Friday, July 15, 2011

Week 16: Santo contra la invasión de los marcianos (a.k.a. Santo vs. The Martian Invasion, 1966)

        Well, Santo was bound to fight aliens at some point in this saga of madness. I'm amazed it took them 16 movies to come to this idea. Hell, the Godzilla series jumped to space invaders as antagonists by the sixth movie. Overall, this entry in the Santo series was refreshing, compared to the last two clunkers. While not being an all out winner, it does manage to do some things differently and be entertaining. I will say that my big disappointment with los Marcianos is that the martians are just people really, shapely lady martians and buff martian men (who are obviously wrestlers). No rubber suited green monster men...


Sexy Lady Martians!


      The martian invasion plan starts out simple enough. They're coming to earth to tell us to get our shit together. Apparently the rampant use of nuclear energy has made the rest of the solar system nervous, so in a plot device stolen from The Day The Earth Stood Still they've come to warn us of our troublesome direction. They take over the TV air waves to deliver this message, but when their pirate broadcast is dismissed as a prank, the martians get pissed and decide to interrupt a soccer match and kill a bunch of soccer hooligans, instantly earning a permanent silver mask from me, then the martians kills some innocent kids who Santo happens to be teaching to wrestle. Awesome. One more mask earned!

Mexico's idea of a Martian.

     One thing I found entertaining, which I'm not sure was intentional, was the lead Martian's obsession with Santo that grows increasingly unhealthy as the movie creeps along. It's severely homoerotic in nature, as he is consumed with the idea of obtaining Santo's "genes", and knowing his "secrets". He diverts the entire invasion operation to bring down Santo and his friend Professor Onorico. Somehow, the lead Martian, named "Argos" (more on that name later) believes that Santo's strength, and Onorico's intelligence are the perfect combination to breed a new race of humans for Earth (after the Martian war machines cleanse the current population of course). This idea is reiterated so often that it made me wonder if Argos actually planned to try and breed the two men, not realizing it wouldn't work, sorta like an inept zookeeper. 

Santo, getting ready to stomp some Martian ass.

   Let's take some time to address the Martians as a whole. As mentioned before, there's lady martians, who are shapely and sexy. Maybe it makes me sexist, but I feel like any time I'm watching a space invasion movie, and there are female aliens involved who are obviously being played up as sexy, then the word "lady" should be inserted before their race to describe them, i.e. "lady martians".

   Then there's the Martian men, who are all wrestler types, after all, they're obviously all going to wrassle Santo in and outside the squared circle. All of them sport aryan blonde wigs, held in place by dopey butt shaped helmets that sport an "astral eye" in the center of their foreheads, which is their chief weapon, used to vaporize people. Halfway through the movie, they decide their appearance is not palpable enough for humans to take them seriously, so they go through transformations inside their fancy transformation machine (a room that looks suspiciously like a drafting room in a factory). They don't look all that different, aside from the loss of the butt helmets and silly blonde hair. They decide to name themselves after Greek gods, cause that makes lots of sense.

The Martian invading horde!

The Martian idea of "blending in"

      Overall, the Martians are a serious threat to Santo, managing to beat him silly on more than one occasion. It's only prolonged exposure to our air that saves Santo during several fights. They try to even get him in the ring a couple times, as the villains in these things are wont to do. They manage to unmask him during one match, a trick Santo is ready for, since it reveals he's wearing another mask! HAHA! He gets away without being accused of cheating because his opponent is a Martian. One of the tropes of these things that has started to drive me nuts though is this constant need to show fight scenes from these great wide shots. I'm not sure why its done that way, as most of these fight scenes last a while. I know the fight from They Live was still several decades off, but still, there could be a close up, tight shot edited in.

A closer angle wouldn't kill ya movie...

     los Marcianos is one of the more entertaining entries in this series that I've seen so far. It's just as shoddily constructed, as most of the sets, especially the interior of the Martian space ship, are obviously made from plywood, and it's poorly edited (the aforementioned wide shot fight scenes), but its part of the film's charm, and it finally makes the effort to get Santo to jump to a more international scope of daring do. Hopefully the next set of alien invaders I see Santo encounter will be more alien looking and not laugh inducing


Three silver masks out of a possible five
Fun Fact: At this point in the Mexican film industry, movies needed to cross multiple platforms in order to guarantee box office success. Hence the kitchen sink mentality of this film. 

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