Friday, May 13, 2011

Week 7: Santo vs. las Mujeres Vampiro (a.k.a. Santo vs. the Vampire Women 1961)

       Week 7 is here, and we've come to one of the more famous entries in the El Santo oeuvre. This time out, the makers behind this entry decided quite gracefully to once again ditch the standard criminal antagonists for more supernatural fare. While last time it was zombies, this time out its Vampires, sexy, man hating female vampires at that. Another element ditched, at least for now, is Virginia, Fernando and Conrado. Their absence is not felt, nor is it missed...

         Once again, the film is mostly told from the point of view of the antagonist, the female vampires, embodied by their High Priestess "Tundra". Apparently their gimmick is that this vampire sorority is only loosed on the earth every 200 years to plague mankind (emphasis on "man"), only this time out, their Queen, Zenza is going to return to Hell to become the Devil's bride. Before this momentous occasion can occur, a successor must be found from the human race. This job is Tundra's responsibility, and it seems like a high stress job. Luckily for Tundra a successor has already been foretold to them. Professor Olaf, who seems to be a really inept Mexican version of Van Helsing has a daughter turning 21. This has all been prophesied in some random manuscript that Olaf found, so obviously its true for all in involved. The only problem for Tundra and her goons (there are some male vampires who work for her as muscle) is that they tried to take one of Olaf's ancestor's as their queen previously and failed due to the intervention of a "masked interloper". 

Mexican Vamps have a bad tendency towards Alligator skin.

          So now Santo's fate is conveniently wrapped up in this vampire nonsense, due to his ancestor's intervention (remember Santo is a title past down through generations), he's now also prophesied to be a player in the outcome of the Vampire Queen's wedding. Of course this news isn't delivered to Santo until AFTER he's brought the movie to a dead stop to have a protracted tag team wrestling match with his some time foe Black Shadow, who I'm pretty sure was turned into a zombie in contra los zombies, but I guess we're not suppose to remember that. This match is made even longer by it being a best out of three deal, something which appears to be sort of standard in mexican wrestling. 

The priestess Tundra...

         This match occurs a good 30 minutes into the movie, and that's the first we see of El Santo in the proceedings, which leads me to my main complaint of the movie, one I've had about previous entries, which is the lack of El Santo in an El Santo movie. It's like making a Batman or Godzilla movie and forgetting to put Batman or Godzilla in it. He doesn't really involve himself in the plot until the end of the second act, and even then its only after Tundra and her vampire gal pals send a wolfman to wrestle Santo to death. This is even after being told that he is prophesied to fight the vampires and possibly die. He still insists on honoring his match dates. That's some serious OCD.


    I previously mentioned the male vampire muscle at work for Tundra and her friends. These guys are the most hilarious element in the film. All three of them are obviously wrestlers or stuntmen or both, as they're huge hulking jerks. It's made sillier by their mexican vampire get ups. They're shirtless like Santo, but sport black capes, with huge "jizzed on my pants" collars. when they flee from Santo's body slams, they run full speed while holding their capes out like they're going to take off. It makes them look like woefully inept male ballerinas and its seriously amusing. 


         Mujeres Vampiro is one of the more interesting Santo films thus far. It's got a early Hammer vibe to it that helps tone down the absurdity of the concept of a mexican wrestler combatting vampires. There's still a bit of camp, intentional or no, to laugh at though.  The vampire women aren't the greatest adversary Santo's dealt with, but there is a historical backstory to them and him that makes their conflict more interesting. Santo could benefit from being a greater element in the story than just the guy called in to break bad guy skulls and rescue the damsel. As is, he's essentially a weapon called in for the climax of the story, like Voltron. This problem is accentuated by the lack of other lead protagonists to help carry the story. Oh, also, apparently Mexican Vampires have reflections, and they're really ugly in them. 


Three silver masks out of a possible five.

Fun fact: This Santo flick was one of the few released in the US. Dubbed in english and retitled "Samson vs. the Vampire Women", it was eventually featured for lampooning on Mystery Science Theatre 3000 in 1995. 

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