Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Santo en la Venganza de las Mujeres Vampiro – review

Director: Federico Curiel

Released: 1970

Contains spoilers

Santo (himself) once more fights vampires and this time in colour. This is not related to Samson Vs the Vampire Women (to give the earlier film its US title) save that the films featured Santo.

crap bat royalty
This one starts off with a coffin adorned with a carved crap bat and marked with the legend Countess Mayra (Gina Romand, Santo contra la Hija de Frankenstein), the date 1730 and a carved crap bat. The coffin is opened (by person unseen) a stake lifted and the vampire is disposed of. From things that we hear later on this occurs in Transylvania. The film then displays, what I can only describe as, a member of crap bat royalty.

Victor Junco as Dr Igor Brancov
Modern day and the villainous Dr Igor Brancov (Víctor Junco) is leading his henchmen, Carlos and Boris (Nathanael León), into a cave like crypt area. The cover stone to get into the necropolis is emblazoned with a crap bat (they appear all over the show in this flick). Now Brancov is a caring villainous character, warning hs henchmen of the poisonous spiders and the leaping rat with the lethal bite. They eventually find a room of empty coffins and Mayra’s coffin with her remains. He decides that she must be taken back to his lab but, once revived, she will live back in this crypt.

mumified Mayra
They take the coffin back and Brancov – in typical villainous monologue – reveals the backstory and plot. Mayra was a vampire woman priestess who lived for two hundred years before being hunted and staked. Her vampire descendants travelled from Transylvania to Mexico bringing her remains with them before being wiped out. He will transfuse her mummified remains with blood (interestingly it has to be a(n overly complex) transfusion, which explains why her descendants just didn’t pour blood on her) and then use her blood to make the monster he is creating immortal. Phew…

reviving the vampire
To get the blood he has sent two more henchmen, Marco and El Gitano (René Barrera), out to kidnap someone. They are at a go-go bar and have selected a particular dancer to be their victim. Because she ends up backstage with a lover they kidnap him as well. The girl is strapped up next to the mummified remains of Mayra. I suggested the process was overly complex because it involved playing with the mad scientist electrical equipment as well as transfusing but soon Mayra is alive again. She explains that her soul has been trapped in her mummified remains, listening to all (I guess this is the excuse for her speaking Spanish rather than a Romanian dialect!) and will grant Brancov his request once they have killed the last living descendant of the hunter that killed her… Santo.

eye mojo
Yes Santo does eventually appear in the film! A reporter, Paty (Norma Lazareno), is picked up by her fiancé the police Lieutenant Robles (Aldo Monti, Santo in the Treasure of Dracula & Santo and Blue Demon Vs Dracula and Wolfman) and his comedy sidekick Beto. She is going to interview Santo. Santo and Robles have worked together in the past but there are no strange crimes at the moment (all about to change Santo). They go to his match as do Brancov and Mayra. She uses eye mojo to tell his opponent to kill Santo and to try and get Santo to throw the match.

Santo investigates
That attempt to kill the wrestler is unsuccessful and so she visits his home. Alerted by the flashing Buddha statue (I kid you not) Santo escapes her attempt to stab him with a crap bat adorned dagger and, with a hearty laugh and a quip about beautiful women not normally sneaking in to kill him, he grabs the vampire but she gets away in bat form. The problem, of course, is that by revealing herself (because she went after Santo) he is now aware of the vampiric menace and goes out of his way to stop it. Paty, of course, becomes a damsel in distress.

painted fangs
A few little things to note… The monster is rubbish, a normal looking muscle man with a bandage on half his lower jaw. Indeed the monster aspect was a plot point too far, just appearing occasionally and with no real satisfying aspect. It appears that when a flock (?) of vampire women attack they let the vampire men fight whilst they flap their chiffon ineffectually. Some of the fangs are painted in post-production and look bad. Vampires have to be in their coffins at dawn and a second staking apparently does not mummify the vampire but rather turns them to dust.

The DVD I bought (by DVD Digital) had an issue in that on two occasions the English subs froze and dialogue shot by with an earlier subtitle stuck on screen (clearly the subtitles in those two sections had not been built). One bit was during a wrestling match and was of no consequence. The second was through a long dialogue section with Mayra and might have been important. It doesn’t stop overall enjoyment of the film though.

fancy a bite
And it has to be said that, despite a lack of Santo at the head, a pointless Frankensteinian 'monster' and some massive plot contrivances, this was an enjoyable flick that generated some real atmosphere from time to time. It was, however, internally inconsistent with said atmosphere. However, whilst not the best Santo movie, it certainly isn’t the worst. 4 out of 10.

The imdb page is here.

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