Friday, January 6, 2012

Week 41: Santo contra las lobas (Santo vs. The She-Wolves, 1972)

     So its a new year, a new Santo movie, and I'm pleased to say, a decent one at that. Las Lobas is a bit of a departure for the Santo series. While it sticks with a tried and true antagonist, the werewolf, it shakes things up and goes for a different vibe with it this time out. These werewolves don't behave like the classic monster movie werewolves so much as they do the mutants in The Hills Have Eyes. This came out around the same time that Wes Craven's cult hit originally showed up on the horror scene, so its hard to calculate how much of this was intentional. Whatever the case may be, its a refreshing change of pace from the rut we've been stuck in lately readers. 

The White Wolf

    The film starts out with one of the most effectively moody and downright scary horror movie sequences any of these movies have attempted. The werewolf clan of, the entirety of Mexico I guess, are choosing a new "White Wolf". A "White Wolf" is essentially their queen. They choose a hot blond number, and its never made clear if she was previously a werewolf or not. As I think on it now, I'm going to assume she was, and that she was just a regular old female member of their clan. Anyway, once made boss wolf lady, she goes about hunting down the clan's human enemies.

A She Wolf

Another She Wolf. Luba luba indeed...

     Santo is enlisted by one such enemy. A man named Harker, who is the current patriarch of his family. Apparently the Harker family tree is the only human bloodline on earth immune to lycanthropy. While you or I, or Santo might be turned into wolf men, the Harkers won't succumb to it. This makes them the natural born enemies of the werewolves, and they've apparently all been hunting each other across the globe for centuries. Unfortunately, the werewolves obviously figured out if they can't turn them, they can maul them to death, and the white wolf does just that to poor Mr. Harker, not long after he's recruited Santo's aid. The White Wolf is then summarily hunted down by Harker's hunting posse. 

Santo & Harker

    At this point we're only 30 minutes or so into the movie, and things seemed to have wrapped themselves up already, and yet the movie keeps going. It's alright though, I'm willing to roll with it and see where it takes us. A new bad guy named "Licar" is introduced. His name is pronounced, in a scream, "LIE CAR!". Seriously, That's how all the characters, including Santo and Licar himself do it. LICAR! turns out to be the absolute boss werewolf for the entire planet. He's come direct from Transylvania to help these derelict Mexican werewolves living in the hills like mutant cavemen. LICAR! is actually a strange bird, even for a werewolf. Stranger even than that disco shirted werewolf king from a few weeks ago. He shows up in a coffin shipped from Transylvania, and parades around in a massive cloak, like he's Dracula. 

German Shepard POV shot

      One of my biggest problems with the movie is that it finally gives Santo a sense of risk, but without any real pay off with that risk. Not long after meeting with Harker, Santo is beset by a pack of German Shepherds, which we're suppose to accept as wolves. Santo manages to evade and even repel these "wolves", only to find out that the bite he suffered has cursed him with lycanthropy, which he can only cure by slaying the other werewolves. It works in the sense that it gives Santo a reason to give a shit about the plot, beyond him being a do-gooder. There's never any sequence where Santo must struggle with the slow changing effects of lycanthropy. A number of characters around him in the same situation deal with it, but never Santo. He never morphs into a werewolf. He never even so much as gets a craving for medium rare steak. 


Three Silver Masks out of a possible Five

Fun Fact: Mexican folklore actually refers to werewolves as "Nahual" or warlocks who can shapeshift into wolves and coyotes almost at will. 

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