Friday, May 14, 2010

Ryan Watches a Motion Picture #26: Santo and Blue Demon vs. Dracula and the Wolfman (1972)

I told you I'd be back Santo. I brought a friend.

Here it is, my favourite of the Santo films that I've seen. If you're going to deny yourself the heady pleasures of El Santo and indulge only in one of his films, let this be the one.

While it doesn't have the degree of characterisation that Frankenstein's Daughter (also directed by Miguel M. Delgado) holds, for sheer cool factor you really can't beat Santo and Blue Demon teaming up against monster heavy-weights like Dracula and the Wolfman. The only thing that could propel this movie to the tip of the Olympus Mons of b-movie greatness would have been to put Dracula and the Wolfman into an actual tag team match against Santo and Blue Demon so that they could wrestle out their differences on the mat with the dignity befitting a luchadore. We don't get that. That bubble burst, on with my praise.

Aldo Monti reprises his role from Treasure of Dracula and takes up the vampire's cape once again, this time recruiting a master of seduction - the Wolfman - to finally achieve his big dream. His big dream is, of course, to cover the world in satanic darkness. A dream we all share.

Waiting for Satan's forces to attack.

But this is more like a problem for Santo. You see Santo has a hot new girlfriend named Lina, and this girlfriend is a descendant of the wizard that stopped Dracula's machinations in the distant past using some ancient weapon called the Dagger of Boidros. The same Dagger of Boidros sitting on Lina's dad's shelf. Her dad knows that shit's about to get real, so he tells her to get Santo involved. Santo, no doubt knowing that Dracula and the Wolfman are serious business, promptly recruits his old luchadore friend the Blue Demon to help keep Lina's family safe.

The game of luchadores.

A few words about Blue Demon. Where El Santo is a boyscout, and friend to all children, Blue Demon is more like Thor, and friend to all children. He's less inclined to show mercy to two-bit thugs, and would care little for the due process of law if it weren't for Santo's guiding moral sensibilities. Also, his mask is cooler, his body more sculpted, and, quite frankly, his wrestling prowess greater than Santo's. In fact, the two luchadores didn't like each other outside of movie-making, and when pitted against the other in some films would be notorious for laying the punches on a bit thick. They were rivals, and Blue Demon was no doubt unhappy about the strange and enormous gap between Santo's popularity and Santo's wrestling skill. Blue Demon starred in a number of his own films, but was known by the public by and large for being a sidekick of El Santo.

Let the Wolfman seduction begin.

So an evil hunchback has reawakened Dracula's forces, and more than any of the characters in the film, presents the most interesting bit of character drama. There's a touch of ambiguousness to him, and he's not altogether when you'd expect. Our two heroic luchadores defend the family from both him, the seductions of the Wolfman, and the hypnotic power of Dracula, but fair poorly. People are taken, and Santo and Blue Demon must take the fight to Dracula's lair. You'd think they'd use the Dagger of Boidros, but Chekhov's famous rule is ignored and a much more ridiculous strategy is used to defeat the monsters. You really must take great care when designing an evil lair.

So: B-movie awesomeness. Get some Mexican drinks and some pizza and some friends.

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