Friday, June 17, 2011

Week 12: Santo en Atacan las brujas (a. k. a. Santo in The Witches Attack, 1964)


         So we're now two months into the year of el santo. We've had weeks where its fun, and weeks where its an endurance test. I should say I have had weeks that are either fun, or an endurance test. It's probably amusing to the rest of you to watch me suffer through some of this nonsense. Well, that's the point of this thing, right? This week's film is one of the many that falls in the middle of those two extremes. At times entertaining, and at times maddening, and managing to do both within a 79 minute run time, las brujas at least manages to do one thing right, which is stay away from tedious sidekicks like Milton and Fernando.  The actor who previously portrayed our buddy Kangaroo kick returns, as the concerned boyfriend/captive, but he's fairly harmless this time out. 


         Las Brujas is pretty much a retread of the previous film Santo vs. The Vampire Women. Instead of Santo combating a pack of horny female vampires, he's matching wits with a coven of frigid witches. Their plot is very similar to the vampires. Medusa, the head witch, is manipulating the sole heir of the castle the witches call home, into living there for a year. Her plan is to sacrifice this young maiden, AND El Santo, to their master, the Prince of Darkness, hilarious played by an insert shot of a guy in a Halloween store devil mask. 

The worst prince of darkness ever...

       My biggest gripe with this film is its jarring narrative, caused mostly by its strange editing choices. The cold intro has Santo breaking into the castle. We're not really sure why yet, as this is the very beginning of the movie. He promptly encounters two ninja like henchman who beat him senseless in a protracted, poorly lit, and boring fist fight. It becomes apparent that this is a premonition the movie's damsel in distress is dreaming. Of course she doesn't come out of this dream until after the opening credit sequence. There's a lot of other strange editing choices, like scenes ending abruptly, with nothing resolved. It's downright confusing at times.

Break those chains of love Santo!

     My other main problem with the movie is that there's almost an Ed Wood level of shoddiness to it. The light changes from day to night in one scene! How can you have continuity that bad? It can't be day time on one side of a 10 ft wall Santo is scaling, and be totally dark when he jumps down to the other side. I don't care if these are movies made in Mexico in the 60s with next to no budget. There's been too many of them at this point for someone to NOT be paying attention to that.

Something I've noticed throughout these movies, is the reappearance of this guy...

       He has to be in almost all of these Santo movies. He's usually someone grappling with Santo, whether it be a henchman, or an opponent in the ring. He must have been part of Santo's stunt team or something. He actually appears in the Infernal Men as an undercover cop working amongst those infernal men. What's interesting here, is that not only does he play one of the Witches' warlock henchmen, but he's also in the only wrestling match in the entire picture, AND said wrestling match is the exact same bloody affair from last week's Blue Demon film! You can dismiss it as cheap stock footage being reused by the producers to save money, but I'm not! It's obviously meant to convey that this Santo movie takes place at the same time as Blue Demon vs. Satanic Power


     Another great moment in this entry was when one of the Witches attempts to seduce Santo. I say its great because its the first time in this film series that Santo is sexualized at all. There has yet to be any sort of love interest introduced up to this point. You have to figure, this man is Latin, and an athlete. He's gotta want to put the wood to something some time. 

It looks like its sexy time for El Santo!

       Of course, the whole scene goes to pot, partly because Santo is fully aware that its a trap, and partly because the witch doing the seducing has hairy legs. Put some Nair on that shit! 


         Getting back to what I spoke of earlier, about this being mostly a rehash of the previous Vampire film, it becomes apparent that the laziness involved not only seeps into the story, but they don't even try to make it any different by the film's climax. We find out that these witches are vulnerable to sunlight, fire, and crosses. While they have to be in contact with fire and sunlight, the site of Santo waving a giant cross at them is enough to cause spontaneous combustion in most of them! It doesn't make any sense. 

Santo taking his new found spiritism a bit literally...

       Las Brujas has some interesting elements, and is amusing at times, but is too lazy a rehash of previous, better entries to be anything truly special. It wouldn't be a big problem if the technical side of the film was at least slick, but its obvious shoddiness works to worsen the cracks in its facade instead of plastering over them. 


Two silver masks out of a possible Five

Fun Fact: Witchcraft is big business in Mexico, similar to voodoo in some Caribbean countries. 

No comments:

Post a Comment