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Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Reel Bad Cinema: Santo & Blue Demon vs. the Monsters (1970) review


Santo (Enmascarado de Plata), Blue Demon (Alejandro Cruz), Jorge Rado (Otto Halder), Carlos Ancira (Bruno Halder), Hedy Blue (Gloria), Rafael Aldrete "Santanon" (Waldo), Vincente Lara "Cacama" (Wolfman), Manuel Leal (Frankenstein Monster), Gerardo Cepeda (Cyclops), David Alvizu (The Vampire), Fernando Rosales (Mummy), Elsa Maria Tako (Sonia, Vampire Woman #1), Yolanda Ponce (Fabiola, Vampire Woman #2)

Directed by Gilberto Martinez Solares

The Short Version: Ghouls just wanna have fun in this 82 minute Monster Mash Mexi-trash movie. Every passing minute is even more lovingly rancid than the last in what has to be one of the single most entertaining plotless pieces of shit to ever get across the border. Get a bunch of friends together, grab a big bowl of chips and salsa, and prepare to indulge in a massively overstuffed Bad Movie Burrito Supreme.
A noted scientist named Bruno Halder, famous for reviving dead bodies through brain transplants, dies under mysterious circumstances.

Apparently, he died before he was able to perform a similar function on the writers of this picture. Anyways, Bruno's brother, professor Otto Halder is alive and well and his daughter, Gloria, just happens to be Santo's girlfriend.

Bruno's corpse is stolen by his bizarre goon squad led by the bald midget hunchback, Waldo, and later revived back at his castle. Apparently, they didn't embalm dead bodies in Mexico back then. Through a plot point that's never sufficiently explained, Bruno Halder has a beef with both Santo and Blue Demon and hates his brother and niece because they called him crazy. Go figure.

Meanwhiiiiile, back at the Legion of Doooooom--Err Bruno captures a snooping Blue Demon and informs him of his insidious plans regardless of how nonsensical they may be.

Considering this is a Santo and Blue tag team double header, it's time to introduce the running gag of Blue being subjugated by the bad guys instead of actually BEING a bad guy to preserve his then popular status as a hero of the ring. Instead of simply injecting him with an eeeveeeel serum, he goes through the trouble of making an eeeveeel Blue Demon duplicate in a machine that looks like a tanning bed without the fluorescent bulbs.

After the first failed attempt for Evil Blue Demon and a gang of zombies at snatching Santo and Gloria, Bruno gathers his gaggle of ghouls for what amounts to a long series of battles and ambushes.

Santo dukes it out with the Cyclops From the Black Lagoon and kills it with a stake to the chest. Bruno performs surgery on it and this one eyed reptilian rubber menace is as good as new.

From there, the various creatures attack Santo, Gloria and Otto Halder at various locations whether at Otto's home, a night club, even during a wrestling match between Santo and El Vampiro! When it looks like the Saintly One is gonna win, the other monsters rush the ring just like The Four Horsemen would do any time Dusty Rhodes, Magnum TA, or any other NWA babyface was getting the upper hand back when wrestling was worth watching.

After the monsters finally get their claws on Gloria and Otto (yes, the Frankenstein monster is driving the getaway car!), Santo chases them back to Bruno's castle where the big monster mash finale takes place.

Santo trades punches with Evil Blue Demon and defeats him by tossing a Blue Demon dummy off a cliff. Reviving the real Blue, the dynamic duo trash the mad scientist set and vanquish all the monsters just before the castle is destroyed.

Cue the bizarre muzak styled soundtrack of Gustavo C. Carreon as the curtain closes on this
Película muy loca.

As much as saying Mexican wrestling movies are the very definition of batshit crazy, SANTO & BLUE DEMON VS. THE MONSTERS is the crescendo of crapola; and that's of the utmost recommendation.

Seldom do truly awful movies strive to be as inanely stupid as this one. THE MUMMIES OF GUANAJUATO (1970) comes hilariously close, but it doesn't have the roll call of monsters this particular movie does. Even the giant bat prop from both THE BLOODY VAMPIRE (1962) and its superior sequel INVASION OF THE VAMPIRES (1963) is used here. To put it bluntly, this is the DESTROY ALL MONSTERS (1968) of lucha libre flicks on a $1.95 budget.

If nothing else, this movie has energy. The frenetic pace is non stop. The film barely slows down (save for a bewildering dance number) and nobody seems to care there's zero plotline; or that the Cyclops suit looks like a bulky, scaly costume fitted like a shirt and pants with matching clawed hands and feet.

All of the monsters are rather laughably stitched together (haha) and it's this carelessness towards just about everything production wise that makes this stain on the couch so endearing.

