Friday, May 6, 2011

Week 6: Santo contra el cerebro del mal (Santo Vs. The Evil Brain, 1958)

          So I have a confession to make. I've just realized that I've mixed up two El Santo movies. El Santo vs. The Diabolical Brain should be here, reviewed this week, but I mistakenly reviewed that one first, believing it to be the very first Santo film. An honest mistake, but still a dumb one. What's funny is I never even realized that a lot of the information being given in all the films in between was out of order. That didn't seem odd enough to me to make me realize something was wrong. Oh well. I suppose it doesn't matter. It's also sort of a relief in a weird way, as there's no goddamned Fernando or Virginia in this film! 

          Cerebro Del Mal begins strong with Santo being cornered and overpowered by three thugs. He puts up a fight, but they're just too much for him. Apparently a man in a suit with a chain is just too much for the greatest of all masked wrestlers. Incapacitated, Santo is hustled off by these goons to the secret lair of Dr. Campos, the central villain of our story. It is revealed that Campos has created a hypnotizing machine, allowing him to bend people to his will. He uses it on El Santo, turning him into a muscle bound goon, called in to do the heavy damage on those who would stand in Campos' way. Santo spends the better part of the first two acts in this state. to what end does this serve Campos? Well, its also revealed that Campos is a brilliant, celebrated scientist, only he has nothing to show for his own ingenuity beyond the hypnotizing machine, which he's used to steal the inventions and discoveries of his peers. His goons kidnaps these poor beautiful minds and Campos wills their secrets out of them. He probably cheated on his math tests in elementary school too, the bastard...

The diabolical Dr. Campos.

         Most of the movie is actually from Dr. Campos' perspective. There's sort of this Hispanic Vincent Price thing going on with him throughout the movie. The movie tries to justify his megalomania by explaining it as madness brought on by a massive workload, but it comes off more as laziness and greed on Campos' part, as the secrets he learns aren't used for personal glory so much as they're sold off to foreign countries for lots of money. Campos' doesn't seem to care who claims the discoveries for their own as long as he sees a payday from it.

Mandatory Mariachis!

          There's also a subplot involving his secretary Eliza and his growing jealousy over her and her relationship with one of his peers, but it doesn't really wash. This is the 50s, and Campos is a handsome dude. I've seen an episode or two of Madmen, so I know handsome guys in suits ALWAYS got to bang their secretaries in the 50s. Campos' machinations start to unwind on him in the end of the second act as he decides to have his men kidnap Eliza. Again, it doesn't make a lot of sense, since Santo is under his control and the police seem to have no clue he's behind all the scientist kidnappings. Why can't he woo Eliza with all the monies earned from his secret scumbaggery? Why can't he just hypnotize her with his fancy machine? Instead, she spends the second half of the movie guarded by Santo, who is now undercover, having been revived from his state of mind control. 

Friends forever!

           Santo recovered from that state half way through the movie, thanks to another masked wrestler. At first I thought this was the infamous Blue Demon, a rival and sometimes sidekick who is supposed to join Santo in later movies. I didn't find out until the very end that its some other clown called Incognito. Yup, that's his name. How lame is that? When he's shot and killed at the end by Campos, I was kinda glad, but not until after I learned he wasn't in fact Blue Demon. Incognito does a lot of the grunt work in this one. I guess he's the Federales second string masked wrestler, only called in when Santo is unavailable. It's Incognito who tracks down Santo and cures him of Campos' mind control, but not before the two have a no rules wrestling match in Campos' evil laboratory.  

Santo executing some parkour maneuvers.

           Overall, Cerebro Del Mal isn't too terrible a Santo movie. It has a strong villain, who actually manages to be both a psychological and physical match for Santo, as the final confrontation between the two is harrowing. Santo's ass is barely saved by the gunfire of his federales peers. It establishes him working with other masked wrestlers to bring about justice. The central gimmick to involve Santo in the plot doesn't make a lot of sense, but it is also a wrestling picture, and thus is probably not meant to be thought over in any great detail. 


Three Silver Masks out of a possible Five. 

Fun Fact:  There is a masked wrestler currently in the WWE named Incognito. There is no known relation.

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