Friday, December 9, 2011

Week 37: Santo y Blue Demon contra Drácula y el Hombre Lobo (Santo and Blue Demon Vs. Dracula and the Wolf Man, 1972)

         Hey! Blue Demon is back! Hooray for Blue Demon! He injects some much needed fresh air for the 37th Santo film. We've also got Dracula and the Wolfman thrown into the mix, although I suspect there is no continuity with previous films featuring such monsters. Also I suspect the actor portraying Dracula is the same from the previous Santo vehicle Dracula's Treasure

Santo loves his PDA

     "How do these four titanic personalities comes together for a tag team match between good and evil" you ask? I'll tell you! It turns out that Santo is dating the descendant of a powerful wizard, who in the 16th century, vanquished Dracula and "Rufus", the king of the werewolves, (or "Beast Men" as they're referred to in the film) as they were about to form an alliance between their two monster races, in order to enslave mankind. Resurrected in 70s Mexico by a malevolent hunchback seeking riches from Dracula's favor, the two monster men declare vengeance on their 16th century persecutor's last remaining family. 

Dracula, complete with porkchop sideburns

      Santo takes it upon himself to protect his girlfriend and her family from these supernatural threats, and calls on the expertise of his friend and fellow crime fighter Blue Demon to assist. It's interesting how both wrestlers are introduced in the film, in that its done cheaply. However cheap, and however intentional or no, it manages to be a very moody introduction. Both Men enter the story in mid bout with an opponent in the ring.  It's obvious that these rings are staged environments on a sound stage someplace, and not in real arenas. It's the same ring for both scenes, only with Santo set against a painted blue background, and Blue Demon against a red one. There's even phony audience cheering, and an announcer giving the viewer a play by play, but it all serves to give these moments of the film an expressionistic tone. 

Rufus, the fancy wolfman

       What I found to be sort of a bummer is that the film isn't quite as outlandish and silly as previous "vs. monsters" movies from these two. Dracula and Rufus are played mostly straight, and most of their machinations are from a distance, never really engaging the luchadors in physical combat until the film's climax. Dracula in particular is a mostly static antagonist. He makes a couple of attempts to get at his intended victims, but it warded off by the dagger used so long ago to slay him and Rufus, sorta making it a holy artifact. Unable to be proactive in his own revenge plan, Dracula decides to spend most of the film's run time wandering around his cave, looking on ominously. Its left to Rufus and his growing army of wolf men to do most of the dastardly dirty work, and I'm left wondering why Rufus bothers aligning himself with such an ineffectual loser like Dracula. 

Santo and Blue, out for another ride.

      One of the things that made me happy was the choice to not re-use the lazy wolfman design from Santo & Blue Demon vs. The Monsters. Instead, the movie goes for a classic Universal knock off. All the wolf men in the movie sport this, or similar designs. What they don't all sport is Rufus' flashy yellow disco shirt. Rufus spends most of the movie looking like he's got Saturday night fever.

Fun with pyrotechnics!

        Another plus is that this the first Santo/Blue Demon team up where Blue doesn't spend at least part of the film's run time as a villain. The first three team ups between these two had Blue Demon co-opted by the bad guys and pitted against Santo, much to Blue Demon's chagrin off screen. However, Blue is still a second fiddle of sorts, and even manages to get himself captured by the monster men, leaving it solely up to Santo to once again save the day. 


Three Silver Masks out of a possible Five

Fun Fact: At the time of this film's release, wrestling was banned on Mexican TV, therefore the emphasis on the wrestling matches gave fans a much desired glimpse of their heroes in action. 

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