This is our most desperate hour. Help us Santo—you're our only hope.
We were dubious toward Santo when we learned of his movies, but after screening three features the guy has really grown on us. So last night we watched Santo contra los asesinos de otros mundos, which was known in English as Santo vs. The Killers from Other Worlds. You know the basics—Santo is a Mexican luchador who is also an ace international crimefighter. Which is convenient, because an evil mastermind named Malkosh is demanding a fortune in gold bars from the Mexican government or he'll unleash a monster on the populace. This terrifying blob, which in the script has been somehow derived from moon rocks, in reality is three guys huddled under a giant shammy. Doubtless bumping heads and asses while crabwalking under this thing, the poor guys move at about the same speed as traffic in central Mexico City. But no matter—the blob is a whiz at triangulation, and its victims are agility challenged. Whoever it chases inevitably finds himself or herself trapped and, after futilely heaving staplers and coffee cups, consumed down to a skeletal state.
Santo's crimefighting technique is often to be captured. It's never intentional—it just works out that way. And just as form dictates, Malkosh snares Santo, but rather than kill him outright forces him to fight Spartacus style against ever more deadly opponents, an entertainment that of course backfires when the third gladiator accidentally flamethrowers a guard, allowing Santo to grab a machine gun and get the drop on everyone. You have to wonder why these villains toy with him so. The man is well-known as the most lethal crimefighter in Mexico, if not all of the Americas, yet the crooks insist upon underestimating him. Maybe it's just hard to be awed by a guy in a gimp mask who's wearing the drapes from a Guadalajara whorehouse as a cape. Even so, Santo's record speaks for itself, which means you ignore the brief at your peril. Malkosh, foolish lad, dies ignominiously, screaming even, but not before Santo learns from him that the moon blob grows like federal overreach. And indeed, soon there are four guys knocking body parts under the shammy, then five, looks like.
The rest of the film tracks Santo's efforts to find Malkosh's partner Licur, who has imprisoned a Professor Bernstein, the only person on Earth who knows how to corral the lunar abomination busily scuttling across the landscape. Locating Licur involves a bit of Holmesian deduction, at which point Santo gains access to the top secret high security lair by scaling a low wall. In the subsequent fistfights, he's ferociously pounded about his face and semi-soft body, yet his gimp mask never slips and his whorehouse drapes never rip. Finally he squares off against Licur himself, who proves to be no match, and at that point all that's left is to defeat the beast, now about the size of a Winnebago. We'll leave the last bit as a surprise, but suffice to say Santo is always one step ahead. In the end, the film was another satisfying outing, with all the hallmarks of the series—terrible dialogue, poorly staged fights, truly atrocious acting, and a script conceived during a blinding mezcal bender. What's not to love? Queue it. Watch it. Santo contra los asesinos de otros mundos premiered in Mexico today in 1973.
You got anything to eat around here? I'm famished.
It's brain versus brawn in sunny Cuba.
Our favorite luchador Santo el Enmascarado de Plata has taken on monsters and men and beaten them all like your grandmother beats a dusty throw rug. In Santo contra cerebro del mal, or Santo Versus the Evil Brain, he takes on a man with a monstrous plan—a villain who wants to use a thoughtsucking machine to steal scientific secrets and sell them to international bidders. Needing Santo's brawn to pull this off, he kidnaps him, sucks him, and turns him into a dickbag. Don't worry, though—Santo is eventually located by his buddy El Incognito and, after a serious ass whipping administered with the utmost love, restored to his right mind. What a wonderful world it would be if all it took were a couple of suplexes and powerbombs to clear the evil out of people's brains. A single wrestler sent to the headquarters of every transnational bank could save the planet. This is the first Santo film, shot in Havana in 1961, the year of the Bay of Pigs invasion, and we have to say later entries are much better. But this one does have excellent exteriors shot around town, mainly in the suburbs, which look little different from Miami. The old part, with its baroque buildings and tight streets, was a little too logistically tricky for location work, we're guessing. Havanaphiles and fans of retro thoughtsucking machines, enjoy. All others, maybe take a pass. Santo contra cerebro del mal premiered in Mexico today in 1961.
Jesus. I'm schvitzing like a pig. Shoulda packed my summer mask.
These cholesterol readings are off the charts. What the hell does this guy eat?
Santo! Do something!
Hey, don't look at me. I'm thoughtsucked.
What light through yonder window breaks? It is the east, and you, bitch, are toast.
It’s Santo time again. When last we checked in, the masked avenger was battling werewolves and turning them into dog chow. This time out, in a foray entitled Santo vs. Las Mujeres Vampiro, aka Santo Versus the Vampire Women, he’s got a problem with vampires. Female vampires. Or more to the point—Thorina, the queen of the vampires, who issues forth from a cobwebby dungeon with a killer thirst and some harmful ideas. Her plan is to put the bite on a local beauty named Diana in order to make her the new queen, enabling Thorina to join her husband (Satan) in hell (probably Tijuana). She has plenty of help from assorted vampire maidens and unruly thugs, and once the threat is clear to Diana’s father he seeks protection from Santo el Enmascarado de Plata, who’d been busy demolishing opponents in the ring, but who always has time to take his act on the road.
