Fast Five this summer.

           I should probably take the time to explain Kangaroo Kick. You see, Mexican Orson Welles figures out that Fernando and KK are Federales. He sends two assassins to their hotel room to ventilate them with sharp objects while they sleep, but the boys are no slouches and are ready for these clowns. A hilariously choreographed fight ensues, in which KK uses a kangaroo kick on his assailant. What is a kangaroo kick you ask? Well, its when a kangaroo sits on its tail and kicks outward with its legs. You'd probably try to tell me that Kangaroos can't actually do that because it defies the laws of physics, but you'd be wrong. Kangaroos can do that, and so can Mexicans. KK sits on the bed and kicks out, knocking the wind out of his assailant. He then proceeds to bounce back and forth from the parallel beds, fighting with a style I can only describe as "Bed Fu". 

        The fight spills out into the bar downstairs, where Mexican Orson Welles sends his arch henchman Roque with twenty armed goons. El Santo suddenly appears on a rafter overhead and dive bombs into the crowd of henchmen, easily overpowering all of them. You'd think an unarmed man in a silver mask and cape would be no match for six guys wielding rifles, but you'd be dead wrong. 

         A lot of fans dismiss this film as not a "true" El Santo film. In way, they're right. El Santo isn't so much the protagonist as he is a designated hitter. Better yet, he's sorta like the Thing in the Fantastic Four. The other members of the team deduce the villains diabolical schemes, and then he comes in to breaks some heads. To El Santo's credit, when he's not on screen, the movie is more or less a grass growing contest. Fernando is about as bland a hero as they come. If he were ice cream, his flavor would probably be water. 

      Mexican Orson Welles is also a poorly defined antagonist. Aside from having more small town henchmen than all four warring clans in Yojimbo and A Fistful Of Dollars combined, he doesn't do anything super nefarious until the end of the movie, where he tortures Fernando and KK and then tries to have his way with Fernando's girlfriend Virginia. Before that, he's just sorta creepy. What's his criminal bag? Drugs? White slavery? Medicare fraud? How exactly does he pay the salaries of all these inept henchmen?

              Kangaroo Kick is the only other character, save El Santo, who really gets to do anything compelling, and most of that is mugging while getting some of the sillier fight sequences. He tricks a henchman who is beating the shit out of him to take a phony phone call. When the henchman goes for the receiver, KK caves his face in with it. He also gets to grab another by his hair, hold him in place, and then punch him repeatedly, causing the henchman to spin in place. Most of his gags are definitely three stooges inspired. 

             The film reaches its climax as Santo rescues Fernando and KK from being thrown to their deaths from a cliff. Instead, Santo gets to hurl arch henchman Roque off said cliff. El Santo then runs (!) after Mexican Orson Welles' escape plane, managing to catch up, and stop it, mostly through sheer will power. Fernando then gets to spank his girlfriend violently while El Santo rides off into the sunset. Ah misogyny... 


           My biggest issue with this movie is its title. El Santo vs. The Evil Brain? Is Mexican Orson Welles the titular evil brain? I think "evil brain", I think of a rubber brain monster that eats smaller brains and has a scary laugh. A more appropriate title would've been "El Santo vs. Corrupt Saloon Owner" or "El Santo vs. His Co-worker's Ineptness". I'd recommend this one to only the truly most die hard fans. For anyone else, its just sort of a curiosity, like a band's early indie albums. 

Two Santo masks out of a possible Five. 

Fun Fact: This film and next week's were filmed in Cuba, with principle photography wrapping mere days before Fidel Castro took power.