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Thursday, January 30, 2014

Reel Bad Cinema: Santo Contra Los Asesinos De Otros Mundos (1971) review



Santo, Juan Gallardo (Boris), Sasha Montenegro (Karen Bernstein), Carlos Agosti (Malkosh), Marco Antonio Campos (Chief O'Connor), Carlos Suarez (Dr. Bernstein)

Directed by Ruben Galindo

The Short Version: This entry in the long running Santo series is one of the cheapest looking of the lot. Working from the flimsiest of scripts, it makes absolutely no sense in its mixture of monsters and the Mob. Fans of Santo's other Martian movie mess will want to make contact with this one, too. Endearingly awful, the bargain bin blob beasts save the day, usurping the star power of the Silver masked Saint. 

Santo is called into action to solve some mysterious, gruesome murders of government officials. Victims have had their flesh stripped off the bone by what turns out to be a blob creature from the moon discovered by the kidnapped Dr. Bernstein. Malkosh, one of the leaders of a criminal organization, attempts to blackmail the world using the blobs as a tool for murder. Santo defeats Malkosh, but then his partner, Boris, has Dr. Bernstein, and more moon monsters in his underground lair.

Galindo's 1971 Lucha opus is a clear example of just how exasperated the budgets had become by this point in the series; not that they were all that expensive in the first place. The atmospheric ambiance of the 60s films were gone -- replaced by production values amounting to what looks like a few hundred pesos. By Santo standards, it's one of the absolute worst in the Silver Masked One's catalog, but is a good deal of fun because of it. By comparison, the 'Killers From Other Worlds' gives SANTO AND BLUE DEMON VS. THE MONSTERS (1971) a run for its maladroit money, yet the latter edges it out for sheer bad for your buck.

Among the lowlights (and they are legion) is Santo's fist fight in and around a cargo plane. The Saintly One trades punches with some bungling, machine gun-toting thugs that are apparently bereft of both brains and the power of sight. The scene is capped off in true knee-slapper fashion when Malkosh attempts to run Santo down in his car. Instead of using his crime fighting skills to stop him, Santo figures waving his arms around is the better option. He's promptly run over. Possibly his mask was on too tight? 

This scene and others like it have an inept charm about them that will be the deciding factor if you choose to stick with it, or hit the eject button on your DVD player. Throughout the film, the main villains goons can't shoot for shit, and some of them can't hold the guns steady when firing them. But it gets "better"!

Immediately following Santo's failed attempt at flagging down the bad guy, the unconscious wrestler is whisked away to Malkosh's private arena -- spruced up to look like a lunar surface complete with starry background -- where he's forced to fight assorted gladiators and a guy with a flamethrower. You're almost inclined to believe Malkosh is from outer space what with his golden command chair equipped with remote control switches that beam down his brawlers (they magically appear in a puff of smoke with the press of a button); and if defeated, leave this world in a hail of bullets! 

The showstopper of this ridiculousness is the fleshy colored killer tarpaulin that slurps the flesh (but leaves the clothes) off its victims; said victims aren't the least bit anxious to get away, and some of them are one step away from bursting into laughter. Looking like strips of leather stitched together with a few crewmen walking slumped over underneath, the blob monster makes the alien in THE CREEPING TERROR look like a Stan Winston creation. During the conclusion, it's a veritable blob buffet as every technician on the film end up underneath a whole slew of leather sheets.

With everything else making zero sense, the blobs are given a cohesive, if minimal backstory. They initially are mere moon rocks. Upon being exposed to air, they transmogrify into shaving cream before taking shape as the disowned sibling to the man-eating, ever growing, oozing, outer space mass that terrorized Steve McQueen and a small Pennsylvania town in 1958.

While the impoverished blob monsters steal the show, the two main villains are a hoot themselves. Both Malkosh and Boris are borderline SciFi with their gadgets. Ramon Obon Jr's and director Galindo's script may have originally meant for them to be from space -- this would explain the bewildering arena bout that looks, rather cheaply, like they're on another planet. Speaking of this sequence, it supplants the usual wrestling ring matches that are always inserted in Santo's movies.

Aside from Malkosh's aforementioned command chair that beams down trident bearing gladiators and flamethrower armed automatons, Boris keeps his goons and captives in check with lethal neck bracelets. When somebody fails, a deadly gas is released from the bracelet that kills the wearer. Seeing as how imbecilic as Boris's men are, it's a wonder he has anyone under his employ at all.

The plentiful fights are poorly choreographed, and the glaring weariness of Santo and the stuntmen add to the hilarity. There's a dozen or so brawls, and most all of them play out the same way; and everybody looks so tired; it's as if the fisticuffs were all shot the same day. Santo (who looks exhausted here) rarely mixes up his routine in this one, preferring a straight right shot to the jaw most of the time. The Masked Man seems to be really decking the hell out of the extras, too. Despite their sloppiness, ASESINOS DE OTROS MUNDOS has some of the funniest fights of the entire series.

More silliness ensues when Santo, after defeating Boris, starts to slam him on top of one of the big blobs that's just sitting motionless. Apparently realizing there's about six guys crouched over under that tarp, he decides to lay him on the ground instead. Another hideously inept moment during the finale finds Dr. Bernstein trying to bypass an electric door lock on a wall for a wooden door!

The jazzy Jesus Zarzosa score sounds like it's playing on a loop, and would be great to jam to if you were stuck in an elevator. Mexi-horror fans will remember Carlos Agosti as Count Frankenhausen from THE BLOODY VAMPIRE (1962) and its sequel, INVASION OF THE VAMPIRES (1963).

If you're a fan of Ed Wood style moviemaking, than KILLERS FROM OTHER WORLDS is an excruciatingly fun south of the border equivalent. Far from Santo's finest hour, Galindo's cheapie often feels like it was wrapped up during siesta from another movie. SANTO VS. THE MARTIAN INVASION (1966) is better, but no less ridiculous. Galindo and Santo fared much better in 1976 with the surprisingly moody horror outing, SANTO VS. THE SHE-WOLVES. As low budget as it gets, this Santo pseudo SciFi actioner is nonetheless very tasty, and as loaded as a seven layer burrito.

This review is representative of the Xenon Pictures DVD


Dick said...

I've just started getting into these and find them hugely entertaining. For me their kinda like peplums - even with the bad ones you can always get enjoyment out of them. I just ordered SANTO VS. THE SHE WOLVES last week. Looking forward to it !


venoms5 said...

I much prefer the B/W ones over the color entries. SANTO & BLUE DEMON VS. THE MONSTERS is hugely entertaining, too. If you buy that one, make sure you're getting the color version if possible. I have both the B/W and color ones.

Some of them are torture to sit through, imo. Like SANTO VS. THE RIDERS OF TERROR. SHE WOLVES was way better than I expected it to be.

Dick said...

I've been picking these up on Amazon thru secondary sellers and its sometimes sort of gamble on what your going to end up with. McFarland has a couple books on this stuff, that I want to check out sometime to see if either one of them is worth getting.

venoms5 said...

They seem to be going OOP as copies through amazon itself are drying up. I think VCI is re-releasing a small handful of Santo movies that are harder to find now, but were previously available here.

You might find some of them in the Spanish section of your local Wal Mart. But there will be no English subs on them, most likely. Lionsgate put out a lot of them as double features, but didn't bother with adding English subs to any of them.

All the Santo discs from RTC have English subs on them, at least all the ones I have do. They are set for regions 1 and 4.

I never bought the McFarland book(s), but thought about picking it up myself.

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