Friday, August 26, 2011

Week 22: Santo contra Blue Demon en la Atlántida (Santo vs. Blue Demon in Atlantis, 1969)


      It's week 22 and so begins a string of team ups with Blue Demon. I call this one a team up because its title is a misnomer. Yes, these two masked men do in fact do battle on numerous occasions throughout the run time, but the title infers a climatic confrontation (possibly in an undersea city) that never really comes about. 

Our central villain.

      The central plot to put these two Mexican titans together involves a villainous type going by the alias Achilles, who is apparently an escaped Nazi Scientist, bent on dominating the world with his own genetic engineered super men. In addition to threatening all nations with nuclear holocaust, he also feels the need to kidnap Blue Demon in the middle of his championship match against Santo, and try to convince him to join his cause. When Blue Demon refuses, he resorts to mind control. Why didn't he just resort to mind control to begin with? Who knows...

Two masked dudes.

       Something that shocked me about this movie was its rampant use of footage, stolen outright, from Godzilla movies. I counted at least three movies that I recognized where special effects scenes were appropriated, Monster Zero, Godzilla vs. The Sea Monster, and War Of The Gargantuas. There's one or two other movies where footage was obviously stolen, but I couldn't identify it. If it wasn't something I recognized right away, I knew it because of the grainy, bootlegged nature of the film stock during those scenes, which is how the Godzilla footage appeared. Due to this rampant thievery, I'm going to have to penalize the movie a silver mask right off the bat. 

One of many stolen SPFX scenes in the movie.

      Another thing I found odd, in an entertaining sort of way, was that while Santo is the main protagonist, the movie feels the need to keep introducing secondary ones, who turn out to be bad guys working for Achilles. It sort of plays with the long running theme of Santo needing a co-star who's face can be seen. There will be a good amount of time spent introducing these characters, sometimes in dramatic fashion, only for them to turn on Santo, forcing him to dispatch them in the next act. One is a new partner, and the next is a love interest. It got to the point where I wondered why Santo was bothering to trust these people. He even speculates aloud that he thinks there are double agents in "Global Security" (formerly Interpol in previous films), so why not tell his supervisor he works alone? 

Santo wreckin' the joint while dispatching doublecrossers.

      There isn't a lot of interplay between Santo and his co-star either. Blue Demon is essentially a bad guy throughout most of it, and they do have a number of confrontations, the best one being a helicopter battle. The physics of it don't make a lot of sense, since its never clear who is piloting each helicopter. Santo seems to be piloting his, until he's forced to shoot at Blue Demon's. Likewise, Blue Demon seems to be piloting his, until he opens fire on Santo's. When his pilot is killed, Blue Demon takes all the time in the world parachuting out. 

       Also, there's no Atlantis! Unless of course, your idea of Atlantis is a underwater cave off the coast of the Mexican panhandle. Achilles must've dubbed his hideout "Atlantis" and the name just stuck. It's not really all that fancy, unless of course you don't know the fake volcanoes erupting at the end are scenes stolen from a Godzilla movie.

Just two buddies, out for a drive.

      Their first official cinematic team up under their respective belts, These two masked dudes leave me wanting more. More wrestler mayhem, more zany adventures, more quips back and forth that hint at their professional rivalry. Here's hoping next week's team up has more of these things and is as legendary as its title portends it to be...      


Two and a half silver masks out of a possible five.

Fun Fact: Blue Demon starred as the leader of a squadron of masked superheroes known as Los Campeones Justicieros (The Champions of Justice) in three films. 

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