Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Santo and Blue Demon Vs. Dracula and Wolfman – review


Director: Miguel M Delgado

Release date: 1973

Contains spoilers

You’ve got to love Mexican wrestling movies. Well, okay you don’t have to love them but you do have to accept the bizarrely hypnotic qualities they possess, which enables them to pull you in for their length despite it all. The last time we saw Santo (Rudolfo Guzman Huerta), under the American pseudonym of Samson, was in Samson Vs the Vampire Women and that had the advantage of having the MST3K treatment. This was a straight up watch; could it hold its own without the comedy additions?

Wrestling matchThe first thing I noticed was the music over the intro-credits, a dirge of a piece and one wonders how anyone thought it was going to get an audience’s juices flowing in anticipation of an action flick? Then we cut to Santo in a wrestling match against Angel Blanco. Strange… we can hear a crowd and the commentator mentions the capacity filled arena but the scene is so obviously a studio! We get three wrestling matches over the length of the film, this one split over a couple of scenes, then Blue Demon (Alejandro Cruz) taking on Renato the Hippie and finally a tag match between all competitors. Well it is a wrestling movie!

In a crypt, before an altar, we see Eric the Hunchback (Alfredo Wally Barron) offer a prayer to Satan. There are two coffins, one containing Dracula (Aldo Monti) and the other contains Rufus Rex , the wolfman (Agustin Martinez Solares). Centuries before they were killed by a magician named Cristaldi and Eric will bring them back with the blood of a Cristaldi.

the daggerIn a house are most of the remaining Cristaldi family. There is the grandpa, Professor Luis Cristaldi (Jorge Mondragon), his daughter Laura (Maria Eugenia San Martin) and his granddaughter Rosita (Lissy Fields). They wonder where could *they* be? The *they* is the niece Lina (Nubia Marti) and her boyfriend Santo. After his match Lina and Santo go to the house and the Professor shows the masked wonder a threatening letter and explains the curse Dracula cast on the family. He also shows Santo the dagger of Boidros – the weapon that slew Dracula and the wolfman – and some evil pendants, which are red herrings that are never used.

sacrificing GrandpaEric has hired a load of mobsters – whose sole purpose in the film is to have one fight with the wrestlers later. He goes to the house, and we see the grandfather putting the dagger in his granddaughter’s room. This might seem irresponsible, as she is only a child, but he has a purpose that we’ll get to. In his own room he is grabbed by Eric, drugged, taken to the crypt, hung upside down and his blood is used to revive the evil duo – who then want revenge on the rest of the family.

Santo and the Blue DemonWith Granddad missing the family go to the police, who do not believe the stories, so Santo drafts in his friend Blue Demon. With the evil duo making an army of werewolves and vampires, plus the wolfman, in human form, wooing Laura (so that he can then sacrifice her at the full moon because, apparently, simply kidnapping her would be too easy) and all sorts of evil plans afoot our heroes have their work cut out – especially as they spend less time patrolling and more playing each other at chess waiting for something to happen!

Dracula bites...Vampire wise, most things are standard. They can turn into crap bats, Dracula can use long distance eye mojo, a bite turns someone either into a slave or a vampire. Dracula doesn’t seem to come out during the day, though daylight isn’t mentioned, and his naked skeleton developed clothes when he was brought back to life. If you are wondering just what he was doing in Mexico it transpires that Eric’s ancestors brought the remains over from Transylvania, so that’s alright then.

...and bites againThe new lore is based round the dagger – seemingly a monster can’t enter a room when it is there, hence putting it in a child’s room, and it kills monsters – oh and human’s that commit crime, by itself I might add, as they are monsters too. A pity it wasn’t used in the final fight! There is mention of the cave of the walking dead, where enemies were zombified and put, an interesting concept – not too used – and Grandpa Cristaldi tended to wander around the house above the crypt as a zombie anyway.

a wrestler and a scholarIt seemed a little odd that Santo and Blue Demon kept in touch by radio watches when, in the film a decade earlier, Santo had video phone at his disposal!

The acting was poor, the effects awful and things were introduced, like the mobsters, purely for set piece reasons. The soundtrack was ill advised. There is a fight scene with an ambient/ethereal soundtrack and then silence which didn’t help to build atmosphere, something the film lacked anyway.

the wolfman awakensAs I said at the head though, this is hypnotic (and unintentionally funny) so you cannot help but watch the movie. It is not a good movie, however, and 2 out of 10 reflects its artistic merits but I defy you to not watch it with rapt attention.

The imdb page is here.

No comments: