Friday, November 26, 2010

Santo and Blue Demon vs. the Monsters - review

Director: Gilberto Martínez Solares

Release date: 1970

Contains spoilers

Santo (Santo), is there anything better than a Santo movie? Well, honestly, plenty of things but as a completely camp piece of escapism it takes a lot of beating. Come on, you know it does. This has a whole range of monsters for Santo to fight… but what of Blue Demon (Blue Demon) you ask… well he is actually a bad guy through most of this… gosh, it’s true, kinda.

So as the film opens we see the range of monsters they are going to meet in this. The Mummy (Fernando Rosales), the Cyclops (Gerardo Zepeda), Frankenstein’s Monster (Manuel Leal), the Wolfman (Vicente Lara), the Vampire (David Alvizu) and the Vampire Woman (actually there are two played by Elsa María Tako and Yolanda Ponce). An entire range of monsters and still more to be mentioned…

Blue Demon
We start with a wrestling match, no surprise there. It is actually a multi-wrestler all female match. I was a little surprised to hear the announcer suggest they were beautiful female wrestlers – given they were all wearing masks! Santo watches on and then watches the next match which is a tag team bout with Blue Demon involved.

a green faced zombie
In a graveyard Otto Halder (Jorge Rado) and his daughter Gloria (Hedi Blue) watch as Otto’s brother Bruno (Carlos Ancira) is laid to rest. Afterwards they talk about him and we discover that Bruno was a mad scientist who revived the dead. We also see a hunchback dwarf named Waldo (Santanón) and 4 green faced zombies steal Bruno’s corpse. Santo is worried about the death but Blue Demon tells the silver masked one that he should take his vacation with his girlfriend, who happens to be Gloria.

Waldo revives the master
Blue Demon drives down the road when he sees the horse and cart with Waldo and the zombies. He follows it to a castle and breaks in but he is too late, Waldo has revived his master. The zombies attack Blue Demon and he is placed in a machine and a replicated version of him is made… this is why I said 'kinda' because the clone of Blue Demon is actually played by the wrestler Black Shadow. Blue Demon 2 (to distinguish from the good version) is sent to destroy Santo.

replicating Blue Demon
Santo is driving along the road with Gloria, occasionally stopping for a spot of tongue wrestling. He sees Blue Demon 2 and stops, Blue Demon 2 attacks aided by the zombies who also grab Gloria. Gloria is bundled into a car and Blue Demon 2 tosses Santo down a hill towards a cliff. Santo escapes his fate and manages to get back to his car, chase the baddies down and allow Gloria to leap car to car into his rescuing arms. Things here are confused as it suddenly cuts into night shots and the film is inconsistent with night and day, the monsters can only attack at night but most of the scenes were filmed in broad daylight. Blue Demon 2’s car crashes but he walks away from the explosion, aflame but still very much alive.

crap bat syndrome
Next we have a long convoluted scene as the various monsters are found. Blue Demon 2 clearly has been sent to find some of them and one of these is the vampire. It appears that his coffin is actually in the same castle as Bruno’s lab but when Blue Demon 2 opens it, it is empty. We have seen him in crap bat form, he turns into his human form and attacks. For no explored reason Blue Demon 2 has a ring that flashes and manages to control the vampire.

an army of monsters
Once they have all been gathered the monsters are put in equipment that revives them (though vampire and Cyclops were very much active when found) and makes them obedient to Bruno. He now has an entire army of monsters with which to crush Santo but, in the first instance, he sends them out to cause general trouble. This includes vampire biting a girl, Frankenstein's Monster crushing a head and wolfman eating a mother and father in front of a little boy.

the vampire
They are soon attacking Santo and the Halders. Indeed in one attack Gloria is attacked by vampire in her bedroom whilst Santo and Otto fight monsters downstairs. Gloria escapes vampire's fangs and legs it out of the house, her life saved when she falls down before a cross that wards vampire away. Santo is challenged to a match by vampire, which he accepts. The fact that vampire wears a mask in it was, I suppose, to disguise the wrestler who took over the role. Santo is winning anyway but, when Gloria runs to ringside, the cross she wears has vampire turning into a bat to escape – all hell breaks loose as the other monsters attack the arena.

Eventually vampire attacks another girl and then we realise that there are now 3 coffins in his lair as both his victims become vampire women. One of them tries to seduce Santo and lure him into a trap. There isn’t much else vampiric to mention except that, at the end of the film, all three end up being staked by the good guys.

heroes always win
For, yes, good triumphs over evil as always – because this is the world of Santo and that is how things are. The effects are so awful they are brilliant. Frankenstein’s Monster has a bit of a goatee going on and the zombies look lost and forlorn when one of their number has his head pulled off. The story is surreal, even for a Santo script. We get stock footage of a Mexican musical in the film. It is bizarre.

Doctor's orders - watch Santo films
Is it good cinema? Absolutely not, 4 out of 10 as a piece of cinema is probably ludicrously generous but... is it good fun? Absolutely, everyone needs to watch a Santo movie from time to time… it should be doctor’s orders.

The imdb page is here.

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