Friday, February 24, 2012

Week 48: Santo en la frontera del terror (Santo at the Border of Terror, 1979)

     So here we are at week 48. These movies continue to be pretty terrible at this point, showing Santo well past his prime. In yet another recycled plot line, Santo finds himself entangled in the machinations of another mad scientist, who is harvesting human organs for the black market, or for dubious experiments, or both, who cares. 

Old ass Santo! 

     The unique spin put on things this time is that its an American scientist, preying on illegal Mexican immigrants. The film starts out with two hombres, Fernando & Gerardo, trying in vain to cross the U.S. border. After being unsuccessful, they go to a bar where Gerardo belts out a musical number. Then they go to another bar, where Fernando's fiance belts out another musical number. Two musical numbers in less than ten minutes. Thanks movie! It turns out that Fernando's fiance needs to get her kid sister an operation to fix her deteriorating eye sight. This is why Fernando is so eager to jump the border. He just can't make that bread for his squeeze's surgical needs here in their dumpy barrio town.

"Is that a south American coup in your pocket, or are you just happy to see me?"

    For no reason at all, Fernando and his friends are jumped by would be robbers. For equally vague and random reasons, Santo happens to be driving by, and stops to come to their aid. After chasing their attackers away, Santo decides to become their new best friend and benefactor, and agrees to pay for the little girl's surgery out of his own pocket. Fernando and Gerardo hop the border into the states anyway. Smart. 

"why don't we have shirts on again?"

Puma Man star Miguel Angel Fuentes

      It's here that Fernando and Gerardo quickly encounter the mad scientist who has designs on their livers and other vital organs. His enforcer is Monk, a hulking beast of a man played by Miguel Angel Fuentes, he of the Puma Man fame (if you an MST3K fan, you know what I'm talking about). Fernando and Gerardo are locked up inside a barn, where they wait in terror until Santo comes to free them. 

Looks like Santo's got himself in another pickle!

     Most of the movie makes it painfully obvious that Santo just wasn't up to snuff at this point in his career, and likely was mostly bored with this kinda crap. He has two wrestling matches early on in the film, and you can tell they've sped the footage up ever so slightly, so as not to show just how much Santo has slowed down with age, since he was in his 60s at this point. Even in some of the choreographed fight scenes, he doesn't really do much, and is mostly reduced to the sidekick character he played in his earlier films. Much hay is also made of the little girl's lack of sight, but no one seems to point out her irritatingly high, squeaky voice, which is just grating to listen to. This being the late 70s, there's also the introduction of a synth score that's so terrible, it made me long for the stock library music of the 60s films.


One Silver Mask out of a possible Five

Fun Fact: Gerardo is actually played by Mexican singing star Gerardo Reyes.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Week 47: Santo en el Misterio en las Bermudas (Santo in The Bermuda Mystery, 1977)

      So we're at week 47, and we've come to our final team up with Blue Demon. He and Santo may not have liked each other's company in reality, but in movie world, they had a pretty good run. Not all of their team ups were winners, but the batting average was generally on the positive side. It was usually only the later team ups that were clunkers, and that can probably be blamed on low budgets, or the age of the two men.

Not Three Amigos!

     Also joining them once again is Mil Mascaras, or Thousand Masks. Apparently the movie is being told in flashback, a point I didn't realize until the end of the movie. A fishermen off the coast of Bermuda is telling a young colleague about his friend El Santo. He tells this tale of how Santo and his amigos Blue and Mil are conscripted to be personal bodyguards to the princess of a fictitious country, in Bermuda to work out a peace treaty with another fictitious country. Blue and Mil seem really put out by this good deed, as its forced them to cancel their upcoming European wrestling tour together. To hell with world peace! These boys need to make that money!

Blue and Mil, macin' on some ladies.

     Their issues are quickly put aside though when the three masked do-gooders meet some Latina cheesecakes who are vying for some steamy luchador action. All three get a bit randy, and a little rapey even at the site of these women. Of course their affections are superfluous, as it turns out their agents of the movie's big bad, who is determined to undermine these peace talks, and kill the princess. I need to take a moment to speak about this bad guy, "Godard", played by Carlos Suarez. This creepy bald headed dude seems to have taken the place of the previous "That Guy" that used to appear in a lot of the early Santo films. Like the previous "That Guy", he tends to play the heavy, or the sidekick, or a thug. Sometimes he's comic relief, and sometimes a genuine menace to Santo and company, and sometimes both. 

Carlos Suarez

     The titular Bermuda Mystery of the film is a bunch of nonsense thrown in to cash in on attention being given to the Bermuda Triangle phenomena at the time. It turns out that one of the three girls, who is Santo's love interest, has secretly infiltrated Godard's terrorist organization, believing him responsible for her father's disappearance. In the middle of a fight scene, two weirdos in chrome silver jumpsuits materialize out of thin air to whisk the young lady away to their underwater home off the coast of Bermuda. It turns out her father was clandestinely shuffled there to live among scientist elites. Wait, what? What the hell does this have to do with anything?! It's a seriously strange tangent the film takes, made worse by the fact that Santo, Blue and Mil never become aware of this place's existence during the rest of the damn movie! Making things even odder, is that after all is resolved, Santo and his friends take a boat headed back to Florida, only for it to be disappeared off the ocean's surface by magic undersea city machines that pop out of the water. Their boat is there one second, and gone the next, and we return to the fishermen who says the three luchadors were never seen again. Huh? 

The (not so) amazing undersea city!

    You might think I would penalize the movie for such nonsensical behavior, but on the contrary. I admire the movie's moxy, to throw something so totally deranged and off the wall into the storyline, a viewer can't help but laugh. The movie would've been another dull crime caper, with these three guys, two well past their prime at this point, bumming around and chasing tail. 


Three Silver Masks out of a possible Five.

Fun Fact: Carlos Suarez was actually Santo's manager in real life. 

Friday, February 10, 2012

Week 46: Santo en Oro negro (Santo in Black Gold, 1975)

        Robots! Santo fights some robots! It's somewhat remarkable to think that its taken 46 movies for Santo to get around to fisticuffs with robots. He's fought so many other nonsensical adversaries in the 45 previous movies, that you'd think robots would've happened sooner. Alas, they have not.

Santo, sporting another incredible shirt.

      Saying Santo fights robots is a bit of hyperbole on my part. It makes it sound like he combats Transformers, or Terminators, or even Robby the Robot, but he does not. These are more of the Westworld variety Automatons. They're pretty fragile as robots go as well. One punch from one of Santo's mighty luchador fists is enough, in certain scenes, to cave one of these robot's head in like a rotten pumpkin. Shit, C-3PO can take a hit better than most of the robotic hombres in this movie!

Robot brains! Ewwwww...

     Santo is once again a charitable mercenary for children, as he's hired to put a stop to these automatons who are trying to blackmail their way into the crude oil business. A couple of "Big Oil" types offer to pay 5 cents from every barrel they sell to a children's charity of Santo's choosing, in return for his protection services, and thus, Santo's hat is thrown into the ring, so to speak, and he starts smashing robotic doubles to pieces.

Santo is a master of disguise.

      A lot of the film takes place in Puerto Rico, and it looks like there was a great deal of location shooting there. In particular, there is some funny night time beach, sexy stuff for Santo and one of his female co-stars, Gilda Haddock. He also has a fairly entertaining tag team match, alongside Puerto Rican wrestler Carlitos "Rocky" Colón, that is staged in a Puerto Rican baseball park. The bad guys also manufacture all their robots inside a prison in Puerto Rico, which Santo infiltrates of course, disguised as a priest. 

Santo and his Mid-life crisis mobile.

