Sunday, April 08, 2012

Vamp or Not? Santo contra la Hija de Frankenstein

A colour Santo film from 1972, and directed by Miguel M. Delgado, you’d be right in asking why I would look at a film entitled, in English, Santo Vs. Frankenstein’s Daughter. Yet such concoctions (story wise) can sometimes veer off into vampire territory – take the poverty row film Daughter of Dr. Jekyll which was a vampire film. Of course, it is also an excuse to look at another Santo film and regular readers will know that I love my Santo films (not that many are good films, but I love them anyway).

The film begins with some grave robbing, as good a place for a film with the name Frankenstein in the title to start as any other place. But wait… there is (as we will reveal) a plot consistency problem with this film. Later we will hear that Dr Freda Frankenstein (Gina Romand) not only has a secret underground lair come mad scientist’s laboratory but that she controls the entire near-by town (we’ll get into how later). In which case why do her henchmen have to rob graves – surely bodies will just be delivered? Perhaps it’s just me who thinks too much about these things.

aging hands
When we see Freda for the first time she is looking worriedly in the mirror, checking for wrinkles. She raises a hand to her face and her hands and arms have become wrinkly. She is rapidly aging. She goes and gets a syringe and injects herself with a red liquid – blood? No, this is a serum that creates youth. I had read that it was made from Santo’s blood (hence the ‘Vamp or Not?’) but the film does not suggest that, it simply says it is a serum – though Santo’s blood does come into the story later.

controlling Truxon
Just a little background on Freda’s other mad scientist exploits. She has experimented with whole animal to human blood transfusions and has replaced the blood in one man, Truxon (Gerardo Zepeda), with gorilla blood. This has caused him to develop a Gorilla like face, loose rational thought and become bestial – only controlled due to hypnosis. She is also making a man, Ursus (also Gerardo Zepeda), out of body parts like her father did.

loss of serum leads to mumification
As a baddy she will often invoke the name of Satan and has an army of loyal henchmen. These are all old men, made younger by her serum. All the townsfolk (or the three we actually see) are also on her serum. The problem is the effects only last three months (and that timescale is becoming exponentially shorter for her as she has used it for so much longer). This is how she controls her people – make a mistake and she’ll withhold the serum, leading to rapid aging and mummification. However she needs to improve the serum and here we get Santo’s part in the story.

Freda pre-treatment
She had recently been to see Santo fight and wondered how he maintained his fitness and prowess over a career spanning thirty years. He suffered bleeding in that match and she wiped the blood from his nose with a handkerchief. Having tested the blood she discovered that his body naturally developed something called TR factor, which was over 100 times more present in his blood than a normal person. TR factor both heals and renews organic tissue. Santo, basically, will never grow old or die. Thus she wants to kidnap Santo, and use his blood in her serum (keeping him with her for eternity).

a captured Santo
How to capture such a dangerous man? Well, as we cut to the city we see Norma (Anel) watching Santo fight on TV. Her sister, Elsa (Sonia Fuentes), comes in and asks her to turn the sound down. Norma is Santo’s girlfriend – when Elas asks how she can love a man whose face she has never seen, she admits that, when alone, he removes his mask. It is also worth noting that Freda de-masks Santo but we don’t see his face. Freda’s plan is to kidnap Norma and lure Santo with her. Storyline problem (aside from him taking Elsa along) is that he doesn’t go to the police. Now perhaps the note says not to, but given he has worked with them before and given he actually tries to send the girls to a specific police inspector, you’d have thought he would have.

The serum makes the user scream
Now, had the serum been blood (and/or blood based) this may well have been classed as Vamp. However, there is no evidence of this and no evidence that any TR factor used in the serum is derived from blood rather than manufactured. Essentially it is red and that is all we have (and it makes your blood boil and makes you scream when you inject it – getting worse with each injection apparently). Santo’s blood is never actually used and thus that doesn’t count either.

We do get rapid aging, often a part of vampiric death but clearly – in this case – the effect of the serum running out. We also get a staking on a cross – and it is of Ursus and so, technically, of an undead man. However he isn’t a vampire (just a Frankenstein’s monster) and it doesn’t actually kill him. There are no other elements that might have been vampiric/genre staples in any way.

All in all Not Vamp and not the best Santo movie… but still fun despite that.

The imdb page is here.

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