Friday, October 28, 2011

Week 31: Santo en Las momias de Guanajuato (Santo in The Mummies of Guanajuato, 1970)

         So its Halloween weekend, and what would be more appropriate for Santo and Co. to do battle with on Halloween than...mummies. I know, not exactly the most exciting of monsters. They're not even Egyptian mummies either. Shit, they're not even Aztec or Mayan mummies. They're the mummified remains of a wrestling opponent of Santo's great grandfather. Yet again Santo has to be punished for the good deeds of an ancestor. 

     Touted as the high water mark of luchador movies, Las momias actually has very little screen time for Santo. While he has more than just a cameo, its primarily a Blue Demon vehicle. Teaming up with Blue Demon is Mil Mascaras, which in Spanish means "Thousand Masks", more on him later. Somehow, they've been stuck dealing with "Satan", a mummified 7'2" wrestler from the 1800s, who after losing his title belt to that time period's El Santo, vowed revenge by making a pact with the Devil to come back in a 100 years as a mummy. Not exactly the best revenge scheme ever, is it? When Satan and his mummy goons harass Blue Demon's midget friend, known as "Penguin", Blue and Thousand masks take it upon themselves to stomp some mummy ass. Why don't they call in Santo to help? It's not entirely clear. After all, in addition to this being a problem caused by Santo's great grand dad, he's also a famous superhero, monster fighter, and all around do gooder. It's not exactly outside his wheel house to deal with mummies. (Even though he negated their existence in the previous film, a MUMMY movie!) Blue Demon's excuse for not calling in the silver masked reinforcements is that its exactly what Satan wants, and that they shouldn't play into his games. Shrug. 

Let's take some time now to talk about Mil Mascaras, a.k.a. thousand Masks. This character's gimmick is that he never seems to wear the same luchador mask twice, hence his moniker. Check out some of these screen grabs as examples. 

Exhibit A

Exhibit B

Exhibit C

       I noticed at least five different masks, counting the ones shown here. There were likely more throughout the movie, and I just didn't pay close enough attention to notice. Thousand masks is also more physically imposing on screen than both Blue Demon and Santo, to the point that when sharing screen time with one or both of them, he dwarfs them with his sheer size. 

The titular Satan Mummy.

       My biggest complaint about this movie, and this might not entirely be this movie's fault, is the lack of shared screen time between the three luchadors. I say it might not be the movie's fault, because based on what little information I had, I sort of expected this to be the Seven Samurai of masked wrestler movies. I go into each of these movies with as little prior knowledge of each film as possible, that way I have no bias before viewing it. It's my way of giving each film as fair a shake as possible. That said, it was hard not to avoid any information about this film while doing research for this blog. I sorta expected Santo, Blue Demon, and Thousand Masks to be summoned to the province of Guanajuato after it is menaced by mummies. Instead, Blue and Thousand masks are there by happenstance when the mummy antics start. Santo also doesn't come into play at all until the third act, his only other appearance being in the Satan mummy's flashback, and then its as his own ancestor. 

Satan Mummy, after a panty raid at Blue Demon's.

     Santo's eventual involvement comes about through pure coincidence. He and his manager happen to be on tour for a series of matches, and decide to stop off in Guanajuato to spend the night, unaware of the terror in the streets being wrought by the Mummies. Santo leaps from his gold roadster (making its return after a few films with a white mustang) to combat the mummies, only to be overwhelmed and repelled by their numbers. Santo even goes so far as to cause a panic in the streets by telling people to flee for the their lives. He then lets the local police department get slaughtered wholesale by the mummies. Go El Santo!

Santo firing his mummy killing gun.

        It's not until the climax of the film that all three luchadors are together on screen, doing battle with the mummy horde. It's frustrating because after a while, I knew that this is how things were going to play out, and yet I wanted to see these guys team up more. The coincident nature of how they finally form their luchador super team is irritating as well. The fact that Santo even has special gold guns in his gold roadster, designed specifically to kill mummies makes Blue Demon's choice not to involve Santo directly all the more dunderheaded. 

Still, the movie is full of enough craziness to warrant a recommendation to anyone, hardcore luchador fan, or novice. The one wrestling match in the entire movie is a tag team event between Blue and Thousand masks, facing off against a team of what appears to be cave men. It's a tightly shot, tightly choreographed match, one of the better ones I've seen in these films. There's mummies galore, child endangerment, big boobed woman endangerment, and midgets being murdered. 


Five silver masks out of a possible five. 

Fun Fact: Mil Mascaras actually starred in 17 of his own luchador films, from 1969 to 1990, and was also a member of Blue Demon's "Champions of Justice" luchador superhero team. 

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