The Mummy is of an equally raggedy design looking like a scrawny old man covered in very clean gauze. Oddly enough, during the wrestling sequence when the monsters stampede the ring, a different, bulkier guy missing a bunch of teeth is decked out in the shambler's rags.

Going further down the list, this films vampire has got to be one of the least threatening bloodsuckers to ever grace a movie screen.

He is often seen perched on the sides of buildings with these ridiculous bat ears and dressed up like Lon Chaney Sr. from LONDON AFTER MIDNIGHT (1925). The scene where Bruno and Waldo prep him for his match with Santo is a riot.

Speaking of the vampire, Blue Demon also comes equipped with a Secret Decoder Ring that keeps El Vampiro in line when he gets thirsty and wants to put the bite on Bruno's zombie horde.

There are also two vampire women seen here and they offer the film some brief moments of welcome cheesecake. I assume their inclusion here is to homage the classic 1962 Santo favorite, SAMSON VS. THE VAMPIRE WOMEN aka SANTO VS. LAS MUJERES VAMPIRO (1962). In my view, we don't get to see enough of them, if you get what I mean and I think you do.
Considering the hell Hammer went through to gain the rights to use the Jack Pierce make up designs for their own EVIL OF FRANKENSTEIN (1964), I wonder if the Mexican producers even bothered; simply purchasing a Halloween mask instead. This Mexi-Franken-monster not only has the films most violent moment (he squashes a young man's head), he also drives a car!

El Hombre Lobo is played by frequent Santo bad guy, Vincente Lara. He has a similarly hilarious appearance, but it's easily the best make up appliance of the gruesome group. He's also the most energetic of the monsters and looks more like one of the human experiments in THE TWILIGHT PEOPLE (1972) than a werewolf. Still, the design is more believable than what was used in the 1958 Mexi-horror classic, THE MAN & THE MONSTER.If that list of creatures weren't enough, there's also a gang of zombies, a hunchback midget and that bizarro alien thing with an enormous brain exposed from THE SHIP OF MONSTERS (1960). In all likelihood this profoundly fake looking creation was the inspiration for Roger the alien on AMERICAN DAD. The cyclopean creature is likewise recycled from SHIP, only it's been modified in appearance, and shows serious signs of wear and tear in that ten year interim.

With all the monster action crammed into these brief 82 minutes, a Santo flick wouldn't be such a thing without wrestling. We get three matches here; two back to back at the opening and one additional later on when The Vampire meets Enmascarado de Plata in the squared circle. 

The opening match is notable in that it features luchadoras (lady wrestlers). This is then followed by a tag match between Blue Demon and El Arabe vs. Garza and Ebana.

If anybody ever accused the wrestling sequences in these movies of being padding, they haven't experienced the mind bogglingly intrusive dance numbers that seem to crop up a lot in Santo's 70s movies. The one here seems to go on for almost ten minutes before the goofy monsters crash the party leading to a great mummy dummy death scene. Actually, there's two prime examples of dummy deaths here; the ultimate in mannequin mauling occurring towards the end when Santo effortlessly tosses what looks like a paper doll of Eeeveeel Blue Demon off of a cliff!

The organ dominated muzak score of Gustavo C. Carreon is just as in-consequentially out of place and mind-numbingly awful as it was in SANTO VS. BLUE DEMON IN ATLANTIS from the same year.

With everything else being so butt-burningly bad here, the horrendous score is a perfect fit. You'll laugh and you'll cry because you're laughing so hard at the sheer unbridled lunacy of SANTO & BLUE DEMON VS. THE MONSTERS. Movies rarely get 'So Bad It's Good' than this, the El Grande Mierda of Santo movies. Highly recommended for Mexi-movie fans, Masochists, and for those who take very little seriously.

This review is representative of the Alter Films-RTC DVD. There are English subtitles offered.


Kaijinu said...

Wow, you know, this would be a lot more fun if it was a cartoon instead!

Oh, by the way, I don't know if you do this kind of thing but YOU GOT AN AWARD!

Maynard Morrissey said...

LOL looks like something for Project Terrible :-)

I'm stunned of Gilberto Martinez Solares' impressive filmography: about 160 films between the 30s and the 90s - unfortunately, I haven't seen any of his works.

venoms5 said...

Hi, Kaijinu! I've done a bunch of these in the past. Not much time to sit down and play around with them as I'd likely be rehashing previous answers. But I'm grateful and appreciative you thought of CAC for this award!

Yep, Harry, it's pretty terrible, but a whooooole lotta fun! Granted, these movies were geared towards a family audience, but by the 70s, they'd gotten stricken with poverty row budgets and threadbare scripts. Apparently, Solares is a director of some repute in Mexico; at least at one time.

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