Thorina isn’t queen for nothing. The woman is relentless, and Santo soon fails to protect Diana, leading to her being stolen away. But it’s no secret where she’s been taken—that mist shrouded castle on the hill. Santo heads up there to do damage but is promptly captured and bound in Thorina’s dungeon right next to Diana, who looks at him and sneers, “Nice work, idiot.” Well, not really. But don’t let Santo’s minimal stature and 17% body fat fool you—he took on Martians, mummies, and the Mexican mafia, so you know he’s got enough in his bag of tricks to deal with a few karate chopping children of the night. And in fact he soon doles out some lethal lucha libre, after being freed thanks to the sun’s habit of sneaking up on vampires. Eternal creatures that they are, none feel the need to wear watches. One could criticize, but it’s really part of their charm, don’t you think? Santo vs. Las Mujeres Vampiro premiered in Mexico today in 1962.
Evil shapechangers bite off more than they can chew when they tangle with Santo.
It may seem like we have lucha libre on the brain, but this time we’re fulfilling our mission of commemorating film anniversaries. Santo vs. Las Lobas was released today in 1976—a rather amazing fact, because quality-wise it looks much older. In fact, if you dragged an original celluloid print behind a mule through all thirty-one Mexican states plus the Federal District, then transferred it to DVD, it would still look better than our copy. The plot concerns a werewolf clan’s new queen scheming to murder a local family, but that’s unimportant, really. The fights are the thing. They’re pure wrestling cheez whiz, with Santo in his dapper outfits headlocking his way up the werewolf food chain to the clan’s top dog, who he unceremoniously dumps off a cliff (cutaway to falling mannequin). We’re latecomers to the Santo phenomenon, but we can understand why so many are fond of this film and others in the series—they’re hilariously awful.
Icon see clearly now.
In the U.S. an image of the Virgin Mary has appeared on a griddle at the Las Palmas diner in Calexico, California. The likeness revealed itself as the griddle was cleaned, and since then more than a hundred people have made pilgrimages to the diner seeking a glimpse, forcing the owners to take the flattop out of service and set it up in a shrine converted from a storage room. Pulp Intl., as usual, is right on top of this stunning story, which means you don’t have to trek to the desert of California to see the miraculous image—we’ve posted it at left.
The image was examined and confirmed as the Virgin Mary by local religious authority Gerardo Fernandez, of Our Lady of Guadalupe Catholic Church, and indeed many of the pilgrims, including a group of masked Mexican wrestlers in town for an exhibition match, claim there is a strong spiritual presence in the griddle, as well as a pervasive odor of French toast. One luchador named El Santo Negro even appeared to develop stigmata in the griddle's presence, but the substance turned out to be strawberry syrup he had spilled on his costume. A kitchen worker then showed him how to remove the stubborn stain with baking soda and warm water, and Santo proclaimed the combination “a miracle cleanser.”
At that point a luchador named Mr. Tempest took exception with Santo’s terminology, calling it disrespectful to the Griddle Virgin, and a free-for-all erupted in the shrine. In the end Tempest stopped Santo with a move he called “la presión baja”—or “the low pressure system”—and Santo fled screaming and cradling his balls. However, authorities fear Santo is merely bowed, not broken, and a schism is imminent in the Church of the Griddle Virgin. Pulp Intl. will keep you updated on this important ongoing story.
The headlines that mattered yesteryear.
1933—The Gestapo Is Formed
The Geheime Staatspolizei, aka Gestapo, the official secret police force of Nazi Germany, is established. It begins under the administration of SS leader Heinrich Himmler in his position as Chief of German Police, but by 1939 is administered by the Reichssicherheitshauptamt, or Reich Main Security Office, and is a feared entity in every corner of Germany and beyond.
1937—Guernica Is Bombed
In Spain during the Spanish Civil War, the Basque town of Guernica is bombed by the German Luftwaffe, resulting in widespread destruction and casualties. The Basque government reports 1,654 people killed, while later research suggests far fewer deaths, but regardless, Guernica is viewed as an example of terror bombing and other countries learn that Nazi Germany is committed to that tactic. The bombing also becomes inspiration for Pablo Picasso, resulting in a protest painting that is not only his most famous work, but one the most important pieces of art ever produced.
In Detective Comics #27, DC Comics publishes its second major superhero, Batman, who becomes one of the most popular comic book characters of all time, and then a popular camp television series starring Adam West, and lastly a multi-million dollar movie franchise starring Michael Keaton, then George Clooney, and finally Christian Bale.
1953—Crick and Watson Publish DNA Results
British scientists James D Watson and Francis Crick publish an article detailing their discovery of the existence and structure of deoxyribonucleic acid, or DNA, in Nature magazine. Their findings answer one of the oldest and most fundamental questions of biology, that of how living things reproduce themselves.
1967—First Space Program Casualty Occurs
Soviet cosmonaut Vladimir Komarov dies in Soyuz 1 when, during re-entry into Earth's atmosphere after more than ten successful orbits, the capsule's main parachute fails to deploy properly, and the backup chute becomes entangled in the first. The capsule's descent is slowed, but it still hits the ground at about 90 mph, at which point it bursts into flames. Komarov is the first human to die during a space mission.
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