Someone said lucha libre and Santo showed up looking for free food.
The Mexican action movie Santo en el museo de cera, known in English as Santo in the Wax Museum, is the eighth cinematic outing for everyone's favorite crime fighting wrestler Santo el Enmascarado de Plata. He's your favorite too. You just don't know it yet. In this Santo adventure the sinister and obviously mad scientist Dr. Kurt Karol, a horribly burned Auschwitz survivor, has a museum filled with (not) wax figures of historical personages such as Gary Cooper, Gandhi, and Stalin. All well and good, but in the creepy, cavern-like basement section he also has (not) wax representations of terrors such as the Phantom of the Opera, Frankenstein's monster, and other, unidentifiable creatures. And even deeper inside the complex? That's where his secret lab lies.
People begin disappearing from the vicinity of the museum, including an intrepid photojournalist played by Roxana Bellini. Her sister Norma Mora raises a fuss with the cops, which prompts Dr. Karol's oblivious colleague Professor Galván to suggest summoning the chunky Santo away from one of his thrice-daily all-you-can-eat buffets to get to the bottom of the mystery. Actually, this being an earlier Santo film, our hero is a bit more traditional luchador than middle-aged lunchador, but not by much. Santo soon realizes that Dr. Karol is assembling an army of half-animal abominations. But there's more. His crowning achievement will be the creation of a savage panther lady. Rowrrrr. How to foil the plan? Get captured as usual, fight a dozen henchmen, smash the lab to matchsticks.
This movie is one of those deals where nobody notices that the (not) wax figures are actually people standing very still. Obviously, it's a hell of a lot cheaper to have a dude in make-up than any sort of sculpture or mannequin, and the Santo movies take cheapness to new lows. But they have a fun spirit that made them huge hits with Mexican filmgoers, and we have to admit they're hard to resist. The bargain basement sets, clunky action, and shoddy direction normally would all be fatal minuses, but the classic boy-saves-world plots are entertaining, and who can resist a man in a gimp mask? We'll follow Santo and his semi-erect nipples wherever they lead. Santo en el museo de (no) cera premiered today in 1963.
Yes, I'd like to order three large deluxe pizzas for delivery. Extra saturated fat, please. I'll combine your journalistic instincts and photographic eye with your sister's beauty and bouffant hairdo and have— Well, I'm not 100% sure. We'll just have to give it a whirl!
I also have some economic ideas. You see, we cut taxes on the rich, and instead of hoarding the extra billions, they let much of it trickle down to the rest of us. I'm as sane as the next man! Hahahahahaha!
Troublesome Nazis bring bad intentions to Mexico City.
The much beloved Santo movies may not be good, but you certainly can't complain about the promo posters. This winner was made for Santo en Anónimo mortal, aka Santo in Anonymous Death Threat, and it finds everyone's favorite luchador once again battling the forces of evil. This time he's called upon to help the latest in a line of men who've been sent anonymous notes informing them of the dates of their deaths. The previous recipients met nasty ends. The newest prospective victim doesn't trust the police to keep him alive, so he appeals to the only man that can truly do the job—Santo el enmascarado de plata. Santo rightly wonders what the connection is between all these men. But viewers don't have to wonder—it's right there on the poster.
Yes, Nazis have made their sneaky way to Mexico. And just to ram the point home fully, Santo coincidentally has a match against a wrestler named El Nazi, who mid-round is shot dead, becoming yet another victim. Santo soon learns that all the departed—even El Nazi, who must have adopted his moniker due to a keen sense of irony—were witnesses at the war crimes trial of a Third Reich death merchant named Paul von Struber. This von Struber was sentenced to hang, but escaped to Mexico City, where he took an assumed identity. Now he wants revenge on everyone who testified against him because— Well, that's hard to figure out. He really should just lay low, having evaded the hangman. But he's a Nazi. They specialize in terrible ideas.
By the time this film appeared Santo had already battled vampires, zombies, and witches. The producers of these potboilers went big early. Overloaded with crazy concepts, they even had Santo go up against a carnivorous blob. Nazis, then, aren't that big a deal. Santo doesn't even have to cut his wrestling schedule short. When the evil von Struber captures him and locks him away in the secret Nazi lair, he quickly manages to break his ropes, beat the shit out of the flunkies guarding him, and bring down El Cuarto Reich before it even has a chance to stick its head out of its bunker. It's good that Santo's triumph is so perfunctory, because this was his forty-somethingth adventure and his knees had to be getting balky. Santo en Anónimo mortal premiered in Mexico today in 1975.Wow, you're a big'un, aren't you? Ever considered pro wrestling? If you wanna meet up later I can teach you some submission holds. Obergruppenführer! I have a question!
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 worldshattering scientific secrets and sell them to international bidders.
Needing some capable brawn to pull this off, the villain kidnaps Santo, 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.
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.
The headlines that mattered yesteryear.
1919—Wilson Suffers Stroke
U.S. President Woodrow Wilson suffers a massive stroke, leaving him partially paralyzed. He is confined to bed for weeks, but eventually resumes his duties, though his participation is little more than perfunctory. Wilson remains disabled throughout the remainder of his term in office, and the rest of his life.
1968—Massacre in Mexico
Ten days before the opening of the 1968 Summer Olympics
in Mexico City, a peaceful student demonstration ends in the Tlatelolco Massacre. 200 to 300 students are gunned down, and to this day there is no consensus about how or why the shooting began.
1910—Los Angeles Times Bombed
A massive dynamite bomb destroys the Los Angeles Times building in downtown Los Angeles, California, killing 21 people. Police arrest James B. McNamara and his brother John J. McNamara. Though the brothers are represented by the era's most famous lawyer, Clarence Darrow, of Scopes Monkey Trial fame, they eventually plead guilty. James is convicted and sentenced to fifteen years in prison. His brother John is convicted of a separate bombing of the Llewellyn Iron Works and also sent to prison.
1975—Ali Defeats Frazier in Manila
In the Philippines, an epic heavyweight boxing match known as the Thrilla in Manila takes place between Muhammad Ali and Joe Frazier. It is the third, final and most brutal match between the two, and Ali wins by TKO in the fourteenth round.
1955—James Dean Dies in Auto Accident
American actor James Dean, who appeared in the films Giant
, East of Eden
, and the iconic Rebel without a Cause
, dies in an auto accident
at age 24 when his Porsche 550 Spyder is hit head-on by a larger Ford coupe. The driver of the Ford had been trying to make a left turn across the rural highway U.S. Route 466 and never saw Dean's small sports car approaching.
1962—Chavez Founds UFW
Mexican-American farm worker César Chávez founds the United Farm Workers in California. His strikes, marches and boycotts eventually result in improved working conditions for manual farm laborers and today his birthday is celebrated as a holiday in eight U.S. states.
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