Sunday, January 06, 2008

Vamp or Not? Santo vs the She-wolves


Ah… Mexican wrestling movies, rubbish films and yet hypnotically compelling. By the title you can tell that this features the most famous movie Mexican wrestler, Santo. Also by the title you’d be right to question why I would ‘Vamp or Not?’ this 1976 feature, after all it is clearly about werewolves. Let us look to the DVD box’s blurb for a moment:

“SANTO VS. THE SHE WOLVES begins with the dying vampire Tundra and her werewolf hoards awakened and hungry for blood to revive Zorina, their vampire queen. It is time for Zorina to join her Lord Satan in Hell, so Zorina’s earthly successor must be chosen…”

atmospheric startVampires controlling werewolves, sounds fair enough and the beginning of the film is fairly atmospheric with some blonde woman – later referred to as the White Queen – moving through a darkened building whilst whispers draw her forth. That’s right, you read right, I said atmospheric.

bad makeup effectsThat atmosphere is blown somewhat when the wolves appear and the makeup is little more that sticking chunks of furry fabric to their faces and putting in (on some) oversized fangs. However, the fact that we have atmosphere in one of these movies is fairly impressive. As well as taking the she-wolf 'fabric on face' form we also discover that the wolves can become German shepherds as well – I suppose having Santo fight actual wolves would have been a step too far.

wrestlingAnyway, the woman is approached by wolf woman Luba (Tamara Garina) who is dying and puts her soul into the blonde woman. Note that she is not called Tundra and note that she is not a vampire. The plot, from then on, gets confused. Wolves are after Santo, as he is part of a prophecy – his silver mask makes him a silver symbol that can destroy wolves. There is an approach by Cesar Harker (Rodolfo de Anda), who is immune to lycanthropy and whose family hunt werewolves and, of course, there are the obligatory wrestling matches.

SantoThe narrative structure of the film is, to say the least, awful. It is less than easy to follow a plot when the film tries its best to avoid it. 37 minutes into the film (after Cesar Harker is killed and we meet his identical brother Eric and we have seen the most bizarre swimming pool assassination attempt) a box (for box read coffin) is delivered to a railway station from Transylvania. Aha! Perhaps our vampire is here.

Well, despite wearing a cloak, the occupant Licar is the king of the lycanthropes and clearly a werewolf. No, there is not a vampire in sight. The blurb lies – or perhaps yume pictures (who have released the film in the UK) ought to watch the film before actually releasing a blurb that mentions vampires and has all the character names wrong!

great interview technique, SantoThat said, this is a film where we do get to see Santo’s unique method of investigation (enlarge screenshot to read his line of questioning) – one which has him showered with rotten vegetables for his troubles and, with a shrug of his manly shoulders, the slight is forgiven as the villagers are obviously terrified. Not vamp, I’m afraid, but still, it is a Mexican Wrestling film.

The imdb page is here.

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