Friday, March 2, 2012

Week 49: Santo contra el asesino de televisión (Santo vs the TV Assassin, 1981)

       So movie 49 is one of the more intriguing titles in the Santo oeuvre. If you take the Spanish title literally, it reads as "Santo vs. the Killer of Television", and one might ask, who would want to kill television? How does one even "kill" television? Do they want to smash the infrastructure that manufactures televisions for the consumer market, or is it the notion of television itself that they wish to dispatch? You cannot fight a concept, killing television is like having a war on terrorism. It's an intangible opponent. It's at least nebulous at best, and not something someone can really take up arms against. 

"...and that's getting their asses kicked."

    Anyway, since I've just wasted a paragraph over thinking the title, lets get to the meat and bones of the situation. Some masked goon calling himself Magnus overtakes all the Mexican airwaves with an obnoxious amount of white noise, followed by his blustering threats of committing violent crimes live over the airwaves for all of Mexico to watch. Such violent crimes include kidnapping obscure Mexican singers, and holding up pawn shops. Truly this man is a frightening menace. He'd probably be more threatening if he just mooned his pirated audience. Santo gets dragged into the mix when he's asked to be the bodyguard of a second Mexican pop diva whom Magnus has threatened to kidnap. 

Magnus, the TV Killer.

      My main problem with this movie is that there is a great concept promised right in the title, that's never really paid off. We're promised an ASSASSIN, someone who murders for profit, and yet Magnus, this titular TV killer, never actually kills anyone, except himself, at the end, OOPS! Spoilers. With such a crazy title, you'd expect the villain to do some crazy Videodrome shit to people. Brainwashing them, and having them see crazy shit that isn't really there. Alas, nothing of the sort ever happens. I guess Santo vs. the TV Assassin sounds better than Santo vs. the TV Kidnapper And Grand Larcenist though.

"Be sure to drink your Ovaltine....?"

    Compounding this issue is the return of the previous film's co-star Gerardo Reyes. Yup, that Mexican singing sensation is back, with far too many musical numbers this time out. They really pad this bastard of a movie out with musical interludes for Gerardo. Santo takes the consideration to cancel all his upcoming matches in order to deal with Magnus, meanwhile, Gerardo's character, an Interpol agent undercover as a lounge singer, takes the time to sing at least TWO musical numbers, while his love interest languishes in Magnus' dungeon prison. That's two musical numbers out of what feel like a grand total of 30. There's so many in fact, that the villain, and to some degree Santo, sorta get lost in the shuffle by the third act. You almost forget that all of Mexico is under threat from this Max Headroom wannabe. 

Reyes, singing, again.


      The movie actually isn't all bad, although it still feels pretty cheap, like a lot of these other latter day Santo films. I think a lot of money was spent on the big explosion of Magnus' hideout. Santo has one brief wrestling match in the beginning of the film, and I think him canceling matches during the movie was an excuse not to show the man's age in the ring at this point. He's given a few fight sequences against various henchmen, but usually he enters the fray halfway through, and even then, Gerardo, Carlitos, and the rest of his sidekicks do a lot of the heavy lifting. 


Two Silver Masks out of a possible Five.

Fun Fact: Beginning his musical career shortly after World War II, Gerardo Reyes is now looked upon as a father figure of the Latin Music community. 

1 comment: