Sunday, August 20, 2006

Santo y Blue Demon Contra Los Monstruos
(Santo and Blue Demon Vs. The Monsters)(1968)
DVD Review

Wow. Um, OK. This is… or rather that is… Wow.

This was my first Mexican wrestler/monster movie. I've read about the genre and seen clips here and there, but this was my first chance to partake, and I must say I was truly not prepared. In strictly clinical terms, it's pretty whacked.

Santo, the Man in the Silver Mask, is one of Mexico's greatest wrestlers, and has starred in countless films, often alongside his fellow Luchador Blue Demon. In this adventure Dr. Bruno Halder, a recently deceased scientist, is returned to the land of the living by his hunchbacked midget assistant and a small army of green-faced zombies. The good doctor wants revenge against Santo and Blue Demon for some reason or other. To accomplish this he creates an evil duplicate of Blue Demon and revives a pantheon of classic movie monsters to do his bidding.

The monsters themselves are a wonder to behold. Frankenstein (sic) sports the classic Universal Monsters look with a bad case of bed-head and facial hair presumably to add a Latin look to the creature. The vampire (not sure why they shied away from calling him Dracula) strongly resembles the John Carradine take on Stoker's character, despite a pair of ridiculously oversized bat ears. The mummy resembles an emaciated old dude who has had a tragic accident with a very large roll of gauze, while the wolf-man is little more than a befanged gentleman with an overgrown beard. The Cyclops bears a slight resemblance to the Ray Harryhausen creation of the same name from The 7 th Voyage of Sinbad, but swap the awe-inspiring stop motion animation for a big guy in a foam rubber suit. There's also some little bug-eyed guy with an exposed brain running around Halder's lab.

Halder's master plan is never made clear. He sends his creatures out to do away with Santo. They engage our hero in pro-wrestling style fisticuffs, get their asses kicked, and return to Halder's lair… repeatedly. Now and then the monsters prey upon random innocents. The order of the scenes seems almost arbitrary, and rearranging them would probably not alter the film in the slightest.

For some of the U.S. import versions of these movies Santo was renamed Samson, but Santo y Blue Demon Contra Los Monstruos retains the original Spanish soundtrack. The DVD menus are entirely in Spanish, and my unfamiliarity with the language required some trial and error before I could find the subtitles. Frankly, the movie probably works better without them, adding an additional layer of confusion to an already incomprehensible movie.

It's interesting to note that even though this film was made as recently as 1968, it apes much of its style from the Universal monster classics of the 1930s and 1940s. It's silly as hell to be sure, but after a fairly slow couple of reels, the pace rarely falters. A few beers certainly couldn't hurt, but even sober Santo y Blue Demon Contra Los Monstruos is a fun experience and worth seeking out.


Catnap40 said...

your depth of cultural knowledge is deep, dude.

Matt Bradshaw said...

My depth is deep you say? You are far too kind.

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