     My biggest complaint with this one is that the villains are lame. These criminal masterminds can create near perfect robot doubles of people and instead of replacing leaders of industry and heads of state with robotic doppelgangers, they decide to hassle a few Caribbean oil companies? Talk about some weak shit. Still, Santo's female co-stars, Gilda Haddock and Rosy Mendoza are easy on the eyes. 


Two and a Half Silver Masks out of a possible Five.

Fun Fact: This film is also known as La Noche de San Juan, or A Night in San Juan.  

Friday, February 3, 2012

Week 45: Santo en la venganza de la llorona (Santo in the Revenge of the Crying Woman, 1974)

      45 movies down, 7 movies to go. This week, Santo teams up with a famous boxer to punch out some crying women. Also, they fight mobsters, but mostly they just go around punching women who cry too much. Then those women get revenge...

Only the finest grave robbing attire for these two.

        Alright, so that's obviously not the plot of this week's movie. There is a crying woman in it! Santo and his new boxing friend Jose never do punch her though. Santo is enlisted by an archaeologist to help him rob the grave of a certain Doña Eugenia Esparza who was a Mexican aristocrat, infamous for murdering the three illegitimate sons she had with a Spanish Viceroy. She also stole all of this Viceroy's gold doubloons and hid them someplace, and now the necklace around her entombed Corpse's neck holds the location. At first Santo refuses, offended at the idea of robbing someone's grave and tries to storm out. When the Archaeologist chases him down and explains that they're going to give all the doubloons to a children's charity, Santo is suddenly okay with it and agrees. Santo should put on his resume that he's okay with robbing graves, as long as it's for charity. 

NOT Apollo and Rocky

        For superfluous reasons that don't begin to justify a professional boxer's presence in the movie, Santo recruits José Nápoles, nicknamed "Mantequilla", which means butter in Spanish. Santo and the rest of the cast of characters refer to him only as Mantequilla throughout the entire movie, so they're all calling him Butter with a straight face, awesome. He also likes to wear a lot of fuchsia, and when asked to join the expedition by Santo, enthusiastically signs on, stating that he hopes to see a ghost, indicating to Santo and the audience that the blows this guy's been taking to the head are likely starting to affect his brain.

NOT Mr. Miyagi 

        Jose actually was an accomplished welterweight boxer. He won the world welterweight title twice, once in the late 60s, and again in the early 70s. At the time of this movie's production, he was likely as a big a national hero in Mexico as Santo was. Unfortunately he can't act worth a shit here. When not having a boxing match, where he obviously shines, Mantequilla has two speeds as an actor, "simpleton" and "block of wood". 

NOT Raiders of the Lost Ark

         Of course it turns out that Doña Eugenia Esparza is cursed by Satan for her deeds, and once her necklace is taken by Santo and Mantequilla, she rises from her tomb to wreck havoc on the descendants of the Spanish viceroy who done did her wrong. It turns out that the grandson of the archaeologist is one such descendant and his whole reason for leading this project was to break Esparza's curse and save his grandson. Mantequilla sees her moving corpse, but Santo doesn't and just assumes that Mantequilla has gone soft in the head. In fact, Santo never encounters the resurrected Esparza, as he spends most of the second half of the movie dealing with a bunch of Gangsters out to get their hands on the gold doubloons. These same gangster also hide out in a Colt 45 bottling plant. I shit you not.

Madonna in the morning.

      La Venganza del la Lorona is a bit of a throwback to some of the Santo movies in the teens, where he battled occult villains, who almost always were done in by their own evil doing. While the crying woman mummy is effective and eerie and reminds one of the crude make up effects from The Evil Dead, one is left frustrated by the fact that not only does Santo never interact with the fiend, but doesn't even acknowledge its existence. It's like watching two movies spliced together. 


Two and a Half Silver Masks out of a possible Five.

Fun Fact: José "Mantequilla" Nápoles was inducted into the International Boxing Hall Of Fame in 1990.